Thursday, May 29, 2014

Who Does Your Dog Listen To?

In the late afternoon of Memorial Day, Ted and I took Toby to the Arboretum for an off-leash walk. We were dismayed to see a number of cars in the parking lot. We expected people to be off doing Memorial Day barbecues or at the beach. However we unloaded Toby, leash, poop bag, and a handful of training treats, crossed the street, and entered the serene urban woodland. 
Here, Toby!

Though we only encountered a few people, each time we heard voices approaching I called Toby to me and leashed him until they were past us. As we approached the area of Starr Creek frequented by a pair of mallards, I called and leashed him again, while telling Ted about the last time Toby and I were there. (This is the spot where Toby famously swam the creek after the ducks but refused to swim back and waited for Ted to rescue him).  It's been hot lately, and the creek is quite low now. Toby took off  like a shot, leaped the creek, and began to chase the ducks who not surprisingly took flight, squawking angrily. I called, "Toby, come, come, come!", pretending to have a carefree, happy voice. To my delight, Toby wheeled about mid-run, leaped the creek again, and careened to a sit at my feet.

View of Starr Creek
Later that evening Ted said, "You know, he listens to you a lot better than he does to me." 
"Well that's not surprising. I'm the one who took him to all those classes!" I snapped back. 

Ducks have been here lately...


It's true, Ted always seems to come home from the Arboretum with a tale of mischief to tell. And it's also true that I rarely have any problems with Toby's recall. But I think until Monday afternoon Ted assumed that because Toby has given his heart to Ted, he'll automatically do whatever he asks. And that is the kind of thinking that gets so many dogs into trouble. Love and obedience simply do not equate. Even the most affectionate dogs require training and lots of practice at obeying commands.

Best buddies at play.
Toby is 3 years old. He's been to basic obedience twice, and advanced obedience once. He's been to a CGC class and a Therapy Dog prep class. He's taken Beginning Rally and just completed Intro to Canine Sports. And in every case I have been his trainer.

Toby (age 1) practices his "sit".
Ted's jaw dropped at my reply. "Touché. Wow. I guess that makes sense." I confess to feeling just a little bit smug at his reaction. Maybe next time he'll come to class with Toby and me?!

In all seriousness though, it's important that we dog lovers keep spreading the word about the importance of training. It can be the difference between a well-loved pet and a banished or discarded animal leading a life of lonely misery. No dog deserves that. 

Who does your dog listen to? When the answer is "no one", it's time for an obedience class. 


  1. Hahaha sorry I have to laugh,but I get a similar conversation about Speedy,I know he's a rabbit,but when he cuddles or does anything with me and hubby is there,hubby complains he doesn't do the with me,my reply is because I spend more time with him,then I get you love that rabbit more than me,then I reply really so why have I been with you for 20 years?hahaha

  2. I do come at once mom is calling me to leash me, but Vaks he don't come at all. He is a rescue, who lived with his human in a flat on second flor in the city, until his human died. He always had to ware a leash while there were going for a walk, so mom don't think he had ever tried to be off the leash. She will have to train him. Sniff from Laika and Vaks.

  3. Just a good case of selective hearing when it comes to squirrels but all in all we manage OK. Recall is so important be it city or countryside. Have a tremendous Thursday.
    Best wishes Molly

  4. We listen to mama and daddy only when we want to but usually when they have treats we coming running. But then we is inside cats and that's what we do. MOL!

    Kitty Kisses,
    Cindi Lou & The Kitty Krew

    PS, we thinks it is very impawtant for wolfies to have training.

  5. Dakota is super intelligent so he WILL listen but he decides when someone else said above, "selective hearing" and "selective" obeying. I also am the "alpha" in our home. Guess what? Dakota FAILED obedience, and guess what else? He can do EVERYTHING that the dogs in the class can do, he just doesn't do it on command and in a group setting like a seal :) He decides when he will do it.

    It appears you and Ted have taken on two roles...Ted is the fun parent and you are the disciplinarian. Toby probably 1/2 expected Ted to jump in the creek with him.

    Madi, on the other hand listens to the beat of her own drum. If she comes when called it is because she was coming that way anyway. good thing she is a house cat.
    Hugs and welcome back
    cecilia and the Diva

  7. Training is essential and it is equally important that all of the family members join in the process. We really need obedience school! haha!

  8. I asked my hubby to take our puppy Luke to obedience school because I knew otherwise he would work with him very little at home. However, we were supposed to work with him together too and we haven't done that. But I work with him individually, and I think he listens to both of us equally (which means not we're getting there!).
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

  9. Hmmm my dogs seem to listen, or not listen, to each parent equally. id say we divide our pet care pretty much right up the middle so that's why

    retro rover


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