I’ve been living with my human family for over three years now, and I have to say that things are going pretty well. I’m still not allowed up on the furniture (when my parents are around to see it) and they still insist on feeding me dry dog kibble when all I really want is a plate of the same food they’re eating, but overall, I’ve got them pretty well trained. The trick with humans, I’ve discovered, is to let them think they’re training you, when in reality, you’re training them.
Take walks, for instance. Like all dogs, I love a good walk. Sauntering around the neighborhood with my human in tow is great fun, and I especially like stopping to sniff all the enticing odors along the way. The first few times Mom took me for a walk, she insisted on keeping up a brisk pace, and seemed irritated when I’d stop to sniff every few feet. She didn’t understand that investigating all the scents we encounter is how I learn what’s going on in our neighborhood. How am I supposed to know that the beagle up the street passed stopped by this very same bush if I’m not allowed to smell it thoroughly? And don’t get me started on all the interesting scents coming from the storm sewer….the stories I could tell!
So I had to teach Mom the importance of letting me stop and sniff on our walks. It took quite a while, with me pointedly ignoring her tugging on the leash and repeated cries of, “Come on!” before she figured it out. She still doesn’t let me stop and sniff every single scent, but now she waits patiently when I discover something particularly intriguing, which happens a couple of times per outing. I heard her bragging to Dad about how she’s taught me to mostly keep moving, and of course I let her believe it. But the truth is, I’ve taught her to let me stop and sniff.
And while my parents still fill my supper dish with kibble, I’ve taught them to also share their (far superior, in my opinion) food with me. Again, it took time and lots of patience on my part, but now they both know that whenever they eat something, they have to save a bite of it for me. And since both of them are fond of their food, I get quite a few “bites” of food every day. My nickname is Bubbles (due to my bubbly personality) and they actually refer to the tidbits they give me as the “Bubble tax.” I don’t care what they call it, as long as they pay it.
I’m not sharing this to brag on my success, even though I’ve done a pretty good job of training my parents. I’m sharing it to give hope to all the other dogs who have just joined their human family and might be a feeling a little frustrated by how slow their new parents are on the uptake. I want them to know that it takes time and patience to train your humans, but if you stick with it, the rewards are worth it. Trust me on this…..