My old guy is an easy dog these days. He knows basic polite behaviors to live with people, like sitting patiently to have his leash put on and not swiping food from the table. He knows dozens of cues given explicitly and can reliably respond, even off leash and from a distance and with distractions. For things that don’t have specific cues, he can usually still figure out what I want pretty quickly. Years of clicker work made him willing to guess and he’s smart enough that he can usually figure it out. He cooperates and tries to work with me like no other dog I have ever owned. He’s old enough to have developed self control and he has a very nice off switch for down time as long as he gets enough exercise at other times.
I think I took all of those things for granted before we got the little one. I forgot just how much training time and patience went into building the dog he is today. The little one needs those things now. She needs to learn her basic cues and work on manners. She cannot be trusted. One day she’ll be able to be but right now it’s important not to let her make too many mistakes or pick up too many behaviors that will have to be unlearned later. She is exhausting.
I wish I could say that I was loving every minute of it. I love her. And mostly I enjoy her. She’s very people focused and loves to please. She picks up new cues fast but her ability to work with distractions needs to mature. It takes time and I’m happy to give it to her. She is also a big cuddle baby, more so than the old guy. She wants a lap. She actually likes being carried in the bag I got for her to the point that it’s sometimes tough to convince her to get out of the bag.
There are times though, when I wish she would just sit still for a minute instead of biting at my hands as I try to snap the leash to her collar. There are times when she crawls onto my lap and hits me and I can’t figure out what she wants. I’m more amused than anything at the amount of bed she can take up for such a little dog but if I’m tired enough, she might end up plopped in the dog bed on the floor instead of me trying to sleep around her. I try to be patient though. She still has a lot to learn and it’s my job to teach her.