Traversing the intellectual chasm between man and dog

Word on the street has it when daddy’s at work, Grover waits until mommy walks upstairs before he unleashes hell on the kitchen. Yesterday he got his slobbery maw on the boy’s lunch box, demolishing a salad container and leaving a delightful, blue confectionery trail of Fun Dip between the kitchen and the front office. Going on the wild assumption that Grover wasn’t leaving markers (a la bread crumbs) to find his way back, I’d say our Labradoodle friend has too much energy.

And so this morning, we fetch. (Well, Grover fetches – I’ll be standing in a field, intermittently tossing a ball.)

doodle artPrior to receiving last night’s play-by-play of GROVERIAN DESTRUCTION, we’d made some modest gains in the training realm. I learned a few tricks online for walking on the leash (which Grover generally wears, not me). The first thing I do is quarter one of those faux sausage treats, letting Grover know they’re in my pocket before we head outside. When I open the door, I ask him to “wait” in the threshold. He does okay with it, but on second thought, asking him to “wait” at this particular point in time is like asking him to “hold it.”

I don’t care if you’re man or beast, Labradoodle, Yorkipoo or Jackaranian, nobody likes to “hold it.”

The point is when Grover starts to tug on his leash, I say “hep!” and give it a gentle tug, simultaneously kneeing him in his side, not in a way that causes him the slightest bit of pain, but rather to give him an unpleasant association with the keyword and the tightening of the leash. Once Grover got past shooting me the “Hey, what did you do that for!?” look, he began to ease up. I immediately reward him with a “good boy” and we have a treat. (Well, Grover has the treat – I usually just settle for yogurt or something.)

We’ve also enjoyed some modest gains in discouraging the “jumping up” behavior when entering the front door. (Again, Grover is the one doing the jumping – I’m usually too tired after work, and will typically only do so when I smell brownies a-cookin.’) A strategy I learned online suggests to immediately turn your back on the dog, crossing your arms and refraining from verbally acknowledging your furry friend until he has all four paws on the ground. This seems to have achieved mixed results: when you stand in the corner, Grover attempts to wedge himself between you and the wall and when you try to turn away from him, he circles right along with you, giving the appearance that you’re playing “Ring Around the Rosie” with your dog.

So, there you have it.

Tune in next time when Grover takes a wrecking ball to some condemned buildings in downtown Tampa and I learn how to make toast.

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