Etiquette for the Well Bred Dog

by Delilah (With some assistance from Kathy Minicozzi)

First posted: November 17, 2002. Last Updated: December 10, 2002 (addition of Vets and Illness).

I gratefully acknowledge the contributions of Gina, Shep, Tammy, Rusty, Pudgy, Fluffy, Roxy, Homer, Amy, Re, Mario, Brutus, Tristan, GI Joe, Screefus, Bo, Chico, and every other dog who has crossed my or my human's path, whose input has been invaluable. Delilah

Introduction

We domestic canines have a right and a duty to interact with humans and they have the privilege of interacting with us. In order to make this mutual arrangement easy and beneficial, it is imperative that we dogs follow certain rules of behavior. Having lived many years not only with a human, but with another dog as well, I feel that I am particularly qualified to write this book.

When referring to humans, I use the pronoun "he." This is because statistics have proven that human males tend to prefer dogs to other animals. I mean no insult to human females. Many women share their pack territory with dogs. My own human is a female and she is a delightful companion. "He" is used for convenience, and is meant to be gender-neutral.

Greetings

When your keen ears detect the sound of one of your humans returning to the territory after an absence of ANY length (even a few minutes) and your keen nose detects his scent, you must prepare to greet him with proper enthusiasm when he opens the door.

Wait directly behind the door and bark loudly, with tail wagging. To make doubly sure the right human is coming, put your nose to the ground and sniff as loudly as possible under the door. Your human will probably hit you with the door when he opens it, but don't let that stop you. Get right in front of him, stand up with your front paws waving in the air, and enthusiastically pound him with both of them, barking loudly to let all the neighbors know how happy you are. The best places to hit him are (1) the crotch, (2) the abdomen, or (3) the chest depending on how big you are and how high you can reach. (If you are a small terrier or a Chihuahua, you will have to be content with a knee or a thigh.) If you can knock him down, go for it! In that case, be sure to cover his entire face with big, wet, sloppy "kisses." If you can manage to simultaneously sock him with a good whiff of "doggie breath," even better!

Most humans will react to this show of great love by showering you with hugs, pets, paw shakes and exclamations such as "Down, Boy!" "Okay, Girl, okay!" or "I love you, too, but get off my chest!" At that point you have completed your greeting, and you are permitted to free him.

Once he gets past you and into the house, follow him around, stare at him with moist, sappy eyes, wag your tail and sniff his legs and rear-end to make sure no other animal has laid claim to him while he was out. Most humans get very annoyed when they find their rear-ends being sniffed, and will yell and push you away. In that case, you can either give up or wait until you think he is not looking and sneak in a few sniffs before he yells at you again.

The Bed

If at all possible, you must share your human's bed at night. Humans make great cushions, and their beds are well designed for canine comfort.

The best way to sleep with a human is to find some nice curve -- such as the crook of the knees or under an armpit -- curl up and make yourself as comfortable as possible. For maximum comfort, you must pin him down so he cannot move around and disturb you.

The next best place to sleep is on the pillow. This may be difficult, since your human's head will already be occupying that area, and he may not be anxious to share it with you, but with a little patience you can push and prod until most of the pillow is yours. If your human wakes up and tries to pull the pillow out from under you, make yourself dead weight so that it will be very difficult for him to do so.

If you are a pug nose (bulldog, Boston terrier, pug, boxer you know who you are), try not to snore too loudly when sleeping with your human, or you might find yourself in a nightly exile to the basement!

When the noise box goes off in the morning, and your human wakes up and begins to get out of bed, make yourself as limp as possible and refuse to budge, so that he will be forced to crawl over you. That way you won't have to get up, and your human will get some early morning exercise. Hopefully, he will be alert enough not to poke you, fall on you, knock you off the bed or fall on his own face in his efforts to get out from under the covers and climb over you before he is awake enough to know what he is doing.

