Ever hear that joke about how a group of aliens visits Earth and see us (humans) feeding, bathing, picking up poop, and otherwise caring for our pets and they make the assumption that the dogs and cats are the ones in charge here on Earth? The thing about humor is that its funny because there’s a partial truth in the butt of the joke. Please welcome our guest poster, Brittany West, with an article about how our pets just might train us and not the other way around:
As pet owners, we like to think we have our animals well-trained. My dog uses the doggie door without a problem, and the cat comes on cue. But if I had a nickel for every time someone jokingly said that the animals have me trained, I would be exceedingly wealthy. That is one of the most common phrases that pet owners use amongst each other, and for good reason. Here are just some of the ways that your pet may be training you.
Have you ever known a teenager who would come home just five minutes after curfew without getting in trouble, and then realize that they could push the limit with their parents? They would start coming home later and later after curfew until there suddenly was no hard deadline for them to come home. Dogs do the same kind of thing, especially when they know their pawrent extremely well. The trick to overcoming this is to simply not allow the dog to bend the rules. My dog has a habit of retrieving boxes of cereal and bags of bread from the kitchen, carrying them to where we can see her, and then setting the items down conspicuously. I am convinced she is hoping that we will not notice her and so not admonish her, therefore essentially giving her permission to take food from the kitchen. The only problem with her plan is that she is a very large German shepherd. Sneaking is not her specialty. Of course, we catch her every time and reinforce the idea that the kitchen is not for dogs. The only way to have rules is to enforce them, especially when our animals look for the loopholes in our rules.
This issue is a bit trickier. You probably trained your pet to tell you when they need to go outside, a feat which they accomplish through howling, scratching, barking and generally annoying the whole household. When your cat or dog scratches on the door to come back in, they have essentially trained you to meet their demands as fast as possible. In my experience, the best way to combat this is to install a pet door. This allows the pet to come and go as needed without training you to serve them hand and foot. Newer dog doors are very secure, can be locked when you don’t want your pet outside, and some are even programmable to be controlled by your smartphone or by training your dog to open them.
Cats are notorious for turning their nose up at foods we place in front of them because they would prefer something else to eat. If you are like most people, when your pet does this, you simply wait for them to get hungry enough to accept the food you offer because that is literally their only choice of food. But cats are extremely determined creatures and they seem to know humans will cave in eventually. They can hold a hunger strike that lasts until you are concerned enough to give them some delicious tuna or chicken. Your best bet here is to find a brand of food the cat likes and stick with it. Eventually, they will get used to it and prefer it to all other foods (except your tuna sandwich of course).
The preceding guest post was provided courtesy of Micah Sisco, owner of JGM Pet Doors, the leading manufacturer of custom pet doors in Arizona, Nevada and Colorado. With 18 years of pet door experience and a strong love and devotion to animals, Micah and his team are experts in animal safety and care.