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Well-Behaved or Well-Trained?


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I have this ongoing dialog with various and sundry of my "doggy" friends, and I’d like to introduce it here. It has to do with the difference between well-behaved dogs and well-trained dogs.

 

I know many people who have dogs in each category, and some, like my own which is in a transitional state between one and the other.

 

The difference between these two types of dogs can be illustrated in the following way:

A dog that is well-behaved is usually a fairly intelligent and agreeable sort, and a good observer. She has learned your routine and does things in a patterned way most of the time for a variety of reasons. For instance, when it’s time to go for a walk, the dog will sit and wait at the door while you get your outside shoes on, find a poop-bag, and slip on her lead. She is patient because she has learned the routine and discovered that the shortest path between one side of the door and the other is to go headfirst into her collar or pause to wait for you to snap on the lead. She will not bolt out the door, because she has learned that you tend to come unglued when she does, and you are easier for her to deal with when you are not unglued.

 

A dog that is well-trained will do the same thing for the same reasons – plus one more. She has been methodically taught to do so and rewarded for the behavior and proofed for the behavior. She has a thorough understanding of what is expected of her, and knows that it is always expected of her.

 

The difference between the two is important.

 

The well-behaved dog is pleasant to be around. You often hear the owners of such dog’s say, “She’s so smart! She just trained herself! She just seems to know what I want and is just so eager to please.” But she will occasionally deviate from this routine if the reward offered by the deviation is greater than the inconvenience of a flustered owner. The owner will be taken aback by these “lapses” and say “I don’t know what got into her! She’s usually so good!

 

But it isn’t anything that “got into her.” It’s something that didn’t get into her – a clear idea of what is expected of her – all the time.

 

The crucial difference is that the well-behaved dog will sit like a model citizen waiting for her collar, while the world outside the open door beckons - most of the time. But if that same dog is met with the sudden appearance of the neighbor’s cat doing its impression of a Christmas tree on the porch, the well-behaved dog will, in all probability chase that flustered feline across the yard, into the street, and perhaps die under the wheels of a car. She does so, because no one has prepared her for the notion that sitting for her collar and an invitation to step out the door are not merely the easiest way to get what she wants – to go outside ASAP – but something that is required of her.

 

Now, those of you who have carefully trained your dog to work stock, run an agility course, find cocaine in airports or people in earthquake rubble, have probably trained and proofed assiduously to achieve the level of performance required to do these tasks. But how many of you have a dog who when at home, “off duty,” is a well-trained dog, and how many have a well-behaved dog? And how much of a distinction do you make between the two?

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My old girl Laska is a classic well-behaved dog. She came to me at 1 1/2, extremely undersocialized and with no training. She was/is very even-tempered (although she was originally very timid), observant, intuitive and eager to please (in a non-golden retriever sort of way). I was a university student when i got her and as a result had a lot of time to spend with her. I wouldn't say i spent a ton of time training her because, as you mentioned, she just seemed to get it. Everywhere we went, people commented on how well-behaved she was. As she has gotten older (she is 13), she has been more inclined to do what she wants, rather than what she knows i want (and now that she is deaf, it is a lot more difficult to redirect her). I realise now that we never did train her very much.

 

My younger dog Orbit is a whole other deal. I adopted him at 12 weeks and even before the gravol wore off (we had to drive 10 hours) he was hell on wheels. I set out to train him from day one. Being a border collie, he has been a dream to train. People always comment on how well trained he is. Because he is still young, he still needs reminders, but listens almost immediately.

 

Having the two of them, side by side in certain situations really highlights the difference between the two. For example: I walk my dogs off leash through our neighbourhood most of the time. Laska has always been very methodical and in no particular hurry. She was usually behind me and so crossing streets was never much of an issue. Orbit however would run straight to the park if he had his way, so we have had to work at it. We are at the point now where 50% of the time, he will lie down at the end of the block and wait for me (the other 50% of the time he stands there). He knows that the only way he crosses the street is when i give him permission. Since Laska never learned to wait and is now deaf, I have to keep her on a leash because sometimes she decides to just go. It is true that when your dog is naturally well behaved, you are far less likely to put them through rigourous training because it does not appear necessary as it does with a crazy yahoo.

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I will tweek the definition a bit if I may. I know many trainers whose dogs while knowing many different behaviours will NOT perform them w/o comand. Things such as manners-waiting at the door, not jumping up on people, not begging for food UNLESS the dog is given a command. IOW, the dogs ONLY behave when put on command. I know people who have OTCH dogs that they 'brag' can't be let into their houses because the dog will bounce off the walls (literally). These are 'well trained' dogs but often lacking in manners.

