I’ve heard the word and used it for years and thought I had it “figured out” in my mind as to what it meant.

UNTIL, An incident gave me a totally different perspective on the concept.

I’ve sold a lot of dogs and they are always happy to see me again (even after years). Even the ones that I didn’t have long – if I’ve worked them they remember me.

Well, I ran into a dog I sold and went up to say hello and got no response. Which surprised me (I think shocked would have been a better term since I had him from a pup and raised and trained him). He was running around sniffing (just being a dog :@) when I walked up to him. He was polite and said “hi” like I was a person (not someone he knew) but went right back to what he was doing. This happened a couple of times … so I reached down got his collar … said his name and he looked up at me and then “the bell went off” and he fully recognized me and got very excited (to the point of trying to jump on me … which he had never done :@).

This got me thinking and gave me a little insight into his “thought process”. He was never a hard dog … he could take being wrong and handled correction very well … going right back to work without a grudge. He learned things quickly and easily and wasn’t hard to handle – but he wanted to work sheep more than anything in the world. He is an extremely talented dog but I would have never called him extremely biddable.

However, He DID want to work with you (which is one of the components of being biddable) but sometimes he just couldn’t “hear” what you were saying. I chalked some of it up to youth but most of it to him being so driven to work.

This particular incident (him being so focused something that he didn’t “tune in” what was going on around him) got me reflecting about the “word” biddable. Now, I wonder if being biddable means being able to multi-task. Not that they just want to work with you but they are capable of working and listening at the same time. Are some dogs we call NOT biddable just not able to combine those two things together all the time?

I know people who get so involved into what they are doing … you can walk into a room and talk to them and they never hear you. They aren’t ignoring you – they literally don’t hear you. They can only do “one thing at a time”. Other people can be totally focused and yet still know what is going on around them (sort of keeping things in the back of their mind without really paying attention unless it seems to be a “life and death” situation).

I know sometimes the adrenaline takes over and dogs can’t hear anything (and forget you are even in the equation) so are those type really biddable — until adrenaline overruns the thought process? Are there others that even if they are “calm” (not running on adrenaline) if the sheep are demanding a lot out of them they can’t “hear” your input. Why are some dogs “biddable” until they get to a certain distance (perhaps can’t hear you – if they can’t “feel” your presence?)

I do realize there are dogs that are just plain hard-headed and really don’t care what you want but those aren’t the type I was thinking of. I’m more interested in the ones that have so much ability and how to go about “drawing” that out of them … it is possible they can learn to multi-task or is that an inherited trait.

I enjoy trying to get into a dogs mind and anything that gets me “re-thinking” concepts I thought I understood — is a good thing “in my book” :@)

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Candy, another wonderful training tip! I so appreciate you sharing your experience, talents and insights! Helps keep me going!!

    Have a great day!

    1. Glad they are enjoyed … that’s why I do it :@)

  2. Carol says:

    As a complete and total noob I really appreciate this. I had a very superficial understanding of the term but what you’re saying makes sense. I’m interested to read the responses of experienced handlers.

    1. Glad it helped :@) These dogs keep us on “our toes” don’t they :@)

  3. Donna Marsh says:

    I really appreciate your blog posts. You give me so much to think about. I suppose, like most things, “bidability” is all in the way you look at it. You’ve definitely changed the way I look at it. I was resigned to the fact that my dog will never work as smooth and obeidently as others I see. But, this blog post helps me understand why that is. And, the reality is, I’m not sure I would want my dog to work as obediently as some I see. I’m willing to accept an occasional struggle with him to have a thinking dog that can react to quickly evolving situations without commands from me.

  4. Glad it gave you something to think about. I do think sometimes we like putting issues “in a box” so we can try and understand them. The old adage about “thinking outside the box” often helps get us out of that rut.

    It would be boring if they all did just what we said and nothing more. I’ve always liked a thinking dog – and try to develop that in all my dogs. Not all will get there but if nothing else I think it helps them all work better.

  5. Bruce Smart says:

    This rang a bell with me. I have a 2 year old – very talented, biddable – until the sheep break away from him then he busts right through them to get to the other side. Then he’ll lie down and wait for the inevitable correction. It’s as though he panics at the thought of the sheep getting away. If I see it coming I’ll stop him until things settle down but if I wait too long he completely ignores me.

    1. It’s fun to try and get into their minds and figure out what causes certain things to happen. Well, maybe “fun” is to strong a word :@)

  6. Jorgen says:

    Great post


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