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Your Dog Is NOT a Robot | Pupford

April 4th, 2023

Filed under Podcasts

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I’ve always loved robots! The idea of a machine that can complete tasks for you is fascinating.

And nowadays, we deal with robots every day. You have one on your phone (Siri, etc.), a speaker in your house that will do exactly what you ask, and you may even have a robot that vacuums your house (best appliance I own).

You give an input or command, and get the same output every single time.

Unfortunately, I think that because we are so used to getting the exact same output from these robots, we often, inadvertently, view our dogs in the same manner. We want A=B always, but that’s just not reality with our dogs.

And while I know you don’t actually think your dog is a robot, I want to discuss ways that you might act like your dog is a robot.


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I have two sister Labrador Retrievers. So you would think that of all the dogs out there, they would surely behave in a similar fashion.


They are extremely different in more ways than I can explain. But needless to say, they do not behave the same way in every situation. And how I train and raise them individually is extremely different.

So, why do we often think that a technique that worked for a neighbor’s dog is going to work for our own?

And even beyond that, why do we think that a
toy your neighbor’s dog loved will be loved by your own dog?

It’s important to remember that the things you learn (even from us here at Pupford) may need some tweaking to best fit your dog’s needs. Or, they may not work for your dog… and that is okay!

Don’t be afraid to try out different variations of training techniques you learn to best meet your dog’s needs.


While this episode is about how your pup isn’t a robot, it’s a good reminder for us as humans to not act too robotic when training our pups.

My opinion is that when we get into ‘training sessions’ we often get hung up on trying the same things over and over. And sometimes that just doesn’t work.

Don’t be afraid to mix it up! If your pup is
struggling with recall, try turning it into a game. Or, try jumping up and down when you call your pup to you.

Again, remember that if your training becomes too robotic it may lead your pup to tune out and not focus as well.


My dog Sunny has hip dysplasia. When I tell my dogs to go to their place (typically their bed), I do not expect Sunny to lay down. It can be uncomfortable for her and so a sit is just fine, even though I expect my dog Scout to actually lay down on her place.

That example illustrates that it’s more important to look at your own dog’s situation than a conventional ‘this is how a behavior is done’ mindset.

And sometimes, our dogs just need a little bit of a break when they aren’t “performing how we hope”. There are so many factors in their surroundings including
sounds, smells, and other stimuli that we may not even notice.

That isn’t to say we should be okay with our dog not listening to us or following behaviors that they are capable of! Rather, it’s a reminder that our dogs are creatures with nuance, and we should be okay with that.


While we all know our dogs aren’t actually robots, we sometimes get into the trap of thinking they should behave like robots!

Remember that not every technique will work for your dog and that sometimes may just be having an off day or off moment when we ask for a behavior.

As we try to view our dogs through the lens of them behaving variably, it can help us remember to be patient and consistent with teaching new behaviors!


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