 

The vast majority of working stock dogs I see are well behaved. They may NOT know 'formal' obedience, but you can take them into the farm store or elsewhere and they won't pull on a leash (if they are even ON leash) they don't jump on people and they are generally mannerly. Moreover, IF one of these dogs were to chase the neighbor's cat I would bet they could be stopped or called off with little difficulty.

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I personally don't make a whole lot of distinction between the two, since I feel one is a result of the other.

 

My opinion is a well trained dog will be a well behaved dog, because that dog has been taught (trained) what is expected of it, and I expect good behavior. The training for a well behaved dog should be across all areas and not just what the dog is trained for its work. Stockdogs should be well behaved in public and off stock, as should other dogs in their type of work. Chesney works both livestock and as a search and rescue dog. He is well behaved at both places AND well behaved at home because I have expected (or trained) that type of behavior from him. So for me there is no defined line between the two.

 

ETA: What Pam has said is the reason I don't draw a line between the two, as I don't do formal obedience with my dogs, so most of the good behavior isn't asked for, it's simply trained to where I don't need a command for good behavior, that's just what's expected.

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Dear Doggers,

I am grateful to Ms. Banner for introducing this topic and trust my disagreement isn’t pettifoggery. Ms. Banner writes (in part):

 

(The well-behaved dog) " will occasionally deviate from this routine if the reward offered by the deviation is greater than the inconvenience of a flustered owner. The owner will be taken aback by these “lapses” and say “I don’t know what got into her! She’s usually so good!

 

But it isn’t anything that “got into her.” It’s something that didn’t get into her – a clear idea of what is expected of her – all the time.'

 

I prefer the term "mannerly" to "well-behaved" but the terms are nearly synonymous. Amongst my pet dog trainer friends and their dogs I say my sheepdogs are “mannerly” instead of “obedient” or “well-trained” and I don’t assume the title “dog trainer” because I’m a “sheepdog trainer” and that’s a different (and in important ways easier) job.

 

I recall one time at an IACP conference with my friend Vivian Bregman (multiple OTCH’s) and Luke and June, offlead in a throng of mostly trained dogs and mostly dog savvy humans. I asked Luke and June to scoot under a table, lie down and stay. Vivian was offended at my (well deserved) modesty, “Your dogs are OBEDIENT,” she snapped. “You’re a DOG TRAINER!”

 

Flattering but they aren’t and I’m not. I’d never trained them to the command, “Why don’t you get under there and stay for a while.”

 

Last year I was readying to go out west. Because I didn’t want to leave her behind, I’d take Peg, my wife’s 2 year old non-working Border Collie. At the vets, the tech said, “That’s the first time I’ve ever seen you with a dog on a leash,” which became an epiphany:“OhmiGod, I’m taking this dog to North Dakota, motels, trials, rest stops, the prairie and the poor beast has never been TRAINED!!!”

 

In the next week I taught Peg to sit, lie down, stay and walk behind - the modest skills she needed to survive her journey. Even when I try I’m no dog trainer.

 

I am interested in pet dog training and my dogs have sat in Pat Miller’s, Wendy Volhard’s, Janeen McMurtrie’s, Tony Ancheta’s, Nicholas Dodman and Behesha Doan’s offices and training classes.

 

My dogs were as mannerly as any pet dog I met, including the instructor’s own dogs and perhaps more mannerly - certainly Luke and June were off leash when few to none of the other dogs were.

 

From this I drew conclusions: that because our dogs are trained off leash OL is our default viz: if our dog is starting across a busy street to inspect a bitch in heat we tell it to stop and, because it’s used to obeying our urgent voice it does so. Because trial dogs are expected to be mannerly at busy, complex sheepdog trials, they are mannerly everywhere.

This last was a mistake. I’d drawn too much from my own dogs and their unusual, situation. I work at home farming or writing and my schedule revolves around sheepdog trials (FINISH PART 2 BEFORE BOYCE TRIAL). I meet my NY agent in Washington Square Park, to or from a trial and my dogs lie under the park bench as we discuss book biz.

 

I take my dogs to literary events and, when possible, on book tours. Thus,without my paying attention and practically no deliberate training, my dogs became mannerly. The very worst experiences they’ve had were San Fransisco’s chinatown, DC’s Dupont circle on a Saturday night, and Dulles airport waiting for the rentacar bus. Each time they were onlead! Mostly, the dogs have been offlead: London, Paris, NYC, LA, SF . . .

