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By Dave Jaffe

Dogs and shoes can live together in harmony provided both are willing to compromise. To reach an accord, dogs have to be trained to respect shoes, while shoes must agree to limit all provocative missile test launches over disputed borders.

While seasoned diplomats attend to the latter, let’s explore the former.

Positive reinforcement training combines praise and treats to reward behavior, a method that has proved effective on canines and, to a lesser extent, millennials.

A testament to positive reinforcement is Jake, sent in by owner Debra R. Observe Jake (left) with a “stolen” shoe, and Jake (right) after six months of training. Note on the right his contrition, repentance, and smoldering regret. Also the smaller shoe. Well done, Jake!

A testament to positive reinforcement is Jake, sent in by owner Debra R. Observe Jake (left) with a “stolen” shoe, and Jake (right) after six months of training. Note on the right his contrition, repentance, and smoldering regret. Also the smaller shoe. Well done, Jake!

Using positive reinforcement, for example, a dog would be compensated little by little for not engaging in inappropriate activities, a process trainers describes as “shaping” and law enforcement calls “extortion.”

GIANT 2: “Dave, Budleigh’s getting near your shoes!”

GIANT 1: “Good! Got the cookies ready?”

GIANT 2: “And the cheese bits. And the tuna.”

GIANT 1: “OK. Don’t react until he looks at me.”

BUDLEIGH: “Saaay, nice pair of loafers ya’ got here. Really nice! Too bad if something happened to ‘em. Know what I mean?”

BRISBY: “Yeah, Boss!”

BUDLEIGH: “Shaddup, you! Like I was sayin’, sad if something happened to them shoes. Or this house. Or maybe your family. That would be a damn shame, wouldn’t it?”

BRISBY: “Yeah, Boss!”

BUDLEIGH: “Shaddup, you!”

GIANT 1: “He’s looking at me! Give him a treat! Give him a treat!”

GIANT 2: “Gooooood Budleigh! Smart Budleigh!”

BUDLEIGH: “Thanks. Tasty! Very tasty! Sorta like, ya’ know, this genuine EYE-talian leather over here.”

GIANT 1: “Give him another! Give him another!”

GIANT 2: “Here, Budleigh! What a gooood dog!”

BUDLEIGH: “That’s better. You’re both good kids. We’re gonna get along just fine. So I’ll see you same time tomorrow, right?”

BRISBY: “Yeah, Boss!”

BUDLEIGH: “Shaddup, you!”

While positive reinforcement training is valuable in controlling shoe-chewing behavior and organized crime, also essential is to provide your dog a variety of chewing alternatives. Numerous products are available, some rugged and durable, others as vulnerable as a swimmer bleeding in shark-infested waters.

Whether made of hard rubber, nylon or plastic, no chew toy is indestructible, with the exception of those constructed of Indestructibilium™, an element lost when the planet Krypton exploded. Frequent inspection of such toys for excessive wear and sharp edges is mandatory. Those that are ragged or jagged should be taken away from the dog, easily done by distracting him with a pair of shoes.

Short, thick lengths of rope with heavy, intricate knots tied at either end are a favorite chew toy of dogs and sailors everywhere. Rope toys also serve as doggie dental floss, cleaning teeth of bits of hard rubber, nylon, plastic and Indestructibilium™.

Finally, rawhide chews made from cow or horse hides have long proved satisfying for dogs. The same is true of bully sticks, which are made from the pizzle or penis of a bull. Let me just repeat that last part. They’re made. From the pizzle. Or Penis. Of. A bull!

I thought it best to emphasis this before you and your dog picnic on a ranch near a corral enclosing a bull that seems, well, angrier than usual.

Next: Ask a terrier, if you think it will do any good.
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This article is part of “Sleeping Between Giants“, an ongoing series featured on the Write Good!: The Blog blog.

Sleeping Between Giants explores life – if you can call it that – with a terrier.

Your feedback is welcome, probably. dj

Permission to re-use this material for non-commercial purposes is granted provided that Dave Jaffe, www.writegoodtheblog.com, is appropriately credited as the author and source. Please feel free to link to this page.

