Not sure how many of you have ever watched Louis CK’s Hilarious, but there is a scene in it where he explains that as a parent, if you start arguing with your three year old, you have basically already lost, because three year old’s simply do not have the capacity or ability to argue or think on a logical level (you can see it here at around the 6 minute mark). I’ve decided to apply that approach to libertarians and Rosie, because both are about the same level of development and willingness to understand the other side’s points and think beyond their own wants and desires.
At any rate, I think it is working. Instead of walking around pissed off that Rosie is a “bad dog,” every time I have one of those thoughts I gently remind myself that actually, I’m a bad owner, because how the hell is Rosie supposed to know what I want her to do? She’s just rolling on instinct- I’m the jackass for getting upset at a dog acting like a dog. I’m finding with this approach, life with Rosie is much more pleasant. She’s not a bad dog- she’s just a dog. She doesn’t bite people or ruin the house, she just does dog things that I, as a human, don’t like. That doesn’t make her a bad dog, it just makes her a dog. I was never mean to her, but now I go out of my way to make sure my voice is the same with her as it was with Lily.
I hope that made sense. It probably didn’t, though.
Makes a ton of sense. Dog doesn’t know that gorging on all the kibble in the bag will make dog fat. Dog just knows OMFG THERE’S MORE FOOD IN THAT BAG! DADDY, DADDY! DID YOU KNOW THERE’S MORE FOOD?
There is a LOLcat image from the Cheezburger folks with a quote I’ve adopted. The cat is standing in the middle of some sort of wreckage, and the tag line is: “Dude, you knew I was a cat when you brought me home!”
Yup, and not just any dog, a JRT. “Force of nature” and all that./ And the thing with dogs is that they can read your emotions better than you/I can. So positive feedback loops are always in play with them. Hang in there with her, you are doing it right.
dude stop being so emo and get an electric fence.
as the parent of a current 3 yr old, i understand.
Makes perfect sense. Way to go Zen, John.
Is changing your voice having any effect on her behavior? She’s lucky to have you, John.
rosie can’t be half as sensitive as the glibs. those delicate little desert flowers.
I’m buried beneath to sleeping cats. It’s my own fault. I have a recliner with my legs up and a blanket. But I can’t go anywhere now for a while. Oh well, we’re all warm.
I love Louis C.K., and especially the logic of trying to have a conversation with a three year-old. He had to give that up. It is hilarious.
Felanius Kootea (formerly Salt and freshly ground black people)
Ahh, she’s finally trained you.
dogs, cats, 3 yr olds, yes. How does it apply to libertarians?
When I first got my dog into training (and she is a borderline insane border collie), my trainer told me “all dogs are perfect, they do exactly what dogs are supposed to do”. It helps make the training that much easier when you work from the premise of redirecting the behavior into something constructive, as opposed to correcting a bad behavior.
I understand. I always described my friends’ dogs as permanent two year olds. It was an atitude that brought me much peace with them (a Dobermann pinscher and four retired racing greyhounds).
Something about a scorpion and a frog…
I’m using the same technique every time I look at my hands at the scratches I’m getting from this handsom little devil. He’s just a teething, growing boy.
Zen. It makes pet-ownership (and marriage!) work.
Parallel 5ths (Jewish Steel)
It took me a long time, and I’m still learning, that Cisco the basenji will follow me up and down the emotional scale. He will match my level of intensity. The cooler I stay with him, the cooler he is. Preposterous strategies that would never work on a 3yo work on him. “Let’s show that dog what a good boy you can be!” “Show him you’re a good friend.” Real hippie stuff. It’s probably the tone in my voice. It’s ridiculous, but it works for some reason.
Actually, I’m a big believer in using logic with toddlers. It can work, but you have to make sure they’re not cranky/hungry/fussy when you’re doing it. And if it doesn’t work, just roll with things and don’t get upset.
Learned the logic technique from my Mom. She watches my sister’s 18-month-old, who right now is sick. My sister has to force medicine down her kid’s throat, Mom asks the kid to please take the meds and she does.