 

It is life experience, atop the sheepdog training that has made my dogs mannerly - sheepdog training, by itself, isn’t enough. Last week I took my new-to-me five year old bitch for her first vet visit - on lead. Imported, she’s been a kennel dog most of her life and while restricting the dog’s experience to training and working sheep may enhance their keenness and focus (I’m not convinced), it means that they - like the pet dog who never leaves its own home or backyard - become the dog in the bubble; without sufficient referents in the real world.

 

At last I come to my disagreement with the astute Ms. Banner. When she writes that the mannerly/well behaved dog must have “a clear idea of what is expected of her – all the time”. I don’t think that’s so. I think that, like us, the mannerly dog reasons from its training and life exposure/experience to intuit how to act. I don’t think the mannerly dog has “a clear idea of what is expected of it” and certainly not “all the time”

 

On balance, the mannerly dog gets through its known and part known world about as well as we do: dogs never run stop signs and never, ever text while driving.

 

Although I doubt the real world value of some tasks pet dog trainers’ teach, I think training, whether for sheepdog work or obedience, has a value beyond the training itself: training is the swiftest, surest way to establish the bonds, understanding and mutual trust that can bring us and our dogs into our complicated, informative, brilliantly rewarding world.

 

 

Donald McCaig

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I don't really draw a line either. My first priority with a new dog in my household is to begin the process of helping the dog become a well behaved dog. The first bits of formal training that will carry over into sports are done in that context. For instance, as my dog is learning to keep four on the floor near counters or to keep four on the floor while greeting people, he or she is also learning paws up and paws on for Freestyle. Sit and wait at the door is the first introduction to a sit stay for a startline or for the leave dog recall in Rally.

 

My dogs first learn the concept of what a reinforcer means through regular good-behavior training. That carries over into sport training where the role of reinforcers will become more complex. And I do a lot of foundation impulse control training in every day ordinary contexts like wait at the door, wait until released to get out of the car, wait until I am finished eating to get your tidbit, etc.

 

Once the dog has a nice foundation of good behavior, I focus more on formal sport training, but I continue to foster good behavior and I really do find that the two go hand in hand. Maybe I approach it this way because my dogs are both pets and sport partners. As a trainer and owner, it is my job to help them become both good pets and good sport partners. They always have the option of not participating in a sport that might not suit them, but they are always going to be pets, so good pet behavior is a priority. And that includes both cued behaviors (like being called in from outdoor play, or called into the bathroom for a shower, etc.) and uncued behaviors (like hang around politely while we eat, keep four on the floor near counters and doors, etc.)

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At last I come to my disagreement with the astute Ms. Banner. When she writes that the mannerly/well behaved dog must have “a clear idea of what is expected of her – all the time”. I don’t think that’s so. I think that, like us, the mannerly dog reasons from its training and life exposure/experience to intuit how to act. I don’t think the mannerly dog has “a clear idea of what is expected of it” and certainly not “all the time”

 

 

Donald McCaig

 

Actually, what I said, is that the well-traineddog knows what is expected of her - all the time.

 

The well-behaved dog simply draws her own conclusions from the routine of her owner.

 

I'm thinking about this right now because of the book "Merle's Door," that I recently read. I used to be really big on "push-button" trained dogs. I felt that it came close to guaranteeing their safety in unforeseen situations. (down means down - right now - no matter what is happening around you) Now, mind you, I'm talking about companion dogs - not working dogs or competition obedience dogs.

 

As I get older I begin to see the value of a pet dog that is given a chance to work things out on it's own. I enjoy watching them work things out. I also think that it makes them more interesting - they aren't waiting for the next command all the time. They ad-lib, and sometimes the results are very funny or superior to what I might have had in mind. If I'm taking the dog into a situation that has some obvious potential danger, I put her on a leash. She is well-behaved on the leash - which means that most of the time she doesn't pull, and stays on my left side. For me, this is enough.

 

There are some commands with which I strive for the distinction of "well-trained." Sit, and a fast, straight-line recall are the two most important. But these two commands, together or separately can save her life in some situations. (Or just save me a lot of trouble - like when she is bee-lining toward a dead sea gull with intent to roll on it.)

 

I do train my dog. I teach her all sorts of useless things like the names of her heap of toys and how to balance on an elevated 4 x 4. But these things, as you say, are a way to have meaningful interaction that is enjoyable to both of us. They do also improve our communication and strengthen our bond.

