Train me

By Mir
September 21, 2009

I’m starting a training class tonight for Licorice, except that it’s really a class to train ME, which I know, but still strikes me as amusing. I mean, I’ve got this book all about training your pet and I’m still trying to decide if I want to train her to ring a bell to go outside, because it’s apparently a fairly easy thing to train and the idea cracks me up.

Not that I don’t totally enjoy her just dancing around and jumping on me when she remembers she has to pee….

Of course, the problem with the bell is that the dog may then ring just to go outside and play, which is fine and dandy, I suppose, except that right now she is Velcro Doggy and wants me with her all the time, and I don’t actually feel like going outside every ten minutes to eat grass.

Anyway, I shall start learning all about this and more, very soon.

Some things I hope Licorice will learn in training:

1) “Sit!” means “Relax on your haunches while the front legs remain straight and the top half of your body remains upright.” It does not mean, “Melt into a boneless puddle of goo and roll over onto your back.”

2) “Go potty!” means “Hurry up and do your business, dog, it’s pouring out here.” It does not mean, “Look up at me with sad eyes and come sit on my feet.”

3) “Licorice” is your name. You may also answer to “Mrs. Puppyhead,” “Bunky,” “Yo, Dawg” and “Good Girl!” The following things are NOT your name: The sound of the refrigerator door opening, the crazy little dog across the street barking, “pepperoni,” “Monkey,” “Chickadee,” or “Who left this on the floor of my office?”

4) It’s very sweet to give kisses. It is not necessary to lick my tonsils while doing so. I don’t even have tonsils anymore, you know, so knock it off.

5) The kitchen floor and the hardwood are somewhat slicker than the carpet in the office. Running full-tilt on either of these non-carpet surfaces generally results in you crashing into something and then glaring around balefully to see who pushed you. No one pushed you. It’s called inertia, pup.

Things I suspect Licorice is hoping I will learn in training:

1) Pepperoni is good for dogs. SO SO GOOD. Why limit it to a piece after ear-cleaning? Why not line all the furniture with its magical circles of deliciousness every single day?

2) Someone should be petting the dog at all times.

3) Let’s go outside! Now let’s go inside. Now let’s go outside! And in. And out. Isn’t this fun??

4) Anyone who eats yummy-smelling things is issuing an engraved invitation for a tonsil-licking.

5) That collar and leash are completely unnecessary, and tools of hardened barbarians. We should banish them and rely instead upon inherent goodness that never, ever wavers. Unless it sees a squirrel.

Yep, it’s going to be fun.

[Truly, how could I not look forward to learning how to better communicate with my dog, when I can barely understand my children? At least after yesterday I wasn’t surprised when Monkey came down this morning and declared that he was feeling “much better,” even though his temperature was… 103. He was sent to the couch with a dog to cuddle, orange juice to drink, and a stern lecture on how that word, I do not think it means what he thinks it means.]


  1. Chuck

    Yikes! 103! Poor kid, hope he feels better soon. Good luck with your Licorice training!

  2. Caroline

    #5 though….is it not the most hilarious thing to watch?

  3. sassymonkey

    If you figure out how to get your dog to not respond to the opening of the refrigerator please let me know. My cat needs to be trained. For now I just have to yell at her to get out of the kitchen, which she does listen to…for about thirty seconds.

  4. Crista

    Poor Monkey. I hope he feels better soon.

    I can totally relate to number 3 on the first list. It drives DH bonky when he calls a cat and gets a dog.

  5. natasha the exile on Mom Street

    Our cats lose traction on the hardwoods too. It’s like watching a cartoon where the legs are spinning and the cat isn’t moving. Awesome.

    Do you really want her to learn that one? Maybe you’re willing to sacrifice household comedy for your dog not getting bonked, but I am sooo not that big of a person.

  6. Ling

    My dog learned to ring the bell.

    Which was really freaking cute and handy, since she gives no indication she needs to go out… except by going on my carpet.

    Until she mentally clicked it with “going outside for fun and play”.

    Then it became the “jangling bells of OMG PUPPY STOP IT ALREADY”.

  7. Yan

    maybe i’m just sadistic but we purposefully throw balls on the hardwood floors for my Missy to catch just to see her slip and slide…the occasional crash into the door or wall as she tries to change direction is all the more entertaining.

  8. Holly

    This is hilarious, it’ll totally come in handy when we adopt a dog in a couple of months!

  9. Half Assed Kitchen

    I’m so glad you got a dog! Your posts are that much funnier now!

  10. aem2

    My mom used to say “That dog needs a butler.”