Once your human has vacated the bed, it is YOURS! You can do anything you want to make yourself comfortable, including (but not limited to) the following:

  1. Crawl onto the pillow, curl up, get as comfortable as possible, and relax. If possible, pull the quilt or bedspread back and expose the pillow. Not only will this give you complete control of the pillow, it will give you some extra warm and comfortable lumps to creep into.
  2. If your human sleeps with two pillows, and you are a small terrier, cocker spaniel, Chihuahua or other lap dog, burrow under the top one, flip it over and make a nice little nest in the groove between the two pillows. You now have a great place to nap during the day. Your human will love having your doggie scent, your drool and your hair all over his pillows! This is also an ideal place to bury rawhide chews, bones and other tasty things to be retrieved later.
  3. Rearrange the blanket and/or comforter until you have created a nice, big lump in the middle of the bed, then curl up on top of it.
  4. If you are a male dog, use the pillow to practice your mating skills (see Mating Rituals, below).
  5. Bring your entire stock of rawhide chews onto the bed with you, chew them until they are sodden messes, and then leave them there. If possible, bury them under the blankets or between the pillows (see above). If you forget where you put them, you can count on your human(s) to find them when they go to bed. A cold, wet piece of rawhide against bare human skin will always get attention and be dealt with very promptly.
  6. For great exercise, jump onto the bed, flip around a few times on top of it, and then jump down again. This is especially effective when you share your pack territory with one or more other dogs. In that case, you can get a really nice tag and wrestling match going, using the bed as a springboard. Armchairs and couches can also be used for this, if the bed is not available.

Food

It is our humans' job to provide us with plenty of proper nourishment. Unfortunately, our humans and we often have conflicting ideas of what constitutes "proper nourishment." Remember the following, if you don't want to spend your whole life eating nothing but Purina Dog Chow.
  1. Anything your humans are eating is preferable to anything they have put into your dish. By extension, anything the humans have put into the food dish(es) of any other pet(s) in the house is automatically preferable to whatever is in your dish. This is an ironclad rule; there are absolutely no exceptions.
  2. If there IS something irresistible in your dish (such as steak, hamburger, cheese, beef stew, etc.), and your humans are eating their dinner at the same time, gobble up your portion as quickly as possible, then head for the table (see no. 1 above). If there is another dog or a cat in the house, you must try to steal from its dish before attaching yourself to the humans. This may result in a snarling, growling, hissing, teeth baring, fur flying showdown, but it is worth it. A civilized alternative is for the two of you to exchange dishes after each has finished eating from his or her own.
  3. Any decent food within your reach that is left unattended is up for grabs as soon as your human is not looking. If you are brave and swift enough to grab it when he is looking and run, go for it! Finders keepers! The latter maneuver will probably result in a good scolding, snout slapping and/or banishment to the back yard, basement or dog cage when the human finally catches you, but it's worth it!
  4. If it falls on the floor, it's yours! Humans know this, and many of them will use you as a convenient mop whenever they accidentally drop food on the floor. If it falls in dirt, great! Dirt makes everything taste better!
  5. If something has been lying around in a gutter or on a sidewalk for a couple of days, it is a gourmet delight! Grab it before anyone can stop you, guard it with your life, and gobble it as fast as you can! If it disagrees with you, you can always vomit it up later on the carpet, the bed or the upholstery. (CAUTION: This practice can be hazardous to your health.)
  6. Begging for food at the humans' table is an art, and it can only be practiced if you are lucky enough to share your territory with really softhearted and/or dumb humans. Basically, just sit and stare at them, with a really sappy, moist-eyed look. If they try to ignore you, whimper and "cry." For even better results, rest your head on the lap of the human you know to be the softest touch. It works about 90 percent of the time, even if there is another human at the table yelling, "Stop feeding that *#/! dog!"
  7. When you have finished eating, it is only polite that you wipe your mouth. Rugs, carpets, upholstery and comforters are best for this, but your human's pants leg or skirt will do in a pinch. If your human decides to help you by wiping your mouth with a wet washcloth, you are then permitted to use the furniture, the rug or your human to wipe the water off your mouth.