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I know many well trained obedience, rally and agility dogs who's behaviors (focus, control, "manners") are not generalized to the point that they can perform the same behaviors outside the competition ring. These dogs I consider "incomplete" or not finished regardless of titling. Well generalized behaviors will be given in almost any situation or setting. I would say that Mr Mc Caig's dogs off lead behaviors, whether intentionally taught or not, are well generalized (complete) if he can take his dogs into various different environments and get the same results almost each and every time.

 

I have been teaching agility for many years and try to instill to my students that they generalize what ever behavior they are trying to teach to the point that the performance of said behavior is consistent in almost any setting. We do a lot of "problem" solving which usually comes down to said "problem" being a behavior that has not been completely established and generalized. It is not broken rather not finished.

 

So to keep things in line with the original posting, in my opinion, I will call the dogs who have the more generalized behaviors "well mannered-well behaved" as you are more likely to get said "manners" out of them more often.

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As I get older I begin to see the value of a pet dog that is given a chance to work things out on it's own. I enjoy watching them work things out. I also think that it makes them more interesting - they aren't waiting for the next command all the time. They ad-lib, and sometimes the results are very funny or superior to what I might have had in mind. If I'm taking the dog into a situation that has some obvious potential danger, I put her on a leash. She is well-behaved on the leash - which means that most of the time she doesn't pull, and stays on my left side. For me, this is enough.

 

Personally, I don't see why there needs to be a disconnect. Especially if giving the dog a chance to work things out on his or her own is normally a part of the dog's training.

 

The two of my dogs who have the most formal training, the ones who could be classified as "push button" in some instances, do just fine working things out on their own in everyday life. I don't find that formal training that is drawn upon in certain contexts squelches their ability to work things out on their own any more than the fact that I can read and learn certain things through reading squelches my own ability to figure things out on my own.

 

That said, I know there can be a disconnect. I've heard people say, "I never want my dog to think" [in the ring, during training, etc.]. To me that seems kind of counter productive, but I suppose they mean that they really want automatic compliance from the dog no matter what. Still, I know that those same people do want their dogs to think in everyday circumstances.

 

But not all styles of training are geared toward creating a non-thinking dog. Personally, I value a dog that thinks things through even more than a dog that delivers 100% precision.

 

Back in September, I took Dean though an Agility course in competition. It was his first competition back at his correct jump height since the issue that we had quite a while ago with his association with other dogs dropping bars when he was jumping that height. He had been jumping his height in class all summer, so I was optimistic that he would be ready to jump them at his height again in competition.

 

Well, he was and he wasn't! In his first run with the bars at his correct height, he only took two jumps on the entire course! This was a jumpers course, of all things! Instead of taking the jumps, he was slaloming in and out around them as he ran the pattern of the course perfectly. This is going to sound crazy, but I absolutely loved that run! The look on his face was priceless. As he was running, he was very obviously thinking things through. The conclusion he came to was not technically "right", but he was having a blast and he was very pleased with the conclusion that he did come to. He was relaxed, focused, and enjoying himself.

 

He went into his next run and was perfect. Took every jump, no issues. He worked out what he needed to in that first run, it was behind him, and he was able to go out and get the job done afterward at that trial and the one we went to a month later.

 

Which run did I enjoy more? Actually, the first one. I want his mind working like that in competition. I want him to take risks and try things and learn something in every run. Once he has worked through things, he will get it right every time - that's how he is. He has not had an issue with jumps that height since.

 

Dogs know how to think things through. I view that ability and the desire to do so as something to incorporate into training. It brings the dog as an individual into the process. The results might look "push button" to an outsider (ex. the dog comes immediately when called off of a dangerous distraction), but that is not necessarily the case.

 

Just musing . . . it's definitely an interesting topic to ponder.

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working in a kennel I defiatly see a differce between the 2..heck in my own dogs as well. I get flack for having Happy off leash alot, I get "waht makes you so special?" well, nothing, I couldnt care less who's dog is off lead if they are well mannered. Happy is well mannered, she stays near me, no matter where we are, and at the tap of my thigh she will glue to my side to walk through crowds, her first time on stock, she didnt loose any of her normal behaviours, she turned onto the stock, but did anything I asked of her at the slightest whistle or soft spoken word. this is all stuff she simpley does, she has never been trained to heel, she was never trained to stick to me, she was never trained a distance down or to always stay near me, I never trained her not to bolt, I never trained her to check with me before chasing something..this is all stuff she just DOES.

