Do you ever feel that your dog might be trying to make life harder for you? Have you heard yourself say, "She just won't listen", "He doesn't care what I say or do", "She is too smart for her own good", "He knows what to do, but just chooses not to do it", "She has a mind of her own".
All dog owners have caught themselves saying these kinds of things.
But here's the thing: None of those statements line up with what science tells us about canines! Really... none of them.
What we do know is that dogs do what works! If you find yourself saying "She just won't listen", turn that around for a minute. She IS indeed listening with all of her senses and is doing exactly what works based on the information she is taking in.
If you don't believe me, come watch me handle my granddog, Lenny, in agility class. She is perfect at reading what my movements tell her. I, on the other hand, struggle with a disconnect between what I am saying and what I am doing. She reads what I'm DOING correctly... every time!
If what I SAY is not congruent with what I DO, that's on me. Regardless of what you or I think about our dog's highly evolved cognition, he is still a dog and dogs do what works. Full stop.
If we want different behavior, our communication style must change. That's tough! Humans are verbal creatures and we are often completely unaware of our non-verbal messages. Because dogs are non-verbal, their skills for reading our cues are far more developed than we imagine. Furthermore, their interpretation of our messages may not be what we intend to communicate.
Yes, they are very smart, but not in the way we mean it when we say "He's too smart for his own good".
Like most everything, the solutions are simple but not easy!
What messages are you sending to your dog?