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A friend of mine named Chris, also my dog-walker, stated the opinion that in incidents of the dog misbehaving, it’s “Always the trainer’s fault – never the dog’s fault.” And while I am not sure that I like the idea of a misbehavior always being anyone’s fault, necessarily, I do feel that there is such a thing as willful disobedience in a generally well-trained dog.

 

The case of misbehavior that generated this discussion was my dog Sugarfoot bolting out of my apartment door to greet Chris, who was at the head of the stairs, about 15 feet from my door. I have taught Sugarfoot to sit at the door and wait to be leashed. Then I open the door, wait a few beats and say, “Outside,” at which point she will go out.

On the day of this misbehavior, I was down the hall cleaning a bathroom when Chris rang my apartment buzzer. I walked to my door, (door open, screen door closed) where Sugarfoot was waiting, tail awag, and gazing raptly at Chris, who was standing nearby at the top of the stairs.

I opened the screen and Sugarfoot bolted through and ran to Chris, greeting him with her usual, over-the-top joy.

My response was to walk to where the dog was bounding around Chris, grab the most accessible part of her anatomy, (which was her tail) and haul her back to the apartment. (There was no stomping or yelling from me. And in fact, I was not angry. But I view “gate-charging” as one of the most dangerous things that a city dog can do, so my response was immediate and designed to penetrate the joyful delirium of the dog greeting Chris.)

Sugarfoot did not resent this treatment (although she was certainly surprised) and as soon as I got her back inside she took up a position on the doormat, head up, tail wagging and waited for her lead to be affixed.

I then opened the door, waited a few beats and said, “Outside.” She galloped off to catch up with Chris, who was now on his way down the stairs.

 

The discussion Chris and I had later is the one in which he opined that a dog’s misbehavior was always the trainer’s fault, never the dog’s. This was in response to my assertion that she knew that she was doing wrong by bolting out the door.

 

Now some people will certainly object to the way in which I handled the dog, but the question that I pose here is, was the dog willfully disobeying an understood rule, or was she “insufficiently trained”?

 

Yesterday – the day of the incident – I said that Sugarfoot knew better - that her bolting through the door was willful disobedience occasioned by her state of excitement over seeing Chris.

 

Today another way of looking at it occurred to me. That is, that nearly all of her training about waiting at doors has occurred with both of us on the same side of the door. True, she has never bolted out of a door that she was inside as I was entering, but that could be explained by the supposition that as I was coming in, she had no reason to run out, since she was primarily interested in greeting me.

 

In the incident yesterday, I was on the other side of the door, (and so was her ultimate desiderata, her friend Chris, and the prospect of a nice run.)

Today I did a little investigation. I went out the door, fuzzled around the hallway and then opened the screen and propped it open. I stood back about 4 feet from the door and waited. Sugarfoot came to the threshold and stopped. She sat down. So I shuffled back a foot or two and she stepped out.

 

OK. So that was it.

 

We then worked on “inside” “outside” for bits of cheese, and when she was moving freely and without hesitation on the “inside” and “outside” commands, and visually tracking, but not physically following bits of cheese tossed down the hall or out of her reach just outside the door, we stopped for the day.

Obviously, we will be doing lots more of this, both at my door and in other door and gate locations.

 

But.

 

The initial question remains. Do dogs willfully break truly understood rules, or does rule breaking always indicate insufficient training? (Barring situations in which the dog is in harm's way or frightened.)

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I think it depends on the situation. I have a lamb that survived due to a willful disobedient dog. I was running dogs and this one dog slipped away, generally no big deal, except he would not come back. He made me go get him. When I got to him he was lying there with the ewe and the newborn lamb. This is a dog that "never" disobeys (obedient to a fault generally).

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I totally believe that a dog call willfully choose to do the opposite of what he has been taught He is not a robot, or a machine, and has freewill. Some dogs ARE more stubborn than others...its a personality trait.

