Dogs are just like most other animals, including us. So it always makes me smile when I hear the, “I want my dog to want to please me” statement. If you want me to give it to you straight, here it is:
Dogs don’t go out of their way to please us. Dogs go out of their way to get something they want or avoid something they don’t want. So ask yourself, what happens to the dog? What happens when you say “Come?” Does he go into a crate for 8 hours? Get a bath? Leave the dog park? Now think about what happens when we say “Sit?” Does he get a treat? Get a tummy rub? Get his leash on and go for a walk? Get dinner? For whatever reason, most people reward sit, AND use random rewards (aka, make rewards interesting by changing them up), BUT for whatever reason, most people don’t randomly reward other behaviors the same way. This makes sit a super strong behavior with little chance for extinction, while everything else is “meeh.”
Me? Sure I want a dog who “wants to work for me.” I want a dog who is “on the payroll” with random rewards. I want a dog who can’t wait for me to give the next cue so he can comply as fast as possible. And this is done through positive training and practice to make your dog a gambler, to see what the next goodie is in store for him.
So put your dog on the payroll. He doesn’t have to work full time, but should at least have a part time gig. That’s how you get a dog who “wants to please you.” When you think about it, he’s only working to get something to please himself, by doing things that we want. But hey, we’re no different! And I for one, would like a dog who doesn’t want to call out for a personal day.