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    Old Dawg (Senior Member) snow0160's Avatar

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    Red face Behavioral Differences within breed

    Sorry for going MIA for a while. I wanted to share my experience on two different LGDs despite both being from the same breed. It really surprised me how different dogs are despite being from the same breed. My experience goes is that not all stereotypes about a breed are true and it depends on the individual dog. In the end, I don't know if the differences are because of the excellent breeder, the way we socialized her, or simply because she is a unique dog.
    Background: (I wrote this in a past thread)
    I have a Maremma Sheepdog puppy named Kit and she turns 18 weeks next week. We had a rescue Maremma named Sahara who died last year and we were very reluctant in getting another Maremma due to the aggression and temperament we saw in Sahara. Sahara was aloof, quick to anger/annoy, independent, loyal, vocal, and hm... distrustful of all strangers. She had some resource aggression issue that we could never break from her so it becomes scary at times. Don't get me wrong, I would have done anything for Sahara and really appreciated her 100% devotion and loyalty. I loved that dog like it was my right arm and no dog will ever replace the love for my first dog. I became pretty depressed after she passed away. My husband was not psyched about getting another LGD because Sahara was surrendered to us after snapping at a newborn human baby and we are planning to start a family in the next few years. So my hubby got a
    goldendoodle. I don't think I initially bonded with the doodle so I put our names down with one of the best Maremma breeders I could find and I didn't expect to hear back so soon but that is how we got Kit in February! This dog broke every stereotype about LGD I previously had. I do want to mention we got Sahara when she was 7 years old whereas Kit we got at 8 weeks old. Having a Goldendoodle 8 months older really helped socialize Kit and shape her behavior.

    Update on the new puppy:
    So the only thing Kit has in common with Sahara are the fact they look alike and can be a little bit stubborn.

    Social Butterfly:Kit is super duper friendly and loves strangers. In fact, she is the most friendly dog I've ever encountered. She loves strangers to a level that is beyond doodle or labs. I think it is because of the fact that she is super adorable and people love to give her attention. When she sees someone walking by she will sit there until the person came over. She has become a neighborhood celebrity. Everyone is asking about her. She is even more friendly than my doodle with strangers.
    My walks with Sahara was high stress because sometimes neighborhood children or strangers would come and pet my big fluffy white dog without asking. I was scared she was gonna snap if a kid pulled on her ear so I always avoid young children. Now I have the problem where Kit might pee on strangers from overexcitement. LOL, I've never met a dog that loves people so much and I didn't think it would come from an LGD.

    I did take Kit everywhere. We took her to the farmers market every weekend. We took her to dog stores, the park, and frequent neighborhood walks. We did not bring her to the dog park to get intimidated by other dogs and wanted to limit every interaction to being a super positive one.

    Potty Breaking: This one was tough and I've seen so many people talk about walking their puppy every hour. We walked Kit every two hours at 8 weeks and she did not become 100% until 4 months. Our trainer suggested she had a UTI because of the yellow staining and it turns out she had vaginitis. After a few days of anti-biotics, she was able to improve her time to 3 hours and now to 4 hours. We have been accident free for the past two weeks! I think the key was having our Goldendoodle to love her crate from an early age. Right now she loves her crate so much that if the door was open she does not seem to get up and leave. She sees it as a place to get her favorite things: nap, toys, treats, food, and water! We also got up at 5 am to take her to potty so she didn't have a chance to soil herself.

    Barking: I have yet had a barking issue with her. She never barks at night and only barks when she wants to play or need to go potty. All things considered, she is pretty quiet for a dog.

    Zero Aggression: I have not seen any aggression coming from this dog even though she is tethered to me or the sofa all day. Lucky the doodle enjoys stealing her toys or treats because I give her special puppy treats to chew on such as frozen kongs, yak cheese or other teething toys. I think Sahara would have sat on Lucky by now but Kit shares her resources with her big brother and Lucky sometimes brings her toys so they can play tuggy together.

    Obedience: Kit highly responsive and is eager to please when there is a treat. One thing I did notice between Lucky and Kit is the fact that she is a bit more independent-minded whereas the doodle is needier. Kit is a bit slower to respond but I think that has much to do with the fact that LGD pups are slow to develop and are uncordinated. I really love the way she flops around and is quite silly.

