The Tribulations of Dog Training

Protecting his Mommy from the weirdo with the camera.
Protecting his Mommy from the weirdo with the camera.

Dog Ownership

Anyone who owns a dog knows the tribulations of training. An untrained dog can cause a host of problems. No, let me rephrase that . An untrained dog will always cause a host of problems. If only we had put more effort into the training when he was young, we all tell ourselves, things would would have turned out so much better.

(I ask all she-dog owners to pardon my singular use of the "he" pronoun. My dog is male and gets quite upset any time I make a "she" reference.)

Anyway, it's presumptious and factually incorrect to say that I own a dog. The raw truth is, I am owned by a dog. He gives the orders. He does as he pleases, when he pleases. And for good measure, he engages in behaviour he knows I don't like simply for the pleasure of knowing it displeases me. I get even by telling people when he's not listening that I own the dog.

Ignoring the dog food in the hope it will magically disappear.
Ignoring the dog food in the hope it will magically disappear.

Dog Food

When it comes to dog food, I hold a low opinion of dog food companies, vets, and anyone else who participates in the conspiracy to force our doggies to eat garbage. The only reason I make my dog eat the stuff is that our vet has browbeaten me into believing that if I don't feed it to him he will lead a miserable life and die early. I am afraid of the vet in much the same way I am afraid of the TV evangelist on Sunday mornings.

The dog in our house shares my opinion. He has developed a number of highly intelligent avoidance maneuvers to try and save himself from the rancid carrion forced on him by the dog food industry. I admire him immensely for his inventiveness.

Our number one method of getting him to eat dog food is bribery. We long ago gave up on deceit and trickery. For instance, we tried mixing in people food; he quickly learned to eat the people food and leave the dog food in the dish. I petted him for hours as a reward for that one!

Our bribery technique follows the same logic as the broccoli and dessert treachery inflicted on kids. The basic principle is that if he finishes his dog food he gets a generous helping of treats.

Our first rule was that he had to eat a certain number of pieces of dog food before getting his reward. I hand-fed him to head off the possibility of cheating on the dog's part. My intention was to try and increase the piece count over time. That failed because the dog learned to count and thereby headed off any chance of cheating on my part. He simply stopped eating once we had arrived at the required number of pieces.

Our second rule was to put a measured amount of food in his dish and withhold the reward until the dish was empty. We were quite pleased with the results until the day my wife asked me to help tidy the living room. I moved chairs and things while she vacuumed. Surprise! We found mounds of dog food under the sofa, under the ledge of the coffee table, behind the TV.... Oh yeah, I fed him nothing but treats for a week as a reward for that one!

We're still using the "withhold the reward" method and the food is disappearing from the dish. We're assuming for now that the food is going into the dog. But now and then I get a sly wink from Mr. Dog which leads me to suspect that one day soon we'll find another stash of doggie contraband in some wonderfully devious location.

Suspicions confirmed: licking the hand that bribes him.
Suspicions confirmed: licking the hand that bribes him.

Dog Business

Despite his many faults, my dog is conscientious about going outside to attend to dog business. That's a good thing. What's not a good thing is when he chooses to do so. If I'm watching TV, for instance, he will never ever ask to go outside during commercials. He always waits until Dr. Phil is about to whip some poor slob into a quivering mass of sobbing apologies and robs me of my opportunity for a good laugh at the patsy who had thought he could outfox Dr. Phil.

The pattern is so consistent that I've become suspicious. I've come to think, in seriously reflective moments, that he's made a deal with the local cable company and is getting kickbacks.

One of the reasons for my suspicion is that he never asks me for money. What kind of dog never asks for money? A dog who HAS money, that's what kind. Yeah, darn right I'm suspicious!

No luck with training dogs but wolves took mercy on me and gave me a little victory.
No luck with training dogs but wolves took mercy on me and gave me a little victory.

Dog Training

Then there's the nature of the business he attends to when he does go outside. It's common for a dog to go outside to perform the built-in biological functions. One function is liquid and requires no after-business cleanup. The other is in various grades of solid and requires swift and diligent cleanup. Failure to perform the cleanup will have definite and serious consequences, frequently of the smelly-shoe variety.

So, with cleanup being a necessesary part of the ritual, it is incumbent upon me to don my outerwear, grap a shovel and a plastic bag, and go outside with him. Being winter here in Canada, I don the outerwear for my personal comfort and safety, the shovel for shifting around yesterday's liquid business so the colour contrast between the snow and the business is less pronounced, and the plastic bag for picking up today's... you know... solids. These matters are pretty much always taken care of with no damage done to anyone... except to me who sometimes comes in a little crankier than he went out.

But the one thing I'll never understand is why he sometimes insists on going out for no reason other than to bark. It's frustrating to don one's outerwear, fetch one's shovel, and find a plastic bag (the biodegradable variety) for no discernably urgent reason. It has frustrated me for years.

Lately, though, I've found a way to amuse myself on these arduously needless treks. My dog goes outside and barks; that gives my lefternmost neighbour's dog the urge to come out and bark; which, of course, brings out the righternmost neighbour's dog to also come out and join in.

