I have talked a lot on this blog about how well-adapted dogs are to be our friends and companions. Domestication has brought them to a point at which they are incredibly well-versed in reading our body language, understanding our emotions, helping with our work or participating in our hobbies.
What I did not yet write about is the other side of the equation – how beautifully natural it can come to new owners to train their dog. As much as dogs are adjusted to be our partners, we have an innate ability to be theirs. If new owners get started out on the right track they quickly become trainers that are a joy to watch.
The Little Crazy Girl
A few days ago I got called by a family that owns a 1 year old toy breed mix, GG. GG did not have any behavioral issues but also did not exactly excel in listening to her owners. She would jump up 3 feet straight in the air and literally bounce off the furniture and walls when excited. GG was obviously thrilled about training, so thrilled that her brain went in over-drive and she tried to do a million things at once.
She would sit when asked to sit, for about 0.75 seconds, and then go back to bouncing and spinning and being wildly enthusiastic about life itself.
A Different Space-Time
Little GG obviously lives in a different space time than her humans. In the time that it took them to get a treat from their pocket to deliver it to her for sitting she had long moved on to running laps and celebrating her youthful energy. It seemed impossible to slow her down enough to communicate with her in our space-time!
We often see this in puppies and sometimes in adult dogs (mostly, but not always, of small breeds). The dog is so full of joy for training (which is fantastic) that it is hard to actually train. He offers so many behaviors that great timing is crucial in getting treats delivered for the correct ones. Unfortunately timing is one of the dog training skills that in my experience take the longest to fine-tune.
The pure motor skill of timely treat delivery is not learned during an hour or two. Sure, an experienced clicker trainer could just click the very moment that GG sat, then swiftly dart in with his hand and reward her. This kind of great timing takes time to develop and is unreasonable to expect from someone just starting out (a reason why I do not think click