Offering someone advice on how to train their dog is generally a dumb idea. Actually, offering someone advice on pretty much anything, unless they have explicitly asked for it is a dumb idea. People don’t like unsolicited advice. This is a problem for me, because I am that dick who just LOVES telling you what to do with your life!

Guys, I just want to help! What am I supposed to do? You’re hanging your pictures too high, the dryer sheets you’re using are made from artificial fragrances and animal fats (ANIMAL FATS!) and every time you wear running shoes with jeans you look like Jerry Seinfeld. I’m SORRY.

I want to rearrange your bookshelves and re-paint your walls a less hideous colour and I know I am horrible and a know-it-all but I am trying to change! I swear! And surely I get some points for rarely if ever actually giving voice to all of this advice rumbling around in my head- especially around dog training.

Dogs are like kids, to people without kids. You can’t just go up to them and offer unsolicited advice because you’re basically saying “Hey, your dog is an ill-mannered turd, here’s how you could fix that if you weren’t so lazy.” But guys? I am SO close to crossing this line with my neighbour. SOCLOSE.

Here’s what’s happening. My neighbour is an older man with a precocious 7 month old puppy (well the puppy is officially his son’s dog, but anyone who’s bought a pet for their children knows where this one’s headed.)

This is what I hear every morning from my neighbours yard (for the purposes of this conversation I will call the dog Rufus):

Neighbour: Rufus! Rufus no!

Neighbour: Nooooo! Go on! Get!

Neighbour: Hey! Ruuu-fuuuusss!! Nooooo!!

Neighbour: NOOO Rufus! NO!

and on and on in some combination of the above for sometimes up to an hour. I peeked from my kitchen when I first heard this happening and usually the situation is that my neighbour is trying to get some yard work done, raking leaves, mowing the lawn etc and the precocious puppy is doing what puppies do, which is being a giant adorable pain in the ass and getting in the way of ERYTHING.

But there’s something I don’t understand- and here’s where I’m tempted to stick my nose into things – what, exactly, does he want the dog to do? I’m a fairly intelligent human who understands English and even I can’t tell what he wants. There’s a whole lot of yelling, and NO!’s but not a lot of clear direction about what the dog SHOULD be doing. I feel for the little guy, he has no clue what he’s doing wrong.

Look, I have had my moments, lord help me I have HAD my moments. And I am sure I have at some point screamed “NO!” at Gus repeatedly out of frustration or momentary insanity, but usually after screaming there was a concerted effort to look at what happened and prevent it from happening next time.

Like the picture at the beginning of this post. That’s me submitting Gus Cesar-style after he and an energetic German Shepherd teamed up to knock a woman over and then steal her coffee. Seriously. Gus was chasing the German Shepherd, wasn’t looking where he was going and bumped into the woman – not hard you understand, but his back is at just the right level to buckle your knees- and she fell over. As I ran towards her to help, and to pick up the coffee she had dropped, the Shepherd (I kid you not) GRABBED THE COFFEE and ran away. He stole it! This was totally planned, he was the brains and Gus was the brawn. Actually after I was done being horrified and apologetic, I had to admit it was a brilliant ploy.

Well played Shepherd, well played.

So, I mean I get it, dogs can have a lot of energy and not lot a lot of focus and they can be immensely frustrating but the yelling…really? This is the best you’ve got? EVERY DAY?

Also, if you don’t have the time or patience to train your dog at that exact moment (which is fine guys! we’re busy! not every moment can be a training moment!) why don’t you just put him inside while you finish the yard work and then invite him out for playtime? I am so confused.

But you can’t offer advice, especially about training dogs or children. So I sit here every day listening to the chaos and I bite my tongue. But, I am also now constantly alert to the possibility of canine-coffee-stealing rings exploiting Gus’s immense size and stupidity to steal java from unsuspecting women.



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