Sunday, April 8, 2018

A Dog's Guide to Humans

        A Dog’s Guide to Humans 
                              By  Valerie L. Egar

A speech for the Midnight Howl Convention by Professor Max B. Vanderwoof:

Ladies, Gentlemen, Honored Guests:
            As a noble canine, you no doubt encounter a variety of animals— cats, squirrels, rabbits, birds. Depending on where you live, you may also see turtles, skunks and perhaps a moose or bear. I have addressed a dog’s relationship to these animals in my bestselling book, Skunks Stink! I turn today to address the most interesting animal in a dog’s life, the human.  
            Your human companion loves you, feeds you, walks you and plays with you. You are an important member of their family. Humans often speak of  “training the dog.”  You have, no doubt, learned what they call “commands”— “Sit,” “Stay,” “Come.” That is all very well, but I am here to tell you today that it is your obligation to train your human. Properly training your human will ensure abundant treats and lots of toys. You will assume your rightful place as leader of the household.

           First, all of you know how to wag your tail. Tail wagging is the best reinforcement for appropriate human behavior. It makes humans feel that they have done something good and that you love them. Get a treat, wag your tail. Hear the leash jingle, wag your tail.  Show enthusiasm!  The more your tail wags, the more your human will do, so use it to your advantage.

  You have every right to expect table scraps and last bites of a sandwich. When people are eating, they tend to think jumping at the table and barking is annoying. Tail wagging in this situation is not recommended. Any of these behaviors may get you exiled to another room. Instead, sit quietly and watch them eat. Make your eyes big and a little sad. Every now and then, lick your lips. Few can resist this ploy.  Wagging your tail to say “Thank you,” is advised once they relent. It reinforces them and they are likely to feed you from the table again.
            It is very important for people to have schedules and it is your job to make sure they stick to one. Your meals cannot be random. An expectation that your dinner will be served at the same time every day is perfectly reasonable. If your person is occupied and loses track of time, pace back and forth by your food dish. Nudge your person with your nose. Most humans are smart and will understand.
 If your person is not home in time to feed you, make certain when he or she walks in the door, they IMMEDIATELY attend to your food. Licking an empty food dish and looking sad works very well in this instance. That should keep your human timely for at least two weeks.

Vacations. At least once a year, sometimes more, people go on trips and sadly, many do not take their dogs. Should you be placed in a kennel or have a dog sitter while your people are away, you must not greet them effusively when they return home. Pretend you have forgotten who they are.  Try to look thinner by holding your stomach in. Ignore them. More than likely, they will give you lots of treats, buy you toys and take you for rides.  They may even consider vacationing with you next time they go away.

            Finally, when your people are not home, don’t be afraid to sleep or play on  any of the places you are not allowed when they are watching. People seem to take great delight in hiding cameras around their house and when they see you jumping on the bed or sleeping upside down on the couch, all they will do is post the pictures on the internet for their friends to see.
            I leave you with this thought: you can train your humans.  Do it well and a car ride and a game of Frisbee is only a tail wag away.
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Copyright 2017 by Valerie L. Egar. May not be reproduced, copied or distributed without permission from the author.
Published February 5, 2017 Journal Tribune Sunday (Biddeford, ME)

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