Sometimes when I look at my dog I wonder what is going on in his head. We went for a walk today at the Englewood Metropark with my daughter. Cap was very antsy acting as we walked along, which is a little unusual. He kept looking at Jolene as if he expected her to do something out of the ordinary. I just ignored it at first, but then she noticed it too. After about 15 or 20 minutes of walking the paved trail, I let him sniff in the bushes for a minute. He sniffed a bit then he stood and stared at Jolene. He wanted her to play his running fool game. I don’t know what else to call it, but he loves it when someone acts like they are going to chase him and he takes off running with his butt tucked up under him, zigging and zagging around. Running like a fool. So he convinced her to play it with him. He also thought having one of her gloves in his mouth while he did it would be great fun. Usually when we go for a walk, he is happy to just walk along normally. I don’t know what got into his head today.
Schwartz has been living at our house with us for many years now. We have rules in the house, one of which is no stealing food from the counters. He hasn’t had a problem with that. Until last week. Thanksgiving night, in fact. I cooked the turkey in one of those big aluminum throw away pans, that way after dinner I could put the carcass in it, put it in a plastic bag and toss it in the big garbage cans outside. Well, I had help cleaning up after dinner (yay!) and that big greasy pan got saved for me to wash (what were they thinking?) and the carcass got thrown out by itself. I didn’t wash the pan and left it on the stove to take out to the trash in the morning. Sometime in the night Schwartz decided to steal the pan. Thankfully, he must have cleaned it pretty well before he took it into the living room to chew on it a bit on the carpet, as there were no stains to be found, just an empty pan. A bit mangled and with a few holes in it. After it was discovered the next day, I showed it to him and he just wagged. I don’t know what got into his head that night.
Many of my clients believe I know what a dog is thinking. Actually, I can’t. I can just predict what their next behavior is likely to be. I watch their body language, I know what things are likely to distract them and I know how to redirect their attention before they react to a distraction. Here at Aunt Faye’s Dog Training, I teach my clients how to do this with their dog, so they can be more successful with the training.
I know Schwartz was thinking since everyone was in bed, and he didn’t get turkey for Thanksgiving, he would help himself. It worked for him. He took a chance and it worked. Cap did more or less the same thing. He felt like playing and figured out how to get that to happen. Dogs will test the rules now and then. Our job is to try to be as consistent as possible with enforcing them.