Smarty Spot

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Obedience Training

One of the lessons I've learned in my short life is that whippets are expected to obey humans. In particular, the humans that feed and walk them, and especially those that take them to race meets and cut their toenails (still don't know why that's so important).

This is an easy lesson to learn. However, to actually be obedient is harder.

Allow me to help.

There are two ways of looking at obedience. The first is "only do what your owner wants you to do." Now, this is a nice thought. However, are we mind readers? In the absence of the human, how would I know whether or not I should, for example, steal and eat Scrappy's bone? Even if I was punished for this last week, does that mean my owner doesn't want me to do it this week? Add to that the problem of multiple masters (the female and the male human), with differing concerns about what I'm allowed to do and when, and it really gets complicated. In my mind, this is simply unworkable.

The other way of looking at obedience is "don't do what you're told not to do." So you steal Scrappy's bone and part way through you're told "no." Okay, I understand that. Don't chew on Scrappy's bone any more today...once you finish the part you're working on. There is actually a lot of freedom in this model, because there are many areas in which a dog is not told "yes" or "no." In fact, you basically just do whatever feels good until you're told to stop.

Of course, even when told to stop there needs to be a reasonable time frame. When I hear "no" I take this to mean "no, please stop at your earliest convenience, if you're able to, thanks." I mean, I assume my owners are reasonable people.

So don't look at the commands as burdensome. Lighten up. Live a little. And remember, whenever you're not hearing "no" -- that's as good as hearing "yes!"


  • At 12:47 PM, Anonymous Lucy Picogna said…

    My dear sister Smarty:
    I have the same problem in my home. Mother (hmmm...she can be so cruel)is trying to starve me. Father (hmmm...he has such horrible eating habits) gets me in to all kinds of trouble with his feeble attempts to sneak food to me. Am I supposed to refuse just because "MOTHER" wants to see my ribs? I say if she wants to see ribs she should starve herself!! would she like that? I also have to contend with my little sister with the great metabolism. She can eat whatever she likes and never gain a pound! I look at food and it goes right to the hips. I saw what Mother put into the freezer last night! I heard you got some yummy tripe too. I hope Mother goes on vacation and leaves me with Father. He will see that I eat like the Queen that I am!


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