They say that poodles are a smart breed. In fact, they say that German shepherds, golden retrievers and poodles are the top 3 smartest breeds of dogs. Now, I don’t know exactly who “they” are or how “they” figured out that those are the top 3 smartest breeds, but as long as MY dog’s breed is in there, I’m certainly not going to argue with “them”. Besides, Dobby has already proven that she’s smart. Very smart.

Too damned smart.

Some background information: When she turned about 9 months old, Dobby started becoming possessive of her “stuff”. Not all stuff, mind you, but if it was something she considered to be particularly cool, like a favored snack, pieces of paper, twisty ties, etc., she started showing some “possessive” behavior, like growling, baring her teeth and occasionally snapping at us if she thought we were getting too close to “her thing” (and yes, we WERE close…if it was paper or a twisty tie or anything else that she had stolen, we were indeed going to take it away from her!).

We talked to people and did some reading…some thought it was an “adolescent phase” (think of a 16-year-old who thinks (s)he knows everything and is smarter than his/her parents) and others said it was an issue that would not go away without intervention. We decided to go with the “adolescence” frame of mind and started doing things to reminder that we were, in fact, the bosses in the house and she was a distant #3.

And to some extent it worked. With training, she didn’t walk in or out of the house before we did. She sat and waited for us to say it was OK before she ate. She got better at the “drop it” command, at least for items she didn’t care much about. We enrolled her in Intermediate obedience classes so she would learn some new commands she would have to follow, again putting her into the “we will tell you what to do, not the other way around” frame of mind.

And in the midst of all of this, when she stole a sock from the laundry pile, or a bunch of self-stick stamps from the coffee table (yeah, that one was fun), they were hers and she’d still growl and show us her teeth.

Crap.

More reading. Apparently prevention is the best defense so we got very good at making sure the items she coveted were out of her reach. The laundry room door got closed and there were finally no dirty clothes on the floor.  The coffee table in the computer room finally got permanently cleared off for the first time in the 7 years we’ve had it. Scraps of paper than may have fallen to the floor unnoticed suddenly got picked up quickly, lest Dobby find them and claim them to be hers.

And it helped.

Most of the time.

Except for the stuff that got overlooked or things that she found that we didn’t even know freaking’ existed (Obviously a piece of a mailing label. Written in Italian?!?! I still don’t know where that one came from).

So yeah, she still got some stuff, so we learned how to redirect her from it. Not that it was easy. When she had that glove-sock-coaster-memory card-postcard from the OB-GYN, it was THE coolest thing in the world. It took a LOT of get her mind off it, especially when I got the impression that she could “read” when we were going to try to take something away from her. But we discovered that food was a HUGE motivator for her. And not just 1 little piece of kibble either…I had to give her part of her food in the bowl and run to grab “the cool thing” before she was done (and we’re talking Summer Olympic speed running…she eats FAST!). Or put some coveted Pup-Peroni into her Kong so she’d have to “work” to get it out (in another room, thank-you very much) while I took my pink flamingo sock back. If Joe was home, it’d be even easier because we could play tag team – one of us could redirect her with some Bil-Jack (another meaty dog product – “meat” is the name of the game) while the other person grabbed the used dryer sheet. And don’t ever, EVER bring groceries home and put the bags on the floor while you’re putting the stuff away because that raw chicken and chopped meat was HERS, dammit! That was a tough one, even with two of us there.

But meanwhile, prevention was just putting a band aid on the issue and wasn’t working on the problem itself…she was possessive and we needed to work on that.

Everything I read online and saw on TV (hello, Dog Whisperer and It’s Me Or The Dog) said that letting the dog sleep with you was not a good thing because it made the dog think they were equal to you. Well yeah, we let Dobby sleep with us, just as we had allowed her predecessor, Pippi to. It’s warm and cuddly and nice. But I was willing to change where Dobby slept for a while if it would help with the “I am possessive and I don’t want you to take back that sock that I stole from you. It’s mine and I’m willing to fight for it because we’re equals and I’m ballsy enough to even try to be the alpha dog” behaviors. Joe wasn’t quite as gung ho with that frame of mind but he also wasn’t as afraid of her trying to bite him as I was of her snapping at me. Then again, I was in the house more than he was so I could get her used to sleeping somewhere else like, say, her crate.

And it really worked. I cordoned off the chair and couch so she couldn’t jump up and sleep on those anymore, and put a nice, fluffy blanket in the crate. She was willing to sit in there and even fell asleep in her crate several times, all the course of just 3-4 days. What a good, smart puppy!

And then one day the smart puppy dragged her doggy mat from the front hallway into the computer room (not a far distance…maybe 5 feet) and fell asleep on that. No problem…I just took that mat away.

Two days later she dragged her other doggy mat all the way from the kitchen to the computer room – a distance of about 30 feet, through 2 rooms and 1 hallway.

Smart dog.

But I’m smarter.

You want to sleep on a mat, Dobby? Fine, but you’re going to do it on my terms. I took THAT mat and put it in her crate.

4 hours later I came home to this:

When the time comes that we’re ready to get a second dog, someone please remind me that I want him/her to be a stupid breed. Thanks.

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