If my boys were kids in school, I'm afraid one would probably be in the Honors program, and one would not.
Duke would be my Honor student. He's pretty much bilingual, and he catches on to new things super duper fast. All of his commands are in German, and he almost always recognizes them immediately and complies (unless it's the rare occasion when he feels a little stubborn that day). Even though he knows German, he also knows some English. Sometimes I tell him to do something like "go outside" or "get ready for a walk," and he knows exactly what I'm talking about. Bottom line: He's a smart cookie.
My little Murphy, on the other hand, isn't quite the Honor student that Duke is. His nickname around here has become "Smurphy," and Kent likes to tease him by calling him "Special Ed Smurph." (Isn't that terrible??) He's really just joking though. He knows Murphy isn't a mentally challenged little dog; he's just easily distracted and was never really taught how to learn at a young age. He's a wonderful little guy who does his job of being a cuddle bug and a lover better than anyone, but we have had a difficult road when it comes to learning some basic commands. (Those basic commands have nothing to do with manners, though. He has wonderful manners-- knowing how to behave with company and other dogs, knowing how to go outside for his business, and knowing how to always be sweet and gentle.)
If you've read Murphy's story, then you know that I got him when he was already close to five years old. I don't know his background, but I'm pretty sure he wasn't abused. He is so sweet, gentle, and well-mannered that I feel he had a good home. However, I don't think his previous owners taught him very many "tricks" or basic commands. When he first came to me, he half-way knew how to sit. When I worked with him for a few weeks, it seemed to refresh his memory and he got pretty good at it.
From there, I wanted to teach him how to lay down. I thought we were never going to perfect that. (I've trained plenty of my dogs in the past to do basics like this, and it's never been quite this difficult.) He got so worked up and distracted by the treat that would be coming his way that he just couldn't control himself. We kept at it, though, and worked every single day for about 2 1/2 months before "down" finally seemed to click. It was quite an accomplishment for Murphy, and I was so proud of him.
After giving him a little break from "school," I decided to try something really ambitious and teach him to roll over. Now that was a trip...
We worked for at least 3 months or so, having a session almost every day. It was looking pretty hopeless until a few weeks ago. It finally clicked! I was so excited I could hardly stand it, so I took a video. :)
And now I'm going to share my little guy's big accomplishment with you.... Enjoy!
(Once again... ignore my high pitched country accent. When I get excited my voice goes up an octave.)