• Michael D’Abruzzo

    September 24, 2018 at 11:06 pm

    This can be a complicated subject, and I agree with Kim that the BEST trained dogs will have consistency throughout its whole life by all handlers, but as Courtney points out it will not be feasible is most multi-person households and I have never stressed out about it with my own dogs and for sure don’t think it is worth making big stink about with family members on issues concerning things like command structure and reinforcing or punishing obedience correctly.
    Dogs DO learn who they should take seriously and figure out quickly who backs up their requests for obedience and what members of the family seem to have his best interest in mind. That ultimately is what brings about the dog’s desire to obey that person.

    Also, to agree with Courtney, the bigger issue is not so much the obedience (this is highly dependent on the individual skill of the one handling the dog) but the control of the resources. In particular toys, food, affection, and resting places. If the dog is saturated and entitled to all of its basic needs, it can make it difficult for ANYONE to motivate the dog and cause confusion overall, to the dog, as to what exactly his role is.

    Rules about the management of toys and resting places are pretty straight forward. I tend to spend most of my time educating the members of the household that are not as gung-ho about being an expert handler the importance of merely calling the dog to them for affection as opposed to allowing the dog to solicit it as needed. That one simple thing can reduce the number of issues that will occur when you are not home and keep the dog on standby as a willing participant of obedience for those members of the family if they want to take it more seriously.

    As far as “controlling doorways” I assume Courtney means controlling the initiative when its time to make a change in plans. Such as “time to go for a walk” or “time to go in the yard” or time to do anything that requires the opening of a doorway. This follows the basic rules of leadership “making the decisions for the group”. You don’t want to make a habit of the dog telling the family when its time to go outside, eat, play, etc..

    This is not to be confused with obedience related exercises such as having a dog sit and wait while a door is opened, us walking in front, etc.. This is simply to make managing the dog easier and keep the dog from getting into trouble when rushing doors. I have never found any justification from an ethology point of view that these types of things need to be strict to “lead” in a way that sends a clear message to the dog.

    We are simply “the decider” and it is not a sin to occaisonally agree to a dog’s suggestion. Ultimately, it should be obvious the dog understands that the humans have control over resources (dominance), decide when things happen (leadership), and guide (obedience – least important).