But dogs aren’t toddlers, they’re four-legged destructo machines, and your attitude is absolutely right. Sometimes you get lucky with an angelic dog like Lily, but most dogs are going to need lots of training, because they’re dogs and they don’t understand why they shouldn’t do certain things.
I’m wondering too – how can you take that approach without pissing them off even more by seeming like you’re talking down to them?
I don’t think you understand “thought experiment.” You’re conducting an “experiment.”
Speaking of Lily, will we ever get another picture of her?
OT–Erick son of Erick can keep silent no longer: He really hates gays.
Makes sense. I hope it’s making for less stress.
It is unclear to me whether Cole’s new approach to the pets is intended to change their behavior, or a means of enabling Cole to cop with, and finally accept that Cole is the delta mammal of the house.
Perhaps he could clarify.
If the latter it might work, except that what will happen if the fight for alpha between Tunch and Rosie gets ugly?
Now Rosie has you exactly where she wants you. Next step – world domination!!
@Ken J.: Awesome
It’s not true that there’s no such thing as a bad dog, but they’re far more rare than bad owners.
Whenever I think the dog is being bad, I empty my mind and the logic of her actions becomes clear. Unfortunately, it’s hard to keep your mind that clean all the time.
I’m such a sap, but your post made me a little teary … Rosie is lucky to have found you.
I can see that approach being right for Rosie she is after all just ‘rolling on instinct’.
Libertarians on the other hand are rolling on immature, short sighted, narcissistic idealogy. (Well most of em anyway)
I still think that tone of voice should be used on them.
With an bit of snark on the side of course.
@gbear: Too late. Tunch already has achieved that.
A somewhat similar thing happened to some inlaws (they, of the smallish sane family branch but that’s another story).
They had an old dog and got a puppy to “keep her company” in her waning years. A pitbull (“No, they said ‘he’s a Staffordshire.'”) puppy.
The puppy was actually quite wiggly and friendly and fun eventually became the husband’s vinyard dog, as the old dog was the wife’s before they were married and could barely go from room to room. All was fine.
Then the old dog died and because the now grown pit, er, Staffordshire was like, totally the husband’s dog the wife decided “I need a dog, too.” so got a smallish mutt, which indeed became “her dog.”
Over the next years, the dogs would occasionally scrap and the pit, er, Staffordshire would win (his head alone is the size of a medium appliance) and be punished and eventually, kept in a room alone for long periods. He then started getting aggressive with people and gained yet more isolation time. He was still a fine vineyard dog.
Things got so bad they considered putting him down (with little nephews and grandkids frequently around there was plenty of potential for bad things to happen). In desperation they found a doggie behaviorist who tore them a new one, pointing out that by treating the pit, er, Staffordshire as the lesser dog they were in effect both creating and reinforcing his aggression.
With lots of work reinforcing doggie equality things got better and he lives on. I’ll be visiting this weekend so will see the results firsthand. I hope there’s a behavioral instruction sheet to follow.
Sounds like you’re on a good new track.
Well, if the results of you finally figuring out that a dog can’t read your mind, and that Rosie wouldn’t read your mind even if she could (because she’s a terrierist) are a more happy family, good for both of you.
I’m a lab person myself, own two of them, laid back, couch potatoes, just like their mom. I would never, ever, ever own a JRT.
Have you contacted a rescue that might find a more suitable home for Rosie? Or a trainer that can give you some tips on training to make life better for both of you?
@Eric S.: Aw! He’s adorable. Hope he outgrows using you as a scratching post, though.
@Mark S.: I’m not clicking. Shorter?
Cole, this is an excellent attitude to take. Kudos to you.
Louis CK should be hosting the Oscars instead of James Franco and Anne Hathaway.
Ah, this is cute. JC is in a brief period of self-delusion until he returns to the entertaining level of frustration and anger with Rosie that we all enjoy, and which is much more true to his nature.
This peace and love act isn’t fooling me.
I find this is helpful when dealing with my new cat. When he scratches things or knocks them off shelves or decides that 2:00 AM is a perfect time to play, I just have to remind myself that I knew he’d be like that when I got him. I don’t know if it helps his behavior any, but it focuses me on doing what I can do rather than trying to force him to do something that’s against his nature.
