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Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Dog is Learning

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Sometimes with pets it is a question of who is training whom.

Jean's dog has learned that if he is being ignored, he can "make noises" to get attention. These start with low groans, to whines, to minor barks, to major barking fits until he gets attention.

I tend to frustrate him, because I refuse to respond to his "vocal" demands for attention. But if he bumps me, i.e., jumps up and puts his paws on my leg when I am not otherwise paying attention to him, then he gets rewarded with notice, pats on the head and petting.

I still, however, will not give him any treats. He has never gotten anything to eat (at least from me) inside my office or from my hand. He has pretty much come to accept that I am not going to give him snacks, but on the other hand he seems to think I am pretty good at petting.

He and I are having an argument about his tendency to "mouth," that is mock bite. I am trying to get him to understand that for me at least this is bad behavior and will not be rewarded. The trick is making him understand that when I withdraw my hand it is not "a game," which is his current attitude as Jean and Simone let him play the "mouth game."

While the dog is still not happy at being separated from people, he has demonstrated a willingness to be separated during lunch as long as he is not locked in carrier, but allowed the run of Jean's office. He still gets very excited when Jean comes back from lunch and releases him back into the larger building, but first he has to make sure Jean knows how glad he is not to have been abandoned permanently.

He is very definitely comfortable with the six people in the office he was frequent contact with, but with Simone getting a new job outside the office, we will be looking for a replacement for her, and the dog may have more trouble adjusting to a completely new person as a constant companion among the six people he knows almost daily.