Pet and Human Training

It never ceases to amaze me how much dogs and cats learn that you wish they hadn’t, and that you didn’t intend.

Let’s take for example my cat Stormy.  Stormy always gets fed as soon as I wake up and can stand upright.  Because she is so loud and persistent and annoying.  The Squeaky Wheel method.  That’s where my training comes in. Stormy has that covered.

The two dogs have almost equal expectations of me.  Weekday mornimgs. after I take a shower, they stand by their food bowls and look at me expectantly.  But not BEFORE I take a shower.  They’ve learned it doesn’t work.  So they take a longer nap.  Must be nice.

But Saturdays are an entirely different matter.  Somehow they’ve learned to tell time (or at least, the days of the week).  Almost every Saturday morning, I do the New York Times crossword puzzle online with Fakesister, and it isn’t until I’m done that they start that expectantly waiting thing by the food bowl.  By that time, they’ve taken an even longer nap.  Fine with them.

So, how do they know?  I’ve observed that they have learned the word “Goodbye”.  So I’ve experimented with not using that word, and they still know.  So there is something about my body language or tone of voice when I’m getting ready to end a conversation that they pick up on.

It’s spooky.  I wish I understood it.  Then maybe they would sleep even longer and give me a break.

Owning dogs and/or cats is like having a baby for life.  A child who never grows up.  It can be a little strange when people go overboard with it.  Not to stereotype, but small dog owners do a lot of that.  They transfer all the feeling they might have for people to animals.  With dogs, I try to make them as independent as possible.

But there is no question that I probably do this too.  I never had children, so I am maybe more prone to ascribe human behaviors and emotions to the dogs.  But I don’t think I’m wrong in the case of the Mysterious Dog Language Skills.

I used to think that dogs were very simple, drooly beings, and that cats were the complex and mysterious beings. Now I think just the opposite.

Not that I like cats any less.  It’s just that I’m onto their game now.



2 responses to “Pet and Human Training

  1. Their behaviours are fascinating aren’t they. In fact I’m going to be doing a blog post sometime soon about my cats – I bet you can’t wait! 😉 I have a friend who attibutes human thoughts and feelings to her dog, (yes, small dog!), when we go and visit, she’ll say things about her dog like “Oh he’s been looking forward to your visit all week!”.

  2. LOL, Vanessa! Your story about the friend with the small dog reminds me of reading the “All Creatures Great and Small” series, though I can’t remember which book. The doctor had a patient whose owner was like this, and it just made you want to roll your eyes backward in your head!

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