    Goofball! If you asked me what kind of dog was Sahara, the word "majestic, sophisticated, aloof, and respectful" comes to mind. Kit is beautiful but is 100% silly. Sahara was a very serious dog and Kit is even sillier than the doodle when he was the same age. This dog enjoys playing and loves toys but I think it is because of Lucky that she is like this. Sahara did not care for any toys and did not play fetch. She was more concerned with making sure no one else got her toys than playing with them.

    Not so Loyal: We went to the doggy beach to celebrate after she got her last round of puppy shots. She wanted to hang with every family and started leaving with them. I think she is not much for loyalty like Sahara. She showered strangers with kisses and lots of drool. She really enjoyed exploring on her own and making new friends. If someone broke in my house, I'd think she would be like why aren't you taking more stuff and petting me more?


    Conclusion: Not all dogs from the same breed have the same behavior. She does remind me a lot of Sahara in the way she looks, walks, and sleeps but when it comes to personality she is very different. Sometimes I wonder do I have an LGD Maremma or a labrador retriever? Both her parents are working dogs on a farm and with documented italian champion lineage. All in all, I cannot ask for a better dog. What do you guys think? Is she different because of a) she is still a puppy b) early socialization c) her breeder d) she is just an outlier?

  2. #2
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    There are so many variables, that it's hard to tell. For one, there is no way to know whether or not Sahara was actually, truly, a Maremma. Yes, I know you had the president of a rescue tell you that she was, but rescues - even the best rescues - get it wrong. Outside of a pedigree from a breeder who has a lot to lose if she were caught forging pedigrees, there is no way to know for sure.

    Even assuming that Sahara was really a Maremma, there are huge variances within breeds, even within the same lines. Two of our Standard Poodles were from the same breeder and same lines. The breeder was well-researched, and very active in confirmation showing. Both parents of both dogs were champions, for what that's worth. Still, each dog had her own distinct personality. Mattie, the older one, was shy and reserved, and really preferred the company of my Mom to that of any other human. The breeder had initially held her back for her breeding program, but found that her temperament was not correct for a Standard Poodle. She came to us at around five months of age - well socialized, meaning that the breeder tried to socialize her, but she didn't enjoy it. Mattie was also a bit of a status seeker and a resource guardian. The first thing she did when she and Mamie (the younger one) got home from the groomers was jealously rip the bows off of Mamie's ears - every single time. She was also very prissy, and hated getting her feet wet.

    Mamie, on the other hand, came to us much younger. She was outgoing and confident. She guarded no resources, and put up with Mattie's domineering behavior. She loved wading in the lake until she had burrs in her fur up to her knees.

    Sahara could have been a purebred Maremma from a fabulous breeder, for all we know. She could have come by her behavioral issues naturally, or she could have developed them from ending up in the hands of the wrong humans somehow - it happens.

    Then, there is the issue of Kit. I know we have told you this before, but I am going to say it again. Kit's personality now isn't necessarily going to be the same as it will be three years from now. If you read through the threads in the behavior section of this forum, you will see thread after thread of people scared and confused when their dogs suddenly stop wanting to be social butterflies. In a good number of those cases, the dogs are between the ages of 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 years old. Sebastian is in those threads. He failed the CGC because he wanted to make friends with the new dog during that portion of the test. Now, when he goes to the vet, he has to be snuck in through the side door when the coast is clear because he wants to attack nearly every dog we meet. He was very very very well socialized as a puppy. He went to puppy classes. He had play dates. He went to daycare. He went to dog parks. He went with me to work most days, and we lived in a trendy, walkable part of town with lots of dog-friendly stores on our walking route. He was a favorite at the Apple Store and at Jonathan Adler. He ended up not liking other dogs because that is who he is.

    Kit hasn't even started her adolescence yet. At 18 weeks, she is the equivalent of a 4 1/2 year old child. I know my personality now is not the same as it was when I was 4 1/2.

