Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States

Author of the book "Therapy Dogs: Training Your Dog to Reach Others," 2nd edition published by Dogwise Publishing. Canine Behavior Series at

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Directing Doggy Traffic

My elder Miss McNasty Terv has in the last few days decided to play "Mine" games with the dog dishes. She has to eat in a crate due to her laryngeal paralysis that makes her eat so slowly. She decided to jump Believer a few days ago and start a fight-ish (loud, no holes) when I opened the crate door to let her out. The next few times we reached in through a barely-cracked door, lifted the dish to the crate roof, and then opened the door to let her out without either dog touching the crate.

Then Spirit began to exit the crate after first picking up her dish and taking it with her. Today, ready for whatever, I opened the crate door without taking the bowl out. Spirit just sat there. Another kind of "Mine"--a landmine is going to go off if Beevy gets into the bowl! Or maybe not. Spirit is thinking about it to decide which would mess with all of us the most!

Beevy backs up a little. She has shifted into a tending mode with Spirit. I felt that happen about a month after Gabriel died. Believer realized that for some strange reason we were keeping this crazy old dog, and needed her help. She never cared about being leader anyway, but now it's more pronounced that she is simply helping us manage Spirit.

So in this situation, there I am standing just outside the crate, Beevy has backed up and moved toward the back door but is waiting to see what to do next. Spirit stands up and picks up her dish, with a body posture of sort of hoping for Beevy to reach for it. She doesn't exit the crate, but pauses there in her "So what's it gonna be?" attitude. With one arm I point out straight to Beevy to head on out that door. With the other I start beckoning Spirit to move on out of that crate and let's go. They both do it. I wish I had a video. That must have looked just like a police officer directing traffic! Note to self: be sure to teach Redeemer hand/arm signals when he comes to join the team!