Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Do You Have A Stupid Dog?

I have encountered and trained a lot of dogs over the past decade and a half. I’ve trained some extremely intelligent dogs, and I’ve trained some that were just not very intelligent.

The smartest dog I ever encountered was a female Border Collie I worked with in 2007. It only took a couple of repetitions of showing her something, and she not only understood, but retained what I had shown her on the next lesson. She also would look to see what new thing I was going to show her after I taught her something; she was curious and liked to work. Yet, she was a very sensitive dog and was easily worried by people and dogs she didn’t know, so she didn’t adapt well to some social situations in public. The dumbest dog I ever encountered was a 1 year old, 100 pound, yellow Labrador Retriever I trained back around 2002. Nothing went into that thick skull of his, and we had to go over and over the same things for him to get what I was teaching. The training took forever, he also was defiant, and really only cared to look around at things in his environment. He also wasn’t all that personable.

I do remember, however, a dog that a customer had given up on. They said he was stupid, so they put him in the back yard and neglected him. And got another dog. I trained the second dog first. When I was almost finished with the second dog, I noticed they had a small dog in the back yard, and asked what was up with that dog. So, I asked permission to train him and see if I could fix what was wrong. The dog wasn’t stupid at all. He just was defiant, and needed patience and proper training. I remember demonstrating him to them when I was finished. They were shocked that it was the same dog. He actually was better behaved when I was finished with him than their first dog. The problem was... they still viewed him as a throw away dog, and eventually they started neglecting him again, started just leaving him in the back yard unattended, and he reverted back to the way he was.

It’s pretty rare that I run across a stupid dog. It’s usually a dog that is untrained and an owner that hasn’t put in the necessary time to get to know their dog. It’s really the owner who is stupid. They’ve concluded something based on faulty reasoning, emotions, and the result of bad training or no training at all. These so-called stupid dogs suffer as a result.

If you think you have a stupid dog, you probably don’t have a stupid dog. It’s probably that you are doing stupid training, or no training at all, and not giving your dog a chance to show you what s/he is capable of.

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