You see, intelligent dogs are wonderful, but they learn better than you expect. That includes learning you, your actions, and your environment.
There are many stories about people teaching their dogs hand signals because they're deaf, and they work out admirably. If you watch a dog "acting" on a television show, they're merely performing an action based on a trainer's hand signal that is made off camera.
On the other hand, my dog knows that if I say OK out of the blue, something is about to happen. I tend to use this as a "clear the decks, I'm about to say something" noise word.
If I sit at my computer, which I do for far too much time, I have to be careful where I put my feet. Not that he wants to sit under them, but he listens for my feet sliding across the floor. That means, at least to him, that I am getting up.
If I am getting up, something will happen.
It's a small house and my own kitchen-desk-door route has a lot of things that are interesting to dogs, and I do like to cook.
If I'm in the kitchen things sometimes fall to the floor and a snack happens.
If Rack, the McNab SuperDog (TM) stares long enough, food magically appears from the refrigerator. The food then magically lifts itself from the plate and onto the floor. It is at this time when the food can be scooped up and gobbled down.
It's all quiet, and not very Lab-Like. Labs have a genetic mutation sometimes that their hunger never shuts off. It would be better off if we as humans would stop breaking dogs and engineering traits like constant hunger and flat faces into dogs, but that isn't something that will stop today.
I do have a lunch ritual. I have convinced him that if he does not beg, he does get a treat.
Recently I made a BBQ Pork Roast. Take three pounds or so of Pork, marinade overnight in
Some of the best damn pork I have ever had, frankly.
4 ounces for me, 1 ounce for Rack.
But if he hovers, he gets nothing.
He really loves pork, so he's made the connection of not to stare. We have a routine that must be followed. When the food gets set down, he gets up from the corner, walks over and sits down.
Just like that. Automatically.
One of those boundary issues happens next. He looses his mind. All at once.
Gently he sits down but is levitating. Magically he glides closer as if he's floating on air. Snout gets within inches of the plate. There are a few morsels of perfectly prepared pork loin sitting there.
He only does this with Pork. Chicken he doesn't like as much. On the other hand, if it is not Pork, I tell him Not For Dogs and he backs down immediately.
I'm making his entry fee higher each time. More and more tricks.
He knows how to say "Yes" by nodding his head, I did say he was intelligent. But now, I ask him.
"Do you want some pork?"
I get The Look.
"No, answer me, yes or no?"
I don't think he likes being taught. I put my finger on his muzzle and say "Yessss" in an exaggerated tone while pushing down a bit.
He didn't really respond.
Try again "Yeessss" , pushing down.
Hmmm we're not getting this. Foot comes up off the ground and he waves it around thinking I want to shake.
"No, I didn't want Foot. Do you want some pork? 'Yesssss"?"
Eyes dart back and forth. Some minor movement detected. I accept that as a "Yes".
"Funny, you'll break your neck nodding up and down like a bobblehead at the back door but you won't say Yes for your favorite!"
Head cocks to one side. "Oh sure, just be Cute"
Foot comes up, then other foot. "Here, have your pork".
May as well give in, he knows he's getting it. "Just step back a little, you're too close and it is My plate after all"
I get to smile a small smile, he's understanding even if he doesn't do Yes predictably.
Fortunately that pork loin has another week and a half worth of lunches.
Except when I need to exercise the Jeep. Then he loses his mind because he wants to come along for when I go out for a Ride! in the Car! to get Lunch!.
Shower, primp, and prep for being out in the public, I'm being watched.
Pacing from back to front door.
Looking in at my sitting on the edge of the bed, pulling on my boots, he's weaving between my legs and the bed.
"You're not making this easy" as I scritch his back and his back side.
He's wiggling around and bouncing, trying to convince me that he needs a sidekick.
At this point I know I can either take him with me by saying "Go wait at the front door" or "Sorry Rack you get to stay home and watch the house".
But only on Saturday and Sunday. Any other day and he's fine with it. Doing his job of guarding the corner and slacking off.
Lots of slacking off.
Rides in the Jeep are where he's overexcited, drooling onto the tan fabric, and absolutely rigid
But it's all in having a dog that is just about as intelligent as your average second grade honor student wrapped in fur.
Wouldn't have it any other way.
Just, someone, please, cover me. Lunch is coming, and Pork is happening.