Kelly the Culinarian: How to Not Have a Mean Dog

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

How to Not Have a Mean Dog

Napoleon is six. He was a bit of a jerk. Well, a lot of a jerk. The neighborhood kids called him the mean dog because he barked at them violently when they rode by on bikes.

A lot of it was me - I was always anxious when he was around people because he would react erratically, so he sensed that and behaved in kind. During the past few months, I've made a concerted effort to make my dog less of a jerk and more socially acceptable. It's had mixed results. He still wakes me up in the middle of the night by barking at who knows what (I hope it's not a ghost), but he has stopped barking at every person relaxing on the couch, he doesn't beg at the table and I'm not afraid to take him places anymore. I even took him to a holiday party this weekend. It went well for everyone ... except maybe not Prince Napolio, king of the castle and tamer of toddlers:
So here are the things I did to make my dog more socially acceptable:
1. Sweater training. This sounds weird, but it works. Instead of spraying him with water, shocking him or shaking keys at him when he's bad, I preemptively put a costume on him when I know he's in a situation where he might freak out. It's like those thundershirts they sell on TV, but cheaper. It calms him and puts him into what I call a cost-oma: a costume-induced coma.

2. Fewer treats. I swear that I used to go through a bag or two of treats a month because he would get one every time he went out, and I'd ply him with them to calm down when I was working from home. Now, he has to actually work for treats, and they're doled out at random.
3. Patience for everyone. Napoleon now has to wait. If I'm cooking in the kitchen or eating at the table, he has to put his butt on the wood and wait. This means no begging while we're eating.

4. More time with other dogs. Napoleon has a lot of quality time with other puppies now, learning that he is not the only furball to ever walk this Earth. It's a good reminder for him that he is not in charge all the time.
5. More cuddles. This little guy needs attention. I try to sit with him when I work from home, and spend time with him each day so he's not needy or sad.


Amanda said...

I heart you Napolean! And I never heard of sweater training!! :)

Losing Lindy said...

We love him...and you...but this is more about him. ;)