    Your conclusion is right. Not all dogs from the same breed are exactly alike. They are living, breathing, emotional beings. Their personalities are a wonderful culmination of genetics and experience - just like humans. My sister and I kind of look alike and have almost the exact same voice - to the point that if I go to an event at her kids' school, everyone knows that I am her sister before they meet me. In a lot of ways, though, we are polar opposites. She went to medical school, I went to art school. Same parents, relatively same upbringing, and still worlds apart.

    I would imagine that Kit is vastly different from her littermates in various ways.
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    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Jewel's Avatar

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    You are indeed correct that every dog is an individual. That one is a given - they are living beings, not robots . To be honest... I've always thought it a teeny bit strange why you kept on insisting that Sahara is what the breed maremmas are supposed to be. After all, there is no way to definitively say that Sahara was a purebred maremma or anything else. Unless there is documented proof, what one person may have said by looking at her was just an opinion, which another person could entirely disagree with.

    My puppy Ren is our 5th pyr. He has certain behaviors that are breed traits which were shared by his predecessors. But he is definitely not a copy of the others in personality. Ren was bred by one of the top show pyr breeders in the country. Ren is closely related to my prior female, Bijou. His mother and Bijou were by the same sire. Because of the line breeding, Ren actually exhibits a lot of similar behaviors that Bijou exhibited. But, I should also note that I asked for specific personality traits and thus when the breeder picked the puppy for me, she picked one that would be as close a match to my requirements as possible. Hence, that could also explain why Ren and Bijou share similar behaviors. Even then, Ren's personality is distinctly different than Bijou, not to mention the others. Lastly, there was also Pi... alas, Pi was a sad example of bad experience coupled with insecure personality...

    I do think that each dog has its own core personality that stays regardless of how one may raise each dog the same way or how extensively the dog was socialized. My Bro was a high strung dog who was a bit insecure. He acted a lot like they way you described Sahara. We got Bro when he was 8 weeks old. He was a friendly, happy young puppy. He was raised with a calm, confident, friendly, empathetic female pyr who was a master at interacting with humans. They were socialized regularly. Despite having been raised by and with our first pyr, Bro developed a distinct dislike of strangers by the time he turned 2. I spent the next several years working with him with good results. We got Bijou also when she was 8 weeks. Bro was nearly 4 when we got Bijou and he raised her. Despite having been raised by and with Bro who was not fond of humans, Bijou loved people and got along with most dogs. As she matured, she showed a clear preference for male dogs and was much less interested in female dogs. Ren, now 7 months, still loves people and loves other dogs. When we started walking him at 3 months, he tried to run to every person he saw. If there were no one when we walked him, he insisted on sitting down to wait for someone, anyone, to come out. He acted very similar to the way you describe how Kit is. Ren has been extensively socialized which we will continue to do and hope that his current personality will remain intact as he matures.

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    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Jewel's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by snow0160 View Post
    Kit is a bit slower to respond but I think that has much to do with the fact that LGD pups are slow to develop and are uncordinated.


    Oh, uh, um, hmmm, I hate to break it to you but... Kit is slower to respond now and she's likely going to stay that way... nothing to do with development... she's a LGD.... it's kind of norm for them...

    edit to add: there is a rule that you can't just talk about your puppy... pictures are required!!

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    Old Dawg (Senior Member) snow0160's Avatar

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    I was actually hoping for your experiences because I did read other people's dog changed behaviors at maturity. Lucky certainly has become a lot more affectionate since Kit came. He has become more of a thief and steals on a regular basis. I wish there was a easier way to load photos. So I am going to write first and then add the photos from my phone and hopefully it works. I do wish this forum participated in tapatalk app because you can post photos with your phone and get notifications very quickly.

