Today Mom is writing a blog on how to teach a dog to “trade”. She believes that the “trade” comes in handy when a dog has something that the human would like to have but the dog is disinclined to surrender. I would like to offer my perspective to my canine friends so that we are able to approach the “trade” situation with as many tools to use to ensure a level playing field. Not having thumbs puts us at a disadvantage but I believe we have other skills at our disposal.
Before we delve into the dynamics behind “the trade,” I would like to review those more popular items wherein one finds him or herself forced into a trade. They are:
- Tennis ball! Personally, there are few things I like more than a tennis ball. I have been a huge fan, collector, researcher and supporter of the tennis ball. Indeed, if you must choose between a squirrel and a tennis ball, I highly recommend choosing the tennis ball. I explained this in a previous blog, Squirrel vs. Tennis Ball.
- Sticks. Who doesn’t love a good stick? If you’re Dawson, you can run with it, drag a branch (which is really just a collection of sticks artfully arranged by Mother Nature), chew it, walk with it and tease your brother with it. Clearly, a difficult object to relinquish.
- Socks and various other human garments. Let’s be honest. They’re just fun to carry around!
- Miscellaneous. This includes things that one does not encounter in daily life but which is irresistible when found. This is usually accompanied by a surprised, panicked look from your human. When you see that, you know you’ve got the upper hand in the trade.
There are a couple of fundamentals to understand to be good at the trade. First and foremost, participating in a “trade” is basically a negotiation between you and your human. Once you understand that, you realize that your current relationship changes, albeit only until the negotiation is complete, and then it’s business as usual. Sure, it can be a friendly negotiation and you can still love your human, but make no mistake about it, your goal is to end up with something better than you gave up. Nothing more, nothing less.
Also, feel free to stubbornly refuse to give up said object until you are offered something much more desirable. The key here is much more desirable, not just more desirable. If you train your human that a mediocre offering is acceptable, then that is all you will get. Remember, your human can open a refrigerator (think cheese!) and reach stuff (think toys!) so they have many objects at their disposal. They could at least bring their A-game to the bargaining table.
Grady Buford Huntley
Spiritual Advisor for Abolish the Crate Federation
P. S., I must confess I often will mindlessly trade for anything that is food. I suspect I have missed some opportunities for a better trade. It is my hope that you, dear reader, can be stronger negotiator than I.