It’s nice that you’re able to be so Zen about her behavior. I’m still struggling with finding that level of serenity regarding the kitten. With dogs, the calm, steady voice thing you’re using with Rosie works well, but I don’t really know how to get the kitten to stop being a little shithead—she obviously isn’t seeking my approval the way the dog does. Any tips from y’all would be appreciated.
GOProud (or whatever it’s called) attacked some lawyer/lobbyist Erick likes and said she’s largely behind efforts to prevent GOProud from attending CPAC, so they are the real bigots.
@Trinity: That was my thought as I read John revelation–“That’s exactly how a good marriage works!” John, you’ll be pleasantly surprised how much better things will be now for both you and Rosie.
This reminds me of the Katt Williams bit about kids getting beat at the grocery store.
“Yo baby supposed to like skittles!”
@Delia: I tried talking to a libertarian once; I much prefer getting cold-cocked by a two year old instead, much more pleasant.
It made perfect sense. Get thee to an obedience class. it’s more for you than for the dog(s). You’ll learn stuff that you will be able to use on other people’s dogs should the need the arise. Stuff that will show results almost immediately. Worth every penny.
Someone wrote that kittens are mental cases.
You’ve got to find-and-frame the Gary Larson cartoon that’s entitled (something like) “What Dog’s Hear”. It portrays a exasperated dog’s owner angrily chewing out a dog by going on-and-on about a mess its made: “Bad dog, Ginger! Bad dog! How many times do I have to tell you, Ginger? Never do this again! Bad dog, Ginger, bad dog!”.
To which Larson adds the second frame: “*** ***, Ginger! *** ***! *** **** ***** ** * **** ** **** ***, Ginger? ***** ** **** *****! *** *** Ginger, *** ***!”.
Quaker in a Basement
Years ago, I was out of work and becoming increasingly fearful about my prospects. After the umpteenth interviewer asked me “Where do you see yourself in five years,” I came home discouraged and sat on the back patio with my chocolate lab.
After a while, I looked at her and asked, “Well, where do you see yourself in five years?” She gave me the lab’s signature head tilt and after a moment, started wagging her tail. I took that look for an answer: “Right here, stupid! I’ll be right here being a dog!”
Since that day, I have been striving to achieve that ideal.
It took me fifteen years to realize this about cats, but now I’m okay with them.
Quaker in a Basement
@suzanne: I don’t really know how to get the kitten to stop being a little shithead
I have two words for you: Squirt bottle.
@Parallel 5ths (Jewish Steel):
Yeah, a lot of dogs are very sensitive emotionally and can get unhinged if you get angry with them. Mine is that way. On walks he’s apt to start barking at a dog he thinks might be a threat. If I start muttering “You be good” over and over as we approach and then “Good dog, good dog” if we pass successfully we can usually make it through peacefully, even if the other dog barks.
@FoxinSocks: actually, that’s because 3 yr olds are almost always perfect angels for their grandparents. logic has nothing to do with it.
sure, it’s easier to get them to listen to reason when they are not sleepy/cranky/fussy/being attacked by imaginary robots/hungry/etc.. that’s not when you find yourself arguing with them.
a perfect example of how maddening a 3 yr old can be: if my son has to poop, he’ll get up, go to the bathroom, pull his pants down and hop on the toilet. all by himself. no fuss, no problem, no need for mom or dad till he has to wipe (still working on that). he’ll even wash his hands and flush without argument or reminding.
if he just has to pee, he’ll repeatedly deny it, even when he’s dancing a fucking jig to keep from pissing himself. he’ll refuse to go to the bathroom untill threats of being carried there are made, needs help pulling his pants down and thinks washing his hands is akin to sticking them in a vat of acid.
no logic, no sense…just being a 3 yr old. but it’s balanced out by stuff like finding out i have a jet pack cause my shirt is red.
