Dogs can be divided into two groups: folders and crumplers.
The folders like everything ritualized and regular and repetitive. It's when things get various that these dogs get upset. At the highest level in obedience, the folders are the dogs who cruise to a UDX because, so long as the routine is, well, routine, they can work steadily and calmly. They may not be spectacular, but their handlers don't die of apoplectic frustration. It's their handlers' job to make ensure the Sameness of Things for these dogs. Get to the show or training club. Settle in. Have a bite to eat. Put on the collar. Take out the favorite toy and the treats. Warm up with the same heeling steps and signals or drop on recall. Everything folded neatly on the creases.
The crumplers are in a hurry. They're fast and like to be fast. They want things different; they want variety. If you do a training exercise more than twice, they start inventing new features, or they start looking around for something more interesting, something new. At the highest level in obedience, these are the dogs who may never get a UDX but do get OTCh points, because they're flashy and fiery like comets. Their handlers have to continually find new ways of doing things to avoid the dogs' becoming bored. Their handlers have to be creative in channeling the dogs' zeal and creativity and curiosity, else these dogs will go find someone or something else.
So, there are a couple of things to pursue if your dog is bored.
First, are the activities boring? Even the most devoted scholar sometimes heaves his tomes and scrolls overboard and grabs a copy of *People* in the checkout line. If your dogs has been doing something for a while -- doesn't matter if it's obedience or agility or any sport -- maybe he's tired of it.
Are the activities boring for *you* -- and therefore, you're inadvertently making them boring for your dog? This is a Novice B phenomenon in obedience. People enjoy heelwork with their Novice A dog because it's all fresh and new and challenging, but with their second or third dog, they're eager to get done with Novice and go on to the "fun stuff" -- retrieves and jumps in Open and Utility. So they unconsciously make heelwork a dour, humorless drill, and their dog hates it, and then they hate it more, and the dog hates it more, and …
Secondly, in my opinion -- Belgians are easily bored with routines. They're not folders; they're crumplers. They don't like repetition. Other breeds, including other herding breeds, are different in this regard.
If you've been doing the same old stuff for a while, may you need the challenge of learning something new, something that will excite you and make your interactions with your dog more genuinely enthusiastic and appealing. Dogs, and perhaps especially Belgians, are sensitive barometers of our emotional highs and lows. You may not realize just how bored you are with the same old sameness, but your dog has already figured that out, has already registered it, and is reflecting it in his attitude.
All right. That's enough; time to go train!
The ABTC Obedience Committee would like to thank Geoff Stern for allowing us to reproduce this article.