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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Milo Sees My Line of Action

It has been 2 weeks and Milo has grown. His back leg muscles ripple as he runs and he has developed a v-shaped body with a nicely filled out torso, a lean waistline and a taut butt. Yup! That's a darn good lookin' dawg I got. He's a hunk! And he's big. At 4 months he is the size of a neighbour's beagle.

I'm no connoisseur of dogs you know... From the beginning, The Husband and children made clear to me that they wanted a REAL dog... and not one of those tiny, fluffy toys... or tiny hair-less toys. If you ask me, I would have preferred a tiny, fluffy toy over a REAL dog because at least I would have had the advantage of size, and tiny fluffs appeal to the girlie aspect of me. But The Husband looked upon those with some disdain because he had grown up with REAL dogs... with size, spirit and with character.

What I did not know is that that means TROUBLE for me.

Milo no longer listen to my sedate pleas to stop pawing at us. He leaves long scratch marks along The Daughter's thighs and calves. He nips at Little Boy's ankles. Of late, when I say "No" rather firmly he barks back loudly as if to say "When I grow up, I'll do that and you won't stop me". He INSISTS to put his front paws into the Forbidden Area, and this morning, he nipped me at my throat. I don't speak doggie language very well so I am not sure what the nipping at the throat means, but I would be rather more comfortable if he kept at a respectful distance from my throat.

I think Milo comes from a bloodline that has somewhat more character and dominance than what one normally finds in the popular breeds of dog such as beagle or labrador etc... Milo is an intelligent and strong-willed dog. And because we speak so softly and only tap his forehead lightly when he is naughty, he has come to realize that there are no real consequences to misbehavior. Sigh! It's motherhood all over again.

I decided to adapt some child-rearing techniques and use them on Milo today. I guess it helps to have had to deal with 2 intelligent and strong-willed children back then and even now. Our cane is more than a decade old. It is very little used and so it is hardly worn down at all, but we have on occasion used it on our children.

Cane in hand, I went to get Milo's favorite snack - 3 nice big prawns the size of my thumb, stir-fried to al dente perfection in a bit of garlic and olive oil. I placed 1 piece of yummy in the middle of the Forbidden Area. Milo bounded into the room. I said "No." in a low but firm voice. He looked at me and barked loudly and defiantly. I walked over and gave his nice taut butt one sharp stroke of the cane, and I said "No" in a low quiet voice.

I know it must have hurt, but our tough little Milo did not yelp. He gave me this startled look and he retreated quietly and with some dignity back into the patio where he stayed put. After 10 minutes, I picked up the yummy prawn and walked into the patio to feed it to Milo. I repeated the whole process with the remaining pieces of prawn, so the entire lesson took about 30 minutes.

An hour later, I placed an entire pork rib in the middle of the room. It's one of those that have been dried and cured by enterprising people who sell doggie treats. This time, two paws came into the Forbidden Area and when I said "No", the paws went back out with nary a bark. After about 5 minutes, Milo barked at me. I said "No" and I cracked the cane on the table. He shut up and went to lie down in a far corner of the patio. After another 10 minutes, I walked out and gave him his pork rib.

Yet an hour later, I put out a piece of chicken strip (the sort that comes in bags covered with Japanese words). This time, no paw came in at all. He sat just outside the patio quietly and politely for 20 minutes before he got his treat.

I guess what works with kids, also works with puppies. When the children were little, I realized that they were very good at discerning where my line of action lay. I define line of action as the point beyond which I am angry enough to punish. I decided then to bring my line of action forwards. I didn't have to wait till I was angry before I passed into action. I pass to whole-hearted action after a cue is not obeyed. For Milo, the cue was the low and soft-voiced "No"... because dog or not, I have no intention of becoming a screaming shrew. Apart from being inelegant, yelling stresses everyone out.

Children and dogs should be cued to obey when softly spoken to... and if the action is redoubtable enough (i.e., not half-hearted action but whole-hearted decisive action), there is no need to pass to action too often. A single experience seared into the memory circuit is enough because pain is most feared when remembered. This explains why the cane has been used less than 1o times with 2 children over more than a decade.

I hope it works on Milo... I still don't know if it does. Maybe dogs are different than kids.


KT said...

Hi, I might be wrong but isn't garlic toxic for dogs? Anyways, love your doggy stories.

petunialee said...

KT - Really! Didn't know that. Good to know that. I just gave him 3 prawns from my seafood aglio oglio... but I did wash 'em first under the tap to get rid of the salt.

Fresh Fry aka 福星 said...

astute thinking on your part! i've not had a dog before, but i discipline the same way with my 1st pet - Hamie, a hamster when she came to our household at 6 mths old. a tad old in hamster world actually, but she turned out very well with my discipline, and went ahead to melt the whole family + strangers with her charm.

right discipline is always good. =)))

Fresh Fry aka 福星 said...

oh, not sure if u're already informed, but dogs can't take chocolate. only carob. =)))

termite said...

pet when u said no and he barks back its kind of like protesting. its like when u tell your kids that they cannot stay up late and kids goes "but but mom!" lol
as for nipping at your throat, what were u and milo doing when that happens? if u were playing and he did that its just being playful, and your throat might have seem to be the nearest part of u for him to get.
well since he has been misbehaving then he needs to be disciplined. looks like the cane works lol and he is getting the msg that NO means no.

wah milo gets prawns! wanna adopt another pet? :D

Blur Ting said...

You seem to be doing the right thing. Well done! Yes, give us more dog stories!

petunialee said...

Ting - Thanks so much for your encouragement! How is Rusty's eye?

petunialee said...

Fry - Train a hamster? Now... that's something!

petunialee said...

Termie - I can't tell you how happy you've made me with your approval. I was still a little unsure whether child discipline techniques work on dogs... so you've really set my mind at ease. The Daughter has noted that Milo behaves much better now that he no longer tries to be top dog.

Fresh Fry aka 福星 said...

when Hamie 1st came, she wanted to know if she can eat me outta her paws, and was rather rude initially. she'd nip my finger if she dun get her way, and nip if she smelled food on my finger thinking its food without finding out 1st.

so i knocked on her head + told her where she'd gone wrong whenever she made a mistake and she learnt.

the biggest lesson she learnt was not to try escape, a nature in hamsters. she tried ways and means initially to get the cage door open to escape and i caught her in the act, scolded her, tat she can get eaten up by cats for all she wants. then i put her back to the cage, ordered no one in the house to give her treats or let her out to play for the day. and no one is to look at her even, giving her a good cold shoulder.

miraculously, she didn't do it again. hehehe.....

termite said...

pet dun worry. always go with soft approach first, cos every dog is different, some dogs do not have the alpha qualities and if u were to approach with the cane it might kind of scar him. i think milo is an alpha dog. when u play with him and he becomes a pushover make him lie down on his side and put your hands over his neck and keep him down that way till he turns over on his tummy. that usually means he is submitting to u. when he does that it means he is learning to accept that u are his alpha instead of the other way round. u are doing fine pet so dun worry hehehe.