Shunning The Dog

Shunning The Dog

by Gina Valley

Our dog’s developed a super power.

It’s not a particularly enjoyable super power for the rest of us. I wish he’d developed the ability to fold laundry or to load the dishwasher, but he did not.

Humor Funny Humorous Family Life Love Laugh Laughter Parenting Mom Moms Dad Dads Parenting Child Kid Kids Children Son Sons Daughter Daughters Brother Brothers Sister Sisters Grandparent Grandma Grandpa Grandparents Grandfather Grandmother Parenting Gina Valley Shunning The Dog Dogs Pets Training

Dog experts call this new super power “rude”, in that he is “barking” at us when he wants something. Of course, “barks” is a significant understatement about what he’s doing.

It used to be, when he wanted something, he would just sit near whatever it was his request centered around. He’d sit by the back door when he wanted to go out. He’d sit by his food jar when he wanted to eat. He’d sit on my bed when he wanted to shed a ridiculous amount of hair.

But somewhere along the line he decided, probably after observing my children, that making some noise might speed up the process a bit. So, he got in the habit of emitting one “huff” when he sat down near something he wanted.

At the time, I thought it was kind of cute. It was actually helpful, too, because sometimes, even though he’s a hefty 100 pounds, I can’t hear him sit down. And, our rugs and I both want him to get outside whenever he feels the need to go.

He changed the huff to a quiet bark after a couple of weeks. Just one soft one, but definitely a bark. It was sweet. Kind of like when your baby learns to say “baba” or “mama” or “TV,” and you’re proud she can say what she wants.

Humor Funny Humorous Family Life Love Laugh Laughter Parenting Mom Moms Dad Dads Parenting Child Kid Kids Children Son Sons Daughter Daughters Brother Brothers Sister Sisters Grandparent Grandma Grandpa Grandparents Grandfather Grandmother Parenting Gina Valley Shunning The Dog Dogs Pets TrainingShortly thereafter, however, he changed his one single bark to one single sonic boom. It was so loud it shook every window in our house. We decided, as responsible dog-parents and window-owners, that something had to be done.

So, we told him “No!” each time he did it.

Then, dog-behavior-experts that we are, we got up and quickly took care of whatever need he was communicating, lest he be prompted to let out the super bark again, and shatter every window in our house.

So, yes, our dog successfully trained us to meet his every demand quickly and efficiently.

Then, apparently, our dog decided that either we were too slow or he wasn’t being clear enough with his directives, because our jumbo furry family member ceased his one bark air raid behavior, and resorted to a more-is-better campaign, which included a window-shaking bark every second or two until his demands were met.

We consulted a dog teacher for the sake of our ears and our window panes. (He is not a dog trainer, mind you. He is a dog teacher. He explained this to us several times. “Trainer” implies our dogs are mere pets. He “teaches family members.” Funny, but he didn’t seem the least bit interested in “teaching” our 13 and 14 year old non-furry family members to stop “barking” at each other while they played HALO.)

Humor Funny Humorous Family Life Love Laugh Laughter Parenting Mom Moms Dad Dads Parenting Child Kid Kids Children Son Sons Daughter Daughters Brother Brothers Sister Sisters Grandparent Grandma Grandpa Grandparents Grandfather Grandmother Parenting Gina Valley Shunning The Dog Dogs Pets TrainingThe dog teacher explained to us the best way to get rid of this window-endangering barking was to reward our dog’s good behavior, and to ignore his “less desirable” behavior. He told us not to do anything for our dog while he barks at us, but to instead wait until he silently sits near whatever it is he wants.

Further, we were to “deny him socialization while he is being rude.” How, one might wonder, does one go about denying a dog socialization? And, one might also wonder, how does a dog know what socialization means?

The dog teacher said we should turn our backs to our dog until he stops the behavior. I think they call that shunning in Amish areas.

If turning our backs is inconvenient, like when we’ve finally got the kids to stay in bed and actually get to sit down, and there is virtually no chance we’re going to stand up and face the wall in an effort to teach the dog to stop barking about the package of Snicker bars on the kitchen counter, we should cover our faces so the dog cannot see them.

This explains why my husband and I were both sitting in our family room with our faces hidden, his beneath a Macy’s mattress sale flier, and me with the front page of The Times draped across my upper body, when our eldest son walked into the house with his new girlfriend.

Humor Funny Humorous Family Life Love Laugh Laughter Parenting Mom Moms Dad Dads Parenting Child Kid Kids Children Son Sons Daughter Daughters Brother Brothers Sister Sisters Grandparent Grandma Grandpa Grandparents Grandfather Grandmother Parenting Gina Valley Shunning The Dog Dogs Pets TrainingWe hadn’t met her yet. I feel like we still haven’t.

All I could see with the newspaper over my head were her shoes, and what I am hoping was a photo of Donald Trump’s hair. I couldn’t hear a thing she said the entire time, as the dog was not even a little phased by our ignoring him, and continued to bark non-stop.

We offered her cookies, a lovely beverage, and the business section to put over her head.

She looked quite confused.

I guess some people just don’t understand dog-teaching.

Or, super powers.

Laugh out loud!

-gina

Are your furry family members well-taught? Or, have they trained you? Shoot me a comment. I’m looking forward to hearing all about it.

Photos courtesy of Dreamstime.com – Used with permission.

Amy Valentini

Actually, your dog teacher is right. His barking is a means of telling you…I want a cookie, I want to go out, the mailman is coming, someone is on the street, another wolf pack is attacking…it’s what he does but it doesn’t have to be what he does all the time. Dogs can be manipulative, especially some breeds. I have a Rottie mix…yes, so I know what it’s like to deal with a bark that makes you jump out of your skin but he also knows that if I don’t answer it, he loses.
They do it to get you to do their bidding or to get attention…mostly the last one.
I trained mine from the time he was a puppy that if he barked for no reason, I wasn’t going to respond. All was well until my ex praised him for barking because it ‘he’s doing his job’. My ex had never raised a puppy. That was the end of that. As soon as you use the dog’s name, or say good boy…wham, they think they’re doing a great job, and will keeping doing it.
I still use the ignore thing though, in addition, I actually say, “I’m not going to look!” I don’t know if he understands that but he usually shuts up. As for asking for something, I taught him to be polite…he gives me his paw. Sometimes, when he really wants something, he will claw at my leg, but at least he has some manners, and he’s quiet about it. Also, he must sit before getting a treat. That holds down the excitement level.
Good luck. Shunning does work but it’s not just about turning away, it’s also about not reacting. Dogs look to us for our reactions to everything from thunderstorms to earthquakes. I know I’ve been through it all with mine. He actually did quite well in the earthquake but still climbs in the tub during a thunderstorm or fireworks. Oh well, can’t win ’em all. 🙂

gina valley

Sounds like you are a great puppy parent, Amy!
You are so right about the hardest part being not reacting when he is barking at us. It’s so loud! Sometimes, I just want him to stop before he wakes up one of my sleeping children or our 4 month old puppy!
The shunning seems to have worked fairly well at this point, as his manners are much improved. We’ll have to see how well it lasts long term.

gina valley

I’m glad I got to share some laughs with you, Molly.
The teaching has gone fairly well with the dog.
I think the girlfriend still thinks we’re crazy, but better that she should learn that early!

gina valley

Thank you, Mithra! I’m always glad to get to share some giggles.

He is a smart dog. The shunning seems to have solved the problem for now. Once in a while he will slip back into barking at us, but overall he is quite polite.