You’re not supposed to play tug-of-war with your dog. Don’t ask me why. I heard someone say it once – probably the Dog Whisperer. Or maybe it was a nun. They tend to give frequent mandates on avoiding any type of fun.
Other than snoring and farting, tug-of-war is the only thing Wonderbutt loves to do for an extended period of time. Since he needs to lose 1/3 of his body weight just to be considered “slightly rotund,” I feel like the least we can do is let him spend twenty minutes a day on his favorite form of exercise.
Lately, Wonderbutt has begun to confuse my exercise time with his exercise time. Now, as soon as I am five minutes into doing Tae Bo, Wonderbutt wakes up from a heavy snore, and races into the bedroom, completely ready to exercise too. His way of communicating that he is eager for action is to try to hump my leg as soon as I fling it out for a Tae Bo side-kick. When I finally shake him off, he looks momentarily confused, then leaps onto his rope toy and pitches it into my face just in case I have any doubts as to his intentions. (Which I kind of do, since he was just trying to hump me.)
Wonderbutt is not a fetch dog. He wants to be chased, and if you don’t feel like playing that game, then he wants nothing to do with you; he will forlornly drag his rope toy back to his bed, and put his head on his paws, sighing in disappointment at your laziness. Or, you can get down on the floor and start growling at him. Then he is more than happy to prance over to you with his toy, dangling it in your face, leaping backwards every time you reach for the rope, and growling viciously. So, by now, you’ve broken about 100 Dog Whisperer rules, including putting yourself on the same level as the dog, sticking your face in his, and encouraging him to growl at you.
But the dog is exercising.
For the most part.
The only part of Wonderbutt’s body that never gets fatigued is his jaw. After about three minutes of tug-of-war, the rest of his body gives out. Then, he clamps down on that rope for dear life while I drag him throughout the house, which is a bit rough on the carpeting, but works quite well on the concrete floors in the living room. (I am seriously considering attaching Swiffer Dusters to his sides.)
After being dragged for a couple of minutes, Wonderbutt gets his second wind (after releasing four or five of his own), and leaps back to his feet to resume play.
I started to complain about Wonderbutt regularly interrupting my Tae Bo – until I realized that I couldn’t catch my breath the last time I played tug-of-war with him.
I thought I was doing him a favor, but wouldn’t it be funny if he thinks he’s the one helping me out?
One of my favorite bloggers, Kay at Blue Speckled Pup, decided to participate in the Biggest Liar Challenge; I was interested to see that one of the possible lies was that she had trained her dog to ring bells at the back door whenever he needed to go out. Whether or not this is a true statement, I believe that it is further confirmation that she and I have a weird psychic connection. The following is a true “tail” of Mrs. P.I.B.’s house-training experience.
When she was a puppy, Mrs. P.I.B. was pretty easily house-trained. The only problem was that I was really the one who was trained. I would take her out almost every hour to ensure that she did not have any accidents, and watch her closely for any signs of discomfort. (This was during the summer. Summers, as you know, are when teachers sit around on their tuckuses eating bonbons, so I had plenty of time to devote to my Human Obedience classes.)
I soon tired of this method, but I couldn’t figure out a way to teach her to let us know when she needed to go out. Part of the problem was that we had a 2-story house at the time, and she was not allowed upstairs where our office was. There was no way that we could think of for her to signal to us that she needed to go out if we were on the second floor.
I jokingly stated that she needed a bell to ring whenever she needed to go out, and my father-in-law laughed at the thought. The next time he came to the house, though, he brought me a rope of three cow-bells to tie to the door. I took that as a personal challenge. This was long before the days of The Dog Whisperer, so I was pretty confident that I was the best dog expert I knew.
Mrs. P.I.B. is pretty smart. It didn’t take her long to learn to ring the bells when she needed to go out. She would sit by the back door, and smack her paw on the bells to notify us she was ready. Within a couple of days, the system had been perfected. I was pretty proud of my superior dog-training skills.
After about a week, I was upstairs working in the office one day, and heard the bells. I went downstairs to let Mrs. P.I.B. out, but she didn’t “do” anything. I chalked it off as a false alarm, and we both returned inside. Back upstairs for me. Five minutes later, the bells rang again. My new lesson began to sink in. Sure enough, I wandered back downstairs, took Mrs. P.I.B. out, and she once again seemed to have no interest in “doing her business.”
The third time, I leaned over the rail upstairs, and shouted, “No!” The bells went silent. That was the end of the false alarms – that day. Just call me The Dog Shouter.
The next day, I happened to be upstairs when the phone rang. I answered, and started chatting with a friend of mine.
“Brnnng!” went the bells. I was pretty certain Little Mrs. P.I.B. did not need to go out because she had just gone before I went upstairs. I ignored her. “Brnng!” She slammed her paw against the bells, banging them against the door. I leaned over the rail. “Brnng!!!” Even louder. Then, out of the kitchen came Mrs. P.I.B., and she looked up at me. Not wanting to yell, “No!” while my friend was in the middle of a sentence, I just shook my head at the dog. She tensed, then raced back to the kitchen, banged on the bells again, and raced back out to see my reaction.
I had a quick flashback to my childhood days when my mother would be on the phone, and swat at me like a fly whenever I tried to interrupt.
It was quite clear that Mrs. P.I.B. was more interested in my undivided attention than going outside. I walked calmly down the stairs, still on the phone, yanked the bell rope off of the doorknob, and dumped the kit and caboodle in the hall closet. I glared at Mrs. P.I.B., and went back upstairs to continue my conversation.
That was the end of the bell experiment. To my credit, Mrs. P.I.B. has been perfectly house-trained ever since.
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that I never even attempted this technique with Wonderbutt.
And that one of us still needs some remediation in the house-training area.