    I actually had thought it was all the breeder. Kit's parents were super nice. I don't know if I mentioned it in the other thread but when we got her from the farm, our car got trapped in a snowbank. My DH never lived anywhere else but FL and I should have drove but I drove the high way stretch and he did the rural strech because I am afraid of heights. So when the car got stuck I came out of the car and Kit's dad came up. My husband started yelling at me because the dad was so handsome I went close to the fence to greet it. In retrospect I was pretty dumb but the dad was super friendly. He actually licked my hand and really loved me. Now if this was Sahara, she would have barked non stop and perhaps bitten me like she almost did to the cable guy. I actually have been bitten by her twice but it was mostly my fault in stopping her raging food aggression towards my other dog. I thought it was very strange how nice both Kit's parents were. Both the mom and dad left their sheep came to see me and were wagging their tails. This was actually the second time I've met any Maremma. I think the fact that her parents were super friendly is a good sign for Kit. I am really hoping that if Kit remains this awesome, I might get Maremmas from this breeder for the rest of my life. But Sebastian's mom, I think you are right that no two dogs are every the same even from the same family. I don't have children and am the only child but I have seen this with my good friend who is an identical twin. They are nothing alike and they even look different to me but that is cuz I know them well.
    I do realize that personalities change but I hope we can preserve this with training, socialization, and lots of positive rewards!

    In term of Sahara's breed... I realized I would never know 100%. I've gone to AKC nationals each year here in Orlando to see Kuvasz. I've also looked at the Tetras as well and they are too rare. Sahara also had no double dew claws in the back and very similar facial features to Kit. I think Maremma is probably the closest guess. In any case, Sahara was my first dog and the only dog and I think putting her to sleep gave me PTSD of some sorts because I stayed until the final shot. I couldn't get through the denial part. I'm like "Oh if I get another Maremmma, then I'll have Sahara back." This didn't logically make sense but I needed it to be true in order to feel okay so I kept telling myself that. Silly me, Kit is nothing like Sahara. For some reason, what some may consider to be flaws for Sahara I saw as positives. LOL I really miss my awseomely grumpy dog. When I got the doodle I was like why is he so nice? Does he have no personality? Now I discovered his personlaity quirk is being a stealthy and mild mannered. He truely is a super sweet dog who is hilariously crafty. He steals things from the other dogs as soon as they stop looking and hides it. He steals my shoes and I have one sandal missing as we speak. It is their personality quirks that makes me really love them just like Sahara. If Kit develops her big girl personality and is full of quirks I will learn to love them too. I think at heart, I am a LGD lover. If you meet me in real life I can probably talk you to death about how much I love them. Sorry for the really long post, I gush a lot. My husband used to call Sahara my boss because I would do anything for her and was a huge pushover. I must have been her little lamb because she was always by my side.

    Photo comments: We had a loaner car because my SUV was being serviced by the dealership. So we had our silly tiny little clown car. Kit is really into car rides whereas Lucky took 2 months to jump in on his own. Did I mention she is a curious dog so when my neighbor gave me some craft supply the first thing she did was stick her head in to check out the bag. This dog is very photogenic I can probably take beauiful photos of her all day! Also it is impossible to walk her without a huge group gathering to pet her. People make jokes about stealing her all the time and she truely enjoys attention from both people and canines. She tends to be popular with both. lol

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    Last edited by snow0160; 04-27-2017 at 10:56 PM. Reason: photo added

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    Old Dawg (Senior Member) snow0160's Avatar

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    I should probably be asleep right now but I am still uploading the photos. Uploading is taking a long time arg! The photo of the car and the beach was all on the same day. It was a dog beach in Tampa FL called Ft de Soto and it was amazing and lived up to the hype.

    Here is a youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qqWcQheHRXk


    I am suffering from extreme exhaustion lately from illness so I am not sure if my writing makes 100% sense. Please excuse my poor writing.

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    Old Dawg (Senior Member) snow0160's Avatar

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    I am rereading the responses from yesterday because I was so tired. I don't know why I didn't mention this first but the reason I kept on trying to put Sahara into a mold is because I was always afraid of losing her because she came to us when she was already a senior. Through the years I kept on trying to get a confirmation of what breed she was so I thought if she fit into one breed description I would know for sure.

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    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    I love the video at the beach!

    Is Lucky intact? If so, I would be cautious about taking him places where you know that there will be other dogs off-leash. It's not that I think that Lucky might become aggressive, but because other dogs might become aggressive towards him, like the dog in the mean dog video.

