Puppy mind-reading

Someone who read my last post (about Kyndall peeing in the kitchen) emailed me to offer the opinion that she was testing us; that she wanted to “see what are the consequences of doing what I kno013115 mind-readingw they don’t like.” He went on that to say if he’d been there, he might have promptly rubbed her nose “in the offense,” not in anger but to demonstrate that peeing in the kitchen resulted in having one’s nose pushed into a smelly puddle.

It was just a suggestion, and I appreciated the good will with which it was offered. Reflecting on it, I had two thoughts: 1) he was wrong about her motivation, and 2) how did I know?

Here’s what made me think so. Nothing about Kyndall’s posture or attendant behavior suggested defiance. On occasion, we’ve seen defiance, or at least contrariness in our puppies. Dionne, our last trainee, certainly became well aware we didn’t want her to jump up and snatch stones out of the fireplace. But she’d do it routinely anyway, and if we caught her at it, she’d race away, delighted by yet another opportunity to play Keep Away.

After Kyndall’s urinary lapse, I think she just would have stood there as if nothing had happened — had we not simultaneously bellowed “No!!!”, and swept her up and outside, where we tried to cajole her to “Hurry” in an appropriate spot. In the kitchen, I think she felt a sudden pressure in her bladder and… spaced out… Forgot to wait until she was outside to relieve that pressure. Although 95% of the time she urinates and defecates outdoors, and she never once has defiled her kennel, she still is barely 3 and a half months old and hasn’t quite mastered the subtler rules (patio=okay; kitchen=bad); hasn’t yet learned to communicate with us (“Uh-oh! I need to be on the patio NOW!”)

This will sort itself out soon, I know. The chore of house-training any dog interests me less than the larger challenge of trying to read its mind. If you live with dogs and pay attention, it’s obvious they have thoughts. Some are easy to decipher. On our little walk this morning, we passed a bicycle sitting next to an open garage in the alley. Kyndall’s head swiveled and she stared at it in passing. “What’s that?” we could see her thinking. “I don’t recognize it! I’d like to check it out!

Or this: I recently learned there’s another CCI puppy-raiser living just 5 minutes drive from us; a mutual friend put us in touch. So on Thursday afternoon Kyndall and I went for a short visit. Most of it went like this:

And I could easily read her mind: “I like this girl!  She’s bigger than me, but I can bite her neck and roll around with  her, and it’s SO MUCH FUN! (All that tail-wagging is a dead giveaway.)

Other thoughts (or the absence of them) are harder to decipher. Why, for example, when I took her out for a little training session a few minutes ago did she stare at me blankly when I told her, “Down!” Several dozens times I have given that command, and she’s flopped right down into the position. But this time she looked at me as if I had lost my mind: suddenly ordered her to “Smorghl!” Was she being defiant? I seriously doubt it.

But what do I know, really?



2 thoughts on “Puppy mind-reading

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