Thursday, January 3, 2013

Hops in the Right Direction: Gaining Perspective and Dealing with the One Step Back Times

A well-behaved dog is an on-going project.  It's not a one-obedience-class-and-done kind of deal.  And sometimes, a dog will seem to lose a good behavior or gain a bad one.  It doesn't mean you have a bad dog--she's just testing her limits, or her routine was changed and she's upset and confused about it, or she's sick.  You know, like when people do something unpleasant--there's usually an underlying reason.  (Or they're just crazy.  One of those.)

Until a few weeks ago, I was bringing Prada to work with me, because my apartment manager was doing some construction right outside my door.  It was a pretty sweet set-up, really.  It was still warm enough for her to spend most of the day sleeping in the car, with a couple of potty breaks and a visit inside for Prada to get loved on by my coworkers.

And now she has to stay at home.  After all that excitement and affection (not to mention the treats I know some of my coworkers have in their desk drawers for just such an occasion), being left behind is not high on Prada's to-do list.

Prior to coming to work with me, Prada was really good about being left alone, as long as we followed a routine--I'd put her in a down-stay and set a treat in front of her.  I would release her from the stay once I was ready to open the door and leave. 

But a situation arose, and her routine was disrupted.  Now, we've got to start fresh, and the old routine hasn't been working.  Prada has been showing her displeasure with me by barking.  Not really excessively--or not excessively if I didn't leave for work fairly early in the morning, when some of my neighbors are still asleep.

For the last couple of weeks, I've been leaving her in the bathroom, hoping the more enclosed space and limited stimulations would help keep her calm--and if not, that the two doors between her and my front door would keep the noise down.  It was mostly the latter, and I've been trying to figure out what my other options are.

This morning, though, I noticed that as I was getting ready in my bedroom, Prada was chilling in the living room.  She was very calm, so I decided to roll with it.  I've learned that if I address her, or sometimes even look at her, she gets excited, so I ignored her as I pulled on my coat and grabbed my purse and left.  I was already to the first landing when she barked, just four times--and more importantly, it was more of a "what?" bark than an "come back and get me right now!" bark.  And then, blessed silence.

So I decided not to go back and get my glasses.

Sometimes, things don't go as planned.  Sometimes, you need to make a new plan.  And sometimes, you just need to pay attention to what your dog is telling you.  But the most important thing to remember is that it's not always going to be smooth sailing.  Keep your perspective--your dog loves you, and isn't actively trying to piss you off.


Speaking of perspective, my friend Donna sent me this:

Because from your dog's perspective, there is nothing wrong with her, either.


  1. I saw this cartoon too and thought of you and Prada! You're so right that they aren't actively trying to piss you off. That's the cat's job!

    1. EXACTLY. Actually, my cat's been really sweet and loving to me lately. It makes me suspicious.

  2. This is not the first time I've read one of your posts and felt it sounds just like me talking about students. In the past I've decided not to comment, since I don't want to be that girl who treats kids like dogs. This one, however, was way too good when I replaced it with "child" instead of "dog" and read through. (Although I only ever knew one kid who barked, most stick with crying). I guess being a good parent/teacher is the same with doggies or people! Kudos to you. =)

    1. Ha! Barking kids sound awesome! (Metaphorically sound awesome, that is.) You have no idea how often I think the "or kids" thing.

      And funnily enough, I don't want to be the girl who treats dogs like kids, 'cause that's not good, either. :)

      BUT, from what I know about behavioralism, it works pretty well for both. And on pigeons with bowling balls. (For that tidbit, I can thank Professor Hart. Most everything else I learned in his class was overwritten by his habit of taking off his hoodie before class, which showed off an inch of very pretty ab. Only class I ever took where every female--and some male--classmate showed up early and fought for first row seats.)