    This was something that I didn't know until Chester came to live with us. At the time, Chester was still fairly young and sociable with other dogs. He only had problems with intact males, but those problems were severe. A perfectly friendly intact boy could totally be minding his own business, but if he got too close to Chester (I'm talking a 5- to 10- foot radius), Chester would attack with little warning. I started reading up on his behavior, and it turns out that it is not all that uncommon in the US, where more dogs are neutered than not. What I learned is that due to all of the testosterone that intact males produce, they give off a different scent than that of neutered males or females. Dogs of either gender who have not been extensively socialized with intact males, react to the scent, thinking that the intact male is an altogether different species, and something to be feared.

    Sebastian ended up losing his tolerance of intact males once he hit maturity. In every case, these dogs were great dogs with wonderful manners and social skills, but that didn't stop my two from acting like obnoxious jerks in their presence.

    Another quick thing about Lucky. You mentioned that he has become a bit of a thief since Kit came home. Now, this could just be an adolescent phase. I know both of our Poodles were notorious theives when they were young. However, coupled with the information that Kit sometimes gets really high value treats that Lucky does not, had me concerned that it could be the beginning of a bigger problem. At our house, we have a rule, which has been reinforced by four Behaviorists (to date). If one dog gets a high value treat, the other one does, too. Chester takes his meds in Pill Pockets. When it's time for medicine treats, Sebastian gets an empty pill pocket. When Chester gets wet food treats for going in his crate, Sebastian gets wet food treats. When Sebastian gets a cookie for coming inside, Chester gets a cookie whether he was outside or not. This is so that both dogs see that they are getting a fair share of the resources, and they don't feel the need to compete (or worse).

    On to Sahara. I think we've all heard anecdotes about the person who bought something for ten bucks or so at the garage sale, only to learn years later that the item was actually a valuable antique worth thousands of dollars (if not more). For those of us who have adopted one or more dogs from a shelter or rescue, I don't think it's terribly rare for us to wonder if the mixed breed dog we brought home was really a dog of a rare breed that the shelter didn't even know about. I know I went through a period when I wondered if Sebastian was really a Pyrenean Mastiff. He kind of looks like one, and maybe acts like one. You say that the best guess is that Sahara is a Maremma, but I don't see why that is a better explanation than the LGD mix you originally thought she was. Even if that rescue lady really knows her stuff, and was totally right, the Sahara you describe had a temperament and set of behaviors that was not typical of a Maremma or any other LGD breed. It's important not to normalize her less desirable behavioral traits by assigning them to a breed that doesn't typically behave that way. It would be like me trying to say that Sebastian only tried to break down the fence to get to dogs he didn't like because he is part Anatolian. Normal, emotionally healthy Anatolians don't do that. Normal, emotionally healthy dogs of any breed don't do that. Bark? Yes. Posture? Sure. Fence fight? Mmmmmm, maybe not. Actively try to destroy the fence? Definite no.

    As far as your questions about Kit go, well, again, it's complicated. I have absolutely no doubt that Kit's breeder is highly knowledgeable, and well respected by her peers. I have no doubt that her litters are carefully planned, and that every potential dog in her breeding program is carefully evaluated for health, temperament, and working ability. However, even with the most well planned litters from the best lines, there is always the chance for a genetic Whammy. You can have two dogs from long lines of dogs with perfect hips produce a puppy whose hips are so bad she has trouble getting into a car by the time she's two. Likewise, you can have two dogs from lines that are are known producers of dogs with wonderful temperaments and still get a litter with a puppy that has to be euthanized for behavior. A good, knowledgeable breeder will select her pairings to reduce the chances of that happening. Until we have a better understanding of genetics and technology to eliminate the potential whammies, the rest is up to luck.

    You might be interested in reading The Education of Will by Patricia McConnell. She goes into quite a bit of detail discussing her personal experiences with two of her dogs who were from the same breeder. Spoiler Alert: the dogs were very different from one another.
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    Old Dawg (Senior Member) snow0160's Avatar

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    Thank you so much Sebastian's mom. I wish I get email notifications when someone responds immediately. I am still learning my way around. I've been on poodle forum because it merges with tapatalk so you get a buzz when you get a response.

