The Amazing Pot Lid

Me:  Here, Tierce, time to go out.  You can go out in the yard without a leash this time.

Tierce:  Awesome!

Me:  Oh, I hope so.

Tierce:  This is so cool!

Me:  Do you know what is expected of you?

Aluminum pot lid:  I’ll do my best.

Me:  That’s all I ask.

Tierce:  Doodeedoodeedoo, peepeepeepee.

Me:  Tierce, front!

Tierce:  Yeah, whatever.

Me:  Tierce.  Front.

Tierce:  Maybe some other time.

Aluminum pot lid:  WHAMBANGCRASH!!!

Tierce:  WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?!  THAT NEARLY HIT ME!

Me:  TIERCE, FRONT!

Tierce:  YeahsureokayI’mhere.  What was that?

Me:  The best feeling I’ve had in two years.

Tierce:  Uh… okay.

Me:  Hey, go have fun.  Run around some more.

Tierce:  Okay…

Me:  That was great.

Aluminum pot lid:  Glad to oblige you.  Again?

Me:  Let’s see what he does.  Tierce, front!

Tierce:  I’m coming… hey that smells interesting…

Me:  Tierce, FRONT!

Tierce:  In a minute.

Aluminum pot lid:  WHAMBANGCRASH!

Tierce:  WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?!  THAT NEARLY HIT ME!

Me:  TIERCE, FRONT!

Tierce:  YeahsureokayI’mhere.  Dude, this is seriously freaking me out.

Me:  You’re a good boy for coming when called!  What a good boy!  Okay, go have fun.

Tierce:  …Okayyy…

Me:  Tierce, front!

Tierce:  You called?

Me:  Yeah.  That was awesome.  You’re such a good boy.

Tierce:  Yeah, I am.  So, you mean if I come when I’m called, that UFO isn’t going to make a huge freaky noise right in front of my face?

Me:  Yeah, more or less.

Tierce:  Wiiieeeeerrrrd…

*** Two Weeks Later ***

Me:  Tierce, front!

Tierce:  Right away!

Me:  GOOD boy!

Tierce:  Yes I am.  You know, I’ve never seen that UFO since that night.

Me:  Oh, it’s out there.  Watching.  Waiting for you to slip up.

Shassi and Tierce love Violent Acres

Well, Shassi and Tierce couldn’t give a rat’s ass about Violent Acres. But I do. The latest posts that V has written concern how to train children to behave. It’s excellent reading on directing positive and negative reinforcement to effectively modify behaviour. In fact, it’s very close to clicker training, which is a very effective behaviour modification technique.

Training children to behave on cue

Effective Negative Reinforcement

Effective Positive Reinforcement

The last is, I believe, the best of the three. Shiba owners will find a lot of effective strategies here. First, set the puppy up to succeed. If circumstances are such that he can’t do anything but engage in a desired behaviour, he will develop that into a habit. Incompatible behaviour training is effective in situations like meeting people – if the dog is taught to sit for a treat, then taught that all strangers feed him, he will automatically sit when he meets a stranger. Enthusiastically praise, to the point of absurdity and beyond, a behaviour that you want to reinforce.

And check out the rest of Violent Acres.

You can touch this one!

How are Shibas seen in your area? Good? Bad? Indifferent? What the hell is that thar dog?

Today, Tierce and I decided to drop into a local doggy daycare to check out what they had for sale. While I was there, the staff exclaimed over the fact that Tierce was friendly and pettable. They told me that the one Shiba they took care of needed to be lassoed in order to take her for a walk and didn’t like to be touched at any time. Seven months ago, my veterinarian said that Tierce might well be the only Shiba she doesn’t have to muzzle. Even people at the school where Tierce goes for socialization have remarked that Shibas are snappy around children.

The truth is that members of our breed, when they are not bred and raised responsibly, are nasty little creatures. We’re starting with a dog that, even when it is healthy and well-adjusted, is naturally dominant, high-strung and independent. Bred without care and raised without structure, a Shiba will evolve into a canine Vlad Ţepeş.