 

That said, IMO probably 90% of the time a dog disobeys its because of a trainer failure: the behavior was not generalized well enough, the cue turned out to be not what the handler thought (ex. you think your dog sits because you say sit but in reality he is cueing off of some head movement, and when the situation changes and you don't do the head thing he doesn't think the cue was given), or there is some issue such as pain or fear making a dog refuse or remembering something bad happening.

 

Thus, I almost always give the dog the benefit of the doubt.

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The initial question remains. Do dogs willfully break truly understood rules, or does rule breaking always indicate insufficient training? (Barring situations in which the dog is in harm's way or frightened.)

 

I don't know that there is an always here, but I think we often feel the dog "knows better" when it is more a training issue than anything else. Perhaps he hasn't generalized a behavior or for whatever reason thinks obeying is optional/not worth it to him or (and I think this is very big) obeying isn't a habit for him. Anyway, even if I feel the dog is being willful, I look at it as a need to train/proof the behavior better.

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Your description of you dog bounding out the door sounds a LOT like behavior I sometimes see in my eighth grade students. Kids run in the halls, push each other playfully, stuff french fries in their friends' milk containers - all despite having been "taught" that these things are not aceptable. Willful disobedience... maybe, sure. But the longer I teach eighth grade, the more I just shrug and think, "They're not done cooking yet. They'll get there in a few years."

 

Sometimes, impulsiveness and joyous abandon just take over when young things get excited. I'm not sure it's the fault of the young thing OR the trainer - it's just a reflection of the imperfection of biological organisms. :rolleyes:

 

Mary

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I absolutely do not think dogs "willfully misbehave." I think if/when they do not do the right thing, they have either not been "really," 100% trained to do the right thing, or, in the case, for example, of young stockdogs, they simply "cannot resist temptation." Example--you ask the dog to lie down; it doesn't. It doesn't have the maturity to let go of the control of the stock. Or, it's reading the stock better than the handler and can see that if it takes the lie down, the stock will bolt, and then the handler is late in yelling for the dog to flank and cover. This is a bit of a pet peeve or mine, actually--too many handlers saying the "dog is blowing me off," when in actuality, the handler is just doing a crummy job of handling or training. I see handlers yelling commands at their dogs that the dogs simply do not know, and then getting pissed at the dog for not responding as the handler wanted. So, no matter the reason for the dog to do the wrong thing, it all means the dog needs more training on that issue...

 

Actually, I think Sugarfoot simply didn't have quite enough self control (for whatever reason on that particular day) to keep herself from running to greet her friend, or, as you say, the training was always in a slightly different situation/context...

 

Now I'll go back to lurk mode,

A

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The initial question remains. Do dogs willfully break truly understood rules, or does rule breaking always indicate insufficient training? (Barring situations in which the dog is in harm's way or frightened.)

 

When Mick was young but well started I called him off through his sheep. My trainer asked why I didn't call him off the sheep in a manner that I knew he'd respond to (not right through the sheep) I said, "becasue I think he knows what I"m asking and he'll do it". He didn't, he stuck out his guns and stayed there holding the sheep till I walked away from them calling him off as I went off balance to the sheep, he came right off then.

I said, "well he shoud know better" and the trainer looked at me, smiled and said, "obvisously he doesn't"

At that moment I thought he knew better, with the trainers words I realized it was me that didn't comunicate what I wanted in a context that he understood. Lesson learned but I still find myself making the same type mistakes only now I don't blame the dog.

 

I think dogs do what works for them, not in willful disobidence agaisnt us, just what works for them.

I try hard to not blame my dog(s). It's me not imparting the information that they need to understand what I want at that particular moment.

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Dogs most certainly do willfully disobey. A certain whistle or a "here" is all that is needed to bring the dogs to me. However, when it is hot, Jackson will lie down with the ball and will not come to me. (this is after several throws) It is because he is too hot, and he knows if he brings the ball, and I throw it, he WILL have to chase it! If I let him lie for a bit, and then call him, he comes readily. So I don't call him when he does this, as I don't want him to think the disobedience is ok. Then there are the times when he drops the ball and refuses to bring it to me. I will tell him, get the ball. He will look at it, then me with a look on his face that clearly says, "make me". So, my ever reliable Skip is told to get it, which he always does, and Jackson is sent in the house, while me and Skip play a bit. That usually takes care of it for a while, then he does it again. That's NOT lack of training. That's my stubborn, hardheaded dog.

