Untrainable Dog Syndrome – Here is my own story

The story I am about to tell took place several years ago but hopefully I will never ever forget what I have learned from my experience.
In 1992 one of my dreams came true: I got a Golden Retriever boy puppy from a much admired breeder. The puppy was wonderful – not only pretty but also very intelligent. Apart from that it soon became apparent that he had quite a mind of his own, being both curious and independent minded.

By that time I had already successfully trained several Goldens without any problems whatsoever so I was little prepared for what was to happen with my charming boy.
My then husband had never owned a dog before and when we met I owned a wonderfully trained mature bitch who just knew how to behave and never asked any questions. She simply adored him, fulfilling his every wish.

When I started training my boy my husband took things for granted, expecting the puppy to be just as obedient as our adult female. This meant that he would never reinforce any command he’d given so that the young boy never got the guidance he needed.

This was a very busy time in my life, going to university, writing my thesis, running a dog club and suchlike which meant that I took little notice of how husband and dogs got on together. I just needed time for myself and all the things I had to do…

So the puppy grew up into a boisterous youngster who had never learned how to walk on a lead without pulling your arms out. He also never learned that he needed to do as he was told for any length of time.

Luckily his temperament was very sound, there was not a growl in him. He was loving, fun to be with but absolutely uncontrollable on the lead if and when he had seen something of interest.

I still remember the day when he nearly tore my arm out because he wanted to go for a swim in a pond we were passing. Those of you who own a dog that pulls on a lead know the physical pain I had to endure for several days.

No matter what I did or how I did it changed things for me and my boy because the real problem lay between me and my husband.

We just did not manage to agree on any commands nor did we find a way to work out a consistent training or rehabilitation programme for the poor dog.

The disagreement between us caused the problems we came across with our dog. Today I know that we were lucky because he was such a good natured, loving character who still did his very best to please us no matter what. Had he been a dog with even the slightest tendency to be aggressive towards other dogs or people our behavior might easily have caused a disaster for all of us.

However, there and then, twenty years ago, I blamed my poor dog for being disobedient when in fact we trained him to act the way he did.

Annelie