Re: What commands does your dog know?
One thing I think is not emphasized enough (or at all) in the obedience classes we've been to, is that the "commands" are actually tools for good and peaceful living with our dogs. They are the basics - Sit, Down, Stand, Come, Stay, etc. For those who are not going on to showing or dog sports and might not learn this, these basics morph into "what we do when..." and how the dog can participate in different scenarios. (Not suggesting you don't do this - just commenting that it seems not stressed enough in classes - and it was definitely not a concept that was obvious to me in the beginning)
This can be different for each dog based on their individual inclinations. As an example, Luther wants to be right in there with me no matter what I'm doing. It's not just annoying - but downright dangerous - to have him snuggled up behind me in our tiny kitchen as I do the dishes. Otto is no problem at all in that regard. So - using the basic tools, I took Luther to a place off to the side where he can watch from a safe distance and put him in a down-stay. I periodically tell him what a good boy he is - and don't laugh - but actually thank him for his help. This became the command, "Go to your place" as well as one of Luther's jobs, which he takes very seriously. Today, no matter what else is going on, if I go in the kitchen to do something, Luther is there lying down in his place, unprompted, regularly appreciated/thanked and looking very important.
This doesn't happen overnight, for sure, and it takes time, work and a lot of thought. We are still working on a lot of stuff, but in the end, the goal would be to have a dog that is controllable and safe because he has a firm grasp of the basic tools, wants to find the right thing to do in different situations - and is satisfied because he has a lot of jobs throughout each day.
Luther GSD 3/18/08
Otto Mix Spring 07