May 30, 2012

Habit-forming...For the Dog?



I open the laundry room door and say, “Good morning, Abe.”

Abraham, our black lab mix, stretches and makes his slow, but steady way, for the back door.  It’s been this way for years.  They say children need a routine, but I think dogs enjoy a regular process, too.  At least Abraham does.  It’s not just sleep, eat, go outside, sleep, eat, go outside.

Occasionally, I have to remind him, “Go potty,” once he’s out the back door, but usually he trots down the steps and takes care of business in a flash.  Then, he’s right back at the door to come in because he knows what’s next.  Breakfast!  After breakfast, it’s a quick trip back outside to take care of other business, and he’s ready to help me get ready for the day.

I exercise every morning.  Once I lay down in the floor, Abe jumps up and finds his chew bone.  I do leg lifts and he gnaws on the bone.  I do twists, and he slides out of reach, still gnawing on his bone.  He’s so predictable…or maybe, I’m the one who’s predictable.

I don’t know when this routine started, but if I get my exercises done while he’s outside, he gives me this look of indignation.  It’s like he’s saying, “We were supposed to exercise together.”

Once we finish exercising, we head for the bathroom.  I get dressed, do my hair, and all of the other get-ready tasks while Abe watches with the seriousness of a guard dog.  One of these days, I might skip something to see if he’ll remind me to do it.

What happens next made me realize how routine Abe’s mornings have become.  He hates hairspray.  I have fly-away hair that’s hopeless without hairspray.  We went through a period of time where I’d spray and he’d sneeze.  After awhile, he learned to dart out the door if I picked up the hairspray bottle.  Now, if he’s still laying on the floor, I just hold up the bottle and show it to him.  One sight of the enemy, and Abe pops up and exits the bathroom.  Occasionally, I have to add a prompt to it, “I’m gonna spray now,” but usually the sight of that dreaded bottle is all it takes.

In the past few months, he’s gotten smarter. Abe leaves the bathroom just as I perform the finishing touches to my hair, brushing it into the desired shape before I spray.  Did I train him or did he learn the cues that indicate what’s next?  Maybe I’m just that predictable.

Anybody else out there with pets on a routine?

2 comments:

Wayne G said...

Yep, we have our routines. Lots of them. I,m not sure who taught who. Maybe a little of both. When I brought my dog, Penny, home I started the routine of putting on her walking togs (harness and lease) and taking daily walks. Later a friend asked how much training it took to walk properly with a lease. I told him that it took three weeks before Penny had me trained right. Wayne G.

Vonda Skelton said...

What a great example of wisdom Abe is for us: When the "enemy" shows up, it's time to flee!

Thanks for an entertaining and wise post!