Man Vs Dog: A Game of Psychological Warfare

This fucking dog…

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Every time I think I’ve got her figured out, she throws a ridiculous curveball just to show me she’s always going to be one step ahead.

“Figured out how to get me in my crate consistently? Fine, I’ll start chewing on all the furniture every chance I get. Oh, you sprayed that disgusting sour stuff on the furniture so I wouldn’t wanna chew on it anymore? No problem, I’ll just start tearing all my toys to shreds… Damnit, you took all my destructible toys away? Actually, that’s fine. But just know I’m going to start having some fierce diarrhea every time you take me outside to the point where you have to spend hundreds of dollars at the Vet’s just to figure out that nothing’s really wrong with me.” 

And on and on it goes…

Her newest “quirk” is that she decided in the last few days to no longer be interested in the dog food she’s been eating for the last month. This isn’t totally new because the same thing happened a couple months ago. When it happened the first time, we caved and got her cans of wet food to mix in with the dry food. She loves the wet food, but it’s not economically sustainable for us to buy her cases of wet food for the next 10+ years.

So this time I’m calling her bluff. If she doesn’t want to eat the food that we’ve decided she’s eating when we decide it’s time for her to eat, then she’s going to starve. And I’m going to let her. This is probably a little sick and twisted, but I gotta tell you that I’m enjoying teaching her a very important lesson. When I Gchatted Julie at work yesterday to ask for her approval on this plan of attack and she gave me the OK, I was so excited. Not because I want my dog to go hungry, but because I want her to learn once and for all that eating is a privilege. There are starving dogs in Africa for Christ’s sake!

Rather than cater to Molly by giving her the opportunity to eat multiple times throughout the morning, I’m putting the food in her bowl once, and she has exactly 10 minutes to show some sort of interest in it. If she doesn’t, then breakfast is over and she can try again around 6PM for dinner.

I have a pretty strong suspicion that after two or three days of her missing out on at least 50% of her daily food intake, she’ll never skip the opportunity to eat again.

Meanwhile, she’s being a gigantic pain in the ass because even though she doesn’t want to eat her food, she’s acting hungry. She basically wants to eat anything except for her food. She’s licking everything, trying to chew all the things she’s not supposed to chew, trying to eat pieces of the carpet, looking for any kind of nutrients she can get. If only she knew all the nutrition she needed was right in front of her just a few minutes ago.

And for all of you “dog experts” out there who wanna throw in your two cents on this matter, save it. I know what you’re going to say. “Molly must be sick, or maybe she’s allergic to the food. You should probably ask the Vet about this.”

No, this is simply a game of psychological warfare. And so far, I think we’ve got a stalemate. But just like in a real war, I’m pretty sure the side that controls the supplies (food, water, toys, belly rubs) is the side that comes out on top.

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1-Month Check-In on Molly: She’s a Temperamental Bitch

We’ve had our puppy Molly for about a month, and there’s been some great successes and even greater failures in our efforts to raise her properly. It seems like a good point to check in and see how she’s grown, both physically and mentally, under our negligent eyes.

Vitals: She’s alive, a tad surprising in my opinion.

Weight: One month ago she was 23lbs. She’s now 36lbs. At this rate, she’ll be cruising past 100lbs in less than five months.

**The reason why her current weight is a bit shocking to us is because we were initially told she was born on April 9th, which would make her five months old now. Turns out she was actually born on May 20th, making her not even four months old yet. I just can’t fathom how large of a dog the mother must have been to be carrying around five or six of these beasts in her belly.**

Sex: Still female. She really is my little bitch.

Number of Nipples: Eight

Most Surprising Nuance: Apparently a dog’s body temperature is typically a few degrees warmer than a human’s. You’d think this would make dogs handle cool weather better, and cause them to dislike the heat. Not Molly. She’s taken on the roll of a stereotypical Southern California girl from the beginning, hating any weather below 75 degrees. If it’s even as “low” as 72 degrees in our apartment, she’ll go out on the porch and find the one sliver of sunlight to lay in. Other than Julie, Molly’s the only living creature I know that would embrace a fleece blanket during the LA Summer:

Most Mind-Boggling Tendency: Do I have to narrow it down to just one? Is it when she chases her tail around in a circle so violently until she passes out from dizziness (even though her tail is long enough that she can catch it without having to even turn her head)? Is it when she has a full bowl of food but refuses to eat unless her food pellets are in one of those balls that dispenses the food as she turns it over and over? Is it her tendency to give herself multiple concussions whenever we take her for a walk because she refuses to walk in a straight line and ends up bashing her head against our knees over and over? No, it’s none of these. It’s this: Molly presumably likes sleeping in her crate. She sleeps there every night for at least seven hours. Sometimes when she naps during the day, she’ll go lay down in the crate without any coaxing from us. But if she falls asleep outside of the crate—even if she’s so exhausted because I made her run the equivalent of a half marathon to tire her out—and I try to wake her up and gently give her a push into the crate, she reacts like the crate is on fire. She’d rather risk an impatient Ross physically abusing her than be pressured into getting in the crate.

Honorable Mention for Most Mind-Boggling Tendency: When we take her for walks, she sometimes has to stop and sniff EVERYTHING. And depending on how terrible she feels like being, she might decide to pickup and chew on EVERYTHING. Somehow no matter how close I come to permanently paralyzing her by tugging on the leash every time she stops, she won’t have it any other way. Every leaf, piece of bark mulch, tiny ant or bug, and of course any trash…it’s just all so interesting!

