Despite what you may have gathered from the previous post, it's not all sipping margaritas and eating bon-bons at Dempsey's house. We've been trying to teach Dempster some new skills. Among them is "speak."
The problem is, I think we've socialized Dempsey maybe a little too well. When he was younger, we exposed him to many scary things -- chainsaws, wood chippers, clowns -- and rewarded him for being calm and unafraid. The result is that Dempsey now goes through life in a Zen-like state of tranquility, rarely barking at anything. We've taken him to hundreds of stores, and I can count on one finger the number of times he has barked inside.
From our homework and classmates, we've received a bunch of ideas on how to get Dempsey excited enough that he'll bark.
Fortunately, we're doing this training at home, so no one can see what dorks we look like.
Unfortunately, we have a blog.
Someone suggested making silly noises, or talking through a cardboard tube. Apparently, many dogs get so excited by this, they start barking. Dempsey just gets silly back.
Ultra extreme, atomic high-value treats
Strangely, there are things that are good enough for us, but not good enough for Dempsey: hot dogs, sausages, pepperoni. I'm not sure why we only feed organic/natural treats to a dog who enjoys goose poop as much as caviar, while we ourselves eat things that are demonstrably bad for us. I guess we're just making our contribution to the nation's health care crisis. At any rate, Dempsey is just dying to try pepperoni, and we were told this might be a good opportunity to get him to bark.
As you can see, Dempsey is trying everything to get a piece of pepperoni: push, sit, snuggle. The only thing he didn't try was barking. Even when I barked at him first.
Another suggestion was to separate ourselves from Dempsey, and then try calling him. Our instructor suggested climbing a ladder and calling him, which is a great idea, except that I'm afraid of heights. We tried a variation: closing a door, pretending to have a party on the other side, and calling Dempsey. Alas, Dempsey is a polite little dog, and he just waits quietly by the door till we open it for him.
Dempsey is the world's worst watchdog. I had noticed one night, when there was a strange noise outside, Dempsey barked -- once. I thought it might be a good idea to nurture Dempsey's watchdog instincts, but of course when we want him to bark, he doesn't. Here's Doreen trying to "break in" to the house. Dempsey just smiles, ready to kiss the "intruder" to death.
We still have a few more tricks up our sleeves, which we'll be trying in the coming days. I'm looking forward to having all this silliness behind us!