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Mick is a living, walking example of willful disobedience. He knows when he's doing things he shouldn't do.

 

For example, if he's going to steal something out of the trash, he'll walk past me, trying to hide it and acting like a feral little coyote or something. This is the #1 sign, he's carrying something he shouldn't. He nearly almost always gets caught, but if he just trotted past like he wasn't up to anything bad, he'd likely manage to get away with it.

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I absolutely do not think dogs "willfully misbehave." I think if/when they do not do the right thing, they have either not been "really," 100% trained to do the right thing, or, in the case, for example, of young stockdogs, they simply "cannot resist temptation."

 

I agree with you. I do not think dogs willfully misbehave, but I don't think it's always about the trainer either - I think it's often a case of the reward for their behaviour being stronger than their training. For example - invisible fencing does not work for some dogs because they will brave the pain to go through the shock field if what is on the other side of the "fence" is more tempting than their fear of the shock. Those same dogs will almost always not come BACK through the "fence" because the reward of being in the good zone is not tempting enough to brave the shock. It's a risk/reward scenario.

 

Like Mr. Woo - he knows what a recall is, but he also knows how much fun it is to chase a rabbit. If he decides to start chasing a rabbit, I can show him something else he really likes - say a liver cookie (please keep in mind that Woo is not a border collie, he is a walking appetite crossed with some other breed) and he will very obviously think about both the cookie and the rabbit, and 99 times out of a 100, will go for the rabbit. Because he likes to chase and eat rabbits even more than he likes to eat cookies, the rabbit is a stronger reward than the cookie.

 

I used to share my home with a partner who did not want the dogs loose in the house when we were not home. They stayed in 'their' room behind a babygate that is shorter than what they jump in agility yet they respected it because there was nothing they wanted more on the other side of the gate. But I can guarantee that if I put a pizza on the floor on the other side of the gate and left the house, they would have all been over the gate in a heartbeat. Similarly, Mr. Woo would jump the babygate in the house to greet me at the door when I got home, but for 8 hours a day he never bothered to jump it. I do not think this is willful disobedience, it's just a matter of the reward being more worthwhile to the dog than the training. Which is why for many dogs, rewarding them with something they really like in training can be more effective than just assuming they should do something because you told them to. Which is the case with training sheepdogs - allowing them to have their sheep is very rewarding, which is why they will comply with what you're asking them to do, when they understand that if they do it, they get the sheep, yes?

 

I feel sorry for dogs who have owners who believe they spend their whole lives trying to undo their training or "disobey" their handlers. Why would anyone want to live with animals they think are always trying to undermine them? I like to joke that the WooTWoo are willfully disobedient, but I know they aren't really - they are both lovely, and try really hard, it's just that I will never be as interesting, or presumably as tasty, as fresh bunny.

 

RDM

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I was told by a guy with a guide dog that guide dogs are selected to be "a bit stubborn." That is, he said, they are trained to disobey the person they're guiding if that person directs them into danger (e.g. across the tracks when a train's coming). So is it "wilful disobedience" if the dog disobeys the handler but not the underlying training?

 

I imagine that sheepdogs would be forced to make similar choices on a regular basis (as in Karen's example), especially experienced dogs with less experienced handlers.

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I was told by a guy with a guide dog that guide dogs are selected to be "a bit stubborn." That is, he said, they are trained to disobey the person they're guiding if that person directs them into danger (e.g. across the tracks when a train's coming). So is it "wilful disobedience" if the dog disobeys the handler but not the underlying training?

 

I imagine that sheepdogs would be forced to make similar choices on a regular basis (as in Karen's example), especially experienced dogs with less experienced handlers.