 

 

Misty on the other hand is well trained, but NOT well behaved..I can do everything with Misty that I can do with Happy, but there is a differnce, Misty had to be specifically trained and proofed for all of them, and there is a very noticable difference in their body language because of it, Misty is simpley trained to behave, so she is on the edge of her seat the entire time, "sit" ears at the top of her head, her posture tall and eager, her mouth open slightly, eyes sparkling waiting for the next command, "down" instant drop, streched as tall as possable with her belly on the door, ears perked high, mouth agape, eyes sparkling. she doesnt need to be told the words, she knows when she is supposed to apply them, but left to her own devices, she would be out of control.

 

for other exeample, lets take Aussie a dog from work, he is well mannered..its just the way he is, when he is tired and doesnt want to play, he will find his kennel, push open the gate, and chill for a nap inside..he wasnt trained to do that, heck the kennel he is in changes on a daily basis, you can do anything with him and he's like "ok, will do", he niot really trained at all, he just "is". on the reverse you have Eiger, a dog who jump, bites etc.. but has his training down pat, if he is being a problem all I have to do is snap on a leash, and instandtly he will be walking in a perfect heel, his butt will hit the ground when I stop, stay put with the slightest of commands etc.. he is far better trained then Aussie, but not the least bit mannerly, unlike Aussie who may not be trained at all, but is far better behaved.

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Dear Doggers,

 

Kristine writes:" I want him to take risks and try things and learn something in every run." which reminded me of something Beverly Lambert once mused:

 

Years ago, you could win a sheepdog trial if you hit all the panels, got your pen and shed and finished. After a while to win, you had to do it right. Now, you have to do all that and take chances."

 

Donald McCaig

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While I agree in part, that the well-trained dog will often be a well-behaved dog, the inverse is less often true.

 

The well-trained dog will execute specific behaviors on command reliably, and abstain from others that it has been carefully taught to abstain from. But unless it is given more training than is sufficient to insure compliance with a few rules, it will probably not generalize much on its own. Such dogs are usually biddable and wait for instructions in situations that approximate closely the ones they have been trained for/in.

 

In situations that are different, however, the dog will often fail to perform. Most are familiar with the dog who, after exacting recall work, comes when called at home, but behaves as though she has no idea what you are talking about at the dog park. This dog has not had training over a range of circumstances that will begin to introduce a larger concept – a generalization – into her head.

In the case of the formally trained dog, my experience is that they generalize less readily, and will fall back on tried and true responses when presented with new situations. I’ve noticed a “when in doubt, sit” mentality in the well-trained dog. They check in with the owner and try the behaviors that you have asked for and rewarded in past training situations.

 

The much less trained, but generally well-behaved dog is more likely to improvise and decide on what to do in a given situation without looking to the owner for instructions.

 

Let’s say I am making up the bed and have pulled it out from the wall, creating a triangular space in a corner of the room. My dog, which has been hanging out with me, is enclosed in this triangular space, which is bounded on two sides by walls, and one side by the bed. A roommate appears in the doorway bearing a conspicuous and redolent dog treat.

 

My push-button Doberman, Blaise, finding herself in this situation, would look at me for instructions. She has been taught that the only time she’s allowed on the bed is when it is “made down” and I’m in it. Her training has been very thorough, but this contingency was not covered in her training. So she does the “default” behavior – sit – and waits either for the bed to be moved, or a “hup” command to go over the bed to the treat-bearing roomie. Given the “hup,” she hops up on the bed, crosses it and sits in front of the roomie. (Default behavior again.)

 

My well-behaved, but much less trained Border Collie, Sugarfoot, also has gotten the idea that I’m not keen on her making herself at home on the bed except for morning and evening “snuggle time.” But she got this without much training – she was simply shooed off the made-up bed a few times and drew her own conclusions. When she was confronted with the roomie-with-treat, her response was immediate and inventive. She gathered herself and sprang over the bed – not touching it at all. She bounces over to the roomie and dances around licking her chops.

 

Now, the Doberman was a much larger dog - easily able to leap over the bed. But her training – or let’s say her “trained mindset” prevented her from seeking her own solution to the problem. Like a good soldier, she waited for orders.

 

My Border Collie is not a push-button trained dog. She thinks outside the box because she has only a hazy notion that there is a box. Her actions were polite – she did not set foot on the bed, and she refrained from jumping up on the roomie or trying to snatch the treat. But she did not wait to be told how to go about solving the problem of getting to the treat-bearing person.

