A very well known international dog trainer (actor) says it is “Calm Submissive”, another trainer suggests on her website that her training will make your dog “Calm and Obedient” . Is this what we really want?
Calm, well sure! Calm is good! Calm is relaxed, happy, and comfortable. I like to be calm, I like my dogs to be calm, I have no issues with helping dogs achieve calmness.
But what about submissive… or obedient. Ok well, submissive is handy, if not a little master/servant oriented. It is similar to obedient in that the connotation is that the dog will do whatever you ask whenever you ask it no matter what. You know what that also describes? Pretty much any machine in my house. My computer (most of the time), my TV, my dishwasher. They all do whatever I tell them to, no questions, no argument, no offering of better suggestions- Excuse me ma’am but I think you wanted to use HOT water on that lode of towels.
Submissive /Obedient does NOT describe; children, anyone I have ever worked with, lions, bears or dogs.
“Dogs?!”you say! that’s right, dogs are NOT naturally submissive, obedient animals anymore than your Mother–in-Law is. They are living, thinking (sometimes not so much), changing, beings with OPINIONS and with QUESTIONS. You know when your dog sees something interesting… like another dog. The first thing he does is look at that dog, then flash back to look at you, to look you right in the eye, then back to the other dog again, then back to you. In fact he may keep this up until the other dog is completely out of site. This is an example of your dog having an opinion and asking you a question. “ I want to go see that other dog, would you let me off this leash so I can see that other dog…why aren’t you letting me off… PLEEEEEEAAASE I want to sniff that dog over there, don’t you see it?! are you blind? there’s a dog right THERE!” I am sure there are a few of you out there that can relate.
My point is, in order to MAKE a dog be truly submissive and obedient, you would have to be on top of them day in and day out, micro-manage every facet of their lives. That sounds exhausting. Is it worth it?
My dogs are calm (about 90% of the time), they are submissive, in that they don’t try to steal my dinner and they wait politely for theirs’ in their crates. Obedient… well sure, if I ask them to do something that they have practiced doing, they do it. My dogs are allowed to pretty much do as they please (within reason), and my dogs are generally well behaved, I am not saying they never do anything I would rather they didn’t, they do. So does my Mother-in-Law, my friends, and people I work with.
My dogs don’t have to wait for me to go out the door before them. Most of the time their dinner time is before mine, and sometimes they sleep on the bed. So why aren’t they trying to take over the family (and then the world)? Well I’ll never truly know, because they can’t speak English. But if I were to hazard a guess it is because I offer them a stable, safe, and calm environment. I work with them regularly on manners and reinforce the behavior I like with lots of praise, treats and life rewards!
I have never wanted a submissive, obedient dog. I want dogs that come when called, play fetch, and cuddle, because they want to and I want to enjoy living with them too.