  11. Tracy

    Don’t get your hopes up too high…it’s just the first day of class. What you are trying to accomplish could take at least three days. (just kidding) Good luck!

  12. Jean

    We did the bell thing with our miniature daschund. It’s wonderful. Yes, she does ring it if she wants to go outside, but our backyard is fenced in so it’s fine. Enjoy :)

  13. Heather

    Yes, Licorice shall make great blog fodder. ;) I’m glad Monkey is feeling better by his standards – hopefully the thermometer will soon agree :P

  14. Alicia

    My dog goes nuts for the ice maker. She hears it drop some in your glass and she comes barreling in, hoping a stray one will fall so she can play with it for all of 5 seconds then leave it in a nice melting puddle for an unsuspecting foot.

  15. Katie in MA

    Our black lab trained herself to bang her stainless steel bowl if she was thirsty. Except…sometimes, well, she wasn’t quite clear on what empty meant. Thankfully, she wasn’t really picky about where the water was and she would clean up after herself. (But the slurping…dear god the SLURPING! Drove me crazy.)

    I’m sure Licorice will be much more trainable and much less devious. :)

  16. Mary

    We trained our dogs to use a bell to go out/in. Well, actually we only trained one. The other one understands the concept, but considers it beneath him so he just waits for the trained one to ring the bell.

  17. getsheila

    Re Monkey: inconceivable.

  18. Suzanne

    We trained out black lab puppy to jingle the bell to go out. It took just a few days. She in turn trained the next lab puppy a few years later. Three years go by with bell jangling to go outside to the fenced yard. Awesome. Then one day they just STOPPED. They. refuse. to. jingle. anymore. WTF. Now they just look at me all patronizing like when I jingle the bell each time to remind them. They have trained me well.

  19. Sasha

    I just started puppy training class on Saturday. Madigan had 11 other classmates and they were all 4 months old. A-dor-a-ble. While I was learning Madigan made a new friend, Madison, and played during the entire class.

    He only stopped once when the instructor came up to him for his demonstration. It’s amazing to see what our dogs will do for total strangers. lol

  20. Nina

    my parents trained their dog to ring the bell to go outside…..and it’s great except that now he rings the bell all of the time….to pee, to play to get treats!

  21. Paula

    Mary, we have two dogs and only one will ring the bells! Just like yours the second one deems it beneath him. He actually goes so far as to get the bell ringer and herd her towards the door…priceless! When they first learned they abused the bells horribly but now they have mellowed out about it.

  22. Jenn

    Our dog is weird. He’ll by dying to go outside, oh whhhhhyyyy won’t you let me go outside, I have to peeeeee, and then we put him outside and he goes and keels over in the grass. He lays there for 30 minutes or so and THEN he might think about going to pee. And if it’s raining? Forget it. He’ll hold it for hours. We pry him off the porch with a crowbar.

  23. Celeste

    The bell is wonderful. To train my Cairn, I used an extra-large jingle bell tied to a shoestring. Coated it with peanut butter to get him to lick it, and then praised him and put him out every time he rang it. It can be annoying but it’s better than scratching up the door.

  24. Jenn

    Erm, that should have said we CAN’T pry him off the porch with a crowbar.

  25. The Other Leanne

    1.) Before I had a cat door, the Smartest Cat In The World used to ring the brass bell I had hanging from the doorknob on the front door. She trained me on it all by herself.
    2.) You will be surprised at how training a dog will help you with people.
    3.) Doggie door. Just sayin’

  26. Summer

    Personally, I think it was quite useful to have had training in how to train a dog BEFORE I had a child. Of course, my son does wind up being praised with “good job!” a lot more often than most children, but he hasn’t complained yet.

    The Other Leanne just reminded me that our dear departed dog trained us to let her out when she signaled. She would alert us to her needs by lifting the brass mail slot with her nose and letting it bang closed. And the dog I had when I was a kid learned to modulate his yowls so they sounded like “wannOUT!” He’d stand by the door and TELL us he wanted out. In English. (He could also say hello — “haaaarrow” — and “more.” Those three phrases are really all a dog needs to communicate effectively with humans.)

  27. Wendy

    I just started puppy kindergarten with my puppy today too. Except we were not suppose to bring the pup to the first class. Even more proof the classes are to train us, not the pup. Can’t say as I got all that much out of the first class but she talked A LOT about all the things to come……

    Have fun!

  28. dcfullest

    We just moved into a house that is almost all hardwood floors. Our dog can not deal with the change and keeps slipping all over the place. Everytime he looks at my husband and me like we moved just to make him angry.

  29. Sara

    I love your dog already. And I love that you ended this post with a line from one of my all-time-favorite movies.

