Does Your Trained Dog Ignore You? Meet EmmaLou the Queen of Bribery


Ya’ll know the Golden Destroyer, EmmaLou – her pic is my blog header most of the time; she has her own page here on this blog, and that shot up above is actually her, but in hiding one day.  EmmaLou, the well-trained pup.  Okay…not so much.

I was reading an article the other day which gave the reasons why your dog won’t pay attention to the commands you give.  I immediately perked up as I was about to learn why EmmaLou simply refuses to obey basic commands.

The article suggests your dog needs more training. More training? EmmaLou passed basic obedience with flying colors.  She did all her commands right on cue during the sessions…even to the point of staying at the door to the facility until we gave her “the release” word, then she dragged our sorry butts to the car, forgetting all she had learned in class.  I don’t recall how many weeks we went through this — practice, practice, practice, reinforce, reward, praise, praise, and then when it really mattered I would give a command and EmmaLou would look at me and I knew she was thinking:  “Have you lost your mind?  Moi Come?  Where’s my treat, dumb human?”  By the time we arrived home, EmmaLou had forgotten every command learned.  Oh yeah, more training was definitely needed.

For several months, EmmaLou had her own Dog Whisperer.  She doted on him and would do whatever he wanted.  Then he would patiently explain to me how to get her to respond to a basic command  such as “Come”.  I would try it, EmmaLou would respond properly and off the personal trainer went w/my $50 in hand.  As soon as he exited the driveway,  I would command of my pup, “Come” and EmmaLou would promptly turn her back on me and go chew a couch cushion.  Obey commands?  Not interested.  The personal trainer cost us a fortune and he did not understand why we continued to have behavior problems.  He finally decided the problem with EmmaLou was, in fact, ME.  Big mistake.  I fired his a$$ faster than he could say “Come.”   EmmaLou continued to stick out her doggie tongue at me at every opportunity but at least I was no longer paying $50 for that particular experience.

Back to the article…when you call your dog and she comes to you,  reward her. This little nugget is known as “reinforcement.”  I’ve mentioned  EmmaLou does not respond to “Come.”  She does, however, respond to “Treat,” and will come inside with that one word…reinforcement.  I must bribe my dog to return.  BTW the word “Treat” no longer works if she has already counter-surfed that night’s roasted chicken.  Then “Treat” becomes moot. 

Adding insult to injury, the article discusses “competing reinforcers” which is fancy trainer-speak for my dog has a colossal case of “Ooooh Shiny!”(or in her case “Oooooh What’s That Over There?”)  EmmaLou gets away every once in awhile; the gate may be open, the garage door up, or she rips the leash out of my hand and takes off.  How do I retrieve my retriever?  I holler at the top of my lungs….”EmmaLou, wanna go for a ride in the car?”  That dog will stop dead in her tracks leaving puppy paw skidmarks if she hears that question.  All it takes is a car ride. She returns…and off we go for a ride around the block.  Then she calmly walks back inside and with a doggie smirk on her face gives me the look.  The look that says…”You are the most pitiful excuse for an Alpha Female on the face of the planet and I can bend you to my will whenever I wish.”   Yup – competing reinforcers at work here.

Finally, the article claims I don’t understand my dog’s needs.  Not true; her needs are simple.  She has a need to be out in the backyard rolling around in dessicated chipmunk remains, or frolicking in fresh squirrel urine and rabbit poop on a regular basis.  If it smells horrid, she’s on it in a flash.  The article states I should not rush her; she may need to sniff around a little longer or search for a good bathroom spot.  Wait.  The entire backyard is one big bathroom spot.  I’m the one left standing on the porch tapping my foot while she sniffs every blade of grass.   Oh…did I mention she won’t  (repeat WON’T) go outside unless I go outside first?  It’s true…my dog won’t go pee unless I step outside first and lead the way.  We accidentally taught her that behavior  when she was just a little puppy as we thought it was cute when all of us went outside together.  She “needs” for  mom and/or dad to go out the door first, then EmmaLou will follow.  Many a day I have been on my deathbed begging her to go out alone because I’m sicker than a leper with dermatitis and will she go out?  No.   Oh, I understand her needs alright.

