Lyra - Pet or Competition dog?

Yesterday I spent the day in San Diego teaching.  Lyra was left in the care of my husband for twenty-four hours. I wasn't worried; he's really taken to Lyra, and goes out of his way to take her places and to spend time with her.

That did not take away from my shock when I came home last night.  My husband took a piece of cheese out of the refrigerator, called Lyra with a cheerful "come come come" command and then used the cheese to help her into a rock back sit (sit, sit, sit), roughly in "front" position.  He then gave her the cookie, handed out copious praise, and let me know that she had already learned to offer that sit in front instead of jumping on him.

This was a moment I had not yet considered.  No one in my house has ever shown any interest in "training" my dogs.  They use commands to get them to do things (come, go, stay, etc.) to make it easier to live with them, but this was Training.

In exactly five seconds, I needed to formulate a response.

My family has never shown any real interest in the dogs.  They like them most of the time, but let's face it; sometimes it's hard to live in a house with dogs that slavishly worship one person.  If I stand up, they stand up.  If I walk through the house, they walk through with me.  It is not peaceful when the dogs think we are going to do something interesting.  It is....lively.  For the most part, my family just tries to stay out of the way.

My husband has taken to Lyra.  He really likes her, like he hasn't liked any of my dogs since our first Belgian fifteen years ago.   I think he wants a doggy buddy, and Lyra fits the bill.  She's calm, good natured, and isn't always biting.  She listens when you tell her to stop doing things.  She's loving and affectionate.

So I guess it's natural that he wants to teach his pet dog a few things, and he's watched me train enough dogs over the years that he has a rudimentary grasp on the basics.

So, as I watched him train Lrya....I said nothing.  My heart beat a little faster, but her quality of life will be infinity richer if she is loved by more people than just me. Someday I'll teach a new command to mean "sit here in front and be dead straight with your toes two inches from mine".  And it will be ok.  In exchange, she can be a family pet.

Admitedly I hoped he'd lose interest quickly in training, but this morning as I lay in bed, I heard "sit, sit!" coming from the kitchen.


Barb VanEseltine

Excellent! I think this is totally delightful and will integrate Lyra into the household most beautifully. Most of my dogs have had little interest in husband/kids for the same reasons you cite but I think that the ones which did enjoy the rest of the family had more rounded lives. Not necessarily happier but, maybe “fuller” is the word.

amy g

ROFLMAO! I know you are more than brilliant enough to manage training in these muddy waters but it’s SO FUNNY to me to think of the look on your face in those nanoseconds after his proud demonstration. Does he read your blog?


HAHAHA! Oh, do I know that feeling. There was a time when my thoroughly fluent Utility dog took to cocking his head at me when I gave him a sit signal. I mean, reeeallly cocked, like his head was on sideways. Clearly a puzzled dog, complete with worried eyebrows.
Later that same day I overhead my husband asking my dog if he wanted some pizza crust and I turned to see spouse doing what looked alot like having a seizure but was actually his version of a sit signal, getting the sit, and praising wildly while handing over copious amounts of pizza crust. Puzzle solved.


I have resigned myself that other people will also be training and UNTRAINING my dog.

I have a name that I use for her that has not been poisoned.

I have cue words for things that have not been shared with the wife or the kid.

I work on new things outside of their prying eyes and then present them with the finished behavior and a cue for pet use.

I don’t really want to share but is does add to the dog’s quality of life, I think…I HOPE.


Ha! Good thing dogs can learn different rules for different people. Leave “sit,” “come,” “stay,” and other common cues to the husband, and use secret ones for your own higher-criteria behaviors. It’s sweet that he likes her so much. :)

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