So you guys know Wim-Dog and Izzles (officially, Wimbledon and Izzy). They’re zany creatures who will steal your food as soon as look at you, and have an arrest record down at Denton Animal Services. They are masters of the “I’m-A-Good-Dog-Gimme-That-Cheeto” Stare, and give all 190% of their love to whomever is closest to them at the time. They have ninja skillz that allow them to leap tall fences in a single bound, and steal + eat entire loaves of bread without a sound.
They’re our dogs, they’re spoiled, and we love them….despite the need for CONSTANT supervision, and redirection from inappropriate behaviors. Izzy’s behavioral issues are mainly comprised of jumping on people, including small children and the elderly (without intent to harm mind you, she just thinks she’s a chihuahua). Wimbledon has been aptly described by my cousin as having the stature of “a large deer”, and is too smart for his own good – so his behavioral concerns include ignoring commands, despite the fact that he knows perfectly well what you’re saying, and constantly getting arrested by animal services. Seriously. They know us and they have his tags on file – we don’t even pay to get him out now, they just call us.
Over the years Benjamin and I have made several changes to our home, yard, routine, and tones of voice in order to determine what will, and will not, waylay our dogs into a more appropriate course of action when, for example, they have yanked me off my feet and left me lying face down in the park in order to play tag with a rogue squirrel.
Certain things are “for sure” behavior modifiers, such as: Child gates, Chewy rawhide bones, Holding any kind of people-food at all, Screaming “AAAAGGGGH” or “NOOOOOO”, or starting to cry. Ineffective behavior modifiers include: A spray of water to the face, Using a calm tone of voice, Saying sit, come, heal, lay down or stop. The mega-reinforcers include hot dogs and bacon, and going to your kennel is not a punishment, it’s just a good place to take a nap or hide that yummy plastic lid you found on the kitchen counter.
Recently I endeavored on a new mission to determine how activity levels during the day would affect the pups’ behavior come evening time. I started taking Izzles to the shop with me during the day, and using the child gates to give Wim-Dog free reign of the living room/kitchen/kennel room during the working hours.
For the most part, this has resulted in desirable outcomes. Izzle’s over-energetic nature is somewhat stymied by the activity level
she has at the shop during the day. It can be very tiring to say hi to 5 employees and 20 customers eleven different times – each – during an 8 hour period, especially when you take into consideration making the rounds amongst the warehouses to check all inventory, corners, walls, and general tid-bits for new smells, guarding the office, checking on mom, asking for snacks, looking for non-food snacks in the parking lot, running back and forth between Mom’s office and Grandad’s office, and going pee 47 times. It’s a lot for a girl to keep up with, and by the time she gets home, she just wants a tasty Milk Bone and a soft place to lie down. This has allowed Ben and I to catch up on Big Bang Theory without missing all the punchlines because Izzy wants a hug. Izzy wants no hugs, Izzy wants a nap. Yay!! Success.
While Izzy is running herself ragged at the shop, Wim-Dog is living in the lap of luxury in his living room fort. I have determined that he looks forward to this each weekday morning. How do I know? He sulks in his kennel until I put Izzy in the car. Then, tail high and wagging, he takes a victory lap around the living room and does a back-wiggle on his favorite blanket. He walks with me to check and make sure that he gets his extra half a cup of dog food (because
he’s ginormous) and that I don’t forget to fill his water bowl. He then follows me to the pantry while I gather his arthritis chews and rawhide bone for the day. As soon as treats are in hand, he bolts back to his blanket (which is pink by the way, did I mention that? A gigantic 80-lb dog with a bark that sends dust quaking down from the ceiling is having a love affair with a fluffy, pink, crocheted blanket. My dog is awesome.) and thunks down in a classic happy-dog pose of paws-forward-butt-in-the-air to await his daily stash of Stuff-Wim-Gets-That-Izzy-Doesn’t. Daily, as I lock the door, Wim-Dog can be seen gleefully rolling around on the living room floor flaunting his blanket, expansive floor space, and that one damn bone that he got that Izzy didn’t. It is a joy to behold, for realz. And at the end of the day? Wim is chill, and not feeling all escape-artisty, because he’s been able to stretch and nap without being cooped in a kennel, and he’s had the house to himself without having to compete with Izzy – for a whole EIGHT HOURS.
Seems perfect right? Well…….there might be some teensy lil’ inappropriate behaviors that have arisen as a result of my supposed super-awesome-fantastico plan:
(A) Izzy doesn’t want to go into her kennel unless her dinner’s in there. EVER. Not even for a treat. She wants to go to the shop. So she goes completely limp at your feet, and you literally have to muscle the top half of her body into her kennel then shove her butt the rest of the way in until you can close the door. She will give you not ONE IOTA of help.
(B) Wimbledon thinks he is the reigning king of “all that is living room” and gives one, or a dozen, of his roof-cracking floor-shaking barks if his access is restricted. And remember how I said he chooses not to listen to commands? Yeah. It gets noisy – like neighbors knocking on the door noisy.
Well, shit y’all. I guess that’s what I’ll be working on next week. Keep your fingers crossed for me, it’s gonna be RIDONK.