Pavlov had it all wrong
I am a single adult human living in a house with two corgis. Got Girldog from a shelter when she was about a year, year and a half old maybe; got Boydog a few years later as an 8-week puppeh. And let me tell you something, from Day One, this has been a three-way psychological experiment. I no longer know who is manipulating who on a daily basis.
- One of the first things I trained Girldog to do was not to bark at the dinner table; if she barked at me while I was eating, I put her in The Quiet Place (her crate) where she couldn’t see me. She learned almost immediately to subvocalize her barks, to let out a breath with just enough vocal cord vibration that I wouldn’t QUIIIITE consider it a bark and move her further away from the food. It’s a sound like this: “Hrrrr. Hrrrr. Hhhrahhh.” I didn’t realize how odd this was until my aunt came over and said, “That dog hissed at me.” “Yes,” I said, “she does that.”
- Boydog learned to do tricks by watching Girldog. I never taught him to sit. He learned by watching Girldog get a treat for sitting. Once, I told both dogs to sit at the same time, while I held a treat in each hand. When Girldog didn’t sit quick enough, Boydog put his paw on her butt and pushed her down.
- I hung a bell on the door and taught Boydog to ring it when he wants to go out. Girldog sees no reason she should ring the bell, as it is beneath her dignity, and she can get her way by barking instead. Boydog, however, will ring the bell for Girldog when she lurks around by the door, although he has no interest in going outside himself. Girldog has made Boydog her personal slave in this matter.
- Boydog rings the bell when he doesn’t need to go out but thinks I have been at my computer too long. By the time I get to the kitchen, he’s nowhere near the door, but hey mom, as long as you’re up, let’s play! He obviously does not believe I can see through this extremely clever ploy.
- Girldog once climbed onto a sofa, crossed the back of it, leapt from the sofa to my desk chair, leapt from the chair to the desk, and knocked all my stuff off the desk. (I wasn’t there, but it was obvious from the trail of destruction what route she had taken.) Then she got down and proceeded to ignore the bag of corn chips she’d encountered and focus her attention on biting my phone charger in half, chewing up a USB memory stick, and eating a pen. I still have no idea how she could be so smart and so dumb at the same time.
- Boydog will chase a laser pointer (not uncommon for dogs introduced to them as puppies! Pro tip) but only when Girldog is not around, because she hates it for some reason and will tackle him for it. Girldog also likes to be outside while I want to be in, and Boydog prefers to have us both inside. Boydog will lead me to the laser pointer, pester me until I get it down, and then run around chasing the laser and barking madly. No matter how stubborn Girldog has been about staying outside, she wants to know what he’s barking at and immediately comes inside. (It is always the laser pointer he’s barking at, Girldog. Always.)
- There is a chair in my bedroom that I cannot sit on. The dogs take turns sleeping on it, depending on who gets there first. The only hard and fast rule is that if the human sits on the chair, they will both lose their cool. The chair is for dogs only. I have not even tried to sit on the chair for about six months now.
I suspect I’ll be adding more of these as the three of us continue to train each other.