It is often said of dogs that they are the real “dumb animals” of the popular cliché. This is said unquestioningly, despite the fact that dogs can provide incredible help in terms of guiding the blind, finding drugs and explosives, and guarding their family in a way which is both touching and reassuring. However, a dog learns to do this by establishing a bond with its owner. If you are of a mind to train your dog, it is good to remember that a dog will be happy to learn from you just so long as you are ready to be a good owner to it.
The “dumb animal” jibe is often raised because dogs have a reputation for being loyal. But this bond between animal and owner is not arrived at immediately, and not immune to a dog’s emotions. If a dog is mistreated or neglected by its owner, that bond will either weaken or never form at all. A dog has a lot of loyalty to give – but it will not necessarily give that loyalty where it is not encouraged to do so.
You encourage a dog’s loyalty by rewarding it when it is good and by showing it understanding and friendship. It will not demand and insist on being given treats, but it will not be enthusiastic with its friendship to you if you punish it without measure or reason, or if you ignore it until it suits you not to. You can train your dog, but you need to love it if you want its attention.