>We obviously do not know how to communicate to our dog what we want her
>to do. When she was a young dog, we went to obedience classes with her,
>and I was told I was too soft hearted to train such a stubborn dog. Then
>we boarded her with the trainer, and the dog learned even the most
>complex commands, but she would only respond to the trainer. Of course,
>once the trainer was out of the picture, the concept of heeling
>(or doing anything else she didn't already want to do) held no meaning
>for the dog whatsoever.

>Before we got our dog,I had read in a number of books that Shelties were
>so easy to train and housebreak and wanted so much to please their owners
>that I thought we would have an easy to train, well-mannered dog. It
>literally took us four years to get her completely housebroken, although
>the trainer said she was perfectly housebroken at the trainer's house,
>and although she will obey when we tell her to go get a certain toy, to
>go to a certain room, or to go to a certain person, she does as she
>pleases otherwise. Fortunately, she is a very sweet, very affectionate,
>playful animal that we love very much, but it sure would be nice if she
>could behave better.

Please take this reply to your post in a light hearted way. Basically, yours is a classic case (as I am sure you know) of a dog perfectly training her masters to do exactly what she (the dog) wants. Combine this with her high intelligence, sweetness and playfulness and it is obvious that you and your family are totally (but sweetly) outmatched. As a first step I would encourage you to try to think at her level, which is in some sense higher than yours (again, I mean this lightheartedly (though there some truth to it!)). Try to set limits and raise your expectations of her behavior. You really do not need to tolerate any of her subtle and not so subtle disobedience. If she fails to obey consider "grounding" her. Never give her a treat unless she earns it. If she pulls on her lease as she is about to exit the front door, give her a quick lease correction. Being as clever as she is, she may act grief stricken (or understandably shocked) when you insist she obey on first command.

Try to remember that dogs LIKE and even need to obey. They prefer a firm, but loving and perhaps creative master that they are continually proud of pleasing. Their greatest joy is to be in continual communication with you- to have a sense that they are an integral part of your life.

Final Note: You are obviously a good dog owner. But you must understand that there are dogs that people literally rely on for their day to day living. They turn on and off the lights, call 911 in the event of a health emergency, rescue drown victims or help guide their masters as they walk down the street. You dog is no less (and may even be more intelligent) than the "average" dog that can do these things. The main difference is that you have set low standards for her and not demanded she live up to the standards she is capable. Perhaps deep down you find her stubbornness cute and feel that curtail it, you would be making her unhappy. In the long run, however, she would be happier knowing that she is a good girl and pleasing you, which, believe it or not is her ultimate goal. She actually believes that the stubbornness you so complain about is in fact exactly what you want. And quite frankly, if you put yourself in her shoes, it wouldn't be to difficult to see why.

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