Mating Rituals

In the wild, dogs have many opportunities to perpetuate the species without restrictions. However, we are domesticated, and our humans have a definite tendency to put a damper on our amorous activities -- unless you are something humans call a "purebred" or "champion." In that case, they may actually introduce you to a sexy, fertile member of the opposite gender, then expect the two of you get to know each other.

However, the vast majority of us are forced by circumstances into highly inactive love lives, even when our juices are flowing fiercely and there is an attractive canine member of the opposite sex nearby who is ready for action. Many dogs have learned to make the best of the situation by the use of substitutes for the pooch of their dreams. The following is a partial list of the most common, well-tried objects of doggie passion:

CAUTION: Humans are easily embarrassed, and most of them will chase you away, especially if you are attaching yourself to one of their legs or arms. Cats are also notoriously averse to amorous overtures from a dog. Therefore, it is advisable to confine the above activity to inanimate objects when your humans are not looking.

It is advisable not to hump the arms and legs of your human's visitors, no matter how nice the person seems to be. You should especially avoid clergy, bosses, tax auditors, club members and other people your humans are trying to impress. If you are not sure whether or not to approach a particular guest's arms or legs, your human will let you know very clearly the minute he senses your intentions.

Walks

Although we dogs are "territory animals," we do have to get out of the house at least a few times a day, especially when nature calls or when there is something interesting happening outside.

If you live in a house with a doggie door or a nice, loose, unlocked back door, you are one lucky pooch! The only barrier to your patrolling the entire neighborhood, marking every tree and/or curb with your undeniably individual scent and getting to know all the other four-footed citizens of the area is the back fence. If you are clever you might be able to find a way through (or under, or over) that problem! CAUTION! If you manage to make an escape through the back fence, watch out for danger, especially things called "cars" and "trucks," which have been known to flatten many an unsuspecting dog unlucky enough to get in the way.

If you are an "apartment dog," however, it is a different story. Your human has to open the door and take you out of the house, usually on one end of a long piece of leather, plastic or chain called a "leash." Most humans, who like predictability and order, will take you out at approximately the same time each day, two or three times. This is great, except when the human forgets what time it is, or is not around at the right time, or when nature calls unexpectedly, such as in the middle of the night. It is then up to you to communicate the urgency of the situation and/or your dissatisfaction. There are a few ways to do this:

  1. Trot back and forth between your human and the door, whining pitifully and giving your best "I have to go to the bathroom NOW" look.
  2. If it is the middle of the night and he is asleep, sit or stand by the bed and whine and pant as loudly as possible until he wakes up and notices you. He will do one of two things: (1) pull the pillow over his head and pretend you don't exist; or (2) get up, muttering and swearing under his breath, put something on over whatever he is wearing and take you out. He will probably use his entire vocabulary of those special words if it is the middle of winter or a hot, steamy summer night -- especially if he ends up being too cold to get back to sleep again or so hot that he has to shower again to wash off the new perspiration.
  3. If all other methods fail, jump up on the nearest upholstered piece of furniture and pee on it. This is guaranteed to get immediate attention from your human(s). You had better have a secure hiding place to run to if you choose this option, because the consequences, once you are caught, will not be pretty.

Once you get your human outside, it is your right and privilege to enjoy and prolong the walk as much as possible. First of all, if possible, you must never do all of your "business" right away. It is extremely important to find just the right spot, no matter how long it takes. After all, your canine pride is at stake. If you are a male dog, you must, of course, "mark" as many trees, lampposts, fire hydrants, poles and fence posts as possible. At the same time, you are getting your fresh air and exercise, even if you are only walking two inches per hour with your nose on the ground.

If you spot something in the distance that absolutely must be investigated now, and your human has other ideas, the best thing to do is give a sudden, strong yank on your leash, pull as hard as you can, and drag your human like a sled dog in a race. At best, you will end up walking your human to where you want to go. At worst, you will have a great tug match.

