Behavioral Modification according to Dr. Dog.


Excellent example of a well-trained human


1. This is the easiest trick to teach a human

Humans need to feel valued. When a human says, “Good dog!”

  • Wag your tail.
  • Look into their eyes.
  • Pretend they’re about to give you a treat.
  • If they smile, you’ve done your job.

2. This is more complex and requires a greater degree of skill

Being kind to a happy dog helps humans learn kindness. Always greet your human as if he’s the single most important creature in the universe. But be very careful how much happy you greet him with.

How much happy is too happy?

  • If you peek out the window as your human walks toward the door and he’s frowning, be very cautious. Bark a soft greeting, but leave enough room between you and an exit just in case.
  • There are times it’s best to hide behind the couch and be very, very quiet. A few examples: If the human slams the door, if your exuberance has resulted in spilled coffee/food/paperwork–or if you’ve pooped on the carpet.
  • If he’s tired, wag your tail. Let him know you’re happy he’s home. A dog quite skilled in gauging human behavior will wait until her human is sitting on the couch or his favorite chair, ease up toward him and put her head on his thigh. Then, she’ll roll her eyes toward his face in reverence to let the human know he’s appreciated.
  • If he’s happy when he walks through the door, it’s safe to jump around to show you’re glad he’s home.

3. How can you tell if your behavior modification techniques are working?

  • Fat White Dog sent in this suggestion. Her human goes “Awwww, that’s so cute,” whenever she sits, wags her tail, and waits eagerly to be petted. She says this technique has never once failed her.
  • Vizsla Mutt says she’s honed the pitiful whine into an art. She waits until her human is engrossed in computer work then starts with a soft whimper.  If her human doesn’t react, she increases the frequency until her human says the words, “What’s wrong, baby girl?” That’s when Viszla Mutt sniffs the box of dog biscuits. Humans are too dense to understand what you want any other way, so you have to be sure to give them very clear direction.
  • My favorite suggestion comes from Dingo Mutt, who never fails to look up at his human as if to say, “Please help me.” No matter how angry his human gets when she trips over him, it melts away as soon as he gives her that look.

This was taken by a human and posted on

Errrr Dog sent in this question last week: “How do I make my human understand that I own her bed? I stake out my territory, but I’m tumbled over when she lifts up her sheet and comforter off her pillow. I’m so insulted!”

  • Well, Errrr, you obviously have a human who is quite territorial. It’s the worst kind of behavior problem to cure. Your approach has to be subtle. Your human has to believe she’s sharing her space with you. If this inappropriate behavior isn’t worth the time and effort to address, you might want to adopt a different human.

Good news! I just learned that Errrr Dog solved his problem! He shares a pillow with the other human who lives in the house. The scent of a male human is so much like that of a dog, they don’t mind if their pillow smells like dog drool.

Different humans require different levels of behavior modification, and technique varies according to age, personality and gender. Please feel free to send in your suggestions, your experiences, your successes and your failures.

–Dr. D. Dog