The true test of a dog’s behavioral knowledge comes when he is placed in a pressure situation. Usually, if using obedience, it will take a long time and an immense amount of practice, often months or even years. One will hear a lot of excuses about background and/or age to explain the dog’s failure(s), before the dog successfully masters the commands. Then one must tell the dog what to do in order to control the social responses in any situation. Teach social behaviors, however, and the dog masters them quickly and knows what is expected of him socially and self-monitors successfully without commands. To dogs, obedience makes no sense. However, social behavior expectations are understood and demonstrated quickly by dogs.
Jazz is living proof of this.
Jazz had a GOOD Christmas day. I was pleased and proud of, and for, her.
We had six dogs, including her, in the house. We had two boys, ages five and three, and a grandfather who was more than willing to get down on the floor and do a bit of rough-n-tumble, growl out pirate sayings, and play the evil part in Spider-man games. We had a large Buzz Lightyear who perpetually had his buttons pushed and loudly and electronically proclaimed, “Buzz Lightyear, Space Ranger”, “To Infinity and Beyond”, and had wings that flipped open at the slightest provocation. We had an immense pirate ship that included cannons that fired “darts” and highly-charged young boys acting as pages as they delivered one present after another to the adults.
Jazz weathered it all with aplomb. She never lost it. She never got excited. She didn’t bark. She engaged and was curious, but not intrusive. She handled the influx of dogs and people well and was extremely well-behaved and evidenced great self-control. She was polite while we ate, never jumped on anyone, never went and hid. I didn’t have to say a word to her.
She managed all of this, for a full day, after only about three weeks of rehab work.
Jazz went on long walks with all the dogs, even though she had no sweater and her tootsies got a bit cold. (I NEVER pick Jazz up. She walks. She walks everywhere for everything.) She never bothered the boys when they had food in their hands, even though she is a food-pig. She never got underfoot, even though she was extremely interested in where everyone went any time they left the room. She allowed, with some support from me, the boys to pet her, even though it is clear that children make her insecure and somewhat frightened. (I would bet kids have picked her up and/or followed her in their quest to pet and play with her.)
She was, as were the other dogs, totally wiped out by the end of the day and grateful when the house was empty of guests. They all slept long and hard last night.
Jazz was a happy dog yesterday. She was included. She was part of the festivities. She satisfied her curiosity. She was not insecure, unhappy, nor unduly stressed.
Yes, Jazz, there really IS a Santa Claus.