Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What Makes The Difference

In my years I have seen everything from “Marley” dogs to “Lassie” dogs, from owners like Judd Travers in “Shiloh” to owners like Josh Framm in "Air bud". But no matter the dog, the person, or setting a good dog can be acquired through time and patients.

The most important time for training in a dogs life is between 5 weeks and year. That’s not to say that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks! However a dog’s mind is most like a sponge when they a younger. With brief training sessions through out the day any puppy can become as excellent as any you see on TV.

But Let me stress this, training is not the same with every dog. A dog is just as unique as you and me. What some dogs will pick up immediately others will not, some dogs are too smart for their own good. Case in point; before I was born my father brought home a Golden Retriever mix, what it was mixed with they never knew. But this dog was far too intelligent (not saying being intelligent is bad!). In my parents generation a dog was a dog, and the entire mind frame of pack mentality was lost on them, so my brother became a litter mate to the new dog. The dog found it pleasing in some way to run over to my brother, two or three at the time, and push him over with his front feet.

“You could tell the dog was just so pleased with himself,” recalls my mother. “Wagging his tail and looking at me like ‘hey mom look what I did!’ he was really like having another child.” She goes on to explain that he was the easiest trained dog in the world. He was potty trained, trained to stay out of the kitchen and knew a slew of tricks.

One day, the little Golden learned a new trick, a trick that probably cost him his visa to the family life. He learned that instead of going out in the snow and cold, he could pee down the register in the house, and no one knew so he didn’t get in trouble. Lovely, insta-urine smell every time the heat kicked on. Needless to say it was the boot for Mr. Golden.

Today we would have worked with the dog, changed his behavior and channeled it into something more productive. My mom admits that it was lack of exercise and things to do that cause the dogs behavior. Retrievers in general need mind stimulating work, that’s what they were bred for. Just like you can’t keep a husky in a cage all day, let him out and expect him to act like a 15 year old poodle. This holds true for most dogs.

Exercise, mental stimulation, and consistency, that’s what makes the difference.

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