That’s just how my dog does it…

When I started obedience with my big Borzoi (a very laid back big sighthound breed) about 20 years ago, I was in obedience classes with a very well known obedience judge, who was known for his outside the box thinking.

He would tell the class to sit, and I would tell my Borzoi to sit, and my Borzoi would look at me, sometimes yawn, sometimes just stare with a rather vacant look.  I would repeat the command and eventually he would lowly start to tuck his 32" back end slowly underneath him, inch by inch.  Eventually the rear end would start to sink, and eventually he would be sitting.  Yeah! I had gotten my difficult, unmotivated hound breed to sit.

After a couple of weeks of this the instructor came over and asked me why my dog was taking so long to sit.  I looked at him as if he was daft and told him that he was a big dog, and a hound, and that is just how they did it.

He suggested that it was only how he did it because that was how I was expecting him to do it, and that if I watched him at play I would probably see him putting his butt up and down much faster... but because that was the performance I expected in class, that is what he was giving me.

I started not being satisfied with such a slow sit, and asking him to sit faster, with only one command.  If he didn't I would help him by showing him what I wanted.  Lo and behold it worked!  When I put that bar higher, and expected a better performance he absolutely gave it to me. He and my other Borzoi went on to be the most obedience titled Borzoi in Canadian history, with two getting Utility legs, and several being also titled in Agility and Flyball.

It all started with that comment, when I realized that dogs will often perform to our expectations.

Now I set the bar higher, and then work out how to get there.