@suzanne: One thing that’s worked with our girls (cats) it a firm “NO!” and, when they stop doing the wrong thing they were doing,(or you remove them from it) an immediate “Good girl!!! followed with lots of praise. This lets them figure out which activity will trigger the unpleasant NO sound and that not doing it will result in praise. I’m not explaining it very well, but it’s worked with our cats. The trick is to praise the second they stop the bad behavior.
Any bets on how long before he comes out of the closet?
This is very funny:
I’ve seen that cartoon. There’s a companion one, “What Cats Hear. The human is looking at a broken vase and saying “Bad cat, Fluffy, How many times do I have to tell you, Fluffy, etc.”
And the cat hears “********************************”
@Quaker in a Basement: I’ve got one, and it’s semi-effective.
Ah, hell, I guess I just have to remember that she’s a kitten, and, as such, is an annoying shithead, and that she will indeed grow out of it. And that I can always buy new curtains.
I imagine someone has already mentioned Cesar Milan’s dog training show on the National Geographic channel. We have an incorrigible two-year old lab/boxer mix and she eventually got big enough to be completely unmanageable. When my wife insisted I watch the show with her I could not have been more skeptical. I’d already begun furnishing the happy place in my head when Cesar was called into an L.A. firehouse to work with a Dalmatian puppy. The show was entertaining enough for me to watch 10 or so episodes and it’s made a huge difference. We adopted Caitlin without any big expectations about her behavior, she needed a home and we happen to have one. Because she is so sweet natured we were able to overlook her unruliness until she past 60 lbs. We just needed some very basic manners. Watching the show, I got her there in about 3 days without breaking a sweat.
Wile E. Quixote
Yes, this is not a thought experiment, or Gedankenexperiment as the Germans say*, you are doing an actual experiment. The classic example of a thought experiment, or Gedankenexperiment as the Germans say** is the one proposed by Erwin Schrödinger, the famed Schrödinger’s Cat Experiment***. Schrödinger wrote:
he did not go to animal shelters and adopt cats under false pretenses to run experiments in quantum physics involving closed boxes, geiger counters and hydrogen cyanide. If he had done that he would have been doing an actual experiment, and would have been a sick fuck and first-rate asshole to boot.****
* Gedankenexperiment is such a cool word. It’s a pity it doesn’t come up more often in conversation.
** OK, you caught me, this was just a cheap and thoroughly contrived opportunity to say Gedankenexperiment again and I took it.
*** I think that one of the reason’s why Schrödinger’s cat is so widely known has to do with Erwin Schrödinger’s name. If this Gedankenexperiment***** had been proposed by some guy named “Bill Smith” no-one would remember it, despite the it’s brilliance as a Gedankenexperiment***** illustrating the paradoxes of quantum physics. “Smith’s experiment. Which one is that”. But because it was conceived by an Austrian with a cool sounding name that had an umlaut****** in it we remember it.
**** Like former Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist who, while he was attending Harvard Medical School, adopted cats from Boston animal shelters under false pretenses and then performed surgery on them.
***** There I go, doing it again.
******Do you know what would make Gedankenexperiment an even cooler word? If it were spelled with an umlaut. Gedänkenexperiment. How fucking cool is that?
It’s not that he really hates gays. It’s that GOProud has crossed an important line by criticizing an authority figure. To a True Conservative(R), that’s enough. Criticizing an authority figure is the worst crime of all and must be swiftly punished.
@IlsaLund: I’ll give that a shot, thanks. One of the reasons the squirt bottle isn’t always helpful is because I can’t do it when my hands are full. And with the baby around, my hands are often full. Kitten likes to jump onto our shoulders at times, which is cute, but the other day, she did it while I was holding the baby, and accidentally gave her a little scratch. So hands-free behavior modification techniques are helpful.
John Cole : your attitude is dead on. Please check out ; his very successful approach takes your notion of “teaching a dog what you want him to do” deeply to heart. I’ve seen him do things with incredibly unruly dogs that would impress even you.
It does make sense! It makes even more sense when you apply it to McMegan.
@suzanne: I was going to say get another kitten (so they can occupy each other’s energy and attention), but I sense that advice will not be welcomed! I hope the baby has stopped hurling every three seconds at least.
