Friday, January 15, 2010

S for Smart Puppies

If you’ve been reading along for a while now, first THANK YOU (it truly is a pleasure having you along for the ride), and second you know I have two dogs: “Bug,” a Pug who is approximately a year and a half old, and “Wiggly,” a two-year-old Boston Terrier. Music Man and I are those people.  You know what I mean, the ones whose dogs are their children. Yep! That’s totally us. We get our share of teasing from friends and family, and Music Man’s mother often reminds us of how much she’d love human grandchildren, but we love being doggy parents. And, since it’s the only type of parents we’ll probably ever be (we are childfree by choice, which is a blog for another day), we take our roles seriously and try to raise good doggy citizens.

I read about a study that was recently done to determine how smart dogs are. The study showed that dogs can understand up to 150 words and can count up to 7. Why a dog would need to count, and how “they” determined dogs could count is completely beyond me, but it’s a cool little fact. The study also indicated that dogs, even adult ones, never really get beyond the comprehension or behavior level of a two-year-old child. This does not surprise me at all. Nor, I would imagine, would it surprise any dog owners out there.

I can vouch for the fact that dogs know many words. Ours know kennel, sit, down, wait, off, here, come, dinner, breakfast, hungry, mommy, mama, daddy, treats, NO! (they sometimes pretend not to know this one), good girl/boy, bedtime, nigh-nigh, and many many more.

I didn’t need to read this study to know that my dogs are, in fact, quite smart. The ways they interact with each other shows just how smart, and manipulative, they can be. For example, there’s the never-ending battle of the Elk antler. We buy Elk antlers for the dogs to chew. We like them for several reasons: (1) they last quite a long time, (2) they’re all natural, (3) they’re cruelty-free, harvested from the ground after shed by the Elk, (4) the dogs looooooove them, and (5) they are great for the dogs’ teeth. Unbeknownst to us, some antlers are apparently better than others. We learned this quickly when the dogs started fighting over one particular antler, even though there was a perfectly good second one available.

The other day, Bug had control of the antler. Wiggly kept trying and trying to get it from him, and I kept telling her “No,” because Bug had it first and they need to take turns. Wiggly was not happy about this. Bug was getting really sick of her attempted theft, so he took the antler into the “untouchable zone” (also known as his kennel). Smart puppy! Wiggly soon proved that she is much, much smarter...

She went over to the front door and rang the Poochie-Bells, which we have trained the dogs to use in order to let us know they need to go outside. She knew exactly what would happen when she rang the bells: Mama would get up off the couch, get bundled up, leash the dogs, and take them outside. She also knew that her brother would jump at the chance to go outside, completely forgetting about the antler. Her plan worked.

As soon as I started to get bundled up, Bug ran out of his kennel and did his impatient “I want to go outside” dance while Wiggly ran to his kennel and grabbed the antler.  Though I knew that neither dog probably really needed to go outside, the bells had been rung, so we had to go out. It’s the principle of the thing. The dogs need to know that ringing the bells means going outside.

Out we went, and I was none too happy when my suspicions proved true as neither dog actually went potty. Wiggly had simply used the bells as a mere distraction to get her brother to give up the antler. Sure enough, when we got inside, Wiggly grabbed the antler and lay down in the middle of the living room floor chewing away and reveling in her victory. Of course she got to the antler first, because she’s always the first one in. Bug is afraid of the door, so he waits until it is completely open before he runs inside. Wiggly knew this too. Unbelievable!

Our Furry Scholar


Her Unwitting Victim (Who really does look rather witless here.)

Since figuring out how effective this tactic is, both dogs have used the bells not for their intended purpose, of course, but to go outside to snack on the delicious piles of rabbit poop that are all over our yard. Unfortunately rabbit poop is apparently quite a delicacy to dogs. While I don't want them to continue to think they're outsmarting me, I also can't ignore the ringing of the bells. I just know that the time I choose to ignore them is the time that one of the dogs will really need to go, and I don't want them deciding that the white carpet (I know, stupid, right? It's a rental, so I didn't get to choose.) is a fabulous spot to relieve themselves.

Who knew that dogs could plot and scheme and be so manipulative?!? Music Man and I need to watch out. It’s two on two, so the teams are at least evenly matched, but with smart dogs like these it might only be a matter of time before we’re overtaken. Good thing we have size in our favor!
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  1. That is hilarious! While reading it, I could picture my mom's dogs doing the same thing! They are constantly trying to outsmart one another!

    Happy SITS Saturday Sharefest

  2. Me, me! I knew dogs could scheme and plot. We have two dogs, quite different from each other but I am forever amazed and amused by what they do together and to each other.

  3. Too funny! My evil little dog definitely schemes against my parents' sweet big dog. Ha ha ha.

  4. Your puppies are so cute!

    Happy SITS Saturday Sharefest!

  5. Your fur-kids sound adorable and I love the pics. People don't believe me when I tell them how smart EmmaLou, our Golden Destroyer really is. Then I show them how she knows the names of all her toys and when I ask her to get a specific toy, that's what she does. Of course, when I ask her to get off the couch, she conveniently forgets all her vocabulary! Gotta love them. Sweet post!

  6. Oh my goodness, you have very smart dogs! We have a 7month old Yorkie, Bella, she is so much fun! Training her is a lot of work,she much prefers he wee wee pads to going outside..........ugh!

  7. Rabbit poo is the bane of my existence as a pet owner. Today the shih tzu rolled in some only an hour after her bath. ACK!!!

  8. That's incredible! I've never had a dog, so I had no idea they could be quite so manipulative...

  9. The beautiful thing about having dogs for children is that they don't talk back...

  10. Oh, absolutely totally adorable puppies and kids! Sweet post!

  11. LOL. I love it, dogs are so smart and cute :-)

  12. Haha! Love it! I'm a dog person as well. As I type this there's a chocolate lab anxiously awaiting for me to stop and play with her. :P


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