  30. Lindy

    I was going to make the Vicinni joke, but it seems getsheila beat me to it. Did nobody else get that?

  31. Aisha

    My grandpa taught their puppy – a boxer/chihuahua mix – to ring the bell when he needed to go out. Of course, Bruiser went and figured out that Grandpa would come whenever he rang the bell, iow, training my Grandpa. The bell has gone away.

  32. Jan in Norman, OK

    Umm…Aisha? A boxer-chihuahua mix? Wow!

    I’m assuming that the daddy was the chihuahua. And a very determined one, at that.

  33. RuthWells

    I think your Monkey and my monkey were separated at birth. After being sent home with a fever of 103* last Monday morning, on Monday evening he declared that he felt all better and could go to school on Tuesday. His fever was all the way down to 102.7*.


  34. Debbie H

    We too trained our black lab to ring the bell to go out. Unfortunately I (having a hearing disability) couldn’t hear the high pitches to well. So this dog figured this out and would resort to a sort of yodel yelp to signal for me if no one else was in the house. We/you are very trainable.

  35. Tami

    If you want to cure Monkey ASAP,get yourself a laser pointer and Licorice will chase the “evil red dot” all ova’de floo’ whilst sliding like a pachinko ball-laughter is the best medicine! I’m glad to hear she’s honing her nursing skills with her boy (magic facial saliva,ooooh).We also have a lil’ black furry cutie who is a challenge to attempt to photograph without her appearing as a black void with shiny eyes and VERY.WHITE.TEETH.

  36. mom, again

    I had a friend whose husband automaticed the whole house. Everything was interconnected, the phones, the whole house stereo system, the security system, the lights. It was kinda awesome. He set up a sensor in an awkward place behind the front door and trained the dog to sit there. Then the house would say ‘Maggie wants to go out’. He put another sensor at the very end of the porch, where no one would be likely to stand by mistake. Maggie sits there and the house announces ‘Maggie wants to come in’. Very cool.

    When she was telling us this at work, our boss wanted to know if he could put a sensor on her toilet seats to tell her sons ‘Time to close the toilet!’ & ‘don’t forget to wash up!’.

  37. mama speak

    mom, again–well did she??? cuz THAT would be awesome!

    Mir–My husband wanted to teach our dog to fetch us beers from the fridge. You put a dishcloth on the fridge handle & they can pull it open that way. I pointed out that she might not decide to stop at beers, and help herself, and he agreed it was probably a bad idea. Would’ve been a great party trick tho.

  38. Nicki

    You are waaaay smarter than me. At least you understand from the beginning that in reality, you are the one being trained. It was something of an ‘ah ha’ moment for me.

    PS. Love The Princess Bride allusion! It’s an all time favorite.

  39. My Kids Mom

    Have you ever wondered why puppy training classes are typically expected of us, but they don’t even offer the same classes for children? They send us home from the hospital with zero training. What’s with that?

  40. FunnyGal KAT

    We taught one of our dogs to ring a bell on the door, too. And it worked really well. So well that we could tell how badly she needed to go out by how hard she batted at the bell. A slight jingle meant “sometime soon-ish” while batting it so hard it swung up and hit the window was a much more urgent request.

    Oh, and it was a great party trick to have her hit the bell when friends were visiting.

  41. Anita Tedaldi

    training classes for dogs are fun. I took my hopeless pug (hopeless because despite how much we love him he’s non trainable – if that’s even a word). But I enjoyed learning with the other parents.

    Ringing a bell, wow i would love to see that !

  42. Erin

    I’m assuming the recipient of the baleful look in the first #5 would then be found on the floor, laughing? And then is due for yet another baleful look? That might be where I end up when gravity and inertia get the best of my dog.

  43. ben

    Wonderful stuff, Mir and everyone.

    I highly recommend the book “Don’t Shoot the Dog.” It probably won’t help you train your dog (nor your dog train you) but it will offer some insights into all this training stuff.

    Doggie Door – not for everyone, but we could not survive without one. Also handy when you forget your door keys (ours is big enough that even I can fit through it far enough to unlock the door)

    My wife loves to tell about her dog that used to sit outside and ring the doorbell when her dad’s carpool came in the morning, and then again when the school bus arrived. One day a neighbor called her house and said “It’s pouring rain, and your dog is outside, you might think about letting him in,” and her mom replied “Oh, he’ll just ring the bell when he’s ready.”

    Have fun!

  44. D

    Dogs are the best! I miss when they are so little and excited to learn. I have a 64lb lab and he is like my baby and everytime I see him I can’t help but smile. Look forward to reading more about the doggie experiences.


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