Last night, James Oliver, the dog trainer, http://www.dogu.us/ brought our German shepherd, Gunner, back from a week-long boot camp. I was so thrilled to finally see my baby that I was on him like a starved stray dog on a bone. I hugged him and kissed him, I petted his head, I scratched between his ears, I told him all the sweet things about how I loved him and how I missed him. What was Gunner’s reaction, though? Not the one that I’d expected. He licked my nose once and that was it. Huh? I was hurt. Hadn’t he missed me? Or had he felt abandoned (and hurt!) when I’d surrended him to James, a week earlier, and now couldn’t forgive my “betrayal”? Or had he become such a well-trained dog that he had learned a “proper” behavior and the skill of concealing his emotions, that is, his joy and exultation at seeing his parents again? Perhaps all that.
James talked to us for a good two hours about Gunner’s behavior at the obedience school and about the results of the training. The results were obviously impressive. Whereas a week ago Gunner wouldn’t come to me when I called him, unless I bribed him with a piece of meat, now, James had to only whisper his name or make a clucking sound, and Gunner was at his feet in a sec, practically begging for a praise, his nose up, his tail wagging. And the adoring look he gave to James? It made me jealous! Well…as James explained to us, it wasn’t love that Gunner felt for his teacher, it was RESPECT!
So. It’s all about respect as far as a man-dog relationship goes. If a dog doesn’t respect his parents (well, owners, in some people’s opinion), s/he won’t obey them. And that’s what we have to work on now–teach our spoiled dog respect. No more scraps from the table, no more lying on the couch, or in our bed, no more affection for Gunner at his request, but only when we want to show it, and so on and so forth. If we stick to his weekly assignments as to how to treat and train Gunner, James guarantees that we’ll have a perfect “gentleman-dog” at the end of one or two months. Oh, we do hope so!