@Mark S.: Ah. Same old shit from Erick, son of Erick. Ta.
You’ve basically stumbled onto the entire philosphy behind modern dog training. Good work. :)
Libertarians behaving badly/well:
It makes perfect sense, even when applied to toddlers or teenagers.
Teenagers you say? No one has mentioned teenagers up to this point. I have heard very rational and liberal people maintain that all humans should be locked up upon reaching the age of 13 and not released until they reach 16 or 17. I vaguely remember having some sympathy with this viewpoint, but my youngest is now in her late twenties and I believe that I’ve developed protective amnesia over those years.
Mrs. Schrodinger: Erwin! What have done to that cat? It looks half dead!
@Wile E. Quixote: this is perhaps the most dragged-out thread win *evar*, but there you have it.
Barb (formerly Gex)
I feel if dogs were able to reason and learn, they’d be easier to discuss policy with than libertarians. They care about the pack, after all.
Ella in New Mexico
John, you probably missed it, but I wrote this the other day in response to a comment you made:
Ella in New Mexico – February 6, 2011 | 2:41 pm · Link
Yes, that’s about it. I have not found squirt bottles to be too effective. I’ve just decided that the cats are the interior decor.
Makes a lot of sense to me, John and I’ll bet this will all work out for the best for you and both the girls. Especially once you get your yard fenced. You won’t believe how much happier they will be to run in your yard.
I guess too that now I won’t have to worry about the JRT transfer to Texas. Besides, there may not be enough room in the chair I’m in right now, with me and both of our JRTs sitting in it, for an addition of Rosie.
Well, I hate to be the one that throws cold water on this but I have been enjoying John’s posts about Rosie since I have a Rosie here too. I too wish some angel would come into my life and love Kainoa and all her energy and just take her away.
The problem is that even though Rosie (and Kainoa) are dogs they have very distinct personalities. We adopted Kainoa after having a wonderful, calm dog. And we had no idea what we were letting ourselves in for. Kainoa isn’t calm, she doesn’t follow directions very well and is generally a huge pain in the ass. I can easily spend an hour fantasizing about having the house back.
I hope it works John. And I hope you will let us know if it does. I really do try and be nice to her, I give her plenty of petting and treats, but most of the time, I really don’t like her very much and I’m sure she can feel that. I’ve been at the end of my rope several times and just felt like opening the door and letting her go.
But do keep us filled in John because I think I’m hoping for a miracle.
John, you’ve got it! Rosie doesn’t mean to be a bad dog, she’s just a dog. I had two Shih Tzus, a father and son. Arnold, the father, was the perfect dog. I am convinced he was an old soul. Never an accident in the house; he’d cock his head and look at me when I spoke to him, with a thoughtful expression on his face. I am convinced he knew exactly what I was saying. God, I loved that dog. On the other hand, Doogie, the son, never quite got the hang of not using my rugs as his bathroom. He was stubborn as a mule and kind of dense. I spent the first year and a half of his life being pissed off at him because he wasn’t Arnold. One day, it just dawned on me that Doogie wasn’t intentionally trying to make me mad; all he wanted was for me to love him. From that moment on, I started to appreciate his sweetness and his simple desires — go for a walk! have a treat! sit on mom’s lap! chase Arnold! I came to really love the little guy when I stopped expecting him to be Arnold. And he would look at me in a way that would melt my heart — like I was the absolute center of the universe. I lost him 6 years ago and I miss him still.
@gogol’s wife: We had a terrible time with the cats getting on the table until we found out about the Tattle Tale – an battery powered motion sensor that emits a horrible squeal when disturbed. The cats learned to avoid it very quickly. We don’t even have to turn it on anymore, just leave it sitting on the table.
@Delia: Late replying; I dunno, we learned with my daughter (now 16) when she was 3-4 that most of the attitude issues she was having were due to her wanting to have her “say”. We quit trying to “reason” with her, just listened to her side, nodded & acknowledged her, but didn’t engage in argument. It seemed to make her content, it made our lives easier, & it laid the foundation for both sides talking through our differences. Made the teen years much more bearable. To relate back to John’s original post; we just accepted that this was the type of child she was (dear god, a talker), & moved on. Peace!
