Tuesday, 20 April 2010

teaching (not very old) dogs new tricks

Day Five of the dog's assertiveness training, and it's not going well. When he was a puppy, we taught him not to bark when someone came to the front door since it woke the baby: handy then, but since we got burgled there's been a rethink. Hence the deeply ludicrous process of trying to teach a dog to, um, bark.
Our dog is what canine behaviour experts call 'food orientated', ie fat. So every time he makes a noise at anything he gets a dog biscuit to encourage him. After a few days of this, a breakthrough: when the postman comes, the dog sort of huffs once embarassedly under his breath and then sits looking pointedly at the biscuit cupboard.
Hmm. Perhaps the problem is too many incentive regimes running in this house. Life with a small child is one long round of bribes/threats, obviously (or is that just me?): and then there's the NHS 'quit kit' that arrived for my husband, who is supposedly giving up smoking. He was unamused by its main component: a toddler-style sticker chart, complete with irritating little symbols of rainbows and sunny days.
I was keeping the sticker chart for my son, but now I'm thinking I might try it on the dog. This morning he enthusiastically welcomed the man fitting the burglar alarm and then, when I took him for a walk, barked furiously at a yoof in the park for no apparent reason.
Which leaves two possibilities:
1. the dog is engaged in a sophisticated form of offender profiling, with potential civil liberties implications
2. the dog is thick.
Either way, we're nearly out of biscuits.


  1. Hehehe at the thought of a sticker chart for dogs. You could have a sliding scale of stickers, a walk for being good, a cat to chase for being extremely good, and a huge fat bone or two for eating the next burglar that tries to break and enter.

  2. Think my toddlers are 'food orientated' - the only bribery/threat that works is chocolate buttons or the removal thereof!

  3. Blimey, reminds me not to get a dog if ever I'm tempted (or, more accurately, nagged by the kids).

    We have two chickens, one cat and numerous fish, all of whom are too needy (that's unfair actually - the fish are perfect, they just swim round and round and round very quietly).

    Any more and I think I would lose it.

  4. I'm impressed you taught your dog not to bark at the door... my dog barks at the door buzzer, when the mail basket clangs, when he hears a leash jingle outside, etc etc etc... which of course makes my son's naptime a bit precarious sometimes. I end up leaping for my dog's snout to keep him quiet the whole time. Very relaxing!