All of this takes time, of course, and you must insist on taking all the time you need, even on cold winter days and nights. (Snow is great fun to jump around in! It gets your fur and your paws all nice and mushy, and it can be fun to eat, too!) The only exception to this is when it is raining. In that case, forget "doing your business!" You don't want to go out, period! And if your human insists on taking you out, you must spend all your energy trying to get back into the house, not trying to find your spot. Humans are notoriously stubborn, however, and will often keep you out in the rain (muttering those words all the while), until you do something. In that case, you might just want to give up, "do your business" wherever you can (whether it is the right spot or not), and allow your human to get both of you in out of the rain.

Barking and Howling

Our ancient wolf ancestors were mighty sentinels. Whenever anything strange came anywhere near the pack, it was their duty to set up a holler that could be heard for miles. Although we are tame, domesticated and living with humans, it is still our duty to at least pretend that we are Great Protectors. To do this, a great, loud bark is needed the louder the better.

It is imperative that you come out with a full-throated bark whenever your keen ears or your keen nose (or both) tells you that something you don't like or are not personally acquainted with is coming around. You must then continue to bark loudly until it goes away or somehow gets into the house. This includes, but is not limited to:

In most cases, you are permitted to stop barking once the strange being actually gets into the house. If it is a human, you may perform a tentative sniffing and greeting ritual. It is recommended that you continue to bark at burglars, however, instead of greeting them, if you want to stay in your humans' good graces. In the case of other animals, in order to maintain your canine self-respect, you must chase them out of the house, even if you have to tear the place up to do so.

As I mentioned earlier, you must bark immediately when you sense something amiss. This is especially effective if your human is enjoying a quiet moment. The sudden, ear-splitting noise will make him jump twenty feet into the air, but it will be sure to get his attention.

WARNING: Neighboring humans sometimes do not understand the great value of our canine warning system and categorize it as a nuisance. Their reactions vary from "Shut up!" to "I'm calling the cops!" Your own humans will probably answer them with "Oh, stop complaining! She's protecting all of us!" or "Someday you'll appreciate him when his barking saves your life!" These arguments usually fail to convince anyone, but at least you have to give your human(s) credit for trying.

Howling is another matter. By setting up a howl, you are communicating the following to your human(s):

  1. "I'm here; where are you?!" This means that you have been left alone, and you are not happy about it. Howling may be accompanied by, or replaced by, destructive behavior, such as tearing the curtains or eating the carpet. Your human(s) will get the message, and, hopefully, you won't get banished to the backyard or your cage. This will also send a message to your humans' neighbors (see above), who will gladly send their own message to your humans!!
  2. "Let's do a duet (trio/quartet, whatever)!" Most humans confine their vocal communications to talking and shouting. Some of them, however, like to make a special kind of noise called "singing." It is not known why they do this; many dogs believe it is a strange mating call or a primitive cry for help. At any rate, when one or more of your humans is "singing," they are obviously inviting you to join in, the louder the better. Your full-throated howl will be appreciated and applauded as soon as your humans stop laughing.

Baths

For some reason, humans love to pour water over themselves (or immerse themselves in it), smear soap on themselves, and then douse themselves with water again. It seems to make them feel good. Unfortunately, they like to submit us to the same ritual on occasion, especially when we have been doing something to get dirt, or some nice, delicious smell, on ourselves. This is completely incomprehensible, since dirt and smells are two of the most enjoyable things in life, but humans will be humans. You will have no choice in the matter.

The best thing to do, when you see that washtub being dragged out into the yard, or the bathtub being filled with water obviously intended for you, is to run as fast as your four legs will carry you. This will result in a vigorous game of "Dodge the Hands," with your human(s) chasing after you and you running back and forth, eluding their grasp. You will eventually be caught, but this is an effective delaying tactic.

Once you have been caught, your human(s) will insert you into the water-filled tub and begin to pour water on you and lather you with soap. Since they are only equipped with two hands, chances are they will have to loosen their grip on you to do this or, if there is more than one of them working on you, they will get in each other's way. At this point, you must take a flying leap out of the tub and take up the game of "Dodge the Hands" where you left off. Since you will have soap and water all over you by this time, you can track and spray the stuff all over the place, and get some fresh, wet dirt on yourself at the same time. You will probably only be able to do this once, because humans are ingenious when it comes to figuring out how to hold you down, and they most likely won't let you get away again.

