manners maketh dog



Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’


Sunday March 5th 2018


It’s a while since we caught up with Hairy One’s table (as it were) manners. As you may recall, these had deteriorated alarmingly by the time she returned in September from  three weeks in kennels.

Here she was, once again ferociously defending her dinner from hordes of imaginary creatures, just as she did when she first came to live here.

Three weeks, it appears, is long enough to re-establish the habit with a vengeance, for it has been surprisingly difficult to get her back onto the straight and narrow.

After battling with the, ‘You bark and I take your dinner away’, routine for months, she did become much less frenzied. Some days she even ate quietly. But there were still frequent nyaffing outbursts, and at this stage I am beginning to despair of retraining her.






A new strategy is called for, and I decide to employ the ‘well behaved dog gets treat, noisy dog doesn’t’ routine which works so well with grooming.

Isis sits nicely, as always. I touch her face or neck gently to signal it’s time to eat. If she defends her food raucously, she gets no treat. If she eats quietly, there’s a reward.

She’s a bright little dog and cottons on quickly.

Sometimes, especially if there are bits of sun slanting through a window, she emits a low grumble as she munches. This is acceptable as long as there’s no escalation.

And when it’s dark, I switch off the light before she eats, and all is calm.

So feeding time is no longer a battle.

What a relief.

There’s one downside though. Once she’s finished eating like a civilised animal, and is sitting, nose uplifted, ready for her reward, she finds Human unacceptably slow to produce it, and gives a loud, shrilly meaningful bark.

Oh well, you can’t win them all.


Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact or

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4 Responses to manners maketh dog

  1. Anonymous says:

    Bless you for your patience. It’s surprisingly hard to change entrenched behaviours, isn’t it? Martha has lived with me for almost four years, and had been abandoned aged 2.5 years. She still gets distressed if I leave her, even though she always has a well-beloved dog-sitter with her. When I return she pins me to the sofa and licks my face frantically for about ten minutes. I haven’t been able to instill a sense of security in her in these four years. Thanks for posting your story. I love reading them xxxx


    • It is surprisingly hard: years, rather than months. Being abandoned must be a very damaging experience. Poor little Martha. It’s not surprising that she is so bonded with you. What does she do when you go out of the room?


      • Anonymous says:

        When I go into another room she follows me and sits on the chair or bed next to me. As I’m retired it’s not a problem for me as I can arrange it so that she is rarely alone. It just saddens me to know that she is anxious xx


      • Yes, it is horrible when an animal is afraid and nothing you do makes her/him feel better. My rescued border collies and little cat Mini were like that. When there were fireworks or a thunder storm, nothing would comfort them. It was heartbreaking.


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