Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Pooches: Expectations vs. Training Realities

Before I adopted Miss M, there were only 2 things I wanted from a dog: a pooch who would run with me and a pooch who would hang out at me with at the park while I read books.
I quickly found out, that among many other behavioral things I hadn't expected, Miss M is definitely not a runner, and she has too little patience to actually sit still and hang out in a park.
Maybe she couldn't fulfill my original expectations, but I soon found out Miss M is quite talented in many other ways. She can do an unlimited down-stay with food in front of her and in the middle of a Chicago street. She can help me with the chores by putting her own toys away. And she can be quite entertaining.
Though I've always wondered if maybe with patience and training, Miss M could have become my running partner. And if I was really consistent, and worked with her daily, could Miss M enjoy her time at the park?
To what degree does a dog's personality trump training? And to what degree have we just learned to manage our own expectations?

10 comments:

Jorden said...

These are the dreams that we have for Fry too! He was once a runner... now he is quick to tire and lie down. Fry is so quick to get antsy in the park. So our dream of enjoy a book in the sun is not a reality yet but we are still optimistic. I would say with time and patience Fry is capable of almost anything!

Derek the dog said...

I was JUST thinking the same thing. I suppose it is a little give and take, I am probably asking Derek to do things that he is not excited about an he does his best to deal with it. And I deal with his personality quirks as best as I can deal with it. Kinda like being married....

Jen said...

Good questions!

I do think that training, and a dog's bond with their person, can go a very long way to work against their innate personality. Now, whether one has the time and patience to get there is another story! So, depending, it is or isn't possible. I think.

SherBear said...

It's funny you posted this today as I went for a run last night and left Nala at home - to which my mom asked, didn't you get Nala to be your running partner?? She's pretty good to run with but sometimes she would rather chase a squirrel or a bird. She can also be inconsistant with pacing so if I have speed goals for a run she might not be the best companion. While her occassional reactivity is manegable (esp if I have treats with me), it's still a worry of mine that someone will run up behind us with another dog and spook her. And running down the Lake Shore path there are always other dogs and distractions I need to think about. Sometimes I just want to run with my head phones on (which I do not do with Nala) and zone out so she gets left at home. But with daycare everyday during the week it's not like she NEEDS the exercise and while I think she likes running with me there are other activities that I know she'd rather do with me. But I definetly do want to work with her on her running skills, unfortunately it's going to be too hot later this week for either one of us to be running around outside!!

Sarah said...

It's a balancing act. Sure, I've got expectations but my dogs have their own personalities which are sometimes suited for my expectations and sometimes not. Some things, like reactivity, can be fixed with time, patience and training. Others, like being a good running partner, has more to do with the personality of your dog. Hurley would NEVER be a good running partner. Sadie on the other hand would likely be a rock star runner. But I'm not a runner myself so she must content herself with zoomies.

Kimberly Zecchini said...

My dogs love to run. Sadly, Bella will stop in full fledge run to get attention, which is not ideal for me.. And Tripp, well, with his "In charge" attitude, he thinks he should take me running. We've actually been talking about training them with running, because I can no longer take them with me because one stops and the other goes too much!! Ill have more on our blog soon, but know that you are not alone.. Except, Ms. M makes our dogs look like wild children!! :)
Kimberley.

Two Kitties One Pittie said...

Ha. That's funny because it's the reverse in my case. I hate running and Zoe loves it. Want to trade dogs? Kidding. :)

Two French Bulldogs said...

you are teaching your pawrents stuff too
Benny & Lily

Emily said...

I wonder the same thing! I have all these fantastic ideas about the wonderful things I'd love my dogs to do. I think Hades would make an excellent therapy dog, for example, but he hasn't even gone through official basic training-- AKA we would have a long way to go! I hope to one day have a little more time to devote to official training so I can help my dogs realize all of their potential.

Mary said...

No way could you train a non-running dog to run with you. At least to the point where they would enjoy it. I mean, our dogs struggle on their one-mile (if even) walks. Sometimes we are actually dragging Neptune along, he's so slow. But I do enjoy watching the guy in our neighborhood who bikes with TWO dogs (what talent!) and marvel at their athleticism. Then again, if I had a dog who ran with me, he would probably also wake me up at the crack of dawn and not sleep all day, so in the end, that's not what I want;)

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