Animals

A Jealous Dog is a Teachable Dog (don’t do this to your mate)

So I quit my plum of a high school teaching post (I job I loved with people I love) to spend more time writing. Although my bank account is dwindling, my commitment to unpaid work is mounting. For example, I’m fostering dogs and volunteering, among other things, to train dogs and dog people. Along the way, I’m earning, if not dollars, some cool insights. For one thing, I realized I’m not comfortable being “kept.” I feel like a very expensive house cat. I’ve also learned it’s possible to spend a week wearing the same pajama pants. And the other day, I realized just how jealousy can motivate learning in dogs. I even have a video to prove it. It’s cute as all get-out and makes you wonder how much humans behavior is motivated by the desire for the attention someone else is getting. Is that what drove Jersey Shore? Is that why there’s Trump?

After watching, scroll down for notes about the training.

  1. Originally, I “captured” the behavior by making it a habit to say “dry off” every time Mick shook his wet fur dry. I did it over and over, until one day I said “dry off” before he shook himself dry, and he did it. Eventually, he did it even when he wasn’t wet. That is, it became what we call a “trick.”
  2. “Dry off” is a daily routine, a sequence of behaviors. Mick shakes himself dry, comes to me, lets me drape him with the towel, and endures a rubdown, grumbling and growling all the while. His motivation is breakfast. He’s not allowed in the house to eat until he submits to a routine he didn’t like much at first. Now his grumbling is pure habit.

    Maisie was born a photobomb.

    Maisie was born a photobomb.

  3. Maisie is naturally jealous. Extremely jealous. As in, it’s a problem. For example, she can’t bear any love I give to another dog, so I have to find ways to help her cultivate the grace to endure her raging green-eyed-monster feelings. She’s learning it’s okay if I show affection to other dogs. I still love her. That’s originally why she got to “dry off” too. Drying the dry dog made drying the wet one possible. And safe. Nobody lost an ear.
  4. The surprise here was Tango (now beloved by his adoptive family as “Scotty”). I knew he wanted the rubdowns too, but until I saw the video, I didn’t know he’d learn to shake his dry fur dry. And I think that, right there, is pure magic.
  5. If you’ve caught your dog, cat, or kid learning something cool out of jealousy, I want to hear about it! Tell me about it in the comments below.
  6. If you like this post, please follow The Gloria Sirens, and if you enjoyed and even learned from the video, please subscribe to my Youtube channel. Followers, “likes,” and comments aren’t money, but they help me feel less lonely, keep me on this side of sane, and make this very expensive house cat purr.

22 replies »

  1. Hello! I was surprised to read your post for its eerie familiarity. I am leaving my teaching job of 10 years to be a writer as well! Someone out there , probably a lot of people, know how I feel! I also would love to step into dog training. I think I’d love it and be good at it. If I get the chance and figure out how, I’ll remember this insightful advice. Pretty sure I’ve used this tactic on my teens I teach. Whatever works!

  2. Well keep purring dear house cat…Am a dog mom too and i actually smiled after reading your article…Great job. I admire teachers and even better I admire people who quit jobs that feed their stomach to feed their hearts..Keep writing

  3. We had two dogs. Molly always got her bath first. She was told to shake and after two shakes she got to dry off and then go in to eat a special dinner. Jessy hated baths and rarely smelled bad so didn’t as often get them. Soon we realized he thought he was escaping his bath by shaking off twice like Molly then coming over to be dried off.so he did the dry shake and got toweled off just like he got a bath. Before this he used to watch Molly get her toenails clipped and knew after she always got cheese. So as soon as she was finished he would come and put his paw in my lap. His nails were filed down as a baby and for some reason never again grew long so we fake clipped them then he ran to the fridge for his cheese. He mastered fake nail clippings and fake baths. It was always fun to watch.

  4. I can completely appreciate this post. I have a little guy that was a rescue puppy. His temperament has taken quite a while for us to train and he still maintains some hesitancy towards strangers. Lisa, if you have any information on how dogs affect our mental health and well being; I’d be really interested in a blog swap or posting one of your pieces for my readers.

    ~ Tyson

  5. Our spaniel Maisie is exactly the same as yours, she always wants in on everything our oldest is doing, even if it’s teeth cleaning or seeing the vet! I love how varied their personalities can be!

  6. I adopted a rescue kitten a few years back. My Aussie adored this kitten at first with the two hanging out together. One day my Aussie decided the kitten needed to be evicted but that is a story for another day. The houseguest kitten was just as fastidious as my Aussie in keeping herself clean. Ever since the kitten’s short stay with us to current, my Aussie cleans his face, snout, head and ears just like a cat. I racked my Aussie’s newly developed self-cleaning skills as being a better fit to his need for cleanliness…God forbid should he have dirty white paws! Ha…I never thought the inspiration was spurned by jealously until I read your post. What a hoot!