I was on my mother’s teat when she whispered the only piece of advice I’d ever need to hear. “It’s not the human you choose. It’s how you train them that matters,” she said. I was only a month old when they started showing us humans. I didn’t want to leave my mom, but I hated the big cages they kept us in and I’d already started planning my escape. Momma said to be patient and a sucker would turn up. Boy was she right. He was easy to pick out. He had that needy look in his eye unclaimed humans have. You know, that “I’ll do anything for love” look.
Anyway, I picked him out of the crowd cus’ at least he was laid back about the whole thing. He sat in the corner and was patient, which I appreciated. Those goo-goo gaga types annoy me. I thought, maybe this guy is lonely, but at least he isn’t patronizing – so I did a lil’ walk by and gave him a sniff. His butt was stinky. I was smitten. So, I crawled up in his lap and stared into his lonely eyes for a bit. It was scary knowing I was choosing one man to care for for the rest of my life, but like I said… it was love at first sniff, so what’s a girl to do?
Training commenced immediately. This poor guy had so much to learn. I never thought humans could be so dumb. You’d think they were raised by wolves. Idiots. Enjoy the wild and your short lifespan fellas!
So, where do I start? His car was awesome! It was a real piece, beat to shit already so I didn’t have to worry about scratching anything. His house was warm and the carpets were old, so that worked. His roommates were pretty cool. One snugly girl and a dude with a laugh that made my ears bleed, but he was nice enough.
The first sign of trouble came night one when my human stuffed me in a cage next to his bed. Holy crap I was terrified. The cage I was born in was way bigger than this one! I wasn’t having it. I cried all night. He didn’t sleep a wink. I know cus’ he spent most of the night either yelling at me or moving my cage. Next night, same thing. Next night… yup, you guessed it. Same thing. He was starting to look really tired now. I knew he was gonna break soon. Sure enough, I cracked his spine on the fifth night and I’ve been letting him sleep in my bed ever since.
So that’s how it started for us. Below you’ll find my top tips for training, raising and breaking your human along with some other random advice to live by:
1. Above all, don’t be patient. Humans aren’t smart, but they’re eager to learn and they’ll do anything for you – so just keep riding them. It’s almost like the more you ask of them, the more they love you! It’s the damnedest thing. Unbelievable really. But true.
2. They’re territorial, so expect to get yelled at a lot when you’re out on walkabouts. Strangely, the more green grass you see the less welcome you are – which is why I prefer smelly alleyways with overflowing dumpsters and public lands with fresh bone piles. Yum! Oh, and when you hear your human yelling, just keep eating! They’ll come find you eventually.
3. I didn’t pick my human out thinking he’d be a guard-human, but he’s still super protective. When I was just a baby he GROWLED at his boss after I peed on the office floor. That boss man never messed with me again! My human has been saving me from fast cars, mean dogs, big animals and angry humans ever since. Make sure to give your human extra attention whenever they protect you. Humans like to feel appreciated.
4. Also, humans need to feel useful, so you gotta let them wash you, feed you and think they’re walking you. I’ve taken my human on thousands of walks and he still thinks he’s walking me! Sad, but true.
5. Leashes are part of their protection plan, but it pays to break them of this early. If you’re not into it, just refuse to move or yank the shit out of them until they give up. Trust me, off-leash life rules!
6. Humans need constant attention. So if they throw something, bring it back to them. My human thinks it fosters “connection” – but really I’m just getting exercise.
7. Once or twice a year your human will take you to a scary place where humans poke you. Try to be brave and don’t bite anyone! They’re trying to help you and it’s not so bad there. Nobody cares if you pee on the floor and the treats are unlimited!
8. You gotta train your human to be outside. You can walk for hours with a human and they’ll never stop to sniff, admire or investigate anything. They’re always too busy talking or daydreaming to notice what’s going on around them, but I think the more you take them out the more they start to appreciate it.
9. It’s a scientifically verified fact that humans can’t smell anything other than farts and poop. Seriously, it’s nuts. They don’t react to a single other smell!
10. Never get left at home! FOMO is real and it’s pure torture.
11. Humans get really nervous around cars. My human’s always pointing at them and yelling at me, so I just steer clear of them so I don’t stress him out. And for whatever reason, looking at your human while wagging your tail helps them relax – so do that a lot.
12. Make good trouble! Not bad trouble. Good trouble is the stuff humans tell their friends about at the bar. Bad trouble is what gets you sent to the “farm.” Examples of good trouble my friends and I engage in are: running away when your human is late for something, chewing on their most beloved personal items, crossing the highway to dumpster dive (Finley), barking aggressively at children in wheel chairs, pillaging the kitchen garbage, eating animal carcass until you crap uncontrollably for days, eating warm or frozen animal turds (yum, elk!), rolling in fresh poop, rolling in old poop, eating bones so big you need surgery to remove them (Rufus), turning white things brown with mud in the spring, smashing your face repeatedly into porcupines (my BFF, Freddy), jumping giant fences, barking at useless “animal control” officers, peeing in the beds of strangers you don’t like, diving out windows of moving cars (you should have seen my human’s face!), eating rat poison (Stella), knocking little kids to the ground (they’re so unstable!) farting so bad people leave the room, injuring yourself anyway you can (seriously, you can do anything and they’ll always fix you up), ruining expensive leather, terrorizing skiers in Glory Bowl (Molly), etc. Examples of bad trouble are: biting humans.
13. Understand that humans talk far more than they need to and use your name way too much. You’ll only understand 3% of what your human says at best, but from what I can tell, it makes owning a human a lot easier. I feel sorry for other humans who have to listen to my human. I think it must really complicate things. He and I communicate just fine and we’ve never spoken a word to each other! Sometimes I want to scream at him, “Just look at her face dude! She’s not happy. Duhhhh. Shut up and pet her already!”
