Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Trouble Dogs

I'm going to rush this entry, because I must sleep. I know I've said that before, lots of times; but you see, this time it's not completely my fault. It's the dogs! They're being, well, trouble dogs!

I probably first applied the term "trouble dog" to my very first dog, Jenny, back in the late 1970s. She was a great dog, my best to date, but she had her moments! Noodle was definitely a trouble dog, not terribly bright overall but with a genius for getting food off the counter and opening cupboards to dig through the trash. Her first week in this house, possibly her first day, Tuffy puppy destroyed a leather couch, a loveseat and a strip of wallpaper.

Don't let Ms. Innocent fool you.

And now we get to use those words to describe Pepper and Cayenne.

Best friends, except when they're not!

Last night, in an effort to ward off jealous behavior, I gave each of them a rawhide chew at bedtime. I then left the room to get ready for bed. Five minutes later, two rooms away, I heard a sudden flurry of growls, barks and a yelp. Pretty obviously, somebody no longer had her chew, and tried to relieve the other dog of the remaining one.

Cayenne may well yawn, after keeping us up all night!

It was almost 3 AM as I tried to end the hostilities and calm the dogs down. Cayenne was opening and closing her mouth repeatedly, as if testing that her teeth still fit. Pepper was wary, Cayenne downright fearful.

I brought them in the bedroom, where Cayenne spent the next twenty minutes getting on and off the bed, and coming to me for reassurance, and crunching on rawhide she had stashed somewhere. Pepper was also agitated. To settle them down, I made Pepper leave the room, although she wanted to stay, and kept Cayenne in the room, although she wanted to leave, and was probably the main cause of the trouble. My reason: we know Pepper isn't going to get into trouble around the house during the night. We don't yet know that about Cayenne.

She's still so thin that training with treats can only help!

Yes, it's ultimately my fault. I shouldn't have handed out the treats at bedtime, and having done so, I shouldn't have left them unsupervised. And they need to be trained, taught what is expected of them. Pepper has been in the bedroom with John for several hours already tonight, during which I've given Cayenne her first extended lesson in Sit - Down - Sit. She knew Sit, but Down was new to her.

I also tried to teach her that lying in John's flower bed is not acceptable - but now she thinks she's not allowed on the grass, either!

Surely Pepper can't be a trouble dog! Oh, yes she can!

Will teaching commands improve the red dog's behavior overall? Will she still be a trouble dog a month from now? A year? Ten years? And what about Pepper? She won't even come when called, unless she happens to feel like it and expects some advantage from it. Will we manage to tame the independent black dog?

That's up to me and John, isn't it? Or is it?


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