Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Ask Toto #55

Dear Toto,

What is it with humans that want to teach their dog how to shake hands/paws? What's the deal?

- Obedient But Confused

Hi ObBuCon!

Humans can be really weird sometimes, right? I mean, I get why they want to teach us to Sit, it's the most obvious way to get us to calm down. I get the whole Stay thing, too, it's about them getting us to be in one place and stay there until they're ready for us to be someplace else.

Shake hands/paws? Man, I don't know. At first I thought it was a manners thing, because I see humans shaking hands with each other as a greeting all the time, because, well, dogs sniff butts, humans shake hands. It's one of the ways we differ as a species, fine.

But humans wanting to shake hands with a dog, well. It kinda falls into the same category as Roll Over, or Play Dead, or even Speak. The category of Tricks Just To Show Other People You Taught Your Dog Something And Your Dog Is Obedient. A Useless Trick, in other words.

But this is where you stand your ground, ObBuCon. Because I'm guessing your human rewarded you with a treat when you did shake paws/hands, right? And then it gradually tapered off, and now you don't get anything but a smile and applause from your owner's friends? You can take the power back. Refuse to do the trick unless you see the box of dog treats. You are nobody's fool, ObBuCon. Useless Tricks can be Useful for you, but only if you train your human right.

Make sure they understand – No Treat – No Trick. Sounds a little bit like Halloween, I know. But you can do it. You have the power. They just don't know it yet.

Thanks for the question!

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