WOOF Support Blog Hop: Why I Love My Very Imperfect Dog

One of the very early posts I wrote on this blog was about why I loved all of Silas’s “problem” qualities. Go read it; I’ll wait.

While his problems are a little different these days, all of those things are still true.

Most importantly, Silas is a paranoid, anxious mess because he is an incredibly smart, very sensitive dog.

His big brain makes my life hard. He never forgets anything. “One time we walked down that trail, and the park maintenance man was there on a golf cart, so I’m never going down that one again.” I think this is why, despite my unflagging belief in the system, I’ve never had unequivocal success counter-conditioning him to anything. We made good progress on the doorbell, for example, as long as he’s in a particular place, doing a particular behavior, and I’m the one ringing the bell.

Relaxation Protocol

Okay, I’m on my mat, you can ring the doorbell now.

I love how smart he is, though. As long as I’m teaching a trick that Silas can understand (he’s better with big movements than small ones), I can get a pretty solid start on a new behavior in one session. One short session. And he adores training.

I’m not making that up. Here’s my proof: Silas is not a tail wagger. It happens rarely enough that my husband and I have been known to point it out to each other when it happens. Last night I was teaching him some new tricks, and we were both sitting on the rug. I stood up to start setting up the next bit of training, and I realized that there, out behind him where I hadn’t been able to see it, was a wagging tail.

That’s the best thing of all. This face?

Happy Dog

You’re only going to get that with a combination of play and training. And I love that about him. It’s a good thing I think teaching behaviors is fun.





This post is part of the WOOF Support Blog Hop, hosted by Oz the Terrier, Roxy the Traveling Dog, and Wag N Woof Pets.


17 thoughts on “WOOF Support Blog Hop: Why I Love My Very Imperfect Dog

    1. Sometimes he’ll humor me. He’s funny about human affection–there’s a line between “I really like this” and “Wow, that’s too much,” so I have to keep an eye out. Which, not surprisingly, he got much more affectionate after I started making sure I didn’t overdo it.


  1. DOG. TWINS. I didn’t notice until I took video how much Ruby wags her tail when she’s working on her tricks. I sympathize entirely with “that one time….” That face really is the best.


  2. Hmmm, the doorbell trick sounds familiar because if someone besides me or my husband rings the doorbell, all bets are off with Oz. LOL I totally agree training needs to be fun to be productive! Thanks for joining our hop.
    Gina and Oz


  3. I’ve so enjoyed reading all the reasons people love their reactive dogs. It gives me hope. Because even 10 years ago, I don’t believe people would have been working so hard with reactive dogs. Silas is very luck to have found you.


  4. That happy face definitely has to make it all worthwhile! I think I said something similar in my post today, about how a personality trait that may be responsible for some of the issues, is also a trait we might love the most about them.
    Thank you for joining the hop!


  5. I’m officially in love with Silas. I think Silas needs to come to Curaçao for a visit 😀 Seriously, love your dog. I have a seven-pack, five of whom are reactive (and the other two think it’s the in thing to follow suit), so I get what you mean about life being difficult. And yes, it’s a fortunate thing we seem to find teaching behaviors fun–no clue what it would be like if we didn’t.

    I’m glad I found your blog. Like that CA governor, “I’ll be back.”
    Guilie @ Life In Dogs


  6. I can kind of relate on the smart/training thing. Gretel figures out stuff so fast (especially when food is involved)! I trained her to blow bubbles in water in less than 5 minutes and she hasn’t forgotten even though we practice infrequently.

    I think she is not as smart as Silas in other respects though….she is kind of an airhead when it gets to “remembering what happened last time” while out on walks.


    1. Silas is so weird about what happens when he’s outside. One summer most of the trails at the little nature center we walk in were closed. Silas memorized the exact route we took, and now that is the ONLY way he’ll go in that park. At the park down the road, he’ll go wherever.

      He’ll also get 3/4 of the way through a circular walk and then freak out that we’re still going “away” from the car and he’s tired. I have to tell him “The car is this way!” and he’ll go along for a minute or two before he tries to bolt back the way we came.


    1. I agree with you. Because we aren’t hunters, and Silas is too skittish to take up agility, I really struggle to *find* him a job. We fell into our current round of Obedience stuff just by accident–I have room to do it in my urban townhouse. He seems to love it, though.


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