At this point, you might as well resign yourself to the dousing and lathering process until the humans have had enough, usually after one good try that actually succeeds.

After they are finished, and have lifted you out of the tub and attempted to dry you with a towel, you MUST take every drop of excess water still left on your skin and vigorously shake it out, preferably right into the humans' faces and all over everything in sight. It serves them right.

Flea Powder

Related to baths, and just as unpleasant, is the flea powder dusting. Not that we want to have fleas! Of course, we don't, but we would prefer to be cured of our flea problems by some other method than being held down and having this white stuff shaken, poured and rubbed all over us!! Therefore, when you see them approaching you with the stuff, run like mad (see "Dodge the Hands", above). WARNING: Humans are sneaky, and they will often try to fool you by carrying the powder behind their backs or grabbing you first, before they get it from the cabinet, or wherever they keep it. In this case, "Dodge the Hands" is out of the question, and you're on your own.

After you are caught, and the obnoxious stuff is rubbed all over you, you MUST shake yourself as vigorously as possible (getting the powder all over everything and, if possible, into the humans' noses, eyes and sinuses), then rub yourself on the rug and/or the furniture. After you have done this, it is best to walk stiffly around the house, the apartment or the yard with your tail between your hind legs, throwing filthy looks at your human(s) every time you pass one of them. They'll get the message.

A flea collar is a nuisance, also. If you really can't stand having the thing around your neck, the best way to deal with it is to whine, pant and pick at the thing until you get it off, or until your human(s) give up and remove it themselves.

Cats

Cats are arrogant little runts with an annoying attitude problem. They think they are more intelligent and better all around than we dogs are, and they let us know this at every opportunity. Therefore, they MUST be put in their places. Whenever you see one of those little hairballs, set up an immediate holler, and tear after it. Since most of us are bigger than most of them, we can usually get them to run away, at which point you can get a great chase going. CAUTION: Cats are very limber, agile and athletic, and they come equipped with sharp claws, which they can pull in and out at will. These are not quite as bad as porcupine quills, but you still don't want to get stabbed with them if you can help it.

The only exception to the above is if you and a cat are living in the same house and share the same humans. That one can be tolerated you may even like the little pest!

Other Critters

Skunks

It is your job, as a self-respecting dog, to chase and run down anything that moves. After all, we must keep our hunting skills current, and keep the neighborhood (i.e. pack territory) free of invaders. This includes that strange thing that looks something like a cat, with a bushy tail and a stripe down its back. Be aware, though, that this creature has an unusual defense mechanism that can be unpleasant, especially if it hits you right in the nose. It will hit your humans in their noses, also, especially if you try to enter the house afterwards. A violent reaction from your humans, exile to the basement or the yard, and a tomato juice bath are to be expected.

Dead Things

If you are on a trip to the local river, creek or pond, and you come across some dead amphibians (or other critters), there is only one thing to do. Lie right on top of them, roll around on them and get as much of the smell on yourself as you can. This is the canine version of Chanel No. 5. Afterward, it is only polite to go home and share this wonderful aroma with your humans. They will love having the smell all over their furniture, bedding, etc. If they don't appreciate it, and you find yourself in a tub full of water being doused with soap, don't be discouraged. It is your job to educate your humans in the finer things of life, including doggie perfume. The next time you manage to slip out to the creek, river or pond, repeat the procedure.

Rabbits

Rabbits make wonderful snacks, and chasing them is good hunting practice for "country" dogs. If you manage to catch one, you have the right to eat as much of it as you can, and bury the rest in your human's yard or garden, to be saved for later. Your human may not appreciate this, especially if you dig up a prized flowerbed in the process, but that is okay. The canine sense of landscaping is far superior to that of humans, and the best possible use of any land is as a repository for half-eaten prey. Your human will be greatly surprised to find a nice, bloody dead rabbit in his backyard. For inexplicable reasons, many humans react rather violently to this wonderful sight, so it is wise to find a place to hide until he gets over it.

