It never ceases to amaze me, just how intelligent dogs are. I'm not talking about highly trained obedience, hunting or agility dogs. I'm talking about dogs that no one has ever bothered to train.
The story I always tell in the puppy classes I teach is a great example of this. A Toy Poodle owner came in one day saying she wanted to buy a muzzle for her dog. This dog certainly was no prize for grooming, and I did have to muzzle him, but it's rare that an owner wants to muzzle their own dog. I had to ask what was going on. She said "I have to buy a muzzle for him, so I can do my laundry". Ok... I certainly needed more info. "Every time I fold the warm laundry from the dryer on the couch, he jumps on it and trys to bite me if I want to move it". Wow. This dog weighed all of 5 pounds. As I tell my students, he didn't just wake up one day and decide to guard the laundry. It started with a snarl when the owner walked by the dog's food dish. Then, he snapped at her when she tried to move him from her recliner. Little by little, these dogs take over the house. Most people laugh when I tell this story. I mean really... scared of a tiny dog??? It sounds silly, but a small dog bite is still painful, so it's no surprise that she gave that reaction. I try to teach my puppy owners to watch for the warning signs of a household takeover. It happens before they know what hits them.
Today, J groomed a small dog she has groomed many times before. The dog had some pretty large matts in her tail and ears, and J was barely able to save them. She mentioned this to the owners, and requested that they take some extra brushing time in these spots at home, to avoid having to shave them off all together. The owners admitted that they knew about the tangles, however, brushing would not be happening with this dog. Turns out the little brat turned nasty on them every time they tried. In fact, they said that now when they even bring the brush out the dog snarls at them.
Here's why I was impressed with this smart dog. J had NEVER seen any agression in this dog.. not even when brushing out large matts, which probably was somewhat painful. She was so surprised that this dog would ever show that kind of attitude. So, this dog not only knew how to train her owners, she also knew which humans would not be good candidates for her training program! I know it's not funny if you own a dog like this.. but it really makes me laugh! I've got to give the dog credit.
Moral of this blog post? Please don't let your dog train you!!