I Refuse to Chase a Dog
I came home the other night from working out at the gym.
Recently, I have found the gym rat within myself.
I go to the gym sometimes twice a day and have found a personal trainer that is teaching me to do some body building and lift big weights.
I am seeing the benefit to long term behavior change and waiting patiently for results.
I came home the other night from a 10 hour work day and a one hour butt kicking and kicked off my shoes.
My brother’s puppy, almost immediately grabbed my shoe and began running around the house.
Nope, not so cute.
I was tired, hungry and slightly cranky after a long day.
My brother’s wife began to call their 11 year old son.
“He loves being chased” she said.
Sometimes I think they forget they have a dog trainer living in the basement.
And, I have found that family and friends are the worst clients and less likely to listen to your training advice.
“Don’t chase him!” I shrieked!
After all, I know that chasing is one of THE MOST FUN puppy games that you can play!
Let’s be honest… there isn’t one of us humans in this house that is faster than the puppy.
He is fast and he is agile and he can run under and behind things that are simply impossible maneuvers for me!
Don’t get me wrong…
For a Moment, I Imagined Turning Into the Hulk
I could feel my blood boil, my muscles grow and my shirt rip.
I imagined myself picking up the furniture like pieces from a doll house and throwing them around the room as I pounced to corner him and rip his prize from his mouth.
Just kidding, but the blood boil thing is real ;)
The Truth Is…
The truth is that I, Me, THE HUMAN is supposed to be the superior being in this relationship.
I am supposed to have more brain power.
If I give in, and pretend to be The Hulk, I lose and at least for a little while, the puppy wins.
That is what he wants!
He wants nothing more than for me to chase him around, for however long it takes, getting madder and madder until I catch him.
Even if I were to hit or abuse him when I catch him (please don’t do this) he would have still had a good enough time prior to your catching him that he will likely do it yet again. He will just try harder next time to elude you, forever.
You see, a dog doesn’t realize that eventually you will win.
Children realize that eventually they will have to go back to you or they understand that if they give up sooner than they would like that it will lessen their subsequent sentence.
Dogs don’t have that power for reasoning.
So I squealed, “Don’t chase him!”
And I, being the thinking animal, quietly got up and slowly walked toward the kitchen.
The puppy, with shoe firmly affixed in mouth, hissed and whirled around me dashing to and fro under my feet.
I didn’t even acknowledge him.
I didn’t want to give a command that he would ignore.
I could have shouted “DROP IT” “LEAVE IT” or “NO” but why should I waist my breath on commands that will likely be ignored?
If I choose that route, I am actually teaching him to ignore my commands and it will also likely incite me more.
Instead, I sauntered to the cupboard where the dog treats are held and I reached in and grabbed a biscuit.
Some of you just shuddered.
Some of you may have had food or beverage roll out of your mouth in dismay.
Some of you are infuriated and about to x out of this article.
Let Me Explain
I have two very distinct choices now.
I can reward him for “seemingly” retrieving my shoe, hence tricking him into thinking that if he steals things and brings them to me he will be rewarded.
Yes, initially this rewards what seems like a bad behavior, yet rather ingeniously teaches the dog to bring you all stolen items (brilliance!). Don’t worry later (once he has been conditioned that bringing you things is rewarding) you can refuse to reward after he brings you the stolen item and the dog will actually, then, refuse to steal your things (again GENIUS)
You can also get this behavior (retrieve and bring) on cue if you reward it!
I wait for a behavior I can reward.
Those of you who know my writing, know I have talked about this puppy before!
He still jumps on his family like they are spring boards because they neither correct the bad behavior and stop their dog from jumping, nor work on training an incompatible behavior.
However, he knows the moment that I enter the home, that if he wants something from me he is expected to lie down.
It is wonderful, whenever he wants something from me, he simply sprawls out on the ground and waits for me to either pet him, feed him, or praise him sweetly.
So I sat at our kitchen table and averted my eyes and waited.
He dashed in and ran around the table my pilfered shoe, his crown jewel, still locked in his jaws as he looked up at me in dismay.
His circling of the table slowed and after a few long seeming moments, he gagged out my shoe.
If I moved too quickly, he would likely snatch it and run yet again.
Then he came over, made eye contact (another favorite behavior of mine) and he flopped down on his belly.
I marked that behavior and tossed a treat in the opposite direction of my shoe.
As he ran for his treat, I nippily snatched my shoe as he raced back to me.
Next, I dropped my shoe to the floor and waited.
He sniffed my shoe and hastily and tossed his tiny body to the floor as he stared up at me.
GOOD LITTLE BUDDY!
Who won this battle?
I also won the war!
Remember, we humans are the thinking animals.
Resting on our strength or quickness, isn’t going to work well for long!
But, you should always be able to count on your intellect and your calm demeanor to solve problems with your dog!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.