Monday, 13 May 2013

Becoming Obedient?

My female dog has always been typically obedient. She knows when she is in trouble with just a reprimanding look. I can point my finger and she'll compliantly leave the room. She is used to the fact that sometimes she has to wait and so she is very patient. Even if I leave her in the front porch for hours to dry because she is all stinky and wet. She knows I'm the boss.

So when our baby was born, it didn't require much effort to train the dog to live with the changes. She quickly learned not to touch baby's toys or try to eat baby's food. Because she adjusted so well, my daughter was able to concentrate on being her best friend.

Then, along came the male dog. Not only did he have to adapt to living with my daughter and my four-legged girl, he also had to learn my rules. I'll admit, that is a tall order. But my aunt says that the bigger the dog, the better the manners have to be! And I have high expectations because I want to be able to have people over. I don't want him to beg. I want to take him places. I want him to be part of the family.

His adjusting is a process still very much being worked on almost two, sometimes frustrating, weeks later. Stop barking. Don't chew that. Don't lick me. Get out of the kitchen while I cook. He is a smart dog and he is swiftly getting the gist of things. I can almost get him to leave the room on command. He will stop what he's about to do, like take food, when I speak up. He will sit when told and often stay. He is getting better at healing and knows not to yank the leash. If I didn't have a three foot tall parrot watching me train, I really would think I was doing quite well. But my toddler's actions make me question my success.

Now, no has become her new favourite word. No, no, no! She continuously declares it as the dogs innocently try to play. She tells them to get out with such a serious look on her face. And if they dare sniff any of her belongings, or even walk by them for that matter, she resolutely instructs them not to touch. When we eat she periodically checks the entrance to the dining room so she can take any chance to yell at them to stay out. And when we walk the dogs she constantly pats her leg and calls out come here.

Of course, the dogs listen to not a word she says. Even when she politely asks them to move out of her way. Excuse me, Doggy. She has to deal with them waltzing around her, oblivious to her commands. Sometimes she gets frustrated but usually she doesn't mind.

She's happy they let her hug them and sit with them. Today she sat so close to him and when he sniffed her she laughed with great joy. She tried the activity again later but he'd already checked her out and found no reason to sniff her again, and so she had to accept the tickling wasn't going to be repeated. She enjoys teasing them with her toys. She thinks it's fun to watch them ride in the back of the truck. And she likes to make these little games to play with them.

Today her game was to push a chair around and chase the male dog. He ran away, a little cautious of the strange noise the chair made as it dragged across the laminate. He seemed afraid but not enough to evacuate. Possibly a little curious, or maybe appreciating her delight, he would only move out of the way slightly. So to her enjoyment, there they went back and forth, back and forth. She laughed hysterically each time he moved out of the way. It was all fun and games until he gave her their first doggy inflicted injury.

It was totally an accident. She had blocked him in a corner and when he went to escape with a pounce he stepped on her foot. Quite high up on her foot, actually. So he scratched her skin a little with a touch of a bruise. Of course, it hurt.

I remember growing up with two large dogs. Accidents tend to happen with all those teeth and claws. I recall once when my dog was playing tag with a group of us. He was 180 pounds and the kind of dog you loved but you never forgot about his power. We would randomly run around until someone would smack him on the back and yell, "You're it!" At that instant, everyone would excitedly run away, screaming in both glee and fear. As we ran in all directions, the dog would chase someone and try to stop them. He would push or grab the pant leg. Then he would be proud that he won and we would do it again. We loved this game. And so did he. One day I ran, my heart racing as I knew he was behind me. I jumped up on the picnic table just as he went to stop me. He ended up grabbing my bare foot (or I could say I kicked him in the mouth). His tooth penetrated the skin between my toes. Ouch. I lost that one!

I am hoping that my daughter will make smart choices when it comes to playing with the dogs. But I know accidents will happen. She has already been pushed over soooo many times. They like to fight over the view out the front door. All three of them want to be the one who stands front and centre of the window. I tell her that they are done growing and soon she will get bigger than them. For now, I just keep a good watch. Readjust their play. Get them to move. And she continues to call out commands that they ignore.

If I could get her to hold a dog cookie for a minute I could help her to train them to listen. But she throws it at them as soon as I put one in her hand, giving them no time to obey, let alone even hear a command. And then she cries when I won't allow her to give them any more.

Oh, what fun it is to train (and clean up after) a one year old dog and a year and a half toddler. Good thing my nine year old girl can usually be left to do her thing. I sure love that dog.

I sure love my family.

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