Ohhhh… @Eric S… that IS a handsome little devil. He looks like he’d be a lot of fun to have around and maybe good natured too. My Goldie just came howling his poor little brains out with a threadbare catnip mouse in his mouth. He deposited it on the bed as a special gift for me, and my heart melted. I don’t know how he can howl and carry the mouse, but he can.
@ John Cole…That dog is valuable to you and a lucky thing to have around. I think you’ve already learned a lot from Rosie about how to accept things that come to you in life, and doubtless you’ll learn more as time goes on. She came to you for a reason, likely some of it has become apparent now, as you’ve learned the one lesson, and doubtless there will be many more to come. You should work on being grateful for said lessons, and then it will be a very worthwhile and valuable endeavor. Good luck, and I think you’re a wonderful person for being so good to Lily, Rosie, and Tunch!
I’m taking my two lovey doveys to a canine behavioral specialist for on leash reactivity. Half the problem is me and the other half is the conditioning I’ve given the dogs after doing it wrong for so many years.
Parallel 5ths (Jewish Steel)
@Delia: That’s it! That’s exactly what we do.
How long has Kainoa been living with you? Behavioralists’ rule of thumb is that any re-homed dog takes six months to settle down and feel like “part of the pack”. It takes even longer for a dog who’s been relocated multiple times, or had other problems (abuse, neglect, untreated health problems) but somewhere around that six-month mark, lots of rescue dogs really do have a “Oh, now I get it!” personality re-set.
How old is Kainoa? The other dog-training rule that helped me when I got my first dog was “A dog’s brains arrive via UPS around their second birthday”. They may be physically mature well before that, but just as human teenage brains are still incapable of advanced impulse control, dogs get smarter long after they stop getting bigger.
If she’s been with you longer than that and she’s past her brain-puppyhood, you and Kainoa may just not be a good match. Sometimes re-homing a dog is the best solution for both parties — done correctly, with forethought, Kainoa gets a home where she can be truly at home, loved for her unique qualities, and you will have a place in your household for another dog awaiting her own Perfect Place.
The hard part is figuring out, and accepting, whether the two of you are just going through a bad patch on the way, or if it’s really not going to work. Talking to a trainer, or at least the shelter / rescue group / breeder you got Kainoa from, can help you figure that out. Good luck!
“…as it WAS with Lily”???
don’t scare me with your verb tenses — i thought something had happened to Lily!
Polar Bear Squares
Things like this makes me glad I don’t own pets. But I’m sure they more than make up it for in other ways. Seems like it takes oodles of patience. Something I’m not in high supply of.
This post gives me some hope tho. Hope you don’t mind if I steal this mantra if I become a pet owner.
@KD: Paul Owens is amazing. His methods have worked wonders with our unruly Siberian husky. (A notoriously stubborn breed.)
Thinking about training in terms of replacing bad behavior with a specific good behavior is so helpful, especially for active and intelligent breeds. Rather than just denying them their entertainment you provide them with new ways to get what they want.
My Otto is an American Staffordshire, AKA American Pit Bull Terrier. And yes, appliance-sized head… but very affectionate. As I understand it they are related to pit bulls but are a distinct breed.
@suzanne: We used a squirt gun with a bit of old perfume in it. After awhile, I wouldn’t even have to use it, just pick it up and ask, “Who wants to smell pretty???” My neighbors probably thought I was insane.
Kittens do respond, but it takes awhile. I would use “Nyet!” when I was really mad, and at least one of them would only hear me when I attached her name to it, but at least it worked. Removing from the problem (curtains, pulling on the sofa) to where they are allowed to do what they were doing (climbing, clawing), then praising them in the new spot also works.
My girls were very well trained, even would sit when told. (“Stay” was an iffier proposition.) We are planning to get kittens in the spring, and I’m a little overwhelmed, but if my Maine Coon mix with the brain the size of a quarter could learn, any cat can. It just has to be in their self-interest.