Squirrels/Chipmunks/Birds

Squirrels and chipmunks are swift, and they can scamper up a tree faster than you can chase your tail. Birds can fly. Therefore, you will rarely, if ever, catch one, and if you try, you are likely to make an idiot out of yourself, and your humans will laugh. However, to save your doggie pride, and let your humans (and the neighbors) know that you are alert and doing your job as a Great Protector, you should scream your lungs out whenever you are safely inside the house and you spot one of those creatures outside the window.

Other Dogs

Since we dogs are "social" animals who live in a hierarchical society, this is a somewhat complicated subject. In general, the following rules apply when dealing with other members of our species.
  1. If a strange dog wanders into your yard or (heaven forbid!) your house, you must immediately set up a loud holler and charge after it, even if this involves overturning furniture, overturning one or more humans, bumping into the porch, knocking clothes off the line, pulling up the pole you are tied to, entangling yourself in the back fence, etc. The object is to get the intruder out of your pack territory. You can retrieve your dignity later.
  2. If you are in some neutral territory (such as the park or the back fence), you meet another dog, and the situation looks promising (especially if it is an attractive member of the opposite sex), it is only right that you get to know each other. First, you look at each other. Tail wagging and/or crouching are optional, but sometimes effective. You will then want to go nose-to- nose, just to see if everything smells right. If it does, you must next lift your tails and sniff each other's rear ends. Once you have introduced yourselves in this way, you may then proceed to (1) become fast friends for life, or (2) tear each other's fur out depending on how you both feel at the time.
  3. If you are an "alpha," you must establish your authority over every other being you come across, no matter how many legs it has and what species it belongs to. This includes fighting with any other dog that even looks like it might challenge your right to rule the earth (or at least the neighborhood). You may end up with many battle scars, but you should wear them proudly.

Games

Buffet

This game can be a lot of fun, but it requires alertness and skill. The object of the game is to steal and eat as much as possible of any decent food you can find during the day. You get one point for each stolen morsel. Extra points are awarded for the following: 1 point for snitching food from the table or kitchen counter when the humans' backs are turned; 2 points for stealing food from a human's hand; 3 points for opening the garbage can and scavenging from it. NO points are awarded for eating food the humans have dropped on the floor, because this is just TOO easy. You lose 3 points for eating moldering junk that you find outside, because it is not good for your health. If there are other dogs in the house, whoever earns the most points wins the game. If you are an only dog, you win if you can score at least 5 points during any 24-hour period.

Bury the Bone

This game can be played with real bones (if you have any), or with rawhide chews. Dirty underwear and other interesting objects may also be used. The object is to chew on the things until you are bored with them, then find places to bury them. If you have access to the outside, the best place is in your humans' garden, if they have one. If you are an apartment dog, you will want to use the bedcovers, the sofa, and any other place where your human(s) might come across your buried treasures by surprise. Points are awarded for each burial spot. It is considered good form to get as much of your slobber as possible onto the objects before burying them. Extra points are given for each time a human finds one of your treasures by surprise, two extra points if he sits or lies down on it, three extra points if you manage to get him to yell or chase after you.

Chew the Shoe

Ah, puppyhood! It is a magical time. You are growing at the speed of light, and those nice, tiny, sharp little teeth are in, demanding their exercise. One of the most popular of all puppy teething toys is the thing the humans call a "shoe." Humans like to put these things on their feet. However, they only have two feet apiece, so there are always extra shoes sitting around on the floor or in the closet, just ready to have little puppy teeth sunk into them. The object of this game is to choose ONE shoe only from a matching pair, drag it to a comfortable spot, and chew it into a sodden mess. The puppy gets one point for each pair of shoes broken up that way. CAUTION: It is best for Puppy to have a secure hiding place to run to when the humans discover the handiwork, because humans are notoriously possessive of their footwear, and loud, unpleasant reactions are common. Humans will often try to control this game by giving the puppy some old, beaten-up shoe that they don't want anymore. In that case, the puppy should enjoy the gift until it is no longer fun to play with, then resume helping himself as described above.

