Hmm…. that must seem rather odd for me to say, given that I'm a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and make my living training dogs and their people. Huh? What's up with this anyway?
What does "fully trained" mean? I Googled it to see if I could find out, but there was no specific definition out there relating to dogs. To me, it translates to "fully educated." There's no way on earth that anyone, human or canine, could possibly learn and know EVERYTHING on earth (can your Poodle be Google?). Learning is an ongoing process, every day of our lives, so it stands to reason that "fully trained" is a rather corny expression. It also sounds very final, like software installation (and we know how "final" that can be sometimes!).
I've heard statements similar to this many times: "my dog is house-trained, knows sit, down, come, heel and stay: she's 'fully trained.'" A done deal, right? Wrong. The brain just doesn't work this way. Behavior is dynamic and perpetual. Things change, experiences affect behavior, life happens and the world can be unpredictable. Whether we're talking about a cat or horse or primate or anything in between, we are designed to learn along the way: it's self-preservation at work. The alternative, not learning anything, seems pretty darned boring - what's the point of life if learning hits a dead end?
A dog's mind is an amazing, wonderful thing, isn't it? I am continually in awe of what our canine friends can do, learn and figure out. They have beautiful problem-solving abilities. They are able to put pieces of a pattern together very quickly if the end result is potentially something they really want… or really don't want. Since we live side-by-side with our dogs every day, what they learn directly affects us, for better or for worse! I like to take an active role in that process so I can guide their learning, expand their knowledge and skills and deepen the relationship, communication and bond that we have. Perhaps the best thing is that I, too, learn each time I work with a dog.