The other day I walked out the front door to get the mail, like I’ve done several times before. I carelessly closed the heavy wood door and let the storm door slowly close behind me. Halfway back across the lawn, while I was reading the mail, I looked up to see three Border Collies eagerly watching me through the lightly latched glass storm door. Somehow they had nosed open the wooden door.
I felt a heavy sense of dread. It would only take one paw from one dog to release them into the front yard and eventually onto the heavily trafficked road. Remembering to remain calm in an animal emergency, I slowly walked back to the house, holding my breath. Part of me though wanted to run back yelling: stay, stay, stay. But I resisted and remained composed. As I opened the storm door I said, “Back, back”. I always use that word whenever I don’t want the dogs to go with me. After hundreds of repetitions, hearing the words and seeing me leave, the behavior has become automatic. They don’t rush the front door. Thank goodness.
I’m thankful that their training held in real life, not just in the obedience ring. But in the long run, isn’t that what training is all about, the day-to-day application?