Is My Dog Trying To Manipulate Me?

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Some days it sure does seem like my dog is trying to manipulate me.  I’m sure you’ve experienced it too.  You’re busy typing your latest blog post on the computer and your dog keeps sliding his head under your arm disrupting your thought process resulting in…a pat on the head for Fido…  Did Fido just manipulate me and get me to stop work for some attention?

Derby loved laying on top of Stetson.  That’s how he got me to say Ahhhh…and give him extra pats on the head…was he manipulating me?

Those are fairly harmless examples, but earlier this week I came across an article on the popular gadget blog, Boing Boing asking famed Victoria Stillwell six questions on dog training.  one of those six questions really caught my attention.

Is Ruby really just thinking about cookies and toys and going outside all day?

Dogs are pretty live in the moment. You’re eating something that stimulates hunger, so therefore it wants to eat. Dogs are not manipulative — that is a very human trait. People say, I found urine on my bed; the dog peed because it was spiteful. Well, no. Spite is not a word you can use for a dog, it’s a very human thing. The dog was just anxious and the pee was a way to transmit anxiety.

A dog will do what it needs to do to survive. It will also move towards things that give them pleasure and move away from things that make them uncomfortable.

That last line was what really caught my attention.  “It (dogs) will also move towards things that give them pleasure and move away from things that make them uncomfortable.”

That’s a good bit of advice when training your puppy.  One of the biggest things we do as guide dog puppy raisers is give our puppies huge amounts of praise when they do something right.  For instance:

  • During house training you walk your puppy to his pee spot and he goes pee.  Huge amounts of praise!
  • When your puppy sits on command.  Huge amounts of praise!
  • Your puppy ignores the dog that just walked by.  Huge amounts of praise!

We don’t reward our puppies with treats, so we make sure they get huge amounts of praise every time they dog something right.

How about you?  Do you have some advice for raising and training a puppy?  How do you reward your puppy for good behavior?

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