Autonomy II: Do Ask, Do Tell

KC sniffs LG 11-12

Last week I posted a blog about giving our dogs more autonomy, and asked for comments about ideas on how to do so outside of working dogs on sheep. Many of the comments sent in response to that post are extremely helpful, and I encourage you to read through them. However, I know that time is short for many of us, so I've summarized some of the best ideas and some of my own this week. First, as a preface, it is important to note that just like people, dogs vary tremendously in their desire for autonomy. Some dogs are extremely independent and others find too many choices burdensome. That's why Willie stays in a crate when I'm gone. I am 100% sure that he is more comfortable in his 'bedroom' than being left loose in the house. When left loose he's been a wreck when I returned home; no Read More

Autonomy & Domestic Dogs

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How much autonomy does your dog have?  Willie's work with sheep is  what motivates me to ask this question. As I mentioned earlier, Willie and I attended a sheepdog clinic 2 weeks ago with Patrick Shannahan, and the big take away for us was that, too often, Willie looks to me to tell him what to do while working sheep. It's not that he doesn't know what to do himself, he's just in the habit of being dependent upon me to tell him before he takes action on his own. This was not a complete surprise to me, but I didn't realize what a significant issue it was until I worked with Patrick. I think I know why this has happened: First, Willie is a naturally biddable dog and dependent dog. I chose him over his 7-week old brother because Willie seemed to care deeply about where I was and what I Read More