I blame Shiba owners for the breed’s bad reputation. They are not doing their jobs. What every Shiba owner has control over is the structure that they provide and enforce. Yes, yes, I know – sometimes people acquire Shibas that have less-than-stellar origins over which they and the Shiba have no control. That still doesn’t preclude them from starting and maintaining control over their Shiba’s behaviour.

Insisting that your dog behave politely towards other people and not immediately try to kill other animals is not just good for you and your dog. It also helps pave the way for the Shiba breed in other situations. Breed prejudice has long been considered the problem of Pit Bull people and Rottweiler fanciers, but it can work against any breed not considered “nice”. Some people will refuse to rent to people who own certain breeds of dog or refuse to interact with them without a muzzle. This is not how we want the Shiba inu to be reacted to!

Little dogs are often perceived as less dangerous than big ones, and that causes some people to treat their little dog’s aggression/dominance as not serious. Every person who has had to deal with a little dog who refuses to be touched, groomed or let someone take items away can attest to this fallacy. While a little dog may not be capable of the sheer damage of a large one, it is still capable of inflicting severe wounds and, in the case of small children, even death.

Things every Shiba should be informed of:

1. Nothing in life is free.

2. Children are living hot dog dispensers provided that you sit quietly.

3. Vets are actually kind people who dispense cheese (most veterinarians encourage you to bring your dog around for random treats so that they associate the vet’s office with cheddar rather than shots).

4. Your food/toys/leash/collar/brushes are not your property and you will not treat them as such.

5. Your nails will be clipped. Your ears will be cleaned. Your fur and teeth will be brushed. You will sit/stand/lie quietly and not bite the brush or the hand that wields it. This is not negotiable. You may pout.

6. At no time will you ever growl/snarl/snap/bite at your owner or any person who is put in charge of you.

7. Lunging and trying to kill other animals upon sighting them is not in your best interests.

It’s all very well to say “this is bad and don’t let Shibas do this”, but how do you correct them when they step out of line? Thoughts on this will be chronicled in a future post.

Shibas in love

Today was our introduction to Beginners obedience. No dogs; our trainer just went over the concepts/purpose/schedule and gave us our first week’s homework. Along the way, she stated that “dogs don’t love”. In other words, she believes that dogs don’t have human emotions as we see it and that they operate on “what behaviour will get me what I want”.

When I was in the sixth grade, I had a teacher who insisted that dogs were stupid and that if he fed and was kind to my dog, Buddy, that Buddy would follow him around just like me. When I disagreed, he sneered “Don’t be naive!” By the way, Mr. Prentice, it’s been nineteen years and I hope you are or will be in a nursing home somewhere, being indifferently cared for by light-fingered nurses.

For me, the idea that dogs can’t love like humans is rather painful but makes sense. Kind of like my attitude towards higher powers, an afterlife and the supernatural – it would be really cool if it did exist and I really wish it did, but I really don’t have any evidence that it does. Then I get depressed, wondering why I keep a dog, especially a Shiba, who probably wouldn’t fake giving a shit even if he could.

One issue is that people need for things in their lives to have meaning. We can’t just accept the fact that a dog may not care about us the way we care about him/her. We have to have some perceived return on the investment that we make in loving our dogs. Which, for a Shiba owner, can be very, very difficult when the dog is throwing a full-scale temper tantrum at the mere hint of attaching a leash to his collar. Or ignoring you after you walk in the door without a slab of beefsteak in one hand.

I have come to the conclusion that Shassi and Tierce probably don’t remotely give a shit about me like I do about them. They would happily go on with their lives as long as they ate, got walked, slept (Shassi) and occasionally (Tierce) had a toy to chew on.

Should it matter whether a dog loves you? It is a human choice to bring in another animal to the family circle and it has to be a human realization that the animal won’t value what humans do. I believe that you can (and should) teach your Shiba to respect the things you wish them to respect, but expecting them to value you like you value them is unreasonable.

But it would be nice if it was true.