A Thinking Dog (Part 2 of a 3 part series)

My guardian calls herself a trainer (she knows it isn’t always about training the DOG if ya’ know what I mean).  She knows what it’s like to work with challenges.  She knows I am a thinking dog.

I’ve been to obedience training, and let me tell you – I used to have them all really well trained!   I’m going to have to up my efforts again though…I overhear my guardian say over and over that training is a “use it or lose it” process.  A thinking dog must stay on one’s toes to keep the family well trained and lately I am seeing some things I’m not so sure I like.

(using my wily ways and charming personality to con my guardian out of a few treats!)

(using my wily ways and charming personality to con my guardian out of a few treats!)

Not only am I a thinking dog, I am a GOOD dog.  I do all the things a dog is supposed to do.

I used to have to help clean the counters when they leave food up there.   I guess I’ve done my job training them, they clean up after themselves now and don’t leave food out on the table or in the kitchen.  I’ve even taught the teenagers to put their shoes away (although once in a while, I do miss the taste of a nice leather boot or the chewy texture of a flip flop) and thanks to me airing their dirty laundry, they manage to get their socks and underwear in the laundry basket instead of leaving them on the floor.

I used to show off my incredibly high-pitched Barking to alert them anytime someone was on our turf (I knew I was doing a great job, because for a while, the whole family joined the fun and would bark along with me!) I may be slacking there, though because they don’t bark along anymore, so I usually have to go investigate why.   I have to stop barking, and then go search for my owner to see what could be more fun than barking at the window!  After all, I am a thinking dog.

Our new dog (keep following our blogs…you’re sure to meet him soon) – I taught him everything he knows.  It can be very tough to work with a stone-headed puppy that is literally twice my size!  When foster dogs come to stay with us for a while, I help teach them manners too.  I am a star at tactfully correcting another dog’s erroneous ways but am always sure to let them know I am friendly and good with socialization.   I am a thinking dog.

I am the best greeter EVER – all I have to do is give a little jump and the visitors just pat me on the head, talk to me and bend down to visit.  (The petting is sometimes awkward and almost as if they were pushing me away but hey, hands on is still hands on in my book!).  These people are becoming less trained by the day…they no longer pet me when I jump.  Often, they offer me a treat for sitting even before I get the chance to jump up.  Sometimes they turn around and completely ignore me – I am mystified by this and often sit down to consider what I might be doing wrong (I am a thinking dog after all)…then BAM!  A treat comes my way.  Silly humans!

I am very good at protection. The mailman and delivery truck drivers are so well-trained now that I don’t even have to bark before they offer me a treat!  I chase any and all wildlife away – I’ve even been known to jump the fence to keep those pesky deer from munching my guardian’s prized tulips!  Almost caught one once… I am so fast that I can run circles around my guardians in the forest for hours on end.  I’m not so dull that a simple treat will lure me in when I’m out having the time of my life.  “Chase” is my favorite game, especially when my guardian runs the other way (I always catch her, and then it’s time to go back in for another treat).   I am a thinking dog.

Hmmm…now that I think about it, maybe what she was looking for all-along was a quiet dog that greets people politely, doesn’t jump the fence to chase wildlife and comes when called.  I may have to re-think my human training routine to keep her on her toes.  After all, I am a thinking dog.

A dogosophical beginning

This is all new to me, so I hope you’ll bear with my first few posts.  I spend most of my days doing something I love.  The kids are in school, husband at work, I am at home working with my dogs – or someone else’s dog.  People consider me a dog trainer, but the reality is that I let the dogs do the work.  They lead me in the teaching process.  I work by trying to get into a dog’s brain…what do they think? what are their motivations? why do they do the things they do?  By answering these questions, there isn’t a dog out there that needs to be “trained” with force, intimidation, pain or fear.

Rather than trying to “train” a dog, one should be thinking about how to motivate Fido and to help the pup understand what it is we want it to do and why it is important.  If we can accomplish that (not so) simple goal, we build a relationship.  We build trust, we eliminate anxiety, fear, insecurity.  We can live the way a dog does – without complications, without the need for “things”, wandering happily with a companion who can give unconditional love under any circumstance.  Strive to live a “dogosophical” life…a life of composure and calm in the presence of troubles, annoyances (and dog behavior problems).  I hope you enjoy reading from three dog’s points of view.