Small Beginnings: The unsolvable mystery of canine behavior

If you are a pet owner, specifically a person who owns and cares for a pet dog, you have probably asked yourself this question a million times: “What in the world are you doing?” Let’s just face the facts, we will never be able to comprehend the things that prompt many of the behaviors our dogs engage in. Websites, pet stores, veterinarians, pet psychics and other “experts” can give us educated guesses as to why our dogs do what they do, but in the end these remain unsolvable mysteries.

Take for instance the aggravating behavior of eating non-edible things. Some of my dog’s favorite non-edible things to consume include previously used tissues and dirty laundry. I have done some research and most conventional wisdom tells you that if your dog eats non-food objects it is a sign of a dietary deficiency. I disagree. I think my dog needs a doggie mentor to demonstrate proper canine behavior and good puppy manners. Since this is not really an option because the last thing I need is another dog, even a well-behaved one, we are pretty much out of luck.

We live in a house where there is a box of tissues and a waste can in every room because we are a family with active sinuses. This has unwittingly provided our dog with easy access to a steady supply of used facial tissues pretty much every time she turns around. It’s like trying to break an addict of a substance habit while keeping an unguarded stash within paw’s reach. We were fighting a losing battle. Finally, one day someone had a brainstorm. Since we cannot seem to persuade the dog to stop shredding tissues, we decided instead to try doggie proofing our receptacles. Why we waited so long to think of this solution I do not know, but nonetheless.

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The primary areas of concern were my daughter’s bedroom, the living room and the bathroom; all frequent tissue areas. We found a cute little waste can with a swinging lid that we gave to my daughter. This has proven very effective. The problem was virtually eliminated in her room, much to our delight. For the bathroom, I wanted something a little nicer so I picked a small can with a step-on switch that opens the lid. I knew this one would be fool proof. There was no way the dog was going to figure out how the lift the lid with her paw! And I was right. However, within two weeks she had figured out how to open it with her nose and eat as many tissues as ever - a short lived victory for sure. For the living room I wanted something cuter that the other two styles, so I picked a deep set woven basket that I thought would be a deterrent for her. And it was, up to a point. It’s smooth sailing - until the tissues pile up to about half way full, then it’s a free for all after that! Oy vey! I have seriously given up.

There is only one glimmer of hope I have for a solution to this problem. An announcement from the UK on the internet at the end of last year brings me just a smidge of optimism. A cutting edge research company called “No More Woof” has developed a device that promises to interpret doggie vocalizations into three languages to eliminate all this confusion. Yes, you read that right. They have created a headset for your pet to wear which includes a brain probe and an interpretation module that taps into Fido’s moods and then speaks on his behalf to you, his baffled owner. So no more guessing what is bothering Spike. The canine translator will hopefully solve the mystery forever of why dogs eat tissues by allowing them to express their deepest needs before they act out. But before you get your hopes up, the article adds this little caveat: “…to be completely honest, the first version will be quite rudimentary. But hey, the first computer was pretty crappy too.” I might want to look at some new trash cans before I invest a dime in this canine panacea!