The Dog Box

2018-01-18 06:00

A DOG’S advice: how to manipulate your human.

Who said dogs aren’t smart? One of the reason we canines are able to manipulate our humans is to do with chemistry and the attachment hormone, Oxytoxin.

Oxytoxin can be increased in humans just as in other animals. When a baby and mother’s eyes meet, the reaction takes place.

This amazing chemical encourages feelings of generosity, intimacy, serenity and love. Well-schooled dogs have overcome the natural canine tendency to avoid direct eye contact with humans in order to use this gaze to reap the benefits of the chemical bonding agent!

Now because oxytocin encourages hugging and cuddling as well as generosity in these gullible creatures, we can make them succumb to our woeful or pleading eyes and induce them to hand over a portion of their dinner or extend or bring forward our walk-time.

Though not many admit that they succumb to primal forces, they are indeed responding to animal instincts.

Operant conditioning is a term used by humans like mine to refer to the principal of cause and effect which is used to modify behaviour.

When behaviours are rewarded, they are most likely to be repeated, and this is exactly how we train them:

• Following them around expectantly with wiggly bums and lolling tongues is a sure way to persuade them to engage with us in some fun.

• Pushing the water dish around so it makes a noise, or presenting a food bowl a little earlier than dinner time is unlikely to go unrewarded.

• Most humans will be prepared to spend sleepless hours in a bed if we decide it is to be shared. Comfortably spread yourself out and snore contentedly while your consenting human will contort into the most awkward and cramped positions in order not to upset you, while struggling desperately to get some sleep.

• More than enough cases of the next example indicate how aware we dogs are of ways to feign excuses for errant behaviour.

When you get taken out for bedtime toilet prior to your human locking up for the night, refrain from doing the necessary, and don’t go in when called.

As the human’s vocal entreaties become more insistent, pretend to be searching with difficulty for a suitable spot, and just when their patience is about to give in, assume the necessary position, whereupon your human’s countenance will relax into a relieved and apologetic smile as they excuse your delayed response. You have won.

You have fooled them into believing this was a matter of difficulty in toilet rather than a delaying tactic to suit some canine interest they’d be unlikely to understand.

• If primed correctly, some humans will go to much greater efforts when preparing their dog’s food than they do their own. Pretend to feel nauseous and the food will be snatched away and replaced by ever-increasingly more tasty offerings. In this way a crafty canine can succeed in being favoured with only the choicest and most expensive of delicacies.

• Feigning injury for attention is another classic canine prank of mine, in which I may add I am an expert. If Susan wants me to do something I’d rather not, or if she’s displeased with something I have done, I will limp pathetically.

This results in her rushing to my aid, studying my paws for thorns and gently flexing my leg muscles in search of signs of injury.

This is always an unfailing way to get her attention diverted.

Advice for dogs put out by Shenanigan, Border Collie of Susan Henderson (accredited animal behaviour consultant) - 082 386 5805.


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