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Last week in puppy class, I casually mentioned that Ace is a bit harder to train than Colby was because he doesn't have that "need-to-please" mentality that she has. She is (and has always been) very serious and a piece of cake to train. She'll work for ANYTHING. The trainer stopped short and went off on a rant about how "No dog in the world does anything to make a person happy or sad or mad and if they did they'd be the ones running the world and we'd be in crates."

To an extent, I can see her point. It's probably true for many dogs (like her doberman, AHEM), but I disagree with her. If there is any dog smart enough to do things to get a particular reaction out of you, it's a Border Collie.

I held my tongue and figured that it'd be best to agree to disagree...but I had to bring this up to you all. What do you think?
 

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Kaki listens to me 98% of the time for no other reason than because I said so. The other 2% is actual training. She's also a terribly underconfident, scaredy dog with me, and me only. It seems like there's this fear in her that one day(and it just might be today!) I might just snap and beat her silly. Kaki is the poster child for biddability.

I think of things more in terms of biddability than "need-to-please". Of course that varies from breed to breed and from one dog to the next.
 

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My dogs do things that get them stuff they want. They do things that I ask them to because they're pretty darn sure I'm going to give them stuff they want in return. I don't think there's any more to it than that. Although I suppose an argument could be made that when I'm pleased, I give them things, so they want to please me.
 

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Luna the foster pit bull does things half because she simply wants positive attention and half for treats. She is very very biddable. She really wants to please. Happy words from me just start her tail wagging and her whole body quivering in excitement. She really does do actions to make me happy.

Chester is not very biddable at all. He will work for food but in general, I have to convince him that whatever I am asking for is worth doing. I can throw a ball and he will look at it and then look at me like "why did you throw it if you want it back?" Basically, he has to get something out of the action whether it be a treat, time to play, a car ride or whatever his mind thinks makes it all work. He can also sometimes out think me and then I have to figure out his thought process to "talk" him into things. He isn't disobedient, he just looks as the world a different way than the ever-eager pibble.
 

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I think it's often a combination of things. My guys have seen enough clicker training that they're usually pretty good about trying to invent things on their own. Both mine will do what I ask (most the time) without much more than a 'good dog' but I've also built up the reward in the past for these commands. So I'm not really sure that says much of anything.

They're both very intuitive and eager (in my opinion) as far as training goes too. Both of mine have shown up from the get go really seeming to want to learn, especially once they figured out the game. They offer behaviors on their own a lot and they instigate interactions with me all the time.

I think most of it is building up a bond with a particular animal. Day 1 of owning Mia, I doubt she would have gone out of her way to do anything I wanted her to, but now nearly 3 years down the line and we have a history together. She knows that I provide good things and associates me with good things so she 'wants to please' me because I give her good things and she trusts me. Now Summer would probably do anything any human ever told her in hopes that they would pet her or hold her but that's still giving her something back that is rewarding to her, which is attention from a person. So I do agree that dogs don't really obey simply because they want to make us happy but more because of the history behind the interactions and the relationship and trust built into that relationship over the time of working with your dog.

I did get into a 'discussion' recently when I stated that Mia was simply a more complicated animal than Summer was. I was told that animals really aren't more or less complicated than each other, it's just us humanizing our 'heart dogs'. I disagree with that completely but that's probably another thread.
 

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I have a hard time with the idea that my dogs don't want to please me, or other people. Mac ADORES his Christmas sweater, I've watched him try to crawl into it himself, and I am convinced the only reason he likes it is because he gets absolutely fawned all over by everyone when he is wearing it. He has never received a treat for having it on, he has a thick coat and a sturdy stout body, he isn't cold, it has to be the fact everyone goes "HANDSOME BOY!" and cuddles him. My dogs sleep beside my bed, follow me from room to room, accompany me on walks...hell, I can't even take a pee in privacy anymore. There is a mutual enjoyment for companionship, and I am sure the feeling they get when I give them a command and tell them they are good and scratch them when they listen is probably very similiar to the feeling I get when they fall asleep in my lap when I'm on the couch. We want to make each other happy.
 

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Valen was a Sheltie and he definitely figured out what I wanted and did it. He was my first dog and I really had no real clue how to train him, if it'd been all on me he would have been a wild man with no manners at all. That being said, if I had bettrer understood how to shape his behavior, there are lots of areas he could have improved.

I'm not sure I believe he did things "to make me happy" but I do believe he was amazing at figuring out "what I expected".
 

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Holly will do anything for her ball or a toy, that includes climbing a tree, and jumping up at this tree, and jumping around in a bush, but when a dog is around, well not so much, she has a big fear of them due to being attacked quite a few times, and barks at them when in closed in spaces, but on the green out front, i can know finally get her to focus on her ball rather than a dog, she is fine when out if there is enough room bewteen her and the dog, but if not i might aswell not be that and her ball is useless, she will also not work for treats round dogs in closed in spaces, clicker training didn't work either, half the time she will not take the treat, but when not around dogs she is quite good and listens to me most of the time.
 
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