 

It may be that the reason for these different responses to the same situation is just that the Border Collie is smarter that the Doberman. But I don’t think it’s the whole story.

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Dear Doggers,

I admire Ms. Banner’s “generalizing”. I once attended a pet dog training class held in a recycled school auditorium. During the class, the instructor’s OL dog laid quietly on the stage beside Luke but when we departed through an unbusy parking lot, Luke walked Offlead and the instructor’s dog was onlead.

 

What follows needs a caveat. My experience is entirely with working Border Collies. While I have observed other working dogs and enjoyed friend’s pet dogs, my examples and insights (should I happen upon one of them) are applicable to working Border Collies only.

 

WARNING; DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME WITH YOUR MASTIFF, MALAMUTE, JACK RUSSELL OR PUG.

 

That said: the desired generalizations often don’t take place because most dog owners are afraid of their dogs.

 

I remember Bonnie, a West Highland Terrier belonging to friends I saw every other year or so. Outside her yard Bonnie was always on a leash and kept away from other dogs because, as her owners explained ruefully, “She’s aggressive. She runs at every dog she sees, barking and pulling on the leash.”

 

When Bonnie was ten or eleven I was visiting with my wise old dog Harry, having a beer in their back yard when BONNIE ESCAPED and charged, barking her head off. Harry yawned. When she reached him, she danced around excitedly “Hihihi! Oh hi! You’re cute! Hi!!!” All those years, she’d just been trying to say hello.

 

My new-to-me five year old has had one year of good socializing here, prior to that she was unhousebroken, allowed out of her kennel for work, training and exercise. Even today, she is not mannerly.

 

How to make her so? Make her a citizen of the world.

 

I usually bring a dog into local non-food stores. I bring them in, and park them in an out-of-the-way corner. I brought my new dog in on leash, kept her close to me and warned the owner - who bent to pet her, “Careful. She’s not reliable.”

 

This time she was and worst case? She might have snapped and nine of ten times I would have seen that coming. As it was, he felt dog savvy, didn’t get bit and my dog has begun her new life. A heavy dose of obedience training might make her “reliable” but, since we have considerable sheepdog training to do, I doubt she’ll get it. What she will get is experience, as much as she can handle and I can hazard.

 

Very often, first time a newbie walks his dog into the small ring, they’ll ask, “WHat now?”

“Turn her loose. let’s see what she’ll do.”

“Turn her loose?????”

“How much damage can she do?”

Before anybody gets excited, in 25 years I’ve seen three sheep killed with broken necks when impetuous young dogs ran them into a fence. I’ve stitched up a dozen.

But in the thousands of time I’ve taken sheepdogs to sheep, harm to the stock has been rare and almost always preventable.

Turn her loose. See what she’ll do.

Several years ago I had a meeting on the 8th floor of the National Geographic DC hq. To attend, my Harry had to display his security badge.

I was in the vet’s office talking to a woman whose Petey was nearing the end of his long much cherished life. She thought they wouldn’t get another dog - they wanted to travel.

“Take the dog with you,” I said.

“Oh, we couldn’t do THAT>”

Dogs cannot become mannerly without some deliberate training, your sophisticated dog reading skills and expectations and that wealth of life experience they draw on.

 

Donald McCaig

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Donald McCaig wrote:

How to make her so? Make her a citizen of the world.

 

Well trained? Lots of intentional showing, training, proofing, learning with the desired result?

 

Well behaved? Natural? I personally don't think so. I think we teach them every second we are with them. Not talking about the designated training slots either. I am talking simple normal living with them.

The argument of many sports people that crate (kennel), that they want to have total control over what their dogs are exposed to. That this allows the trainer to have total focus when actively interacting with the dog.

Unlike the dog that is running loose in the house and will find some sort of mischief to get into because the owner is standing at the stove cooking. Essentially not dedicating every second to the dog. The handler standing at the stove cooking will however address the issue if the dog comes into the kitchen looking for scraps. If the dog jumps up and it bothers the owner, the owner will do something about it. Or not.

 

I find that we address the things that we feel need to be addressed because they bother us for some reason. Different for every person I am sure and circumstance.

 

Now to the quoted part....so the more we expose the dogs to and the more is expected out of them in the world (there are some people that don't even mind their kids being jerks in public), the more we will with more or less intend shape their manners with not always focused training.