At first, the resulting cacophany did nothing but add to the misery of my already ruffled state of mind. But, being in possession of a musical nature, I thought I would try and train the dogs to howl... in three part harmony! This, of course, incurred the necessity for me to lead off in the howling. You know, to give the dogs an idea of what I expected of them.

My training methods surprisingly raised a bit of a stir in the neighbourhood. A number of the neighbours, upon hearing the dog-like sounds emanating from me, began calling the police. They apparently wanted to make sure I was uninjured and of sound mind. After six police visits over a period of six weeks I think I've finally convinced everybody there's no need to call the guys in the white lab coats.

I'm not having much success with the dogs, but last night I heard a pack of wolves in the distant hills hit a perfect triad in the key of G.

A man has to claim his victories where he finds them.

More by this Author


Comments 27 comments

ralwus 6 years ago

I love this doggie tale and can relate to it so well as we have four. The two youngest are almost two now, siblings. They taught each other to howl (Basset Hounds), their dad, Boregard never howled. Soon we had all four dogs singing a quartet. Now when boredom sets in, Bourbon will go to Kahli (toy fox terrier)and bark in his face, Kahli then howls on command, and the song is done in quartet for several minutes, sometimes I join in. I wish I could get them on video, but I never know when they will do it. Funny dogs, my Bo, Brandy, Bourbon and Kahli. Don't ya just love them though?


Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 6 years ago from Atlanta, GA

Great stuff and good laughs as usual niteriter. I sympathize with you, but you gotta hand it to Fido, dog food is crappy and tastes revolting. I recently wrote a hub about it :) Have you tried the organic stuff? It won't make him stop howling, but he may eat it, and when you step in his poo, it wont' smell as nasty.


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida

Bravo, niteriter. IF IDOn't stop laughing foR OVER ten minutes, iF I FInd myself rolling on the floor and CHUCKling without end, it's your fault!

Find more than 4 dogs' names in this comment and win a free . . .

Great hub!


Laura du Toit profile image

Laura du Toit 6 years ago from South Africa

Really enjoyed this Hub. As a dog-lover and owner ( or being owned by no less than three dogs) I can really relate to your experiences with your dog - in particular the trips outside to bark at some invisible intruder. Well written hub- thanks for sharing!


Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 6 years ago from Canada Author

Hi ralwus. What I'd really like to see from you is a Hub containing a video of you howling along with your dogs. You'd have copies of the DVD available for purchase, of course.

Green Lotus, you are always four jumps ahead of me! Your Hub is so much more professionally written than mine! My monster critter likes his steak cooked medium well, with just a small pink strip in the middle thank you very much. He has a very snobby attitude toward anything else.

Doc, you know you're disturbing my contemplative reverie with your puzzles. Let me see: Fido; Rover; Fifi; Chuck... Bravo pronounced with a long "a"? Okay, where's my prize?

Hi Laura. I feel so much better knowing I'm not the only one who gets manipulated into going out for no reason other than reminding the universe of canine greatness!

Thanks everyone for the visit. I'll be roaming by to visit you all really soon.


wyanjen profile image

wyanjen 6 years ago from Wyandotte Michigan

I had a dog who would pick out the different shapes when we fed her Kibbles-N-Bits.

She ate all the bits except for the long skinny ones. She would spit those nasty little kibbles out on the floor.

That must have taken an amazing amount of oral dexterity.

It reminded me of my Lucky Charms when I was a kid - I HATED those damn moons. I always left them in a sticky milk-mess at the bottom of the bowl.

My mom should have learned early not to buy food with too many different shapes in one serving.


Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 6 years ago from Canada Author

I don't know which is funnier, the long skinny kibbles strewn about the floor or the sticky milk-mess at the bottom of the bowl! Okay, I lied; I do know but I can't say because of my religion's restrictions... okay, I lied about that too. But I'm still not sayin'.

A visit from you always makes my chest swell. Lucky for my buttons I'm wearing a stretchy sweater today.


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

hahahaha, niteriter you did it again made me laugh and laugh why cant you not write everyday? see dog can have the same psychology with children as well "rewards and punishment".. when eating...LOL< Good day nite, Maita


Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 6 years ago from Canada Author

Hi Maita. A Hub is never complete without a visit from you! And that you still laugh at my nonsense makes me as proud as all get out! Thanks for coming by.


Beth100 profile image

Beth100 6 years ago from Canada

Oh, you have me laughing so hard, my eyes are tearing!!! X-D

Too funny, and I can relate to every point you've made!


Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 6 years ago from Canada Author

There is no comment more valued than one from an expert in the field. Your expertise in the field of dogs is so great that I think I'll take your comment here and auction it on ebay. I promise to split the proceeding with you 50/50! After expenses, of course.


Linda Myshrall 6 years ago

Hey NR, Another great piece. You are the only guy I know who can work Dr.Phil, brocolli, and dog training into the same piece and somehow have it make perfect sense. I just love your stuff!


