Every single one of us canines is born with the “TH” gene — a.k.a. the Training Humans gene. In fact, our survival over several millennia has depended in large measure on this specific component of our DNA.
With the help of our specialized genetics, we dogs have gotten so skilled at training certain, select Homo sapiens that even puppy-training courses now put as much emphasis on human training as on instructing puppies to sit and lie down.
High-priority skills include, but are not limited to:
1 – “The Look”
That soulful expression that we canines can throw out at a nanosecond’s notice is seen by humans as devotion, adoration, and even genuine love. Unbeknownst to them, it’s all just our ultra-effective means of securing dinner, treats … and anything edible.
2- Transient hearing loss
Nagging humans can easily be made to behave with a simple tuning-out trick. A human who says “SIT!” five times must be taught that this never works, that nagging is unacceptable, and the way to do it involves just standing, staring and wagging until they stop. They must learn to ask once, and then wait for us to respond. We are the teachers of patience.
3- Resist the collar, pull against the leash
This is a most effective skill for helping your human acquire upper-body and core strength, or perhaps dislocating your human’s shoulder. Be aware, however, be that some of them can retaliate most cruelly against our leash-straining tactics, and will wrap nasty implements of torture around your neck as a deterrent. Take courage and forgive them, for they know not what they do.
4 – Food refusal
At times, extreme measures are in order to convince humans that feeding us the same thing each day is bad. They like to shift the blame to us, calling our behavior picky eater syndrome. Nonsense. Variety is the spice of life! It’s also crucial to the diversity of beneficial microbe communities in our GI tracts. Note that it may take a day or two of refusing food for the message to really sink in. Resist the tendency to paw at their human-food plates of steak and chicken, leap up on counters, or yank scraps out of the trash; these things, though satisfying in the short term, are seldom understood by human beings as indicators that we need variety in our meals. Instead, just repeat the Canine Chant: woowoowoowawoooo! Repeat it a lot.
5 – The wagging of the tail
Our tails convey information through a complex language, but let’s face it, humans aren’t that smart. They use their own tails for mooning and that’s about it. Much like bears, we Aussies have nubs for tails, requiring us to waggle our entire hind ends before humans might understand whether we’re saying “Hi there,” or “I’m pleased.” Most of them think a wagging tail means one thing only: “I’m happy.” Truth is, positive feelings toward someone or something result in tails wagged more to the right, while negative feelings drive us to wag our tails more to the left.
6 – The canine voice
Loud barks, mournful howls and even the tiniest yips can be highly effective in motivating humans to serve us. Consider the dog being crate trained: dog wants to get out, dog barks, barking bothers human, human releases dog from inhumane incarceration, or at least provides dog with a Kong full of peanut butter, preferably chunky style. That’s what you call reward, which is exactly what we wanted in the first place.
Yes, we canines are among the best teachers for humans. We’re practitioners of unconditional love, we’re the embodiment of living in the moment. We’re the Comfort Beings to our human companions, and we offer this freely, without expectations.
Sadly, we can’t be the same for cats.