But isn't the guide dog really obeying "the underlying training" by not placing the handler in harm's way? And that it takes a strong-willed dog to obey *that training* in the face of the handler, who is actually present, telling them to do something else?

 

If I could go back and be a better handler for Celt in his most formative years, how much better a dog would he be now? My poor timing, poor judgement, misreading of stock, misreading of dog, and just general novice ignorance (much of which I still possess) made a hash of a nice, natural dog. No wonder he blew me off - not well-trained and not able to trust me to be right. A bad combination for him.

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Hello everyone,

 

I was told by a guy with a guide dog that guide dogs are selected to be "a bit stubborn." That is, he said, they are trained to disobey the person they're guiding if that person directs them into danger (e.g. across the tracks when a train's coming). So is it "wilful disobedience" if the dog disobeys the handler but not the underlying training?

 

Guide dogs utilize what is termed "intelligent disobedience". If the dog and its person are standing beside a busy street, and the dog is instructed "forward" to go into the street, the dog will use its intelligence and foundation training to refuse to obey a command that would put the person in danger.

 

To me, this is vastly different from a dog displaying "willful disobedience", which is usually reinforced by owners who allow their dogs to disobey.

 

Regards,

nancy

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I absolutely do not think dogs "willfully misbehave." I think if/when they do not do the right thing, they have either not been "really," 100% trained to do the right thing, or, in the case, for example, of young stockdogs, they simply "cannot resist temptation."

 

Hm, doesn´t this boil down to definitions? I would say knowing a certain rule but "not resisting temptation" could be defined as willfull disobedience....

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So many good examples....to me willfully disobedient is when a sentient being knows something is wrong and does it anyway....the other night, DH had to go out of the gate to fetch a tennis ball that had sailed over the back fence into the field. That gate only opens for a walk in the field or for a swim in the frog pond...something F_U_N! so the dogs were like racehorses at the starting gate. All three charged through, in spite of the sit stay that DH never enforces anywhere else. Robin and Brodie did return almost immediately, but Ladybug is up at the frog pond doing laps in an nanosecond. I heard DH yelling, "Ladybug, you're setting a bad example!!!"

 

This example is very similar to the OP's -- the dogs are used to charging out the gate to go to the pond, so they're heedless - except that the two boys turned back when called and the oldest one, the dependable one, flicked her tail and kept going, so yes, in this instant, Miss Ladybug, who never gets a chance to peacefully hunt for frogs on her own, was willfully disobedient. She did come back in a few minutes, dripping wet, but it wasn't the instant turn around we usually get from her. And no, she didn't get punished....she's a Ladybug, after all...and she did come back...

June20LadybugandScottyinthepond001-1.jpg

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I just wanted to say that I agree with everything Mr. Snappy said. Now granted, I never did a great job training Daisy's recall, but she definitely knows that when I call her it means I want her to come to me. The problem is, of course, that she doesn't have much incentive to do that. Especially if we're, say, at the park and I'm holding her leash. She knows that coming to me means it's time to go home, and she's not terribly interested in doing that.

 

On the other hand, if we're at the park and I just want to distract her away from something or get her to check in with me, she'll come every time I call. So, is she being "willfully disobedient"? I guess so, but at the same time this is one case in which we really can't attribute human emotions on to dogs. It's not like Daisy's disobeying because she wants to annoy me or is going through some sort of rebellion. It's just that I haven't given her a good reason to do what I've asked her to. The reward for disobeying is greater than the reward for obeying.

 

With Seamus, on the other hand, pleasing me seems to be enough reward. He almost always comes when I call, despite even less recall training than Daisy has, simply because he loves greeting me and getting a verbal praise and a scratch under his chin is all he needs.

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As others have stated here with good examples, I'm not sure if it's willful disobedience, but a combination of things such as the reward for the dog outweighing the risk of consequences, lack of self-control and proofing situations. Even though I consider my dogs well trained, there are some situations and circumstances where I know I have to be watchful of my dogs' behavior and remind them that I'm watching them they better not do what I think they are thinking about doing. If that makes any sense.

