"It must be nice to have a dog who is as well behaved at that"
"My dog could NEVER be that well behaved"
"I can't believe she listens to you like that"
"I wish my dog would act that way."
"I can't even get my dog to sit, much less anything else."
So, I thought I would address a few of those things.
"It Must Be Nice to Have a Dog as Well Behaved as That."
It is. But she wasn't always that way. She didn't come to me that way. I worked with her A LOT to get her to this point. Gracie has been in training of some kind since she was 5 months old. She went through basic obedience, intermediate obedience, advanced obedience and therapy dog training. She also had private training sessions for issues like separation anxiety and leash reactivity. She was CGC certified and therapy dog certified by the time she was a year old. Not because she came to me perfect. It was because I got her in classes and, in addition, worked her at home.
"My Could NEVER be that Well Behaved."
Yes. You dog can be this well behaved. Remember: Gracie was awful. She had moderate separation anxiety, crate anxiety and she was nearly impossible to house break. She was afraid of men. She was afraid of people in hats. She hated people coming into my home. In fact, when I told the private trainer I had hired that my goal was to get her to have her Canine Good Citizen Title, he told me she would most likely never do that because of her issues. I thought otherwise, so I worked hard. Everyday. I still work with her everyday. And her behavior is the result. Maybe your dog won't ever be a therapy dog, but your dog can learn manners, but it isn't going to happen overnight. You are going to have to work at it. Rarely (if ever) are you going to have a perfectly well behaved dog dropped into your life. Yes, maybe if you adopt an older dog they will have some training so it will be easier, but it will still be up to you to make sure that you continue the training. Getting to the point of having a well behaved dog is hard. Maintaining that behavior is also a challenge because after finishing classes often maintaining a training schedule is hard. You have to commit to your dog if you want the well behaved dog.
"I Can't Believe She Listens to You Like That"
She listens to me because she trusts me. She listens to me because I have shown her that there are benefits to listening to me. She listens to me because I have encouraged her to do so. She listens to me because she has learned that when she does, amazing things happen. I have a great relationship with Gracie. She knows I will never hurt her, lead her into danger or set her up for failure. She listens to me because I have never given her a reason not to. I have never hit her, made her fear making mistakes or harmed her in any way. I can't say I have never raised my voice (I have. I am human and I make mistakes), but I can say I have never put her in a position to lose her faith and trust in me. I have never put a shock collar on her to "encourage" her to behave. I have never put a prong collar on her to "encourage" her not to pull. I have simply shown her that there are rewards to listening. And she has thrived on it. This is why I don't offer board and trains (and, no, I am not bashing those trainers who offer them as I know quite a few). I don't offer them because it takes YOU out of the equation. And I think building that bond and that trust is a key component in training.
"I Wish my Dog Would Act That Way."
Your dog CAN act that way. But wishing for it to happen and making it happen are two different things. Ask yourself: what have you done to get your dog to the level that Gracie is now? I didn't have a magic wand to make her this way. I wished she was better behaved and took action. Trust me, I get it. Garmin would make a GREAT agility dog, but he has some issues that need to be ironed out first. So, instead of me saying "I wish Garmin could be an agility dog," I have to take action to get him to the point where he can be an agility dog. If you have goals in mind for your dog, you can start working towards them. Even if you never get there, at least you end up with a dog that is better balanced, better behaved and you will find you have a better relationship.
"I Can't Even Get My Dog to Sit, Much Less Anything Else."
Then start small. Enroll in an obediece class where you start with the basics. In the last Basic Foundations class that I had I had a one year old dog that came to me not knowing any commands. He wouldn't sit, come, lay down. Nothing. It took two classes for him to learn sit. It took three weeks for him to decide that he knew "down." But, after that, there was no stopping him. In fact, he is now enrolled in my advanced obedience class. So, your dog CAN learn. You just have to take that first step. Focus on that relationship you want with your dog. Don't worry about anyone else.
And always remember that it is okay if your dog doesn't get it right away. It is okay if they struggle a little. Just don't give up. And maybe one day people will run into you and say "I wish my dog was THAT well behaved" and you can tell them "well, let me tell you how I got here..."