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.