When positive reinforcement goes wrong

My dog is not like other dogs. I’m sure a lot of people think this about their dogs, but I really think mine is…different. Not because she’s extremely bright or intelligent (she’s definitely not), in fact, she is motivated entirely by three things: 1.) food 2.) figuring out how to get you to pay attention to her 3.) getting you to play rope toy with her. She has various methods to achieve her goals, like wedging herself into my lap while I’m reading so that I see her and not my book and managing to find food on the side of the road during our walks. (I once looked down and she had a chicken wing in her jowls. Living in a neighborhood full of sloppy college kids is great for her.)

The list of things she is afraid of includes, but is not limited to: squeaky toys, bridges, vacuum cleaners, babies, large dogs, small dogs, the dishwasher, the noise air mattresses make when they deflate, garbage trucks, her flea medicine, the hair dryer, toy trains that go around the Christmas tree, and being rolled around on a desk chair through the house. OK, so the last one might be understandable, but the rest of them are just plain weird.

She also does this thing when she wants to get your attention where she stands up on her hind legs, leans on you, and paws at your legs a little bit while giving you a face that says, “I-am-so-adorable-don’t-you-want-to-stop-what-you’re-doing-and-play-rope-toy-with-me?” I should probably discourage this behavior, but because she’s small it’s more cute than annoying. So a few days ago, she’s doing this while I’m cooking dinner, and I’m petting her head, and she…well…farts. And being the incredibly mature person that I am, I got an extreme case of the giggles, which of course made my attention-starved dog’s entire day.

Now, I don’t know if it’s just a coincidence (perhaps standing on her hind legs makes her gassy?), but at least three times this week she has repeated this. And I swear they are getting longer and louder. I know I should stop laughing at her, but seriously, you try and keep it together when your dog is passing gas and looking incredibly proud at what she’s accomplished. (Which I suppose is an improvement? She used to just look at her butt afterward in confusion like, “What was that?!”)

So, good news everyone, my dog has learned a new trick!

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