Ben Zoltak profile image

Ben Zoltak 6 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

A great read and the love you have for your master dog shines through. My cats take my girls hair ties and stash them in various devious hiding spots throughout our abode so I can sympathize with your dog and his disdain for certain foods. Niteriter, you are not the only one afraid of televangelists, in the morning, noon, or night. Amen.

Ben


Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 6 years ago from Canada Author

Hi Linda. It's a pleasure as always to see your lovely face gracing one of my Hubs. And your praise, so generously given, adds to the pleasure of the visit... as well as to the girth of my ego! I thank you ever so much for your unfailing kindness.


Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 6 years ago from Canada Author

Brother Ben! Your comment here has changed my life!

Knowing now that cats have the subastral capacity to possess devious inclinations, my spirit has been lifted to a higher plane. I have been transcendentally supercharged to the point where I think I may have overcome my fear of televangelists... and vets!

Thank you for sharing this closely guarded cat lovers' secret.


Dale Mazurek profile image

Dale Mazurek 6 years ago from Canada

What a great hub.

Not only informative but funny as well.

Your hub is now up on my blog.

The link to my blog can be found near the bottom of my profile.

Cheers

Dale


wyanjen profile image

wyanjen 6 years ago from Wyandotte Michigan

(I put your hub up for this niteriter.)

jen


Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 6 years ago from Canada Author

Thank you, Dale, for treating me with such kindness. Naturally, I'm flattered to have gotten this kind of attention.

I have been busy with my "real world" life these past few days and have not been active on HubPages. I will definitely be visiting your blog and your Hubs as soon as things settle down a little in trifling matters such as mortgages, groceries, clothing and taxes!

Thanks for stopping by.


Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 6 years ago from Canada Author

Hey, Jen! Jerry Lee Lewis is ringing in my head now. "I got a wiggle in my walk and a giggle in my talk" and all just because I see your purty mug on my Hub. (If you change your avatar I'm gonna be charged with inappropriate commenting again!)

I don't know what you've put me up for but whatever it is, I got myself all puffed up with pride. I just know that if you put me up for it, it's something that I should get all puffed up about.

If you need me, I'll be here with my feet on my desk dreaming about my newfound popularity. And about how pink I'm tickled that you came to visit.


Faybe Bay profile image

Faybe Bay 6 years ago from Florida

Brilliant. I loved to make my malamute sing. He was a thief by the way, and OCD if you can believe it. He would gather branches, fallen from the trees, in the yard and pile them up. If in the night a larger branch or palm frond fell then he would knock the whole pile over, and begin anew, largest on bottom to smallest on top. My landlord didn't like this and whenever we would clear some away, Cody would chase us saying "Whoa" with ever increasing speed the further we got from the pile. I miss him, and his crazy ways.


Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 6 years ago from Canada Author

Hi Faybe! I love dogs with compulsions strong enough to turn things as plain as fallen tree branches into works of art. It seems to me that your Cody and I would have been the best of friends had we known each other. Who knows what devious plots we could have hatched together?

Thanks for visiting.


Ben Zoltak profile image

Ben Zoltak 5 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

Enjoyed the reread, ha, good belly laugh:

I am afraid of the vet in much the same way I am afraid of the TV evangelist on Sunday mornings.

Ha! I have learned to love other people's dogs, as years of picking up poo has left me unwilling to house this type of poo creator. I have two middle aged cats that provide a box of these odoriferous items to clean regularly, when they're gone that's it! All turtles from then on out man!

Ben


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

niteriter, If I had a dog, and I am a dog-lover, I would use the advice you give in this hub. NICE! And Thank YOU for the 'Walter Mitty' comment a while ago. My cat-like curosity got the best of me and I had to Google him. I read, with much amazement, the bio of this guy. He was far better than I will ever be. For that matter YOU will be too. Honest. And Peace. Kenneth


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

At this moment in time I do not have a dog but not from choice however that didn't stop be from enjoying this great read.

Well done ad here's to so many pore hubs fir sale.

Eddy


Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 4 years ago from Canada Author

Eddy, I thank you for visiting my Hub. Since this piece was written, my little friend passed back in to the place of his origin. I still grieve his absence daily and find no urge to invite another of his kind to take his place.

I know you are familiar with grief so I consider you a sister in the experience. I also think you are very brave. Best wishes.


pennyofheaven profile image

pennyofheaven 4 years ago from New Zealand

Hahaha this is too too funny! You made my day! So cute your dog!

Awww sorry to hear of your loss. I have lost so many of my precious dogs over the years there are too many to count. The amount of times I experience loss does not make it any easier. However they are such a joy. I still cannot help but get another and another.


Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 4 years ago from Canada Author

Hi Penny, it's good to see you here! A visit from you is certainly a cause for celebrating something... So here's to dogs and the joy they give so freely!

Thanks for the condolence. However, any time I might be tempted to feel sorry for myself because my furry friend has passed, I will think of you and know that I've been blessed. You are a living lesson in finding solace in sorrow.

Best wishes to you.

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