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More thoughts on “what’s in a name”


The previous post talks about how words do have an emotional content.

To me the word TRAINING bears with it a high degree of seriousness.

That is why I feel using the word TRAINING in the context of teaching, raising and educating a puppy can lead some people to a level of desperate seriousness. I see the difference in mood between teaching a “stay” and teaching a “trick”: tricks are fun, obedience is life and death.

My dog broke the stay. Catastrophe!

He cannot roll over yet? No big deal.

Now I understand that learning how to “stay” has more of a life saving/ basic obedience kind of importance but in there should be no reflection of that in the learning process. In fact, the more fun and easy it is, the more your dog is going to enjoy the “difficult” and “boring” skills.

It is also good to remember that we all are better at some things than others. I might be a lousy dancer but a talented mathematician. That does not make me better or worse than another human who has the opposite gift. The same is true for dogs. Pointers have a great knack for a “stand/stay” whereas a terrier will have a harder time learning something that static. A terrier will tend to be much better at learning “roll over”.

Think of the origin of the word “education”. The Latin word “educare” which means to “draw out” or “elicit”.

Eliciting behaviors and skills is much more playful and interesting for both humans and dogs.  The level of engagement is higher. The human has to think about how to elicit the behavior from the dog, how to make the dog best understand what is desired right now. The dog gets to discover what brings on the approval in this wonderful guessing game. The dog gets to use his innate intelligence.

Really, in the end it really does not matter if it took the dog 10 days or 3 days to acquire a skill. Please keep in mind that learning is a process and if it is a joyful process then the learned behavior will be offered with pleasure.


  1. How adorable! Such manners for Nono and Sia. Very creative on the adults end.

    Comment by karen on June 10, 2011 at 10:42 pm
  2. That is totally hilarious! Great job and really fun to watch!

    Comment by Fran on June 10, 2011 at 10:59 pm
  3. Actually my friend and website designer Kendra Dixson was the person who sent me the video. So 99% of the credit goes to her!

    Comment by Elisabeth on June 11, 2011 at 7:55 am
  4. Hee hee, well a good friend of mine forwarded it to me so the list goes on. I think it is so cute and I’m amazed at how well the dogs are behaved, although you do see a little help from the human hands so they don’t dive their noses into their dish. lol

    Comment by Kendra Dixson on June 11, 2011 at 2:56 pm
  5. yes the dogs are great! I also liked HOW they helped the dogs by pretending it was a human “putting your chin in your hands” gesture. It is most entertaining.

    Comment by Elisabeth Weiss on June 11, 2011 at 3:24 pm