Real-life example of a dog that trained herself in order to do ordinary things to help her owner who can’t walk.
SHE IS NOT A NORMAL DOG
CinDee Byer, Breed Clubs Editor
For 36 years I have been blessed living with various well-trained Dobermans. My husband was an Air Force veteran and dog trainer. My dogs have always been working dogs.
Being wheel-chair bound most of their training was directed at helping me. One of the main jobs for the dogs was and is to pick up or retrieve objects for me. That included finding and handing me their dog bowls when directed to do so.
Recently a young man came to visit. He began to play “tug” with my dog. I gave a disapproving look to his mother who proceeded to say “Michael, don’t do that she is not a normal dog.” I grimaced but said nothing.
I never thought of my dogs being anything but normal. The difference from my dogs and many others was that mine are well trained. A trained dog knows what to expect and they understand what I expect of them. They expect me to follow the structure that they were taught. If my dog is doing something other than what is expected, I can anticipate something is wrong. Likewise if I change a routine without training or giving notice, the dog senses something is wrong and will become stressed.
When a dog is properly taught to retrieve objects for a disabled person it is an important job which, taught correctly, is a fun job for the dog. The dog views the positive attention it receives as a game and it knows the rules. When a visitor begins tugging an object from the mouth of the dog the action confuses the dog. When the rules of the game change the dogs responses change.
The game of retrieval then becomes a game of possession. What was “NORMAL” for that dog and that owner now is “NOT NORMAL.” To many dog owners “playing tug” is considered “normal” but in my home it is not. A possessive dog that rips and destroys objects instead of enthusiastically retrieving them is “NOT NORMAL” to me.
Evie is not a normal dog, she is a Doberman, a highly intelligent Working Breed.
Some of us get up at 6 AM and work during the day and that is normal. Some of us work the night shift and sleep during the day and it is normal. Normal is what works for you.
When it comes to playing with or giving commands to a dog you do not own, it is a good idea to ask what is normal for that dog. It is a better idea to not confuse the dog.
When teaching a new pup to play we must always keep in mind that, to a dog, play is a type of work. The type of work you teach will be the game your dog will play. The game you choose can be retrieving a tennis ball or it could be inadvertently teaching a puppy how to disembowel a stuffed toy.
Just remember that what is normal for your dog is up to you. The work that you teach will be the game you will have to live with and be happy with.
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