Do you take your dog’s word for it? If they say they’re hungry or tired or really have to go out, do you believe them? Is your dog a liar or honest? Mr. N is very much about rules and order and he’s pretty scrupulous about obeying the letter of the law. I believe him when he says he needs more food or has to go out to the bathroom but we’ve lived with dogs that wasn’t the case. A study was done that showed that dogs would trick people in order to get tasty food. Sound like something your dog would do?
Sometimes Mr. N will come up to me and tell me that he’s hungry even though he has been fed his regular meals. I will usually give him a few extra tidbits because I trust him to be honest about being hungry. He’s not overweight though (if anything, he chronically runs slightly underweight) and he’s not greedy. He could probably free feed and not get fat. Back when we were feeding prey model raw, I would give him a rabbit quarter or something and he would eat until he was full and then walk away.
We had a foster dog who was chronically hungry and constantly begging for food. I monitored his food intake very carefully and he never got extra food unless there was a good reason for it. He was one of those dogs that would bolt down breakfast and then try to convince someone that he hadn’t been fed so I never believed him when he complained that he was hungry. Otherwise he’d be a Chihuahua barrel and we could roll him down the street.
I can also leave out food and it will sit there untouched. We left out a bag of open treats on the ground for two days and it was still pristine when I found it and moved it out of the way. If there’s chews around the house, he knows they’re his and he’s allowed to have them but treats are to be doled out.
We’re working on Mr. N’s dog reactivity using the "Look at That" method among other things. Occasionally he will look up at me for a treat reward when I don’t see anything that could be potentially triggering him. I give him the benefit of the doubt though and give him the treat anyway because he has a better sense of smell and hearing and I figure there is probably something out there that I can’t see.
After a particularly strenuous encounter with another dog, Mr. N will sometimes think that the reward is not commensurate with the amount of effort it took to ignore said dog. He gets a few extra treats when that’s the case and he’s happy to move on after that. The aforementioned Chihuahua would have sat there and demanded an endless stream of treats.
Mr. N has never “lied” about wanting to go to the bathroom when he doesn’t have to. I have heard of dogs who just want to go out and play and they will ring potty bells even they don’t need to urinate or go scratch the door.
Energy Level Honesty
Mr. N is never tired. We’re pretty sure the unidentifiable five percent in his Embark DNA results is from being related to the Energizer Bunny. If he wants to be picked up and carried on a walk, there’s a very good reason for it. Either it’s too hot for him to be walking and he wants to go home or he’s injured or he’s worried about stepped on or something else of that nature.
If Mr. N is barking at the door, there is definitely someone there. Whether it’s a visitor or our neighbor across the hall or most likely a delivery person throwing a package at the door and leaving. When he barks, he barks for what he considers a good reason and I generally agree with said reasons. He’s a reliable barker which assuages my mind when I’m home alone. Correspondingly, we listen to him when he barks.The neighbors had a break-in a while back when people climbed through their window to rob the place while they were sleeping. That wouldn’t happen at our place without advance warning. Said neighbors have cats.
My Part of the Bargain
Accordingly, I try my best to be honest with the pup as well. I try not to promise things I can’t deliver. And if I promise something he gets it, and if I can’t for some reason, he gets it later or something else to make up for it. I don’t lie that vet visits are going to be pleasant. I do promise that they will be over soon. Mr. N is also good at ferreting out attempts to trick him and he does not approve. When I was trying to teach him to speak, we would fake knock on the wall or the door to try to incite him to bark. It never worked and he would give us a disgusted look.
Mr. N also knows how to get what he wants within reason so I think that also takes away a big incentive to “lie.” With me anyway. He is also, however, perfectly willing to take advantage of strangers who don’t know the rules though.
Circumventing The Rules
I admit I find Mr. N’s attempts at finding loopholes entertaining and sometimes reward his efforts. He generally doesn’t break rules but he figures finding a way around them is totally fair game.
Mr. N is not allowed in the kitchen without permission and he knows this. Stale Cheerios blogger, Mary Hunter came to Portland for a training conference and we had lunch together. I gave Mr. N his IQ Ball food toy while we ate and he was playing with it. It kept rolling into the kitchen though and we would roll it back out of the kitchen to him. Mary commented that she thought he wanted attention and was trying to initiate play with us by rolling the food toy into the kitchen.
If he tries to set up the circumstances to get what he wants, that’s fine by me as long as he plays by the rules.
Do you consider your dog a liar or honest? Are they shameless about trying to get what they want?