Happy to Oblige

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I think one of the best reasons to go to training classes and such is that you get some outside perspective on your own dog. Especially if you don’t know a lot of dog people, it’s easy to miss things.

When Silas was a puppy, we went through obedience class. He was a nightmare. He spent the entire class straining at the end of his leash, with me desperately trying to get his attention. Smart, but too distracted to work, was the universal verdict. Which was the same verdict from obedience class, round two.

It’s a label that stuck with him, even in my own mind. I kept on training him at home. We went through Susan Garrett’s Recallers class. “This is fun, but he’ll never do any of this stuff in the real world,” I kept thinking. “He’s just so distracted.” I thought this even though I was, in actuality, starting to get great results with him. He will sit-stay for a frisbee, even at the park that scared him out of his little skin six months ago.

One of the things that came up in his behaviorist’s report, and that was clearly demonstrated in her office, is that he is, in fact, very happy to work. And you know, he really is. This afternoon I was training him to walk with me through the house, and he was just happy. So glad to have something in particular to do, even if it was something pretty boring. (I am forever grateful to Susan Garrett for this–her “balance break” style training has, I think, really made the most of his natural tendency.)

All the poor guy wants is a job. And I’ve spent most of his life thinking that there wasn’t any reason to give him one, because I assumed he wouldn’t be able to do it. Excuse me while I re-conceive everything we do together.

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7 thoughts on “Happy to Oblige

  1. Silas is starting to remind me of those Border Collies that get a little crazy if they don’t have “work” to do…Maybe he’s just smarter than the rest of us and has been waiting for you to catch up

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    1. The behaviorist did start to say “like a Border Collie” an awful lot.

      I’ve always known that he was really smart. He listens to my phone conversations with my husband and knows when to go stand by the door.

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  2. I bet this is so true of many dogs that people think are problem dogs or lost causes. Glad Silas is making progress! Kaya was the same way doing obedience when she was younger, it was so embarrassing and I thought she’d never improve, but she did:)

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    1. I’m hoping we can get him on a really solid foundation now. The behaviorist felt like he was doing okay, overall, and that it was a good time to intervene about a few problems. As for the job, he’s a city dog in a townhouse. I’m a little short of dog jobs!

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