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Thursday, May 28, 2009


You probably don't know this about me, but I'm a stickler for doggy manners. I never scream at my dogs, and I never hit them, but I do require strict obedience. Some of the dog rules in my house might seem ridiculous to a lot of people, but when you understand dog psychology, you understand why these things are important. For instance, my dogs are absolutely not allowed to eat anything other than the food in their bowls, even if food falls on the floor. Why? Because that elevates them to a higher status in the pack, and with a higher social status can come undesirable behaviors. (Plus, that way they don't dare steal food from the babies, who often munch a cracker on the living room floor.)

My dogs are also not allowed to look at the door. Weird, right? But if I let them look at the door they get all excited, and somebody bolts. Every time. Now they know that they are forbidden from looking at the door, no one runs out. (They are allowed to look at the garage door, which is how they tell me they need to go potty. They know the difference, and they know what door to look at.)

So it makes last night's attack all the more unusual.

See, Bingo sleeps on Four's bed. He absolutely loves the kids. I mean it when I say that he lives for them. He follows them everywhere and when EJ gets home from school he practically wags out of his skin, and you can read his expression: ohmygodwherehaveyoubeeniloveyouiloveyouiloveyou.... And as soon as the kids go to bed, Bingo makes his way in to cuddle with Four. She literally hugs him all night long, and he basks in the attention. So far, this has been a good thing, because for a long time, Four was terrified to sleep alone and ended up with me halfway through the night. Now she doesn't need to do that - she has her furry friend with her through the night. (Actually, having Bingo has been very good for her in many other ways, but that's another story.)

Last night, Four had a bad dream. The Hub and I heard her at the same time, and he went in the bedroom first to console her. He was mostly asleep, so he shuffled in there, stumbling over the rug. "Four," he croaked, "what's wrong?" (And all I could think was, duh, what do you think is wrong?) Bingo must not have recognized him in this semi-slumbering state, because all of sudden, he growled. It wasn't a play growl; it was one of those growls that means business, and it sounded kind of strange coming from a fifteen pound dog. The Hub disregarded the growl and approached the bed, when all of a sudden Bingo leaped into the air and bit him. Bit him! "Oh my God!" he yelped. "He bit my damn finger off!" The Hub was so surprised that he just walked away, instead of calling the dog a stupid effing idiot, which is what I expected him to do.

I checked The Hub's bite. The skin wasn't broken, and his finger was still quite firmly attached. "Next time, say something to Bingo so he knows it's you," I said. "He must have thought you were an intruder." He muttered something unintelligible, and since Four had returned to sleep, I just rolled over and didn't think about it again.

Until later in the night. The Hub had a toothache, and he woke up and started rummaging through the cupboards, looking for painkillers. Apparently Bingo had had enough with the late night sleep intrusions, and he made it very clear - he came out into the kitchen, teeth bared and the hair on his scruff standing up, and let The Hub have it. He growled so long and so loud that it almost sounded like a howl. Have you ever seen dogs "talking" on America's Funniest Videos? That's what Bingo did, except he wasn't saying "mama." The Hub turned and looked at him. "Shut up and go to bed, you stupid dog," I heard him say, and then clickclickclick - Bingo turned around and went back to bed.

So it all sounds very cute and sweet. Awww, Bingo protected Four! But it's not cute; it's a problem. Four doesn't need protecting from her dad, and neither does the medicine cabinet. And this is where I'm at a loss - I know how to train a dog not to jump, and not to steal, and not to eat his crate when I go away. I can teach a dog to speak and lie down and jump through a hoop and to stop trying to kill the kitty. But I don't know how to teach him to stop being protective. Because I want him to be protective - I just don't want him to do it with The Hub.

Where is Cesar Millan when you need him?

1 comment:

Latinalonestar said...

First let me say that you are very lucky you don't have a cocker spaniel!!!! I've had them all my life. They are great dogs, love kids BUT are always on the hunt for food. I don't give my cocker anything but dog food. Yet the minute I am not looking she is stealing Noah's food, digging in the trash, or table surfing. I've never met a single cocker that wasn't like this. Guess it is something instinctual b/c they are hunting dogs. Not only are they food crazy but they are very high energy and SMART. My cocker will wait until I am the least bit distracted and take advantage of the situation to get food. My dad says that she is a 4 volt dog on a 12 volt battery. She is almost 5 now and age is not slowing this girl down. The worst part of her behavior is the underwear eating. You have no idea how expensive it has been to keep my panty supply to a reasonable level. Then there is the fact that she ALWAYS wants to be by my side. Guess that isn't so much of a problem but sometimes I wish she'd bugger off.

So you dogs sound like angels to me. I love cockers but its like having a really hyper two year-old that never takes a nap and is obsessed with eating. Things were a ton easier when I didn't have a child and she could have all my attention. Cesar needs to pay me a visit too!