Dog Training and Lessons in Patience

Dog Training and Lessons in Patience
Kafka loves rushing to the door when the buzzer rings... and that's just one thing we're working on with some dog training.

There’s plenty of dog training we need to do with Kafka the bulldog before the baby arrives, but we’re focusing on some basics right now. Basics that, admittedly, we've been working on for some time, but not nearly enough.  We’re working on his reaction to the door buzzer, the way he greets strangers he meets on the sidewalk, tugging on the leash, and… the fact that he humps one of us around 8:30, 9:00 nearly every night. That’s his witching hour, apparently.

For all of them we have plans. The most annoying — the humping — we simply walk away and ignore him; the vet and everything we’ve read have said that this behavior is about attention, and so ignoring is the best thing we can do, hopefully.

For the buzzer, we give him the command, “go to the window,” where he usually hangs out and sits anyway. For tugging on the leash, if he pulls, we completely stop and wait for him to stop tugging. We then stand beside him and tell him when it’s time to “go.” As for greeting others, we’re practicing him sitting and letting the person approach him, rather than the other way around. They’re all definitely works in progress, and each and every one of them requires a level of patience.

A patience for Kafka and his stubbornness, because as a bulldog, he’s crazy stubborn. And that’s the kind of patience I’ve been developing for the two years we’ve had him.

Except there’s one thing I completely don’t have the patience for, but there’s not much I can do about it. (And surprisingly I’m not referring to the humping). Rather, it’s the strangers Kafka meets. Sometimes people will ask if they can greet him, and those are the people that seem to “get” it. But then there are the people who just walk up to him, and sometimes ask, but then don’t listen to my response.

Just last night — and the impetus for this post — multiple people asked to greet him. Every time I said, “Yes, but…” and before I could spit out the rest of what I was going to say, they throw their hands in his face, and laugh when he runs into their legs.

It annoys me to no end. When I finally get the full sentence out and say, “Yes, but, we’re training him, so he needs to “sit” first,” it’s ignored about 90% of the time. I could say “No, don’t pet him,” but honestly? I have said that before too, and many ignore it, say “It’s okay,” or “I don’t mind if he’s rambunctious,” or “I don’t mind if he jumps.”

But I’m his owner, and I do mind.

Kafka has been steadily making progress with everything we’ve been working on, and my patience for the long time it’s taken him to learn so many things has grown so much more than I ever thought it would. (Patience that I’m sure I’ll need when our baby arrives this March too — yet another gift Kafka has given me).

But the way Kafka greets people? I haven’t seen an ounce of difference yet, and on that count, my patience is wearing thin. So please, if a dog owner says it’s not okay that their dog is jumping, or that they sit before they greet you, please listen.

And if anyone has advice on how I can be better at this dog training, especially when it involves greeting strangers, I’m all ears.

How has your dog taught you patience?

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    Liz SanFilippo Hall

    World traveler, aspiring novelist, TV and movie news junkie, food lover, avid reader, and, most especially, dog person. Contact me at: esanfilippo@lizsink.com

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