Sunday, April 8, 2012

True Confessions: My Dog is Spoiled

She begs shamelessly during meals, jumps on visitors, and sleeps on my pillow. Unless she wants to sleep somewhere else, of course. Rules? I think she’s up to four now, and one is really more of a suggestion. And if you were to tell me that my dog walks all over me, I’d show you the pawprints on my t-shirt. Literally.


Are you surprised? Although I’ve always been honest in my blog, lately I’ve been a bit more formal. Part of this is because I’ve begun teaching classes and I don’t want to completely embarrass my boss. I figure I should reflect positively on her business, and a poorly behaved dog is probably not a great advertisement.

It’s hard to hide the fact that my dog is spoiled. It could be different, of course- I know how to teach her the skills she’s missing- but I don’t care enough to teach them. She begs because I don’t mind. She jumps on me because it’s easier for me to reach her that way. As for sleeping on my pillow, frankly, I find it endearing. Still, I’m sometimes embarrassed about her “bad” behavior because I know that society expects my dog to act a certain way.

Well, so what? I have spent my time and energy on the things that matter to me. Maisy has a gorgeous heel, is reliable off leash, and gives me an enviable amount of attention. She’s capable of turning in excellent scores in competition. She’s so easy to live with these days that sometimes I forget she ever had any behavior problems. And, if I ask her to, she can act like a good dog. I have taught her “leave it” and “off,” after all!

The truth is, everything we teach our dogs is artificial. It’s stuff that we humans have decided is desirable. Some of it is hygienic- I’d rather not have bodily waste in my house. Some of it is about safety- I really don’t want my dog to bite a child. And some of it is just a preference.

I try to keep this in mind when I’m teaching. As a positive trainer, I avoid the use of force. My goal is to find ways to motivate my dog to choose to do the things I want. I try to do the same thing with my students. It’s easy to feel frustrated when they choose not to do their homework, but one look at my own dog reminds me that it is their choice. Although I can explain the benefit of a particular exercise, ultimately, it’s up to them. Only they can decide what they want their dog to do, what they can tolerate, and how they want to spend their time and energy. 

And if they choose to let their dog beg, jump, and sleep on pillows… well, who am I to judge?

13 comments:

Laura, Lance, and Vito said...

What are manners? I'm pretty sure the more I've learned about dog training the less behaved my dogs have become. It actually kinda sucks that the service dogs in training need some rules!

Jen said...

Well, there are spoiled dogs and then there are SPOILED dogs. Some dogs are unpleasant to be around because of their spoiled qualities.

Ximena said...

I've actually started encouraging bad behaviors, especially the jumping on me. It's so crazy how so many behaviors are "trainer's choice." The jumping, though under stimulus control, isn't typically socially appropriate... and my form of Leave It means give me eye contact instead. I say: make your own way! Manners are in the eye of the beholder. :)

Sara said...

Can't comment... laughing to hard...

Sara said...

Noooo! I used the wrong version of "too" because of all the laughter. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DELETE MY LAST COMMENT.

...this is no longer funny.

Crystal Thompson said...

On the contrary, Sara, things just got HILARIOUS.

Dawn said...

I taught Magic not to jump. Then we started visiting the nursing home. Older folk and thosein wheelchairs need him to come up to them. Thats a valid excuse right???? Feel free to borrow.

Melissa Smith & Toby said...

Yeah, my dogs are spoiled and Toby likes to jump up.
But the way I see it, my dogs are more well behaved that 90% of the average person's dogs and 95% of children, so I just don't care or have the time to put into training them to be robots. I happen to like their bratty little quirks. :)

Crystal Thompson said...

I love you guys. :) So glad I don't have the only spoiled dog... although even if we were alone, she'd still be spoiled!

Shannon said...

I <3 this post. My dog is pretty spoiled, too. Part of it is my boyfriend's fault, though - he's the permissive one! But I encourage Sienna to jump up on me and otherwise maul me. She's little and she's very dainty about it even when she's pawing at me. If I had a bigger dog, I'd probably be more concerned about manners. Small dogs really do get away with murder sometimes, 'cause, well, they *are* cute!

Toby said...

My Corgi is spoiled spoiled!! He does whatever he wants and he's the boss of me. BUT, everybody tells me that he's such a well behaved dog, he barely barks and he's not a big fan on jumping on people, so I guess he's a well behaved spoiled dog LOL

Life With Desmond said...

Hi Crystal! This is my first time visiting your blog, and I've just been reading through some of your posts practically on the edge of my seat.

We have a leash-reactive dog, and I'm currently a student at Animal Behavior College in their Dog Obedience Trainer program.

Said dog is also spoiled rotten and allowed to do some of the things you mentioned here. I, too, feel somewhat ashamed and awkward about that fact, because of my training work. How can I hope to start a business training dogs when my own dog is kind of a manners mess (reactivity aside...whole 'nother can of worms)?

Even though I completely agree with you that each person needs to decide what they expect from their dog, I can't shake the feeling that I'm a phony or something. Blech.

I'm adding your RSS feed to my reader and looking forward to future posts.

Tyesha Caron said...

"As a positive trainer, I avoid the use of force." - I agree with you on that. In my case, I use positive reinforcement and it usually works. I don't want my dog to be scarred for life because of the way I treated her. By the way, this is such a nice post! Keep them coming!