Monday, January 25, 2010

Nothing in Life is Free

Another principle of dog training is that nothing in life is free. In order to play, to get a treat, to get a pat, or to eat the dog must do something positive. In essence, the playing, the treat, the pat and the food are the reward. The dog should never be given anything 'enjoyable' without doing something to earn it.

The theologian in me has trouble with this principle. It is fundamental to my belief system that God's grace and love are free gifts that I cannot ~ in any way ~ earn. I understand the reasoning behind this principle. If the dog gets his food, his pleasure, his love without having to earn it he will lose his motivation to be good and to do good for his master.

Yet, I wonder, without a sense of unconditional love, doesn't life become a simple transaction? I think dogs are more complicated than that. My love for Bady goes beyond whether he can down, sit and shake before he gets his food and I'm pretty sure he knows that. But I go through the motions any way to keep Bady sharp and focused.. I admit, though, that he does occasionally get a pat on the head or a 'scritch' between the ears.... just because.

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