Dear Aunt Foley: The other day I was going for my daily walk. At the end of the walk Mommy usually tells me to sit and wait for my release word. She then goes to the house, gives me my release word, I run to her and she gives me a treat. Well, on this day, Mommy has me stay and then she walks in the house and I’m just sitting there. And I waited. And waited. Finally she gives me my release word and I run into the house where I get my treat, then Mommy tells me she had forgotten the treat and left me out there until she got one. Am I smart, clever, well trained or sneaky? - Jake the Rake
Dear Jake: Let me handle these one at a time. First you are very smart. You learned exactly what to do to get treats from your Mom. I can’t say you are clever. If you were clever you would be able to get the kibble without following your training. This is very hard to do and takes years of training. It is like a Jedi mind trick. I am sure you will get there soon my son. You are not sneaky at all. You are very well trained, perhaps too well trained. You have an agreement with your mother. She gets to the house, releases you, and gives you a treat. When your Mom did not give you the treat she broke the social contract between the two of you. You are well trained but dammit man this is a treat we are talking about. Once that social contract is broken you are free to get your treat. But there is one possibility you left out which is the true answer. Your Mom forgot to get the kibble. She is the one who needs training. So take your Mommy back to training right now until she never forgets the treat again, and, until that day comes you can break training because if you are trained and she’s not she will never learn. A well trained Mom is a balanced Mom so do it for her.