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Who Should Do the Dog Training

My son has a 10-month-old chocolate lab and she has no respect for senior citizens (me) so who should do the dog training?

She will do anything for him but ignores everyone else. I call her the garbage can as she eats anything – paper, pens, quarters etc. Dog training is on the horizon but who should take her — my son (the alpha male) or the old lady (me)

I understand if you do not have time to answer but it was good to vent!


Dear N.H.

Age has very little to do with how a dog decides to whom it will obey. I think all dogs to one extent or another try and gage who can catch the squirrel the best. The dog motto is, “If I can’t be caught, I can’t be taught.” And, “When I think I’m stronger, I don’t listen any longer.” The trick isn’t how strong, fast or agile you are – it’s how strong, fast or agile the dog thinks you are.

Odie, the 22 months old Belgian Malinois I just picked up had a pretty high fallutin sense of himself. Ten days later, not so much. It’s been a week now and outside of his crate he hasn’t had a moment where he wasn’t dragging a leash around, sometimes a long one on hikes, sometimes a short one in the house. He’s starting to look at me like I’ve got eyes in the back of my head. It’s not that he hasn’t got the better of me once in a while. I now own two leashes that are somewhat shorter then when the day started out as he chewed through them. I also have one squirrel in the yard that had such a fright that he has to see a cardiologist.

However, overall the odds are so much in my favor that he’s already waiting at the door for me when I’m taking him out and in, as if he doesn’t have a choice – which he doesn’t. He’s waiting at the bottom and the top of the stairs until I’ve cleared them and he’s learning to stay on a mat beside me when I’m busy. When I’m too busy he’s in a crate nearby.

That’s going to be Odie’s reality with me for as long as it takes for him to believe (no matter the reality) that I’m to him what Sidney Crosby is to hockey.

I think he’ll have learned the foundation of pretty much all the basics the average person would want in a dog within 3 months and without me taking any time to “formally train” him. It will just come together as we live together.

Think of it this way. We don’t schedule with our children teaching moments. They are coached that stoves are hot when we’re together in the kitchen. If that 2 year old toddler were left to his or her own devices we’d come out of the kitchen to see them eating dirt out of the planter. Dogs, like kids are learning 24 hours a day – whether you’re teaching them or not.

It’s not that I don’t think that you can’t benefit from a formal class but I think we get a skewed idea that doing geometric patterns around pylons is going to somehow translate to civilized in home behaviour.

As to who should go, if it’s a decent dog training facility, it shouldn’t be a one or the other scenario. I should think if it suits you both, find a place where both of you are welcome.

Pawsitively yours,

John Wade

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