Yes, I admit, I bribe my dog. I have committed the cardinal sin in the dog training world. Cesar Milan and Victoria Stilwell would be appalled at my behavior. I don’t even want to think of the scolding I would get for reinforcing bad behavior in my dog, Baylie. I have no excuse for rewarding Baylie for bad behavior other than I am old, and I just don’t feel like running through the house chasing Baylie with the lid to the margarine container she just stole from the kitchen countertop. Trust me, it’s easier to shout, “treat” accompanied by the rattling of the treat jar to stop the sprint. Recently, I put into play a little reverse psychology. The less interest I show in retrieving an object, the less interested Baylie is to run with it or guard it. I just let her lose interest on her terms. Smart, huh? Plus, I have to admit, it can be quite entertaining at times just seeing what she will get into next.
Before Baylie was found as a pup along side of the road and plopped into my arms, I had not been a dog parent in over 25 years. I had to program my brain to Dog Mode to keep my sanity. I thought my cat was a force to be reckoned with as a kitten, but she doesn’t hold a candle to the mischief my Border Collie/Great Pyrenees mix can get into. Nowhere in the doggie owner’s manual did it address how to deal with the mayhem that comes with a dog having the reach of an octopus.
Desperate times call for drastic measures. When a ninety-pound “puppy” snags your Ralph Lauren bifocals from the coffee table and takes off in an all out race; chewing as she goes, believe me, the farthest thing from your mind is thinking “what would Victoria Stilwell do in this situation”. You know the more you chase, the more of a game it will become. So what do you do? You run for the jar of treats to beg and barter for those eyeglasses. Praying worked well when my new retainer was finally found in an unlikely place other than in Baylie’s bed.
Baylie breezed through “beginning” puppy training class as she had already mastered most of the basic commands at home. The “intermediate” puppy class is where we hit a wall and dropped out so other four-legged classmates could learn. Yes, we took one for the team but so was the end of the “drop it”, “leave it” training.
Baylie is now out of the terrible two’s and into the pre-teen years. At least she won’t be asking for the keys to the car but she still has her moments of rebellion. She no longer grabs every item within her reach. Trimming the Christmas tree for the first time came off without a hitch. Amazingly, she showed little interest. However, she still has a hankering for all paper products; including money. She loves to abscond with socks, the cat’s toys, dryer sheets and any item that falls to the floor. Counter surfing is her favorite sport. She enjoys swiping all items placed on the kitchen countertops; whether food or non-food items. Don’t turn your back for a second to get the condiments out of the fridge and expect your sandwich to be in the condition you left it.
We are making progress in our tug of war between species. At least I no longer walk out into the back yard and find my throw pillows scattered about but still, there is work to be done. So, until that time, we’ll keep copious amounts of dog treats on hand for those difficult moments. No matter what the books say, it works for us. Sometimes, you just have to let your dog do what he/she does best and; that is, being a dog.