Is Your Dog Telling You What To Do?

While I was visiting a friend the other day, I observed in horror as one of the most obnoxious behaviors a dog could offer unfolded right before my eyes. Not only was her dog Demand Barking but my friend was reinforcing it!  Yep, that little bugger was barking at my friend because she wanted a cookie. Little Sophia the Yorkie knew exactly where those cookies were stashed. She parked herself right in front of the cookie jar and she was not budging until she got her cookie. The more my friend ignored her dog, the louder the little devil dog became. After a couple minutes of Sophia’s temper tantrum, my friend laughed and said “Isn’t she so cute and smart that she can tell me she wants a cookie” and then gave her the cookie.

I know we all wish our dogs could talk sometimes but be careful what you wish for. I can only imagine what my dog would say, “I love you, too; come on scratch my butt; let me out; let me in; what, that kibble again; once more around the block, James, throw the ball;, you little wimp; oops, sorry I have gas.” Most people think it is amazing that their dog knows exactly where the cookie is, plus can communicate that feeling. Then there are some folks like me who think it’s pretty rude to be barked at.

Hey, I’m not perfect; I have been known to occasionally bribe my dogs with the words “cookies” to get their attention. I regularly treat my dog with a cookie - if she asks nicely. I think it is so cute that my dog can sit nicely in front of the cookie jar, glance at me, then back to the cookie jar as if to say “please, mom.”  I will ask her “would you like a cookie?” So when she sits and is quiet as if to say please, I then ask her to perform a simple known behavior like speak or sit pretty. I will then reinforce her by giving her the cookie. If I think it will ruin her dinner I simply say “not now, sweetie.” What I don’t like is for her to be demanding. Asking and telling are two different things. I am a firm believer that dogs should do things to get things. What you reinforce is what you get.

Submitted by Marion C. O’Neil CPDT-KA, CTDI owner and trainer of Molasses Creek Dog Training in Quakertown

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Focus with Distractions    12/18 Mon. 7:00 p.m.

Puppy I Manners                 12/16 Sat. 12:30 p.m.

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