Is a Dog Ever Fully Trained
Thanks to Dogs That Don’t Shed
Is a dog ever fully trained?
This was a question that was posed in a dog training forum that I belong to, the other day.
It made me sit back and think a little bit.
I have well behaved dogs.
Most of the time I consider them very well trained (well at least 2 of them) the 3rd is a “work in progress” and I haven’t devoted as much time as I should, in all honesty.
Both of my other two, ages 4 and 3 are titled in obedience and protection sports.
My female Dutch Shepherd, Fury, was even invited to AKC Rally Nationals last year 2013 because her scores were so high we were among the best who had competed in this sport in the United States that year.
Pretty impressive stuff really.
I have ribbons that could line walls and trophies scattered about the house.
And, yet I never think my dogs are fully trained.
I guess it comes from my Service Dog background.
Nothing will humble you faster than having a dog Service Dog in public that doesn’t listen or one that you need to teach a new skill to… especially when there are people who are asking if the dog is “in training”.
That is when I learned to tell people and to tell my clients to always tell people the dog is always “in training”.
It seems that people will cut a dog a little more slack when it is “in training” and the truth is that dog training is dynamic and always changing; so I think a dog is always in training.
It seems we are always working on shaping up our “stay” or our “stand” or “retrieve” commands.
Or the fact that I had taught the dog a year or more ago a specific skill that we haven’t “needed” until that moment.
I taught all of my Service Dogs basics of obedience and then to retrieve, to pull open doors with their mouths, to push doors closed with their bodies, to push buttons (like elevator buttons or door buttons) with their mouths, to turn on and off the lights with their mouths among many other skills; however not all my clients used all of those commands all the time.
Sometimes the dogs were taught to do specific tasks (we taught one dog to take off her companion’s coat by tugging the sleeves then running around tugging the other sleeve and then picking the coat up and putting it in the girl’s locker) and sometimes the dog’s owners needs changed.
It is easier for most people to visually “see with their mind” the change of a person’s needs when they have a disability. I think because it comes with more empathy than thinking of the average person and the average person and dog training.
However, the same is true whether you are able bodied, or disabled in some way. We tend to use certain commands at certain times and we forget to use certain commands or some things get sloppy and we need to go back.
Or perhaps we teach our old dog a new trick.
The same happens with all dogs, Service Dogs, Police Dogs, pet dogs… life changes.
I suppose… I can agree that a dog is well trained enough to get a certain job; i.e. Service, Police, Guide etc.
But I believe that dog training in and of itself is a journey that is never ending.
If that journey comes to an end and you aren’t working together on common tasks anymore or learning new things or both; I believe that you will lose what you once had!
So keep working people! Your journey is never over!
What do you think??
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.