Warrior Princess/Prince

This is a personal favorite. It is best played between two "alphas." The playing field is the local park. The object is to choose some unsuspecting pooch who is out with his humans for a run, charge after him and get a good teeth-baring fight going, until one of you ends up on top. The winner then becomes Master of the Park, with the right to receive great respect and worship from all the other dogs that come around. CAUTION: Your humans, and those attached to the other contestant, are usually NOT happy when they see this game starting, which may result in hysteria and, possibly, a secondary match between the humans. Therefore, it should be played sparingly.

Dodge the Hands

(See
Baths, above.)

Fetch

This is our humans' favorite "dog" game. They throw something (a Frisbee, a ball, whatever), we run after it and catch it or pick it up, and then they expect us to bring it back to them and give it to them so they can throw it again. Many dogs enjoy doing this, and will keep this up until they drop. However, there is a fun variation. In this version, the human throws the object, you chase it and catch it, then you KEEP IT and either run away with it or hold it, daring the human(s) to wrestle it out of your mouth. A skilled, athletic dog can have a great time making the human(s) run in circles and fall over their own feet in their comic attempts to retrieve the object. Once they have it back in their hands, it is imperative that you beg them to throw it again, so you can repeat the whole amusing process. If you sense that your humans do not love this game as much as you do, just remember that you are doing them a favor, because the exercise is good for them.

Tug-Of-War

This is an old canine favorite. Two or more dogs can play. For equipment, you will need something long and relatively sturdy. If you have a female human, a pair of her pantyhose will do fine, especially if they are brand new, because they have a lot of stretch and give in them, and are nice to sink your teeth into. You can also use socks, tee-shirts, long underwear, mufflers, etc. The possibilities are endless. Each player grabs an end of the object in his mouth and pulls, the object being to try to pull it out of the other player's mouth. This usually involves a lot of grunts, growls and tearing around. The game is over when the object is torn apart or one player gives up. Extra points are awarded for overturned furniture, plants, etc. Overturning humans is optional and sometimes fun, but no extra points are given for this.

"Tug-Of-War" can also be played with humans. Be aware, however, that humans almost always want to choose their own equipment, which may not be what you would have picked if you had been given your choice. (Female humans are especially averse to playing "Tug-Of-War" with their pantyhose.) We have to take what we can get, though, so the best thing is to just go along with it.

Wrestling

This game can be played with one or more other dogs or with a human. (Male humans make the best opponents, because they usually play this game more enthusiastically than the females.) The object is to make as much noise and as much of a mess as possible over as wide an area as possible, without actually doing any damage to your opponent. Jumps, paw holds, jaw shakes and other maneuvers are especially prized. The game is over when one opponent gives up, or when the line between entertainment and combat is somehow crossed. In that case, the human(s) will usually put a quick, decisive and unmistakable end to the proceedings.

The Veterinarian

Most car rides are very pleasant experiences and your humans do not have ulterior motives for taking you along. Be aware, though, that what you think is going to be a pleasant outing often ends up being a visit to the veterinarian.

When you realize that you are about to cross the dreaded portal into the Veterinary House of Horrors, you must try with all your might to drag your human in the opposite direction. This never works, because most of them are bigger and stronger than most of us, but it will get your message across.

Once you are inside, you and your human(s) will have to sit around for a while in something called a "waiting room." Most likely there will be some strange humans and some assorted dogs and cats in the same room. The following behavior is not only permitted it is encouraged:

  1. Refuse to sit still at all costs. Move around, fidget and squirm. If you can get yourself tangled up in your leash, or wrap it around the leg of the stupid human who is trying to hold you, even better.
  2. If there is another dog in the room whose looks you don't like, set up a huge holler. The other dog will respond in kind, and you can get a good ear splitting barking, snarling and growling match going.
  3. Pee, poop and/or barf on the floor.
  4. Whine at your human, pant very hard and tremble, just to make him feel as guilty as possible. He deserves it.

