Teaching a Dog to Be a Dog

When my Rat Terrier first came to live with us, she was shy around people, preferring to be in the company of dogs. However, it seemed like she didn’t actually know how to be a dog and mimicked my Shih Tzu. Today my RT more or less behaves like a dog rather mimicking the behavior of other dogs.

That was the first time I had ever encountered a dog that wasn’t a dog, or at least wasn’t a dog in my understanding of the term. I understood a dog to be a treat-loving, food begging, carpet cleaning, being that spoke a different language that I do, but somehow we’re able to communicate. Okay, so that’s not exactly how I view my dogs. Basically, my dogs are my best friends and I like to believe that I am theirs. That being said, a dog that startles at every sound doesn’t seem very dog-like to me.

This weekend my dad brought my Blue Heeler named Shelby. She’s been living with him since she was born and he was the only human she really knew. Her life consisted of my dad, her bother, her mother, her father, and their backyard. She had never gotten a treat before; nor had she ever played with an actual dog toy (she’s played with stuff she’s found in the backyard).

Now that she’s living with me she’s an indoor dog. She’s taken to being inside. She’s even taken to dog toys and she’s learned that counter-surfing is a sport that all medium to large dogs should participate in. The only problem is she won’t eat treats or people food–although she sure likes the smell. I should be happy for a dog that doesn’t beg; one that is happy eating her food and only that, but I’m not. Being used to three dogs who come running at the sound of the pantry door opening, I can’t wrap my head around one that doesn’t even know what a dog biscuit is.

Right now a dog biscuit lays untouched in her crate. I gave her a smelly-good treat and she liked it much better. I think she prefers treats that smell really good. That doesn’t bother me. I have plenty of smell-good treats that I don’t give my smaller dogs because they have a tendency to swallow them whole.

Okay, so I guess my Heeler knows how to be a dog, but she has a pickier palate than my other three girls. I can work with that. It gives me an excuse to indulge in her; to buy more expensive treats knowing that they’ll last longer since only one dog gets them. This should be an interesting ride.

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About Siege

Hi, I'm Siedra. I live in eastern Oklahoma with my six dogs and my rats. I'm a writer, and scrapbooker/mixed media artist. My life revolves around my dogs, so I decided to blog about them and pet parenthood in general. When I'm not working, or writing, or scrapbooking, or hanging out with my dogs, or thinking about any or all of the above, I'm probably asleep. View all posts by Siege

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