"Only about 10% of dog training is about training any particular behavior, like sit, down, or come. The other 90% of dog training is about getting your dog in a frame of mind where he is willing and able to pay attention and learn. Your average Golden Retriever or Sheltie is in, or close to being in, the frame of mind necessary to learn behaviors. Your Pigs Fly dog is not. That is why, despite the fact that there are any number of very good positive dog training books which show you how to train the basics, like sit, down, and come, most people who own Pigs Fly kinda dogs cannot get their dogs to perform with any reliability. Their dogs are just not engaged in the process."
- Killion, Jane (2007-06-22). When Pigs Fly!: Training Success with Impossible Dogs (p. 16). Dogwise Publishing. Kindle
Getting a "Pig" to Fly
While taking training classes, I was often flustered at the pace that Indiana was supposed to learn something. The space of a week was never long enough to cement something, even though I have a good amount of time to work with Indiana. At the end of the eight week course, I was supposed to be able to command Indiana's attention without treats through his Good Canine Certification. I ended up not even going to the final test because I knew I would fail, and I was embarrassed, even though I was pretty sure that none of the other dogs in the class were at a point any further along than Indiana.
I wanted to give credit to a great book, which taught me a fantastic lesson in patience and setting expectations too fast (although they can be very high given enough time.) I think Jane Killion's "When Pigs Fly: Training Success with Impossible Dogs" is a necessity for anyone who owns a dog that is "untrainable" (or "unbiddable" as her book phrases it.) She emphasizes that any dog can be trained, even if they are a breed known for not listening. The whole book is about understanding the sensibilities of a dog and not expecting it to react like a golden retriever when learning commands. Unbiddable dogs do things at their own pace, but are just as "intelligent" as any breed. I don't always use a clicker, but the lessons in the book really break down training into achievable steps.
Indiana has been doing great at learning "Speak" and "Play Dead" and I am taking my time teaching them to him. I'm hoping to take another stab at his Good Canine Citizen Certification in a few months.