Puppies sure develop quickly, much more quickly than human young’uns. They have teeth very early, they walk not long after they’re born, and they are independently eating far sooner. Eventually our human babies pass right by puppies, of course, learning so many more things our dogs will not.
No matter how old or smart your dog is (and your dog is the smartest dog you’ve even met, of course!), she will still never have learning skills that are any better than those of a human toddler. So speaking in simple words and being extra clear with training are important. Though your dog may be an adult, her natural instincts will not keep her any safer than a toddler, either.
Are you asking your dog for too much? Try the Toddler Test for your choices. While you bring in groceries from the car, would you leave your toddler alone in the house with the front door wide open to traffic? Even with good training, dogs can’t make the good choice to stay inside your doorway–so don’t trust them. Should your child sit on your lap while you’re driving, or should he hang out the car window? Your dog isn’t smarter than a toddler–and I’ve personally known two dogs in my neighborhood who died jumping out the car window. Your child is secured safely in the back seat and so should be your pooch. You don’t walk down a busy street without holding the hand of a toddler, and you shouldn’t try an unleashed dog toddler in the same situation.
When you’re teaching your dog something new, are you expecting him to understand what you want without showing him? Break down the task to toddler levels: he doesn’t know what sit is until you take a treat and show him that, when his rump is on the ground, he is rewarded. Saying the word louder isn’t getting you results until he has a concept of what the word might mean. You wouldn’t teach your toddler to sit by yanking on his neck till he does it. You wouldn’t swat him on the nose with a newspaper for peeing inappropriately.
You’re doing great. Just take training at the speed of your doggie toddler and keep him safe! Woof!