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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm trying to think of the best way to phrase this idea that has been going through my head for a while, so bear with me.

I was thinking, how much of obedience (or disobedience) is down to the personalities of dog and handler?

I mean I am inexperienced, so I have made (and still make) mistakes. But Cadbury is also a very intelligent, stubborn and determined dog. Together we are making progress, but I still wonder, in the hands of a more experienced person would Cadbury still be willful? Would he still have days when he decides to misbehave? With a different dog would I perhaps have progressed faster through obedience?

Don't get me wrong, I love Cadbury and we will get there. But I suppose what I'm thinking is, does a dog's personality affect how well it does in training? How well behaved it is?

How much of disobedience is due to an inexperienced handler and how much is down to the nature of the dog?

Take an example - in my training class is a lady who has owned border collies all her life, she even trained her last up to competitive obedience standard, yet despite all that experience her latest collie is proving to be a real handful. I've never met one before that refuses to heel, can't do a stay, has an atrocious recall and wants to spend all its time playing with other dogs. Yet clearly this lady has trained other collies successfully, so it can't just be her methods being wrong, it must be that this collie has a different nature to her other dogs - if you see what I am saying?

Another lady in the class has two flatcoats. One is laid-back, placid, is now working on its silver award, can work off lead no problem. The other is a tearaway, first chance it gets it runs amok. Again this person must be using the same methods on both dogs - but with one they work, and with the other they don't.

So is this down to the individual dog's personality? I think it is. I do think, after observing these people and my own experiences that some dogs are harder to train than others - for whatever reason.

Doesn't mean you should give up :wink: I'm certainly not going to, but I'm starting to realise that maybe its not all my fault that Cadbury can be difficult. That said, I'm the one that needs to stop him being naughty and if I don't then that is my fault, if you follow my logic.

Of course, the irony of it is, that those two flatcoats, the one I adore, hands down, is the naughty one. Out of the two collies in the class which would I take home without hesitation? Yep, the one that can't do a stay.

I love those dogs. I guess because they have 'personality' where as the perfect ones seem a bit dull :lol: oh dear, there is no hope for me!
 

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Well, yes, loads is down to the personaity of the dog IMO. Some work for food, some for praise, toys, whatever. The trick of an experienced handler is discovering which buttons to press to get the response they are looking for. Collie handlers usually have it easier because the dogs focus so much on their 'thing' that when one of them doesn't have a 'thing' the handler is at a loss. So, whilst the lady might be an experienced collie handler she is obviously not flexible enough to find out what makes that particular dog tick.
Dogs pick up on our body language, facial expression and vocal inflections so much that training them when frustrated/tired etc is a definate no no.
I agree about the personality of the dog - who'd want a robot!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Michelle, you put it much clearer than I could! :D Yes, I can see that figuring out how a dog is motivated and tapping into that motivation is the key to training. It probably helps, I suppose, if you have experience with a range of breeds/dogs, so you have learnt to be adaptable.

And yes attitude of the handler is important too. If I stand up tall, walk confidently and stand for no nonsense, Cadbury is far better than if I act uncertain.

I find dog training so fascinating! I'm learning so much and I don't care how long it takes, I'll get there with Cadbury one day. After all if he was perfect straight away what would I have left to do? :lol:
 
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Yet clearly this lady has trained other collies successfully, so it can't just be her methods being wrong, it must be that this collie has a different nature to her other dogs - if you see what I am saying?
I think the problem with a lot of people who only have one breed, is they get a bit stuck in a groove when it comes to training, then when they get a dog with a different personality and their methods don't work, they are all at sea.

Yes I do think a LARGE part of how obedient your dog is is to do with it's breeding....or even it's breed. Hounds and Terriers are prime examples. It doesn't matter how you train them, they retain a certain independence and that is because they have been bred for years to do jobs where they have to think for themselves. Yes you CAN train them and many people do very successfully but they are not Tick Tock dogs, you may have to use several different methods before find one which works best....and even then it may only be successful when the dog is in the mood. :wink:

I think a really good trainer has experience of lots of different breeds, as what will work for a GSD may not work for a Papillion. This doesn't mean the Papillion is any less trainable, in fact they are extremely intelligent and trainable, but if you tried to use forceful, dominating style training (which so many GSD owners seem to) it would terrify the little soul and you would get nowhere.

Within Labs there seem to be huge differences in biddability and intelligence, probably because there are just so many of them and they have been bred in so many different ways. My friends Choccie is willful and stubborn....but also surprisingly sensitive, so if she thinks she is going to get something wrong, she just bogs off instead and no amount of calling her will make her come back....very frustrating. Yet when she understands what is required of her and she is in the right frame of mind, she is flippin' brilliant. I call it her Artistic Temperament. :wink:
 

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My boy is fantastic, so many people have commented on just how brilliant he is...now I really can't take the credit (I'm a first time dog owner) Credit to where it is due (My boy :)) Some people have said that I must have had something to do with it, but really I have had a dog that has learnt something after very few tries, and even the most stubborn things I have needed to train him out of, have had good results in weeks. I have clearly had to learn the correct methods of training, but I have been ever so lucky to have a clever dog!

My friend has a 2 yr old bitch, who is just bonkers...the poor lady gets nervous seeing cyclists, walkers, other dogs, roads, muddy pools etc etc!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
My friends Choccie is willful and stubborn....but also surprisingly sensitive, so if she thinks she is going to get something wrong, she just bogs off instead and no amount of calling her will make her come back....very frustrating. Yet when she understands what is required of her and she is in the right frame of mind, she is flippin' brilliant. I call it her Artistic Temperament.
Jules, that paragraph could have described Cadbury perfectly! If he gets something wrong twice, the third attempt he will just sit or lay down and refuse to even look at you, or go off and sniff the ground. He just switches off, and yet other days when he is in a different mood (I call it his 'show-off' mood) he is absolutely stunning, does everything first time and I'm thinking why can't he be like that all the time? And as for willful and stubborn, he has a good dash of both of those.

And yes, I think you are right, sometimes people try a method that is not suitable for the dog and then won't change when things don't work but blame the dog or label it lazy, stupid, untrainable, etc.

Jomel - you've made my point precisely. My friend's lab was the same, but she was no more experienced with dogs than me, in fact she knew less. She never attended a class, but she was always more confident than me. So it does seem that good behaviour/obedience is partly due to the dog's nature.
 
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