Thursday, January 21, 2010
There are many reasons why Bailey hates Dempsey: the way he gives her big, sloppy kisses right after she has given herself a bath; the way he wants to play, play, play, when all she wants to do is nap, nap, nap; the way he must follow her every time she ventures out from her private quarters (i.e. the powder room). To this list, Bailey would like to add one other item: the way we volunteer her to help train Dempsey.
It's hard to tell from the picture above, but we were working pretty hard to get Dempsey to relax in bed. We wanted him to just lie quietly by us and ignore the cat (and the socks on our feet, and the remote control, and whatever might be on the kitchen counter or under the sofa), but we had to constantly give him reinforcement. If we didn't reward him often enough, he'd wander off, and we'd have to give him another task (and more treats). He couldn't just relax.
Since we've been home, he's been constantly angling to get attention -- stealing the remote, trying to get Bailey to play, ringing the "bathroom bell" to ask to play outside. At first I thought Dempsey just missed all the attention he got from our families at Christmas. But having Sawyer here now for a few days, I'm amazed at the difference between the two dogs. Here's a video of Sawyer, checking out Bailey, and deciding - on his own - not to bother her:
Can you believe that? We really want Dempsey to learn to be a good member of the family like that, so that he can sit nicely with us by the fireplace. Instead, we seem to have a dog who is constantly extorting us for treats: Pay me, and the cat doesn't get hurt. Combined with the time in Wichita he tried to bust my kneecap with a stick, I'm starting to think we're raising a Mob dog.
I'm wracked with guilt as a puppy parent. Oh, what did we do wrong? Maybe we shouldn't have let him meet the garbage collector when he was little?
The dog exchange is such a great idea. In addition to the experience the dogs get, it really forces us as trainers to examine what we're doing. Dempsey has great service dog skills, and in public he still performs beautifully, but we have a lot to teach him about how to behave when he's not in uniform.
Bailey has requested that Dempsey take a lesson in cat etiquette from Sawyer. We've taken that under advisement and agree. Now, we just need Dempsey to comply.