When I grew up, we took our dog everywhere. In restaurants, in stores, to friends homes. From the time she was a wee pup. She just simply learned what was expected out of her without a lot of specific training. Now? Heck, I have to remind myself to teach my dogs to walk on lead. I live that different. So to me, exposure, unintentional in most cases with normal reactions, to me, make a well mannered dog.

 

I find myself taking my dogs that I have a so called focused training schedule on to mostly training events. Hardly ever just to hang out and just be. Seems that today I just don't have enough time for simply chilling anywhere but at home. For a while I ran from one training venue to another while still trying to earn money to pay for it. And I see the difference.

 

Now, to me, after having been a pet owner that simply used to go everywhere with my guys for many years and going though a few years of not having a life unless I was training my guys somewhere, I will say, to me, a good and solid mix of both makes the most pleasurable dog for me to live with. And also to an extend the safest. I prefer to train and teach my dogs while they are doing something that they where bred to do. Be it to teach one of my Borders a recall and to control their urges during working sheep. Or to teach one of my GSD's to control themselves while doing protection work. The control and obedience that they learn during those settings to me has always translated into the real life that we all share away from those activities.

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I think it's a matter of holding your dog to some expectations, relax a bit and incorporate your dog into your life. It's more than doing "dog stuff" with your dog, it's your dog truly becoming a member of your family, or, as Mr. McCaig said --- and I like the sound of this --- "a citizen of the world".

 

We need a more encompassing view of them, if we're going to share our lives with dogs. It's not or should not be an adversarial relationship -- us vs. them, traveling through life in our own orbits, and every so often we collide. Maybe a better term than "train" would be "teach" which is how I've come to define my own relationships with my dogs.

 

Oh, and BTW, I love traveling with my dogs and at one time, I had some dogs who were quite motel savvy and it was a pleasure to travel with them. I plan on doing that again someday.

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Maybe a better term than "train" would be "teach" which is how I've come to define my own relationships with my dogs.

 

I like that. I've found that to be the case myself.

 

Only they tend to do most of the teaching in the long run . . . !!!! :)

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I think we teach them every second we are with them.....so the more we expose the dogs to and the more is expected out of them in the world ..., the more we will with more or less intend shape their manners with not always focused training.

 

I agree with this. I don't know how many times I have heard people say to me "Oh my dad (or sister, or family, or "I") had this dog...and she did everything we ever asked her to do and we never trained her one bit!"

 

My opinion is that of course they trained that dog. Maybe not in 20-minute a day sessions, or with a formal trainer or with classes. But just by living with the dog and making it clear, one way or another, what was expected and desirable.

 

By the way, most often the "perfect dog we never trained" turns out to have been a border collie. ;)

 

--D'Elle

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I think we teach them every second we are with them.....so the more we expose the dogs to and the more is expected out of them in the world ..., the more we will with more or less intend shape their manners with not always focused training.

 

I agree with this. I don't know how many times I have heard people say to me "Oh my dad (or sister, or family, or "I") had this dog...and she did everything we ever asked her to do and we never trained her one bit!"

 

My opinion is that of course they trained that dog. Maybe not in 20-minute a day sessions, or with a formal trainer or with classes. But just by living with the dog and making it clear, one way or another, what was expected and desirable.

 

By the way, most often the "perfect dog we never trained" turns out to have been a border collie. ;)

 

--D'Elle

Yes, yes, yes, and yes!

 

I do think there are a couple of components that are inherent in the dog - biddability and intelligence. One of the most intelligent dogs we ever had was a coonhound - actually, both of the coonhounds we have had were very intelligent - but neither was very biddable. Both were very independent.

 

One of the best-behaved dogs we ever had, bar none (including Border Collies), was a runty little Airedale. She was not intelligent but she was supremely biddable. She also (just like one of the above-mentioned coonhounds) was with us 24/7, highly socialized, and very experienced with living in town and in the country.

 

I think there are dogs that are biddable ("want to please") and dogs that are capable of great intelligence. The same dog may possess both qualities or neither, or any combination of these qualities. For a pet, I'd rather have biddability than intelligence if I had to make a choice. Intelligence is not much help if a dog is not inclined to be trainable/teachable. For a working dog, you need both.

 

The marvelous thing about working-bred Border Collies is that they have been bred for both intelligence *and* biddability for generations. That is what makes them so unique and special, IMO.

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My old Pop was a horseman, but he also had hunting dogs.

He told me this once when a disgruntled friend complained of our large hunting dogs laying in the house by the fire. (I guess he kept his dogs outside.)

Pop said to me after he had left.

"If you want them to be good dogs they have to live with you."