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By Dave Jaffe

Any dog serving prison time for chewing shoes will eagerly admit that socks served as a gateway drug. And that he’s a Good Boy!

Budleigh steals socks. That isn’t his fault. We Giants failed him. As did society. And the apparel industry. He no longer chews them as he did during his house-pet-in-training probationary apprenticeship. Just, ya’ know, sort of steals them. For the kicks, man! The thrill! School is for squares, daddio!

Unlike Budleigh, Brisby eschews socks and shoes in favor of his pile of bones. Oddly, we only bought him two of those, but Uncle Max has been missing for weeks. Hmmm…

Unlike Budleigh, Brisby eschews socks and shoes in favor of his pile of bones. Oddly, we only bought him two of those, but Uncle Max has been missing for weeks. Hmmm…

That Budleigh has moved from indiscriminate vandal to cunning thief is a victory rooted in dedicated training and drastically lowered expectations. No champion sought here. Just a pet that will reliably follow these basic rules:

1. Don’t eat things that make you dead
2. Think before you bite me
3. Get off the everything
4. Rest and drink plenty of fluids
5. Vote

Unless your dog has strong political leanings, Rule 1 is probably the most important. Clearly, it’s the most important to veterinarians whose examination rooms display colorful posters of frolicking puppies and giggling children beneath the headline, “Six Common Household Items That Will Kill Your Dog. Also Everyone Who Knows Your Dog.”

Next to that hang posters featuring different dogs and children – survivors, presumably – that read, “Wait! Did We Mention These Four Other Items?” and “Oops! Just Remembered Two More. Sorry!”

Dire warnings like these worry pets, which leads to intense dog park discussions. Also, anxious chewing.

GERMAN SHEPHERD: “…and the next morning when they checked the car, there was a hook in the door!”

LABRADOR RETRIEVER: (Gently) “Maybe this is too scary for…you know…everyone. (Nods toward wide-eyed Maltese.) Say, how ‘bout that brushing? Isn’t brushing great?”

MALTESE: “Did they chew the hook?”

TERRIER MUTT: “You can’t chew hooks! Well, I can. But it would kill the rest of you.”

PUG: “Wait! You’ve chewed a hook?”

TERRIER MUTT: “Sure! Plenty of ‘em. I chewed one today after I threw up breakfast.”

LABRADOR RETRIEVER: “…’cause I’m really soft, but when she brushes me I get even softer. So then I bring her the brush – I can do that, you know – and she says I’m a Good—ˮ

MALTESE: “What about a brush? You ever chew a brush?”

TERRIER MUTT: “Yeah! Lots of times. And plenty more stuff when I was little.”

PUG: “And nobody stopped you?”

TERRIER MUTT: “Well, I was in a shelter.”

All go quiet for several minutes.

BERNESE MOUNTAIN DOG: “Once I chewed a mountain.”

PUG: “You did? A mountain?”

BERNESE MOUNTAIN DOG: “So I’ve been told.”

BULL DOG: “Anyone ever chew up one of those round things?”

GERMAN SHEPHERD: ‘Which round thing?”

BULL DOG: “Oh, you know. The round things where they yell at you, then get all worried and call that place with the scary posters? And then they rush you there in the car?”

GERMAN SHEPHERD: “The one with a hook in the door?”

Clearly, overcoming a dog’s passion to chew is no easy task. However, both dog and owner can enjoy measurable success through the application of some simple, safe and humane training tactics developed by the United States Navy SEAL Team Interrogation Unit.

Next: Positive reinforcement or “They made me a criminal!”
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This article is part of “Sleeping Between Giants“, an ongoing series featured on the Write Good!: The Blog blog.

Sleeping Between Giants explores life – if you can call it that – with a terrier.

Your feedback is welcome, probably. dj

Permission to re-use this material for non-commercial purposes is granted provided that Dave Jaffe, www.writegoodtheblog.com, is appropriately credited as the author and source. Please feel free to link to this page.

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By Dave Jaffe

With all the dangers to pets posed by ingesting turkey skin, chocolates, raisins, sweets, and other holiday fare, it’s a wonder that dogs celebrate Thanksgiving at all.