After a while, you will be taken from the "waiting room" and into a smaller room where they will put you on a table. This is the real test. If you can get through this, you are one courageous pooch.

You will be held down while a strange human called "Doctor" looks into and pokes around in every opening you have and feels around a few other places, too. Sometimes you will also be stuck with torture devices called "hypodermic needles" and/or will have pills shoved down your throat. Your human(s) will be in the room with you and will keep trying to assure you that this is good for you. They are lying. We know better.

When you finally see your human open the door to the outside - and freedom - you'd better escape as fast as possible, even if you have to yank your human's arm off in the process.

Illness/Vomiting

When you feel the urge to throw up, the best place to head for is the nearest rug or carpet. This is true even if your house has a linoleum floor, and there is only one tiny little piece of carpet in the whole place. The reason is simple: rugs/carpets = patches of grass. They must be treated as such. Warning: humans don't understand this and they get upset when they find dog vomit on the rug. Don't let this stop you. They will learn in time, usually after they have replaced several rugs and have finally given up.

If you feel like you need a good digestive cleansing, the best way is to go outside and scarf down as much grass as possible. This will get almost immediate results. Of course, you MUST head inside the house and find the nearest carpet or rug to vomit on. It is not polite to vomit outside, because the grass outside is not your own personal grass. The rug is.

Hampering

Hampering is the art of interference in human affairs (that aren't related to dogs). There are many, many ways to do this, because the lives of most humans are complicated enough that Hampering requires next to no effort on your part, while providing endless hours of entertainment from the frustrated human(s). These ways can be organized into the following general categories.

Grab-And-Hide

Stealing and hiding things is an amazingly easy way to Hamper. Purses, wallets, and especially car keys (if you think a trip to the Vet is imminent) are easy targets for this tactic.

Grab-And-Run

If the human is doing any work outside, such as in the garden planting things for you to dig up later, or working on the car, s/he will by necessity leave tools and things around, so be sure to grab something and run off with it. This can lead to a great game of Chase The Dog or Tug of War, but will ultimately wind up with you being caught and tied to something by the leash. Spend the rest of the time moaning, sighing and looking utterly pathetic. If the human is foolish enough to let you free, immediately grab something else and run with it to start the fun all over again! The next time you are caught, however, the human will not let you free until s/he is done, but that's OK. This will give you time to consider your next campaign.

This tactic can also be done indoors, but unless you can somehow escape outside you will be caught more quickly and stuffed into your crate until the job is done, so reserve this only for periods of intense boredom. More preferable is to play Tug of War, especially with yummy things like socks and underwear.

Obstacle, a.k.a. Dog-Lump

This Hampering tactic requires no effort on your part. All you have to do is to find a strategic place to lie down, right where it interferes with the human's desired activity. If you are a large dog, you have an extra advantage because you will be too big and heavy for the human to easily shift you out of the way. If the human wants to sit on the couch or chair to watch TV, you must be there first. Or if the human is already there, try to cram as much of yourself as possible onto his/her lap. Become a dead weight so that the human is trapped and unable to leave without great effort. This also works well in the morning when the human wants to get out of bed.

If a human is trying to do something on the floor, like reading a newspaper or cutting out a clothing pattern, of course you must lie on it, since the human is not paying attention to you. Roll on your back for a tummy rub to make it look like you only want attention, not to Hamper. The human won't be fooled, but you'll probably get a tummy rub from it.

If the human is rushing around being busy, lie down right in the path that they appear to be using the most. There's a danger that you will get accidentally kicked and/or tripped over, but your (in)action will force the human to make a possibly significant detour to avoid you, depending on where you are.

Conclusion

Well, fellow pooches, there you have it. Mankind is a dog's best friend. Following the simple suggestions above will enable you to train your human(s) well, so that you and they can enjoy many happy years together.

This page last updated .