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The sounds of “Stars and Stripes Forever” were blaring from a CD player in the backyard and children splashed in the pool. Matthew and Susan were hosting their annual Fourth of July cookout. As guests arrived in festive red, white and blue attire, they would ring the doorbell and immediately hear a few quick barks from Lady, a three-year old German Shepherd. Each time Lady barked to announce another visitor, inside the door, Matthew said to Lady, “Good girl, it’s okay. Sit.” The door was opened and Lady politely greeted the company.

When the food was served, Lady approached the first person she saw at the table who looked like he might relinquish a few bites of hamburger to a German Shepherd with big brown eyes. Matthew was quick to intervene. “Lady, come,” he said. He quietly called the dog to an area away from the table, said, “Down,” and then, “Stay.” Lady calmly watched over the meal from her vantage point. When everyone was finished eating, Matthew went to Lady and said, “Good girl, Come get a treat!” The reward for staying in a down earned her several tasty bites of hamburger in her dish.

Now, can you guess what the guests said about Lady? The summary statement of nearly every person who observed this well-behaved German Shepherd throughout the party was, “That dog is so smart.” Smart?  Probably. But smart had nothing to do with what they were seeing. What these lucky guests witnessed was the long-term benefits of training that involved behaviors such as sit, down, and stay that were perfectly applied in a practical situation.

This is the picture of how life with a dog should be. Our dogs should be well mannered and a joy to have around visitors and family members. Lady wasn’t born with good manners. She attended CGC classes and earned the CGC award. And then, her owner, Matthew, continued with training classes and practiced the skills nearly every day at home. That Matthew is so smart.

Excerpted from the official AKC book, “Citizen Canine” (Dogwise Publishing).
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