Friday, June 18, 2010

Little Thief

The Evidence

Gaius is a diabolical mastermind when it comes to food. Ever since we've had him he scouts for opportunities to steal food. Generally he is able to contain himself while we are present. He knows such behavior is strictly prohibited. But when we leave, all bets are off. He is notorious for range of places he has managed to gain access to in respect to food. And the amount of food this ten pound dog is able to consume is shocking. Here's one example:

Sean and I live in one of those old college style apartments in the city. You know the kind, where all the door frames are just slightly off, and the windows are always stuck and impossible to open. The appliances are always thirty years old and cheap which means our refrigerator door only shuts tight if you really slam it. Now when Gaius was about five months old (I'm going to approximate him weighing 6-ish pounds at this point) he got a very lucky break when sean or I didn't shut the refrigerator door with sufficient vigor before leaving to go to work. Since we live so close to campus I generally get home first. When I arrive I was not greeted in the usual squiriming licking wiggiling puppy way. This is always my first sign that Gaius has gotten into something he shouldn't have. When I entered the kitchen I found the refrigerator door hanging open. Curled up in a ball sleeping on the second shelf was my five month old puppy. Or what looked like the fur of my five month old puppy stretched very tightly over a football. On inspection of the fridge we found that he had consumed the following:

One entire (licked the container clean) order of Thai Drunken Noodles
Two whole sticks of butter
Three oatmeal cookies

Now for a large dog that doesn't sound horrendous but remember this was a SIX POUND DOG. Now luckily, Gaius has a digestive system like a steel trap and was no worse for wear.

More recently (A few months ago) I had a lovely and costly 3 am visit to the emergency vet in order to remove a dark chocolate bar from his little stomach. This chocolate bar he got by, opening a drawer, pulling out a paper bag, ripping open the paper bag, pulling out a plastic bag, ripping open the plastic bag, pulling out a chocolate bar, ripping the wrapper off the chocolate bar, and consuming the chocolate bar in the FIFTEEN minutes he was left unsupervised. He's like a ninja.

Yesterday I came home and was not greeted at the door. I walked into my bed room and found the bloated anaconda sprawled out on the bed. He had managed to pull his food bag down from the shelf and helped himself to the equivalent of ten helpings of dinner. At least it was dog food. The issue with this behavior proublem is that he does not do it while I am here. How am I suppose to fix something I'm not around for?

Now we've gotten much better at managing the situation. But he's a crafty sucker and every now and again he gets the better of us. I think part of the problem is that our couch is flush with our kitchen table allowing easy access to a surface that it's easy to forget food on. Now our house has a strict NO PUPPIES ON THE TABLE policy. And Gaius knows that. He only really slips up when the cat doesn't finish her breakfast and we're busy getting ready. But let me tell you, I can't count the number of times I've walked out the door, remebered I had forgotten something, and opened the door to see two big brown eyes staring at me from the kitchen table. He at least has the common curiosity to immediately hop off onto the couch and wag his tail at me. As if to say "Me? On the table? You better get your eyes checked. Dogs aren't allowed on the table."

Now I would hate to crate him during the day, though I know it would solve the issue. He is very well behaved in so many other ways. Not destructive and he only eats food, not other undesirable objects like some dogs. So I guess the only cure is vigilance. Though these occasional impromptu to bulimic binges make it diffcult to keep him a good agility weight. I feel like he's always on a diet.


The racing games are going well and the toys are still away though I do not think it has increased his drive to use toys as a reward in agility :( If anything his drive for balloon has faded slightly. But Linda said sometimes it takes a couple of weeks for the dog to figure out that 'you're serious', so I just need to be patient.

I'll tell you what it has done. Make him have some resource guarding issues at the dog park. Today he growled at a pit mix that tried to take some nasty Frisbee he'd found which is 100% out of character for him. He usually drops anything another dog has any interest in immediately. He is very aware that he is ten pounds and can't win fights with bigger dogs. And toys didn't used to be worth it I guess. Really this is my fault. He shouldn't have even had the toy without having to work for it. I got sloppy. It happens.

I'll tell you what did make him faster on Wednesday in threttles and serpentines. Giving him a cookie after every two jumps. Maybe I have been going at this whole thing the wrong way. Maybe the outdoors is just SUPER distracting and he needs a higher rate of reinforcement. Or maybe he just shaped me to get seven cookies every time he does a sequence. I'm so confused. But isn't this dog training thing fun anyway :)

This is what he looked like when I came home. No guilt. Huge belly.

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