Yet Thanksgiving is a joyous holiday for dogs, one that dates back to the harvest feast of 1621 in Plymouth when members of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe – or Native Americans – broke bread with Puritan settlers – or Immigrants-Who-Decided-They-Were-Now-The-Native-Americans. During the historical confusion, much of that broken bread fell on the floor and was quickly consumed by Non-Partisan dogs who wondered why everyone was shouting.

Like many dogs, Budleigh acquires table scraps by keeping a low profile.

Like many dogs, Budleigh acquires table scraps by keeping a low profile.

Dogs are primarily carnivores, or “meat eaters”, unlike humans who are omnivores, or “prone to heart attacks”. While dogs thrive best on a meat-based diet, they are naturally drawn to anything that is peanut-butter-shaped and will eat almost any food. Also any packaging materials. Oh, and bras.

Humans have been feeding table scrapes to canines since Prehistoric Man first lost a hand. Having learned nothing from that, many continue the practice, especially at the holidays and much to the detriment of dogs.

The list of common Thanksgiving foods that can be harmful to dogs is easily available online or through your veterinarian. As a precaution during the holidays, have the phone number for Animal Poison Control readily available. Ask for Jeremy.

The best way to safeguard your pet from ingesting unhealthy foods is to keep him away from Uncle Max.

GIANT ONE: “Uncle Max, please don’t feed table scraps to Budleigh. They can make him sick.”

GIANT MAX: “Since when are chocolate-covered turkey skin raisins bad for dogs?”

BUDLEIGH: “I love you!”

GIANT ONE: “Actually, Max, those can be very dangerous.”

GIANT MAX: “Nonsense! My second, fourth and eleventh dogs were raised on table scraps.”

BUDLEIGH: “Can I have your bra?”

Especially in homes with multiple dogs, guests should be warned to guard their unattended hors d’oeuvres, drinks, and purses. Dogs like Brisby, our innocent schnoodle, and Budleigh, our thug, cooperate in packs much the way Dickens’ street urchins work in organized crime syndicates.

GIANT FAGIN: “And what ’ave you brought for me, my dears?”

BRISBY: “A bit of ham, sir.”

GIANT FAGIN: (Looking about comically) “Where is it?”

BRISBY: “Where’s what, sir?”

GIANT FAGIN: “The bit of ham, my dear!”

BRISBY: “Don’t know what you mean, sir.”

GIANT FAGIN: “The ham! You said you nicked a bit o’ ham.”

BRISBY: “Oh, that! Well….don’t know what you mean, sir.”

GIANT FAGIN: (Sighing) “And what have you, young Budleigh, my fine terrier?

BUDLEIGH: “Are you gonna finish your bra?”

To a dog unaccustomed to crowds, the stress from a sudden houseful of guests can also be toxic, especially if they’re your family. Keep pets from becoming overexcited by providing them a safe, comforting sanctuary such as a separate room or their crate. Firmly caution guests away by posting a small sign on the door reminding them that “He’s Rabid!!” Even then, your dog might require further protection.

GIANT ONE: “Uncle Max, let Budleigh’s crate alone and come watch the Bears game.”

GIANT MAX: “Where’s th’ dog. Swear ta’ God, there’s a dog in there.”

GIANT TWO: “Nope, we don’t have a dog. Come have another drink.”

GIANT MAX: “Hey, Doooog!”

GIANT TWO: “Max, Budleigh needs his space and his quiet.”

GIANT MAX: “But he’s so much like my third, seventh, eighth and fourteenth dogs. (Begins sobbing.) He’s my bes’ little go’damn friend.”

BUDLEIGH: “Hey, I’m trying to sleep in here! Can you give him a bra, or something?”

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This article is part of “Sleeping Between Giants”, a new series of columns on the Write Good!: The Blog blog.

Sleeping Between Giants will explore life – if you can call it that – with a terrier.

Your feedback is welcome, probably.
dj

Permission to re-use this material for non-commercial purposes is granted provided that Dave Jaffe, www.writegoodtheblog.com, is appropriately credited as the author and source. Please feel free to link to this page.

Read Full Post »