Training Pays Off!
This past week I’ve had the opportunity to practice what I preach. I have two giant dogs – Shenanigans, a 4 year old Great Pyrenees/Irish Wolfhound mix and Smooch, a 2.5 year old Anatolian Shepherd.
They were both shelter kids and both pretty well behaved but will take advantage if given the opportunity. When I first began training them they were required to sit at the door and wait to be released before they could go in or out. Over time, I slacked off and allowed them to only stand patiently and they could go when the door was opened.
Last week I moved my 90 year old father into my home to stay with me. That necessitated that some rules had to be reinstated for the dogs. My Dad is pretty steady on his feet, but the last thing I need is for him to be run over by 200+ lbs of dog at the door. I reinstituted the sit at the door and insisted that dogs lay on the floor while we are eating. My biggest fear was that because they were not used to commands from him – and he tends to sneak them food while he is eating, they would start to do as they pleased and manners would go out the door. I was pleasantly surprised when mid-week he told me that he had also waited for them to sit at the door, just to see what happened, and they were perfect. I was proud of all of them. Now that my Dad sees that it is possible to train and reinforce the behaviors that you want to see, he is more open to follow the rules, and require the same from the dogs. They have become great buds (maybe it’s the sharing of the breakfast muffins?) and I feel much better about leaving them all to go to work.
The moral of the story is that if you begin with more strict boundaries, you can slack if you want – and then if you need to change requirements again, it’s a much easier transition than if you have not trained, or not been consistent before. Do yourself a favor and be diligent when training and you will always have good manners to fall back on.