14. Which brings us to sexy time. You might get away with a sniff here and there, but licking will definitely get you kicked in the face. Watch all you want though. It’s kinda boring, but it smells great.
15. So, there’s a couple ways to handle humans when they get mad. You can cower, shiver and look as pitiful as possible OR you can run away and hope they calm down while you’re gone – but you’ve gotta stay away long enough for them to start worrying about you! Oh, and don’t stare at them. Give em’ the ole’ side-eye and do your best to look sad.
16. You gotta train them how to pet you. I must have hook-slid my human’s hand to my belly 40,000 times before he got it. Why you always touching my ears man!?!? Damn.
17. Understand that it’s your job to get your human out of their head. Humans live their lives distracted. They’re always thinking about something rather than doing whatever they’re doing. It’s incredible how unaware they are, so be sure to keep them engaged as much as possible. Using sticks or balls is a good way to keep them present. Frisbee’s work too. They like those a lot. Or you can always just get real dirty and make them bathe you.
18. Humans are really confused about freedom. They think freedom is being able to leave whenever they want – when true freedom is being content wherever you are, whenever you’re there. So try to be chill and set a good example for your human.
19. Understand that you’re entering into a highly co-dependent arrangement. Your feelings are their feelings. Their feelings are your feelings – so be really positive as much as possible and if your human ever gets excited, celebrate with them by jumping, barking and wagging your tail really fast. You can even slobber some too.
20. Claim the couch from day one and take up as much space as possible. Same with the car. You gotta break em’ early if you wanna ride shotgun!
21. When the bombs go off mid-summer or early on winter mornings, hide in the bathtub. It’s the safest place in the event of a natural disaster.
22. If you want attention, shiver or limp. Works every time 100% of the time.
23. Love them. Love them and never stop. Teach your human that love is as natural and effortless as breathing. Teach them that you don’t decide who to love. You just love and whoever is most open to receiving it, gets the most love. My human is really open to my love, so I think he gets a lot of it. I can see it in his eyes. His eyes aren’t lonely anymore.
24. Know that you’re going to have to share your human after you crack their heart open. Consider it an accomplishment. It’s something they could never do on their own. I hope someday my human is as open to other humans’ love as he is to mine. Then I won’t have to worry about him anymore. I worry about him after I’m gone.
25. You’ll always think your human is the best human. It’s an argument you’ll never win – but just so you know, my human is the best human.
26. Make your human save your life at least seven times.
27. Your human may smell like they cheated on you, but they haven’t. They’re just trying to make you jealous, so don’t overreact. They love you the best even if they do a little light petting on the side.
28. There are dog people, cat people and jerks. Just try to steer clear of the jerks. These people can’t be trained. They want everything clean and everything their way all the time. They’re easy to pick out because they use the words “should” and “off” a lot while complaining about things.
29. Cat people are just dog people with low self esteem. Pray for them.
30. Besties are hard to come by, but you’ll need one to lean on when your human’s acting human. Try to choose a best friend who causes as much trouble as you do, so they don’t make you look bad. Humans like to compare things. It’s the basis for most of their complaints in life.
31. Train your human to pick up your poop. Some dogs don’t and it’s disgusting. I don’t know if you’ve noticed yet, but humans have hands which are incredibly useful for all sorts of things, mainly picking up poop though.
32. Treats: don’t eat em’ if you don’t like em’. Labs will eat anything, which is dumb because humans have instant access to amazing food. I’m not joking. Pay attention. The tall, cold, box in the kitchen is a fucking MEAT VAULT!
33. I can’t take credit for making my human loyal. All I know is the longer I live, the more loyal he becomes. So live as long as possible if you really want to teach your human what loyalty means – and don’t feel bad about making them carry you places. They’ll need help near the end too.
34. This is important. You’ve gotta let them fawn over you, even if it makes you feel awkward and uncomfortable. They NEED to pet you. They NEED to talk to you in weirdo baby voices. It makes them happy and without these things they get sad.
35. You’re perfect the way you are! If they try to accessorize you, chew it up or rip it off. Humans wear costumes and change them everyday. Try not to fall into their trap of needing to look good.
36. Humans are drama queens! We lose a leg, no problem. They miss a bus, big problem! Get used to it, cus’ it ain’t gonna change.
37. Crossing your legs makes you look sophisticated.
38. The more adorable you are, the more power you have.
39. Women are wrong. You can’t tell a damn thing about a man from the shoes he wears – but you can tell everything by the way he looks at you.
40. Try not to look into that black rectangle humans are always pointing at you. I think it’s the work of El Gato! And as I always say; if it doesn’t smell like something or taste like something, don’t trust it!
41. Humans are really bad at goodbyes. They always want things different than they are, rather than accepting what is – so they find death harder than anything. You can’t do much to help them except to lay on their chest and breathe with them. I’m trying to collect as much of my human’s sadness while giving him as much of my love before I go. In the end, I think that’s all you can ever do for your human.
If you want my honest opinion, I’m not sure you can train a human better than I’ve trained mine. I’m deaf, half-blind and I can’t even turn right anymore (and yet left turns still get me where I’m going. 🤔) I limp when I’m not stuck in my perma-crouch, my tail stopped wagging years ago, I fall down a lot, I poop wherever I want, whenever I want – and somehow I still get an insane amount of treats!
Seriously, I’ve got my human so pj-whipped he carries me everywhere and doesn’t complain about a thing. So, to all you puppies out there aspiring to be Human Trainers, just remember; “It’s not the human you choose. It’s how you train them that matters.”
I guess the only thing left to teach my human is how to say goodbye. It’s proving to be the one lesson he’s most reluctant to learn, but I’ll break him soon enough. I always do.
Belly rubs forever,