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Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Do your dogs (or cats) seem to play by their own rule book? Mine does and I really wish I had some way to decode it. Muggle seems to have a very detailed and specific set of rules he plays by and all I can equate it to is obsessive-compulsive disorder, OCD, a la Tony Shalhoub's Monk character. Can a dog have OCD? What are all those rules about? I'd love to decode Muggle's behavior to understand the rules he plays by!

Here's a look at Muggle's "normal" behavior throughout the day. Tell me what you think.

The morning routine.

6:00 a.m. Climb into bed. Morning rules: lay down exactly 1-arm's length away so the food-lady can pet me, but barely. No snuggling. If food-lady doesn't stretch out her arm and pet me, paw at her until she does. If she moves closer, give her "the look" and move to the foot of the bed.

The Look: "You want to cuddle? Really?"

7:00 a.m. Breakfast time. Paw at food-lady, then get down from the bed and stare at her. If that doesn't get her up, make "grrff" sounds until she's awake. Go outside to pee before breakfast. Breakfast rules: Refuse to eat until food-lady gives me an appetizer. If it isn't good enough (beggin' bits or cheese) spit it out, give her "the look" and walk away. Do not begin to eat my food until the cat tries to get at it.

7:30 a.m. Pace in front of the door and "grrrfff" until we walk. If food-lady doesn't respond quickly enough, pace faster.  

The Look: Where's the breakfast appetizer?

The walk rules: Stop at the end of the driveway and search both ways for biscuit-lady and biscuit-man (a couple in our neighborhood who carry dog biscuits with them when he runs/she walks.) Go in whichever direction they are. If they aren't out, turn right. (Always go to the right for our morning walk unless we can turn left for a biscuit!)

When we return, sit in front of the treat cupboard giving food-lady "the look" until she gives me a treat (dentabones or jerky are the only acceptable post-walk treat; if she tries to sneak in anything else, spit it out, give her "the look" and walk away.)

9:00 a.m. Snuffle through the toy box, find the correct toy, and wave it in front of food-lady until she plays. If she ignores me, paw at her. Give her "the look" and wave the toy some more. If she doesn't play "right" sit and give her "the look" then paw at her and try again.

Rules of morning play: Use only the toy I bring to you--no other is acceptable, even if it was my favorite toy yesterday. Today's toy is the only one I play with. No tugging too hard or I will drop the toy, go to my pillow and pout. No tugging too soft or I will drop the toy, go to my pillow and pout. No playing in any room other than the family room.

9:15 a.m. Stop playing, no matter what we're doing or how much fun it is. Lay down. Ignore any further attempts by the food-lady to engage me in play.

9:15 a.m. Play time is officially over.

The evening routine.

5:15 p.m. Start pacing and "grrffff"-ing to let them know it's dinner time. Dinner rules: Refuse to eat until I get a beggin' bit. Pace in front of the door and "grrrfff" until we walk. Always go to the left for our evening walk.

6:30 p.m. The food-people's dinner time: stare pathetically until I get to sample their food. Spit it out unless it's steak or seafood. Chicken is sometimes acceptable, but not always. If they try to feed me anything else, give them "the look."

The Look: You expect me to eat that?
When the food people attempt to watch television, jump on the couch between them. Paw and grrrff until they pet me. But, if they call me onto the couch, ignore them.

9:30 p.m. Bedtime. Grrfff and pace until the food-people turn off the television or computers. If they don't, pace back and forth from them to the stairs to let them know. If all else fails, give them "the look" and bark. If they have other humans visiting, bark at them until they leave or go to bed.

The Look: Are you still here?

Bedtime rules: Wait patiently while the food-lady prepares for bed. If she forgets to put my water dish down and give me a treat, growl at her. After my treat and water, climb into bed to hump "girlfriend" (stuffed alligator toy) for 5 minutes, no more, no less. If girlfriend isn't already on the bed, drag her to the stairs and grrfff at food-lady until she brings girlfriend into the bed. Lay between food-lady and food-man and demand pets. Paw at them if they don't cooperate. When food-man turns out his light, get off the bed and go into my crate to sleep.


Muggle's schedule doesn't vary by much from day-to-day. Even when we went to Chicago, he stuck to his routine, except everything was 1-hour earlier (by the clock) because of the time zone change. He's a great traveler and adapts well to new environments, but don't mess with his routines or he gets twitchy.

He's also a good host when other dogs visit his house. As feisty as he can be on a leash or at the agility field, when other dogs come to our house, he's very accommodating. He lets "company" eat and drink from his bowls, play with his toys, and wander around his house. He has pulled his favorite toys out of the basket and hidden them in the sofa when other dogs visit, but he's pretty polite about sharing the others.
Muggle with his favorite houseguest, Dagan.
As for his toys, he can get twitchy about where they are--we must follow the toy rules. He has a toy basket downstairs and 3-4 toys in the bedroom upstairs. If the upstairs toys go down or vice versa, he will frantically search the toy basket, taking inventory, then move the toy to where it belongs.  

Muggle also has fetch rules. He loves to play fetch, but only at the agility field, in the family room, or in his grandparents' yards. If you throw the ball for him anywhere else (including our own yard!), he'll get it and take it into the house or to the car. He won't give it back to you. When he's done playing fetch, he'll bring the ball back to you and drop it, and walk away. If I throw it then, he'll give me "the look" and walk away.
Fetch is okay at Grandma Hinkey's house.

I know we've somehow instilled these routines in Muggle, but even without the schedule, he seems to have his own set of rules for how things get done. I'd love to have a chat with him and see what he thinks about all this, to somehow decode the Muggle Rule Book and see how and why he's such a very orderly dog. I'm sure Matt would like to know how he can get some of Muggle's orderliness to rub off on me, too.

What do you think? Do we have an OCD dog, or just a spoiled one? Do your dogs have unusual rules, routines, or behaviors they play by? What do you think your dog (or cat) would tell you about their routines if they could?

The Look: Are we done here?


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