Examples would be - Chase knows he's not allowed in the stinky pond. Oh, he knows, yet almost every day he takes one of his balls and rolls it down into the pond and will lay there forever watching me, watching the ball and back and forth until he thinks I'm not paying attention and in he goes. Things are never pleasant for either of us when he takes a dip into the pond, yet getting into that pond somehow is far more satisfying to him than the not so pleasant cleaning he gets with the hose. When I am paying more attention and I really don't have time to spend washing him and tell him to get away from there because I know what he's thinking, he goes and finds another ball and plays elsewhere.

Same with Gypsy. Sometimes one of us forgets and leaves the lid to the trashcan open. Next thing you know I'll notice that she's trying to quietly tip-toe (for real, she seems like she tip-toes) past me to another part of the house so she can enjoy her loot. If she knows I'm watching or if I tell her get away from there, she's good. I don't know if that's willful disobedience or a case of risk outweighing consequences. She doesn't like me mad at her but she really really really loves food.

 

(Not to hi-jack but I have to comment on the pic of Ladybug. That could be my yard, just switch the dogs to a blue merle with a short tail. If I let her, Gyp would be forever hunting frogs on the perimeter. :rolleyes: )

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this is one case in which we really can't attribute human emotions on to dogs. It's not like Daisy's disobeying because she wants to annoy me or is going through some sort of rebellion. It's just that I haven't given her a good reason to do what I've asked her to. The reward for disobeying is greater than the reward for obeying. ...

 

See, I think we can absolutely attribute the same motivations to dogs in this situation as we can to humans.

 

Say... it's very late at night and I come to that peculiar "Y" intersection in my town where I can see for half a mile in all directions, and I know with certainty that there are no cars coming from anywhere. Technically, there's a stop sign there, but I'm all alone in the middle of the country, and I know there are no other humans in sight. So... I glide carefully right through.

 

The state is asking me to come to a full stop there, as if there's a chance I'll be hit by another driver. But in this situation, the state hasn't given me a good enough reason to do what they want me to do there. The risk (ticket or being sideswiped) is nonexistent in this situation, and even though the reward (removing the inconvenience of stopping) is not that great, it's great enough compared to the (absent) risk to let me slide through that intersection.

 

Choosing the chocolate cake over the canteloupe. Going through the 12-item line with 15 items. Hitting 72 in a 55-mph zone. Crossing an empty street against the light. Are these things "willful disobedience?" I'd say so. Are they "weighing the reward against the punishment." Yup. To me, willful disobedience and choosing the risk the punishment to seek an enjoyable reward are the same thing - in humans or dogs.

 

I don't for a minute think our dogs are less capable of making judgment calls about what's convenient for them than we are. Mind you, I'm not inflating dogs to human level here - I'm just skeptical that human behavior and motivation is of a "higher order" than that of dogs. I think our motivations are pretty darned similar, just expressed with different levels of sophistication.

 

Mary

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Choosing the chocolate cake over the canteloupe. Going through the 12-item line with 15 items. Hitting 72 in a 55-mph zone. Crossing an empty street against the light. Are these things "willful disobedience?" I'd say so. Are they "weighing the reward against the punishment." Yup. To me, willful disobedience and choosing the risk the punishment to seek an enjoyable reward are the same thing - in humans or dogs.

 

I disagree, because you've left out one important difference between dogs and humans: the things we *expect* dogs to do and demand compliance for are largely arbitrary for the dog. Dogs do not ask other dogs to come when called, all trash / food items are fair game unless someone else has them between their paws and what canine would tell another canine "don't chase that bunny and I will ruin my food processor and stink up my whole house by making you disgusting liver brownies as a reward?"