    On Lucky, it is funny you mention him being still intact. He just got neutered and a gastropexy two days ago on the 26th. I was doing a ton of research on the risk of GVD for standard poodles and decided to go ahead and do it while he has anesthesia. I think my vet probably thinks I became a hypochondriac after Sahara died. We held off on the neutering because we wante his bones to finish developing so there are early neutering health risks but he was experiencing some issues at his 1 year reunion. He kept humping his brother and his breeder was like time to get snipped so we did. Poor Lucky has 20 staples on him right now and wearing the cone of shame.

    I am super new to the breeder world. I've only rescued dogs before the Goldendoodle. I forgot to mention I have two other tiny dogs: a pomeranian and a pug. We got the pomeranian because Sahara was lonely and bored and she definitely did not get along with larger dogs so we found the smallest dog we could find who turns out to be a 5 lb pom. Then the pomeranain was very highly energetic and Sahara did not want to engage in play so we got him a pug as a companion. Both of these guys were very close to Sahara. The one who inherited Sahara's personality is actually the pug. The pug is the only animal that Sahara didn't mind jumping on her. The pomeranian was surrended by a military family who moved overseas and the pug was left by someone who could not afford a C-section. So until Lucky, I've never gotten a dog from a breeder so I am pretty clueless about that world. I learned a lot on poodle forum about breeders but that wasn't until recently. You know I love dog memoiors and i am going to read that book you recommended. I read a memoir a month ago on Maremmas. I read it on the plane to get Kit. It amazon self-publishing and it was a really nice memoir by a women in australia. There is also a movie about a Maremmas called Oddball. It is the story of Maremmas saving endangered penguin species off Middle Island in Australia.

    Question on obedience? There are many schools of thought about LGDs on obedience. They say poodles are really smart but it took Lucky a lot longer to learn the same commands I'm teaching Kit. I think this is because he is less food motivated. My pug would kill for you if there is food involved and Kit is very much like her. Everyone I talked to breeder, trainer, various pet people all seem to say LGDs are much harder to train. Do they mean how they are more independent minded or they pick things up slower?

    Sorry if I asked the same question twice I have been having a health outbreak and my memory is practically not there.

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    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    Poor Lucky! I hope he feels much better soon! The gastropexy was a good call. My next dog will be getting one for sure!

    I know the forum was on Tapatalk for a while, but I think it was switched to an App called ForumRunner. I only used the app a few times, so I'm not sure how the two compare.

    My experience with training Sebastian was that getting him to associate the cue with the desired behavior was very very easy. In his CGC class, I had to teach him a new cue for "come", because he thought that once he reached me, he was supposed to tackle me. I changed the cue to "here". It took him two repetitions to catch on. Similarly, I taught him to "tell" me if he wanted to go potty or if he wanted a cookie by giving me a Pyr paw to my left hand if he wanted to potty, or my right hand if he wanted a cookie (his behavior for letting me know that he wanted something was the same for both). He caught on immediately. This has been going on for a couple of years, now, and poor Chester still hasn't caught on.

    The hard part of training Sebastian was convincing him that he and I wanted the same things. Whereas a "normal" dog will sit just because you ask him to, and making you happy makes him happy, Sebastian liked to take his time to look around and make sure that there wasn't something better to do when I would ask him to sit. If there was something better to do, chances were that he would ignore me and go do whatever was more interesting. He knew what I wanted him to do, he just really didn't care.

    Most people seem to report that their LGD puppies go through an early, cooperative stage, when training is super easy and fun, then have a pretty sudden onset of difficulty when the dog hits about six months of age. Sebastian never went through the "good puppy" stage. He was an unholy terror up until he was about two.

    He became pretty cooperative at around the age of four, but even that is with an asterisk. Most of the time, he is pretty good about responding to cues, but he still has moments when listening to me is the doggie equivalent of stepping in hot lava. Fortunately for me, he is very treat motivated, and most of our differences of opinion can be solved with either a cookie or a beef roll from Trader Joe's (he LOVES those things, for some reason).

    For me, the single hardest part of training Sebastian was finding class instructors who understood that yes, he was an LGD, and yes, that made him different. Not long after I did find the right instructor, she stopped teaching classes.

    It took Chester a long time to associate cues with behaviors. The cues he knows, though, are performed darn close to every single time.
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