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I think life experiences do a lot for a dog - the ones that Ed and I have provided the most "experience" out and about in the world, have become the ones that can cope with different situations and seem comfortable in new and varied activities, locations, and groups.

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My dogs are far from perfect. I do get comments about how well behaved or trained they are. My usual response is that I spend a lot of time with them and we come to an understanding. They understand what I require and I understand their concerns. We all belong to the mutual admiration club. This takes time and commitment though. I am always amazed by people who own dogs and their major interaction with them is bringing a food bowl out to them once a day. Then they cannot understand when the dogs don't do what they want. It is not because the dog is not intelligent or biddable, it is just that the dog has no connection to them. I also have a problem with the e collar training - 1) I think it is a type of a short cut 2) I think it should be temporary, but many times it is a life long crutch. 3) this form of training takes out the requirement of getting to an understanding so the dog isn't achieving your goal without a threat. I would rather take a longer path that gets the dog to wanting to do the instruction and me getting better at communicating what it is that I want. Well trained is an interesting concept - I think Cody is really well trained because he knows the command when we are out for a run " wait for me, I'm old". And he is well behaved because he doesn't sigh because he has to wait for me a lot.

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...I think Cody is really well trained because he knows the command when we are out for a run " wait for me, I'm old". And he is well behaved because he doesn't sigh because he has to wait for me a lot.

 

This is great! I can so relate... But Cody is much more polite than Sugarfoot. My dog has learned the meaning of the phrase, "Hang on, I'm getting it/there as fast as I can." This entreaty is usually issued when I have been sitting too long working in Photoshop, or am having difficulty getting around for whatever reason. Her usual response is universal for the young. She sits down with an impatient thump, and heaves a sigh of disgust.

 

This is different from the command "Wait," which means 'pause in whatever you are doing and await instructions to resume.' She responds to this with none of her contempt for my bad knees, but rather as an interesting variation on whatever activity she is performing

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  • 3 weeks later...

I bring my dog everywhere mainly. If he can't go inside he's in the car, and will happily be there for hours if I need him to be. When the family marvel at some of the things I've "taught" him and how good of a dog he is, they often ask me how I did it, and I just don't know how to reply. After thinking about it, this topic really hits me home, I just let my dog be, as one of you have put it (and I love the way you have), a "citizen of the world". It's great. I could never be a good instructor, because to me a class isn't good enough. I'd have to take dogs in because the only way I know how to train a dog well is just to be with the dog. I don't control there every movements, I don't crate them all the time, I just let them be with me and learn through simple interaction. It's to the point where I think of something new, and Jude just knows.

 

I exercise dogs for some spending cash on the side and when people email me about there dogs not being reliable off leash (dogs they have had for years mind you), I just kinda wonder how aren't they? And this isn't the reliable in the sense that they chase other dogs, or other things, those are issues I understand. This is the "it could take me hours to catch them if I let him off his leash" deal. Isn't your dog bonded enough to want to be with you? Don't you put any amount of trust in your dogs? I've had all sorts of breeds and they've ALL given the choice to run away or be with me, choose me.

 

I think too many people own dogs for the wrong reasons these days...

 

And like I never trained him to respond to "get off the bed", never praised him when he did. He just picked up that he needs to get off as soon as I say those words. I just expected it of him. He's allowed on the bed, but if I need him to get off so I can make it, what not, he's off. Same goes for the couch, if I want to sit where he is I say "off" no questions asked. Never trained him to it specifically. Mind you if it looks like I want to sit he's usually off before I say anything

 

Oh, Jude would certainly be well behaved (mostly :lol: ), sure I've trained him, but he learned more through living with me and his environment than formal stuff.

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Because I don't work, (soon to change when DH retires in March :unsure: )I am with my dogs practically 24/7. There is one word I use for a gazillion different things: Hey. It can be a greeting, it can mean "Hey, y'all wanna go outside?", or it can mean "Hey, don't you even think of doing that!". Seldom do I have to finish the sentence after Hey. They got the tone down pat! They are not trained in any manners so to speak. After greeting visitors, they are expected to go about their business. They do so. They don't go out the front door or any gates with out being told they can. The result is they just do the stuff expected of them. They have been left up to two days completely on their own. We have a doggy door. Upon returning home, not even the trash had been gotten into. I never went around the house, saying don't do this, don't do that. They know what is expected whether I am there or not. I don't consider my dogs trained (except Jackson on stock) but more that they have learned to live harmoniously with us.

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