I’m afraid at this rate EmmaLou will never get her Good Canine Citizen Certificate.  I can accept that because EmmaLou is simply so danged cute she makes up for any and all bad behavior…it’s those big chocolate brown eyes – she had me at “Woof.” sigh…


10 thoughts on “Does Your Trained Dog Ignore You? Meet EmmaLou the Queen of Bribery

  1. LOL! I love it! I always find myself having to “re-train” Samson after he’s spent time with our boys!

    Lets see if this works for me – “Come EmmaLou! Good girl, good girl”.
    Hey! How’d you DO that? Ohhhh I see – bacon treats in your pocket eh? Cheater. lol

  2. EmmaLou sounds awfully like my terrier mix, Obi! Here’s a photo of her:

    She pretends she deaf when I tell her to come inside. She’ll decide to sniff everything in the yard and not even lift an ear if she hears me calling her. But say the magical “T-Word” (which was our code word for “treat,” until she figured that out as well), she runs inside like there’s no tomorrow.

    We also trained her improperly with the treats. Now she thinks that every time she goes outside, she deserves a treat. So she’ll bark like crazy to go out – the same bark as “I really have to peeeeeeeeeee!” We let her out, she makes a circle around the patio table, then marches back inside. Then she barks, “Where’s my treat?”

    The car trick works for us as well. As does “putting one foot in front of the other” (our new code for “walk” – she’s already figured out that W-A-L-K spells walk and that “W-Word” also means it’s time for a stroll).

    Obi is adorable! And sounds just like EmmaLou — Devoted Spouse started rewarding her every time she returned from a potty break and now she, too, demands to be given a treat for taking a pee. Unbelievable. We also had to start spelling things then one day she learned what p-i-z-z-a meant and it was all over. Dog has an amazing vocabulary – I’m thinking I may need to learn a foreign language to stay one step ahead of her! lol Thanks for stopping by! 😉

  3. Sometimes I think dogs are just too smart. They ignore our commands, because they know that we will become desperate and offer treats or something else they want. I swear that our two pups plot against us…they are cute, but so conniving!
    We are the ones who are trained, not our pets. EmmaLou has me right where she wants me….at her beck and paw! 😉

  4. Just Love EmmaLou 🙂
    awww, I’ll be sure and tell her — she misses her wobbly bulldog buddy — she’s smitten with one of those bad boys who keeps givin her the puppy eye! 😉

  5. Oh Sparkie pulls that “won’t go outside without me” thing too. Unless of course theres a squirrel in the yard, then it’s off to the races!
    What is that all about — like we have to hold their paw! EmmaLou will only go out by herself if she spots a rabbit and like Sparkie she’s off like a rocketdog with me standing there crossing my fingers for the bunny. 😉

  6. To Emma Lou, the Golden Destroyer,
    Way to go Emma! You’re getting that human whipped into line. Just keep on endeavouring to persevere. You’ll have that human sitting up, rolling over, begging, and playing dead in no time. A…. scratch the playing dead deal, they don’t like that. Always great to visit you!
    Hi Sandy – EmmaLou read ur comment (yes she can read AND Twitter too) and she’s just strutting around the house like the smart dog she is! She knows she has me wrapped around her paw and that will never change! Send best regards to your Geezer! xo

  7. A doggie door solved the “hurry up and get back inside” problem. Gracie Lou figured that one out her first day. She doesn’t quite answer/respond to “Come” but she’ll be at my side in a flash if I a) show her her leash and 2) jingle my car keys.

    Lately, she’s been trying to train us by loitering at the cabinet where her treats are kept. She figured that if she sits there looking cute, we’ll give her a treat. A few more lessons and I’m sure we’ll respond right on command.
    I don’t think even a doggie door would work – I can just see me crawling through it first – nope I don’t like that visual! lol I’m constantly amazed at how well EmmaLou has trained me. sigh

  8. Is there some particular reason why she should “come?” Does she need something where you are?
    Apparently not! In her mind I’m the one who should come to her. LOL

  9. I did have a lovely dog once, when I was living in Liberia. He didn’t need much training, as he seemed to realize having a house to live in and people who weren’t going to try and put him in a stew pot were worth a little good behavior.

    I do have one of those other creatures – The Cat. She’s extraordinarily well-behaved. She doesn’t eat people food, she doesn’t jump on counters or walk the middle of the dining room table, she is as neat and tidy as can be with her box….

    But I have to keep the door to the patio closed and LOCKED, mind you. If I don’t, that danged cat will open the sliding glass door, go out, CLOSE THE DOOR BEHIND HER and proceed to have a rollicking good time until I discover she’s missing and begin the hunt.

    I fear she’s truly the one in control around here, but she let’s me pretend I’m still “top dog”. 😉
    oh sweetie…our pets are ALWAYS the ones in control… lol

  10. Freddie has his own rules too. He follows commands most of the time but if we are getting ready to go somewhere then all bets are off. It’s just part of the charm of our furry friends.
    They do have such a way about them – even though she has destroyed my home repeatedly and cost me thousands in vet bills…I wouldn’t trade her for the world!!!

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