If you find you organize your days around training your dog, you are probably no longer a people-centered person. Not a bad thing, but possibly a bit obsessive. Dogs can be very affectionate, whereas we all know that many people haven’t a clue about relationships. Dogs pretty much return any attention paid ten-fold. So, you many find planning for obedience practice, obedience classes, agility trials, assorted workshops, and checking out the latest toys and training aids for pets will pretty much eat up any free time not devoted to a job, household duties, family, and other life interests. The payoff: a great dog! Well, unless your pet is not wholly committed to all the arrangements you make for his/her continued improvement. For instance, my dog has discovered how great it is to bark at everything, a factor which makes her unwelcome in certain classes, like agility, where dogs and their handlers running around are just too exciting for the dear little dickens (not so little, being a German Shepherd and a drama queen to boot).
I take my dog on walks every day, at least one half-hour loop in the woods near my house and usually two such treks, with a chance for ball-chasing and Frisbee-almost-catching in a big field too. She usually goes along with the next-door Golden Retriever, one with proven ability in the agility line. My dog is younger, and always eager to rough-house with her canine friend. So, you would think that she has exercised enough to be attentive to lessons on leash-walking and the usual sit-waits and down-stays. Yet, somehow when the other dog is around, my dog has no time for listening to her handler and only thinks of competing with her dog buddy. When on her own, and when prepped for work by playing with dog toys like the tornado (several levels with hidden treats in a compact, round toy), she pays moderate attention, looking for the food reward and words of praise. Yet, when next asked to behave around her retriever companion, she appears to have forgotten all recent training.
Mine is not a unique story, but certainly a continuing saga, as surely this great dog will pick up some good habits as she gets a little older, and older, and older. Not pulling when on a leash would be the least one, a basic good habit, while maintaining a calm down-wait while watching other dogs in a classroom setting would be a gold-star event, a write-home-to-everyone moment. Okay, so there’s obsessive, and there’s dog-devotional obsessive. Raising kids has got to be the easier gig.