Shoes and Socks – A Taste Test, Part 3: Positive Reinforcement or ‘They Made Me a Criminal!’

Dogs and shoes can live together in harmony provided both are willing to compromise. To reach an accord, dogs have to be trained to respect shoes, while shoes must agree to limit all provocative missile test launches over disputed borders.

While seasoned diplomats attend to the latter, let’s explore the former.

Positive reinforcement training combines praise and treats to reward behavior, a method that has proved effective on canines and, to a lesser extent, millennials.

Submitted by owner Debra R: A testament to positive reinforcement! Note Jake (left) with “stolen” shoe, and Jake (right) after six months training – contrite, repentant, and carrying a slightly smaller shoe. Well done, Jake!
Submitted by owner Debra R: A testament to positive reinforcement! Note Jake (left) with “stolen” shoe, and Jake (right) after six months training – contrite, repentant, and carrying a slightly smaller shoe. Well done, Jake!

Using positive reinforcement, for example, a dog is compensated little by little for not engaging in inappropriate activities, a process trainers describes as “shaping” and law enforcement calls “extortion.”

GIANT 2: “Dave, Budleigh’s getting near your shoes!”

GIANT 1: “Good! Got the cookies ready?”

GIANT 2: “And the cheese bits. And the tuna.”

GIANT 1: “OK. Don’t react until he looks at me.”

BUDLEIGH: “Saaay, nice pair of loafers ya’ got here. Really nice! Too bad if something happened to ‘em. Know what I mean?”

BRISBY: “Yeah, Boss!”

BUDLEIGH: “Shaddup, you! Like I was sayin’, sad if something happened to them shoes. Or this house. Or maybe your family. That would be a damn shame, wouldn’t it?”

BRISBY: “Yeah, Boss!”

BUDLEIGH: “Shaddup, you!”

GIANT 1: “He’s looking at me! Give him a treat! Give him a treat!”

GIANT 2: “Gooooood Budleigh! Smart Budleigh!”

BUDLEIGH: “Thanks. Tasty! Very tasty! Sorta like, ya’ know, this genuine EYE-talian leather over here.”

GIANT 1: “Give him another! Give him another!”

GIANT 2: “Here, Budleigh! What a gooood dog!”

BUDLEIGH: “That’s better. You’re both good kids. We’re gonna get along just fine. So I’ll see you same time tomorrow, right?”

BRISBY: “Yeah, Boss!”

BUDLEIGH: “Shaddup, you!”

While positive reinforcement training is valuable in controlling shoe-chewing behavior and organized crime, also essential is to provide your dog a variety of chewing alternatives. Numerous products are available, some rugged and durable, others as vulnerable as a swimmer bleeding in shark-infested waters.

Whether made of hard rubber, nylon or plastic, no chew toy is indestructible, with the exception of those constructed of Indestructibilium™, an element lost when the planet Krypton exploded. Frequent inspection of such toys for excessive wear and sharp edges is mandatory. Those that are ragged or jagged should be taken away from the dog, easily done by distracting him with a pair of shoes.

Short, thick lengths of rope with heavy, intricate knots tied at either end are a favorite chew toy of dogs and sailors everywhere. Rope toys also serve as doggie dental floss, cleaning teeth of bits of hard rubber, nylon, plastic and Indestructibilium™.

Finally, rawhide chews made from cow or horse hides have long proved satisfying for dogs. The same is true of bully sticks, which are made from the pizzle or penis of a bull. Let me just repeat that last part. They’re made. From the pizzle. Or Penis. Of. A bull!

I thought it best to emphasis this before you and your dog picnic on a ranch near a corral enclosing a bull that seems, well, angrier than usual.

Next: Ask a terrier, if you think it will do any good.
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Sleeping Between Giants explores life – if you can call it that – with a terrier.

Your feedback is welcome, probably. dj

Permission to re-use this material for non-commercial purposes is granted provided that Dave Jaffe, www.sleepingbetweengiants.com, is appropriately credited as the author and source. Please feel free to link to this page.

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