Funniest Thing She Does That’s Totally Innocent: With a giant bowl available for her to eat food out of, she usually decides to take a mouthful out of the bowl, transport it to the carpet, drop it, and then eat the pieces one by one.

Funniest Thing She Does That’s NOT Totally Innocent: We’ve been trying to reinforce her good urination habits by giving her a treat whenever she goes outside in the right place. It took about a week for us to realize she didn’t actually have a urinary tract infection…no, she was purposely letting out little amounts of pee at a time so she could go more frequently and get more treats. I’m not at all surprised that a three-month-old puppy outsmarted me from the start.

Most Frustrating Thing She Does That Makes Me Question Whether She Has a Brain or Not: She has no fewer than 12 toys and almost always has access to a bone/knuckle/rawhide thing to chew on (things that would seem most appealing for a puppy to chew on), yet there’s a continuing need to chew on everything in the apartment that’s supposed to be off limits: her metal crate, our patio furniture, the couch, the gas line from the propane tank to the grill burners, and the corner of our sliding glass door.

Proud Parents Moment of the Month: When we took her to a river for the first time and she didn’t hesitate one second before getting in the water (wish I had a better picture, but I promise she did jump all the way in):

Reason Julie Would Consider Giving Molly Back to the Shelter: Molly refuses to “come up” on the couch and cuddle at the exact moments that Julie wants her to…which is basically every moment Julie’s awake.

Reason Ross Would Consider Giving Molly Back to the Shelter: Well, she doesn’t seem like a very good guard dog yet, kind of a wimp in my opinion. But more importantly, she doesn’t seem to be able to learn that when I’m watching football, she needs to be totally self-sufficient for three hours. I’m talking feed herself, fill up her own water bowl, take herself out for a walk. Hopefully at the two-month mark I can report good news on this front.

Introducing the “Molly Rules”: A Warning to Bay Area Residents Who Plan to Meet Our Dog

Dear SF Bay Area Residents Who Will Have the Pleasure of Meeting Our Dog Molly This Weekend:

While Julie and I are ecstatic to introduce our little girl to all of our friends and family, we wanted to take this opportunity to let you know what to expect both with the puppy’s behavior and some of our training/obedience methods.

This is an incomplete list so please check with Julie or myself before you interact with the dog. Even eye contact with Molly without our permission can lead to a disaster that ends with a trip to the emergency room.

Rule #1: If Molly greets you by trying to jump up and put her front paws on your thighs or waist, we’d appreciate it if you grab those front paws and hold her up in a “slow dance” position until she starts to squirm and get really uncomfortable. Then hold her up for an extra three seconds after she starts to squirm. We think she’ll eventually associate jumping on people with that uncomfortable “standing on two legs” feeling. And yes, when you finally let her down, she’s likely to lunge at your arms and try to bite them. Please see rule #2 for instructions on biting.

Rule #2: Molly is a puppy and will have her “puppy moments” when she tries to bite anything and everything. If you find yourself in a situation where Molly is lunging at your arms, hands or genitals with her mouth open, we’d like you to not pull those body parts away from her mouth suddenly. We think this will only entice her to attack your further. We’ve read that if you actually move towards her mouth with the body part she’s going after and dare her to bite it, she’s less likely to keep attacking. If she does latch onto that body part, just give her a stern “no” while pushing her away. It’s important to stay calm even if she has the tip of your penis between her teeth. Thank you and feel free to wear a cup if you’re planning on seeing us.

Rule #3: Now let’s say Molly gets into a “mood” and she starts trying to bite any human within a 10-foot radius of her. If Julie or I are paying attention (you can assume I won’t be on Saturday after about 4pm based on the amount of alcohol I’m planning to consume), you might hear one of us yell out “OCTAGON!” What that means is we need to quickly set up our 3-foot high metal playpen gate in an octagon shape surrounding the dog. Putting Molly in the octagon sometimes is the only way to ensure she can only hurt herself or the metal gate, nothing else. If you hear us yell out “OCTAGON,” look out for a temporarily psychotic dog.

Rule #4: Speaking of biting and chewing…If you happen to own a house or rent an apartment that we’ll be bringing Molly to this weekend, just know that anything that’s not nailed or screwed into the floor can and will be chewed and carried around your place. Plan accordingly. It is not Molly’s fault if she chews on your shoes, your flatscreen TV or even your baby’s dirty diaper. If it’s within her reach, she thinks it belongs to her.

Rule #5: There’s a good chance Molly has a minor case of separation anxiety, meaning whenever humans stop playing with her, she’s likely to start barking and crying. Our strategy with this is to immediately leave the room that she’s in when she starts to bark. The thinking is she’ll eventually learn that barking makes all the humans leave, but staying quiet makes us appear. So if she starts barking this weekend, even if there’s a group of 15 of us hanging out, we’d appreciate it if everyone follows us into a different room to prove a point to our dog. This is likely to disrupt conversations and possibly drinking games, but it’s a good way to avoid an octagon situation.

Rule #6: One of the many things we’ve learned from the Dog Whisperer is that you shouldn’t use your dog’s name when yelling at her, correcting her, or basically when she’s doing anything negative. So if she bites you, chews on something of yours, or pisses on your oriental rug, please don’t say, “Molly, no!” Here are some helpful nicknames that I use when correcting her: “Asshole,” “Little Bitch,” “Dickhead,” “Piece of Shit,” and “Fucker.” You’re welcome to use any of these names, or feel free to invent a new one.

Like I said earlier, this is not an exhaustive list, but these are the big ones. Keep them in mind when hanging out with Molly and you’ll probably be safe.