I was working with a dog that came from a fight bust today. I was giving him things to do that he had never done before. I was doing Target Training with him where you get the dog to touch the palm of your hand with their nose. Then get them to touch a paper such as a post-it with their nose. He had a look on his face like, "why do you want me to touch the paper?" My own dogs have worked since puppyhood and look forward to the fun and rewards of training and "get it". This guy was perplexed and didn't understand the correlation YET in performing the behavior and getting the reward. His mind had not been used this way as he had only lived in a yard on a chain across from another dog or in a wire pen in a mindlessly dull, boring and unstimulating environment. This became more evident to me as we trained along. His fabulous intelligence had been blunted by people who had another purpose for him other than working to win something and using his brains to do it. I could see they didn't care that he was inherently VERY smart other than to abuse his willingness to work for his person. It's strange how you can see the type of owner of a dog through the dog's eyes.During the training for a moment I became sad for him. That his formative years were wasted on someone's intentions that brought about nothing for this dog's betterment.After a bit of training though I was so amazed as I always am at a Pit Bull dog's ability to WANT to GET it. To want to play the game and not just play it but play it right, to please, to be good in my eyes. What a treasure someone threw away! I'm SO lucky! He touched the paper.
Marthina McClay, CPDT