Can you relate to this photo?
Well if you can, you are not alone. My dog has trained my entire family to give her a cookie out of our cookie jar to get her to do just about anything. By anything, I mean that she goes out nearly 25 times a day, only to seconds later scratch on the door so incessantly that you want to scream, forcing you to get up from whatever cozy place you have just found, and let her back in. And what happens not 2 minutes later, is that you hear her “thumping” besides you for attention, or tapping noisily, and conveniently, in front of the cookie jar again. So, I might be “onto” to her little trick, but my husband and 3 children may not be aware of this little tactic she just got away with, so they casually strut on over and hand over more goods, all to be repeated over and over again in the course of an afternoon. And heaven forbid that afternoon is a rainy one, where she cannot go out and have a walk or two, or 3. Add to the mix, my husband, who feels she can’t just have one treat at a time, but 2 or 3. I have seen the man throw down 6 at a time! That’s right, 6! So, unless he is fattening up our little mixed breed dog to be next year’s Thanksgiving butterball centerpiece, this gravy train needs to stop right here. Today. There is a new sheriff in town, and it’s me. The veterinarian in the house. The one who should be deferred to as the arbiter of knowledge all things dog. Correct?!
But no! When I say the dog is getting fat, he says, “She’s not fat. You’re crazy!”. Both he and my daughter reply, “It’s just her hair. She needs a haircut. She’s skinny under all those mats and dreadlocks!” And so, the battle begins. And my solution… I feed her half of what they feed her. So, mom comes along with her half cup of dry food, and imagine the look I get. It looks something like this…
You get the picture. I don’t actually give her Beggin’ Strips, but I do give her a series of other treats that are all as small as I can get them. I give her dental diet treats, which are small, and do help her teeth. I also do give her a micro greenie a day. (Who knows how many the other people in my house would give her if they were not well hidden.) She gets healthy food that falls to the floor (pieces of cauliflower, broccoli, celery -she’s not a fan, turns out), etc. She is alerted to the fact by me, the enabler, while I yell: “India, come! Yum, Yum”. Translation: “Mommy is too lazy to bend down.” This is not to be confused by when we yell out: “Cookie”, which refers to all those things that come out of the actual cookie jar. Sadly, we have resorted to screaming “Cookie!” many times a day when we are trying to get her out of the neighbor’s yard, or simply have lost sight of her when she really does go out to exercise and does not come right back in. I am convinced the neighbors all think that Cookie is her actual name, because we yell it so often, and so loudly.
And why does the dog run off into the neighbor’s yard? Good question. The main reason is that the electric fence that we have no longer works, having been cut at least 20 times by landscapers. I have officially given up calling to have it repaired. So, my dog now roams the yard next to ours, which happens to have the family with what is clearly either a dog phobia, or at least some deep seeded fear of dogs. No doubt, something traumatic happened in their childhood. We get rare phone calls that she is in their yard. And who can blame them. So you can see how the cycle repeats itself. The dog gets her treat, goes out, traipses through some mud, and runs into neighbor’s yard. We see her darting back and forth in said yard, and go to the back door yelling, “Cookie, Cookie!!”, and she comes back in, sits her spoiled, filthy, smelly butt down in front of the cookie jar, and expects her reward for this bad behavior. And 9 times out of 10 she gets it.
I realize that I should know better. I know that I need to rectify this situation immediately. The point of this blog is not to give you all some wise training tips to show you how to fix a situation such as this. The point is for me to admit that this craziness goes on, even in my home. We all love our pets, and have the best intentions, but we all are busy. Things fall through the cracks, and dogs do not always get trained well. I get it. When I do a house call and the dog jumps up on me, I get it. I am not judging. Believe me. Why would I? This post is an admission. It is an apology to all the UPS men and dry cleaner drop off staff that have ever had to deal with my dog and her antics. It is an attempt to ask forgiveness of the tutors and piano teacher that have had to be jumped upon and greeted by India, when they least wanted to, and at times, evidently had been humped by her while I was blissfully unaware, just 20 feet away in the kitchen.
So that is my point. Let this be a cautionary tale to those of you with new puppies. It is not too late to avoid the trappings of a cute face, controlling your world, and that of your entire family. Have a plan. Be better than I am. Train your dog well. Be strong. I know you can do it!