That dog is just a good dog.
My dog is stupid.
He's just stubborn.
She has always done this.
That behavior came out of nowhere.
And my favorite... He's being protective.
What is obedience?
The best kind of obedience is the kind the DOG chooses.
What do I mean by that? I certainly don't mean that Mr. Barksalot gets to pick and choose which commands he listens to, when he'll listen, and for how long. No, no. And I also don't consider micromanaging (e.g., tight leash to hold a dog at heel), begging (sit... SIT... siiiiiiiit... staaaaayyy... no, siiiiiiit...), or body language (blocking a dog's path till he gives up, etc.) to be obedience.
So what do I mean, "the dog chooses?"
Imagine a world where there are rules. Every choice, every action, has a consequence. Depending on the choice, that consequence could be awesome, or uncomfortable. Every situation provides opportunity for a choice. Every moment is a Y in the road. (Though one side of that Y will always eventually lead back to the right direction--I'll be sure of that.)
This world MAKES SENSE to a dog. There is no guessing, no anarchy, no confusion due to lack of feedback. This world is rampant with clear communication--which is great! Even when the wrong choice is made, the subsequent discomfort proves to the dog that the world still has order.
True obedience is teaching the dog that every command he learns has an implied choice. No correction (uncomfortable consequence) is given until the "crime" is committed. Rewards, comfort, and other great things are ensured for correct choices. Wrong choices are never ignored (ignoring wrong choices allows the opportunity for that choice to be self-rewarding; consider counter-surfing--no dog will stop counter-surfing simply because we ignore the unwanted behavior). But right choices can't go unacknowledged either! True obedience requires dedicated consistency from the handler/trainer/owner. True obedience, lasting obedience, is the result of clear, predictable, consistent communication.
Dogs are similar to people in a lot of ways. This is why humans and dogs connect so well. One of those similarities is that dogs instinctively act in their own self-interest. If I, the human, build a world for my dog that makes his self-interest synonymous with desired behavior (per the rules of that world), I will have a well-behaved, obedient, and happy dog.
Obedience should be always. Obedience should be no-matter-what. Obedience should be RELIABLE. Which means I need to be always, no-matter-what, and reliable.
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