 

If you eat the cake knowing it will make you fatter, you understand the relationship between caloric intake and your lazy, over indulging self so you make a clear choice. If a dog eats something out of your trash after you told him not to, it's probably because he thinks you're a moron for not eating it, not guarding it or not burying it somewhere he was unaware of. The dog is programed to scavenge, and your rule about not eating from garbage cans is completely arbitrary to him. The fact that we have to teach our dogs to please not pee in our houses, to come trotting back to us when we start hopping up and down turning purple or waggle liver cookies at them to get them to stop locking into Peter Cottontail is just indicative of how ridiculous our rules are to dogs, and also how freakin' compliant and agreeable they are for trying to understand them. If we don't make our weird rules clear enough to them, and they do not obey them, or their instincts overrride our arbitrary demands, how insane is it that we then accuse them of "willful disobedience?"

 

A friend of mine runs two beagles in agility, and they are fantastic. They almost never put their noses down in the ring. I overheard someone ask her once if she corrected them for scenting and that's how she got them to not do it in agility. She replied absolutely not, scenting is what beagles do and she would never ever tell them they can't scent. All she asks is that they don't put their new noses down for the 45 seconds or so they are in the ring, and she makes it possible for them by keeping them engaged and rewarding them afterward. If they do go nose-down on course, she doesn't get upset with them for being "willfully disobedient" because they sure aren't - they are just being beagles. Imagine if she got all huffy and cheezed at them for willfully disobeying her? Wouldn't that be so insane, to tell a beagle it can't smell something? Isn't it also insane to tell an opportunistic carnivore that they can't eat trash, or tell a dog that it can't lift its leg on its own territory, which just happens to include the stove? It's all nuts ... to the dog. We should really be giving them a lot more credit for trying to work with us, rather than assuming they are trying to undermine us.

 

RDM

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(Not to hi-jack but I have to comment on the pic of Ladybug. That could be my yard, just switch the dogs to a blue merle with a short tail. If I let her, Gyp would be forever hunting frogs on the perimeter. :rolleyes: )

 

 

Oh, Ladybug does love herding frogs....she gets so mad at Robin when he cannonballs in the frog pond and spoils the hunting. But, put her near a sheep and she hides behind DH...she must have been a city girl (she's a rescue).

 

Back to willful disobedience...Ladybug has a strong personality with her own mind for sure. She's the first dog we have owned that I totally trust off lead. Sometimes you tell her to sit over there, and she says no, surely you want me to sit HERE because I'm not close enough to you. Sometimes, you tell her to lie down and she says no, I really think you wanted me to SIT. She will do as you ask on the second request, but she's one of those that does test. We laugh and say she's a Ladybug and let her get away with it because she's little and sweet, and was very fearful when she first came to us and a very good girl who really is extremely well behaved and obedient. She gets special treatment , which is why she knew she could ignore DH and go up to the pond and play for a few minutes...and he knew she would come back. But the boys don't get away with that kind of nonsense. They have to obey -- they haven't yet earned the right to a little latitude because they would take a mile. They're not being willful...they're just young dogs. And they did obey. They didn't have the control to sit, stay when he opened the gate, but they came right back when he called, which is a victory for the troops.

 

So, the boys know they're going to "get it" if they don't come right back -- Ladybug knows she can get away with it...ergo, they come back -- and our little or enchanted Celtic fairy princess goes for a quick swim. (She's not a dog. After we lost Lucky and Willlie to old age, DH said NO MORE DOGS! Ladybug was the next one through the door, so she's not a dog....:D )

 

Liz

 

Liz

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Isn't it also insane to tell an opportunistic carnivore that they can't eat trash, or tell a dog that it can't lift its leg on its own territory, which just happens to include the stove? It's all nuts ... to the dog. We should really be giving them a lot more credit for trying to work with us, rather than assuming they are trying to undermine us.

 

RDM

 

This made me chuckle just because the term "opportunistic carnivore" conjured up images of Gypsy. That is exactly what she is, that's how I see her and I know that's how she is and I know I need to watch her when I know the trashcan lid is open. She will, if she can, make the most of any opportunity to get food, I know this. That's why I need to remind her that no, today's not the day your allowed in the trash. It certainly doesn't make me happy to be cleaning coffee grinds off the floor, and she knows it, but shame on me for leaving the trash open when I know the outcome. I don't see her as being a bad girl, no, she's not trying to undermine mine. That's her being a dog. I have seen her practice unbelievable self-control around food, she tries so hard, just sometimes without my reminders that I'm watching or sometimes when something smells really good, she goes for it.

