One of the best things about sitting is getting to see the wide range of personalities among pets — smart ones, mischievous ones, funny ones, anxious ones, etc.
The more time we have and the more observing we do, the more interesting it becomes, IMO. I’d encourage people with pets to not assume that they can learn only narrowly.
Where food is involved, my dog has infinite learning capacity, LOL. He’s gone from ravenous, gulping down everything and throwing up (as a malnourished stray rescue) to now optimizing what to eat (and when), if he has a shot at something he might like better. To me, that shows that some dogs are capable of higher-level thinking, doing trade-offs.
He’s learned a lot, because I’m willing to try teaching him. Unless I try, how do I know what his capacity is?
Like I trained him to understand what “no more” means. For instance, he’ll get only a certain number of snacks from me, then he knows to go to my husband instead for more as soon as I say that. Or if I’m alone, he knows to not sit around waiting for more when he hears that.
He used to get a scared look and bark at everything right after we rescued him. He’d hear my husband rustling upstairs and his eyes would widen in fright, like he was ready to run, till I trained him to understand “It’s David.” Then he learned to ignore such sounds.
I’ve also trained him to not bark at sirens, train whistles and when the doorbell rings or someone knocks on a TV show or movie. I originally kept telling him, “It’s the TV.” Now, that’s unnecessary, because he knows how to tell the difference. He barks if someone’s actually at the door.
He’s even learned to tell the difference among various types of crinkling sounds, depending on what types of packaging we’re opening. And he gets excited when we open packages from UPS and such, because they’re often for him. But if I say, “Not for you,” he understands and stands down.
He also used to get up and follow me everywhere, like Velcro. I was worried that he’d not get enough sleep, because he’d do that even if I got up at night to pee. So I trained him to understand “Maggie going to the bathroom.” That way, he could stay in the comfort of his bed.
He also understands “Let’s go upstairs (or downstairs).” Or when my husband says, “Let’s go see Maggie.” He gets excited and starts running to find me, whether we’re in the house or outdoors. He also understands when I say, “Let’s go see David.”
Our dog also used to bite if he thought anyone was going to take his toys (like he’d bite even if you happened to walk past his toy, as my husband unknowingly did the first day we got him), presumably because he was a stray and then was adopted and returned and sat for months at a shelter. Early on, a trainer told us to take everything away from him and show him who’s boss. But that seemed unnecessary to me. Instead, I figured, if he learned abundance, he wouldn’t act on scarcity mindset. So I bought him loads of cheap, small stuffed animals with squeakers (sold by the dozen) and we’d leave them in piles so he could grab them anytime he wanted. That helped him get over biting over toys. To me, that seemed logical, so why not try using logic to train a pet instead of unnecessary dominance?