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.


Thanks Chain Free Beaufort for the Phot

Thanks Chain Free Beaufort for the Phot

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.

Labrador giving High FiveThe same happens with all dogs, Service Dogs, Police Dogs, pet dogs… life changes.

I Suppose

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??

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  1. Stefanie Richmond says:

    I find your article to be very true. All animals are always in training. They live in the now moment. And if you don’t handle them everyday I have witnessed this they can lose connection. I find working together with Dexter my 17 month golden retriever just thirsting for knowledge along with acknowledgement. It’s good to see that were on the right path and I and Dexter don’t feel like the only one out there with that bond. We have attended a few sessions for obedience and it feels like a team thing. A win – win. I enjoy our moments together and a bond that is special. Thank you and hope to keep in touch with your helpful tips.


  2. Cory gray says:

    What is a protection sports dog?


    Minette Reply:

    IPO formerly known as Schutzhund, French Ring, Mondio Ring, Protection Sports Association, North American Dogsport Federation and the list goes on….


  3. Jeannie says:

    My dogs are not trained to be service dogs or to perform. They’re trained because they love the interaction, they love to learn and because the basics of living in a household are necessary, even though I love their dog qualities and am happy for them to be quite doggish. A lot of the time they cue me on what to train them to do – two of them dance to get treats because they started doing it on their own and I gave it a name and we went from there. The two standard poodles could probably learn to drive my car; they just happen to be dogs who really love to perform and please and do new things. I have a gigantic Amercian foxhound who was feral for the first year and a half of her life, who I feel accomplished about her being house trained and not eating my clothing. One of our dogs is deaf, and training her has probably taught me as much as I’ve taught her. But they will never ever be “finished”, anymore than I will be. There’s always something new to learn and play with, for all of us. These are the things that make their lives bigger, more fun, and that connect them with me.


    Minette Reply:

    I agree 😉 i compete in doggy sports because it gives me more opportunity to spend time with my dogs and it forces us onto a training regiment 😉


  4. Lalawolf says:

    I agree, my dogs are always learning and improving and also teaching me how to be a better teacher and person.


  5. My little stray is about 1 1/2 now, we took her because she was abandoned and scared. At about 7 months old she apparently had never been potty trained. I thought after about 5 months she was over it, and I never realized until too late that she was wetting as well, until the stains started showing up. Now she is reverting back to accidents every once in a while, lately twice a week. We give her a lot of attention and love, but this is very difficult as I have had pets all my life and never had one that potties in the house. Is there a way to break her of the bad habits at this age, all my friends say that small dogs are the worst but I have had several small dogs without any problems.


    Minette Reply:

    Read these articles


  6. Tom Bitzer says:

    Hello, we recently purchased a new ball toy for my two year old Lab.after playing fetch in the house for about 5 min.I noticed a strong almost chemical smell from the toy. I put the ball up till I could get more information.

    This is a Zoink! Fetch’n Find Ball It is Distributed by Sergeant’s Pet Care Products Inc. Omaha NE 68138 MADE IN CHINA.

    I am aware of all the pet foods being recalled that were made in China, but this ball concerns me. We have put the ball away for now.

    The odor kind of reminds me of Play Dough when we were kids.

    If you have any information on this product I would greatly appreciate any information you could share.

    Thank You


  7. BobinDP says:

    I have a four year old Bichon-Poo. I rescued him from the Orange Shelter three years ago. He is the first do I have not been able to house train, which limits our social lives. He like people and canines, but cats scare him so much at night that I’m afraid he might have a heart attack.


  8. I loved your article! I agree with what you have said. and yet I think you have missed something fundamental…..about our relationship with our dogs that provides constant change and challenge, and therefore learning. If we observe what our dogs are doing, and learn from this, we can in turn provide learning for our dogs. So training is never finished, unless our relationship with our dog ends! So I don’t believe that a dog is ever fully trained… more than I would expect myself to be fully prepared to deal with any experience that I could possibly face, despite having faced many scary and traumatic experiences in my life. Maybe I missed this bit about our relationship with our dogs in your article? 🙂


  9. jennie says:

    what is the best way to teach a 8 month old mastiff not to jump up on you. she is just playing and wants to give you a hug. I have a 4 & 6 yr old grand sons and I have a weak left leg hat gives way and makes me fall. i’ m terified she is going to hurt the boys or make me fall. it wouldn’t be out of meannes she just wants to play. any suggestions?




  10. Teresa Juliano says:

    I love your post and way of thinking, yep mine are all works in progress and training never stops, I think they all love it because they are hard wired to continue to learn and please every moment of there lives. Again thanks for your great articles.. Teresa


    Minette Reply:

    Thank you! I am glad you are reading them


  11. audrey dawe, says:

    I love your post but I can’t get a reply,so I give up thanks anyway..


    Minette Reply:

    😉 that is because I usually have to moderate comments so that our site doesn’t get spammed 😀


  12. Alecia Goodman says:

    I cannot get my 5 mos. old Westie potty trained.
    She is a love, my husband and I are totally frustrated.
    We made a pen for her to go potty, with a ramp to come and go from our deck.
    She knows when she’s pottyed in the floor and will run from us when we want to show her and tell her NO!
    We are at our wit’s end. HELP!


  13. Maria says:

    My dog is a runner. Every chance she gets she tuns and does not come back when called. She does not listen when you call her.


  14. Donna Crayne says:

    Hello we have a 2 year old Chiweenie, he keeps nipping and biting. Not us but other people. Seems like he’s scared of new people, new dogs, Children especially because we are a older couple we have no small children and there are very few where we live. He hasn’t had much experience with them. But he has nipped a few people now including a 3 year old Girl. He was well socialized as a puppy. We took him to petco every weekend and we walked around our trailer park everyday. Took him to friends homes and everywhere we went we took him. But we don’t know many people. But those he does know he loves and is loyal. I’ve figured out with him, you have to let him come to new people on his time, if they try to come to him he sees them as a threat? He hates motorcyles, bicycles, trucks with trailers? People running? How can I teach him not to be afraid?? I take him to dogpark nearly everyday but he barks and growls at other dogs and people. What can I do to help him??


  15. Donna Crayne says:

    Maria, have you chased your doh when she has run? If so she’s decided it’s a game. Instead of chasing her try faking injury. Let out a yell fall to the ground. Your dog wI’ll come to check on you to see if your ok. I learned that by trying new ideas


  16. Irene Walsh says:

    I am getting to the point where I can not even walk my dog. She is a 1 yr poodle std about 55-60 lbs. But she will constantly fight me for the leash. She jumps and pulls the leash from my hand for the whole walk and is wearing me out. I have tried soaking the leash in all kinds of things, but all that does is make my hands stink. It doesn’r bother her at all. My arms are all scarred or bruised from her. Help?????


  17. Teri Zemmer Supica says:

    I recently had problem w/Kong Stuff ABall. Contacted Kong advised me rubber was reverting to original form, would not hurt dog but was messy, gooey. They said would only happen if washed in dish washer, used solvents or high heat. None of these occurred but trashed ball. I only stuffed withpeanut butter or dry kibble. I assume it’s from saliva acid. Kong is replacing the toy even though it is past 30 day warrantee.


  18. Fred says:

    Hello, Just getting a Shiba puppy and was trying to get some info on the best way to introduce this pup to an adult cat.


    Minette Reply:

    use the search bar to search for articles about cats.


  19. mike says:

    Shaping, shaping, shaping, repetition, repetition, repetition, reward, reward, reward, patience, patience, patience, Thank you. I get it. IT WORKS
    I was at my wits end until I did, thanks to you.


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