 

Had to edit to add that, just like the woman with the beagles who do what they do, I feel I have to manage Gypsy around food. There is no way, believe me, that I can stop her obsession with food so I manage it.

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While it can be frustrating when a dog does not obey - such as my Katie taking off after small animals and "not" hearing my recall commands, I prefer that a to a robot dog who has been so trained that cannot think for itself. As mentioned by "Alaska" above, guide dogs are taught intelligent disobedience and I think many herding dogs use this trait as well. I don't want a dog that's going to be run over by a cow or horse just because I put it on a stay.

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See, I think we can absolutely attribute the same motivations to dogs in this situation as we can to humans.

 

Say... it's very late at night and I come to that peculiar "Y" intersection in my town where I can see for half a mile in all directions, and I know with certainty that there are no cars coming from anywhere. Technically, there's a stop sign there, but I'm all alone in the middle of the country, and I know there are no other humans in sight. So... I glide carefully right through.

 

The state is asking me to come to a full stop there, as if there's a chance I'll be hit by another driver. But in this situation, the state hasn't given me a good enough reason to do what they want me to do there. The risk (ticket or being sideswiped) is nonexistent in this situation, and even though the reward (removing the inconvenience of stopping) is not that great, it's great enough compared to the (absent) risk to let me slide through that intersection.

 

Choosing the chocolate cake over the canteloupe. Going through the 12-item line with 15 items. Hitting 72 in a 55-mph zone. Crossing an empty street against the light. Are these things "willful disobedience?" I'd say so. Are they "weighing the reward against the punishment." Yup. To me, willful disobedience and choosing the risk the punishment to seek an enjoyable reward are the same thing - in humans or dogs.

 

I don't for a minute think our dogs are less capable of making judgment calls about what's convenient for them than we are. Mind you, I'm not inflating dogs to human level here - I'm just skeptical that human behavior and motivation is of a "higher order" than that of dogs. I think our motivations are pretty darned similar, just expressed with different levels of sophistication.

 

Mary

 

 

 

RDM's points aside, my point was less about people and dogs making conscious logical decisions to do something they are told not do, and more to do with the emotional component of disobedience for disobedience's sake. I guess it's a semantics issue. Willful disobedience, as a phrase, suggests to me that the purpose of the action is to disobey. When I think of the phrase "willful disobedience" my mind immediately goes to the defiant child/teenager who is angry that they're not allowed to do something and decides "I'll show Mom," and ends up doing something even worse. To me it's more like a rebellion - it doesn't have any logical basis beyond "I'm feeling hurt so I'm going to hurt that person back." In my experience, dogs don't do that. They don't choose to disobey simply to p*ss us off. They disobey because they don't want to do what you want them to do.

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I guess it's a semantics issue. Willful disobedience, as a phrase, suggests to me that the purpose of the action is to disobey. When I think of the phrase "willful disobedience" my mind immediately goes to the defiant child/teenager who is angry that they're not allowed to do something and decides "I'll show Mom," and ends up doing something even worse. To me it's more like a rebellion - it doesn't have any logical basis beyond "I'm feeling hurt so I'm going to hurt that person back." In my experience, dogs don't do that. They don't choose to disobey simply to p*ss us off. They disobey because they don't want to do what you want them to do.

 

Yes, this. I don't in any way think that dogs disobey to piss us off, or undermine us, spite us, any of that. So, maybe willful disobedience isn't the right phrase for what I'm thinking. I just can't agree that every time a dog does something it's not supposed to, that it's because of a lack of training. Yes, instinct over-riding obedience, I get that, too. I just think we sell dogs short to think that they don't make choices because, well, they just want to do one thing more than the other.

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