Tag Archives: dog obedience

Funny dog stories for sharing smiles

In decades of dog ownership, some of the best memories are the funny dog stories. The ones that make you smile every time you remember. We’re choosing to start this year with smiles, and hoping you’ll share some of yours. All dog people have them, and sharing a laugh is always a good thing.

Looking back

Spunky was our first dog. He was a Boston Terrier and the best friend two little girls could ever hope for. It was a long time ago, and our family knew almost nothing about dogs. Spunky was gated into the kitchen at night (although we later discovered that during thunderstorms he slept with our mom). And every night Spunky got his special “banky.” which he bundled up into a ball, held with his front paws, and sucked on like a pacifier. He also sang himself to sleep every night – a descending scale of “mm, mm, mm, mm, mm, mmmmmmmmm.” Whenever we think of Spunky, that sing-song comes to mind and we smile. 

Characters, all

Daemon, another Boston we had as young adults, was possibly the world’s most angelic dog. He never put a foot wrong, never had obedience training, he was just a polite gentleman from the get-go. Never naughty. Until one Fourth of July. We were getting ready to grill a steak for dinner – a rare treat for the holiday. Standing around the kitchen, waiting for the grill to heat up. The steak was trimmed, seasoned, and ready to go.

 Daemon was sitting on the kitchen chair, his usual place, “helping” with the meal prep. We looked over the that little “angel” had his fangs in the steak and was, slowly and surreptitiously (he thought), dragging it closer. We laughed so hard we almost let him get away with it! Yes, we did cook and eat it. And yes, he got some.

Our namesake was naughty

Golly, the little diva Brussels Griffon that our shop is named for, was Fran’s first obedience competition dog. She was a pretty easy-going dog, as long as she got her way. She could just look at us with those puppy dog eyes, and usually got exactly what she was aiming for. 

Golly was a funny dog diva

We went to the national Brussels Griffon Specialty show one year in Louisville, Kentucky. It’s a showcase for all things dog, and a chance to get together with all our Griff friends. Golly and Hope’s boy, Roc, were there to compete in the Obedience trial at the show. 

We got back to the hotel room one night after dinner and couldn’t get back in the room. There was obviously something blocking the door. After quite a few attempts at little shoves, slowly pushing the obstruction back, we discovered that Golly had rolled her portable crate all the way across the room and jammed it against the door. Apparently the princess objected to being left behind!

Right out in public

A few years later, at the same show, Hope was showing Dax, her first French Bulldog, in Novice Obedience. One of the exercises is the “Recall.” You leave your dog in a sit/stay, walk about 30 feet away, and call your dog. She’s supposed to dash toward you, come to a stop right in front of you, and sit. Hope left Dax, walked across the ring, and called. Dax came running across the ring, right past Hope, and directly to the little boy spectator with the ice cream cone sitting right outside the ring! She didn’t get any ice cream. 

As a side note, if you’re easily embarrassed, don’t go into a competition ring with a dog. Or, if you are and want to get over it, start immediately.


Teddy, Hope’s French Bulldog, wasn’t crazy about agility, but he did it because Hope wanted to and he got treats. He was always pretty easily distracted. 

One of the obstacles in agility is the A-Frame, two large boards, about four feet wide, hinged together to form the frame. It stands a bit over five feet at its apex. Teddy reached the top that day, saw something that caught his attention, and went to go check it out. Right off the side of the obstacle. Splat. It was the most terrifying moment we’ve ever experienced in agility. Watching the video, you can hear everyone in the place gasp simultaneously. 

Fortunately, he was fine. A fellow competitor, who is a veterinarian, was there and checked him out. It wasn’t funny at the time, but it is now.

Too affectionate

Torque, Hope’s French Bulldog, has a problem with people. He wants to kiss them all. He loves everybody, that funny dog. It’s a problem when he’s supposed to “sit/stay” in obedience competition. The Beginner Novice exercise is just that – have your dog sit and stay while you go to the end of the leash six feet away. The judge comes up and touches the dog lightly on the head, while he sits perfectly still. 

Except Torque didn’t. He jumped up and planted a wet, sloppy kiss right on the judge. She laughed, and said “I don’t think he passed this exercise.” 

We know he didn’t. Oh, Torque.

Lots of happy memories

Writing this brings lots of smiles and fond remembrances. These are just a few we thought of right away. There are tons more that we’ll probably remember. Maybe that’s a good resolution for 2021 – write down the good/funny/happy things when they happen. A diary of smiles. We hope you’ll share some of your funny dog stories with us. We could all use some shared joy for the new year. 

There’s no people like dog people

Last Saturday I (Hope) was at the AKC National Championship Dog Show. Among the people we know, there’s a saying: “A bad day at a dog show is better than a good day at work.”

I’m not entirely sure about that since I love what I do, but it was a great time. There was something for everyone who loves dogs: conformation (the beauty pageant part), Obedience, Rally Obedience, Agility, and Dock Diving, “Meet the Breeds,” and shopping. Lots and lots of shopping.

Let’s go to a show!

If you’ve never been to a dog show, take advantage if you see one in your area. It’s a world unto itself, with its own language, customs, rules, and etiquette. The most important rule is never try to engage someone who’s about to compete with their dog. They’ll be nervous, and probably seem rude. But if you wait until they come out of the ring and start by saying how much you admire their dog, your reception will be much warmer. No one can resist a complement for their “kids!”

Technically, the Agility part, where I spent most of my time, was the Invitational – the top five dogs (and one “preferred” dog) in each breed are invited to compete. The top finisher in each breed is awarded the breed medallion. 

You may know that my breed is French Bulldogs. And through the years I’ve gotten to know many other French Bulldog owners. Our dogs aren’t renowned as one of the most athletic breeds, or one of the smartest, but those of us who choose to play sports with our Frenchies have become a rather tight group. 

Cheer squad

5 dog people holding french bulldogs

There were six Frenchies slated to compete, but one, unfortunately, was unable to come at the last minute. All the rest, all five, were there for every single for everyone. Cheering, recording, sympathizing, supporting. And that’s why I love being part of dog sports. 

I was there as “kennel help.” Another Frenchie person actually brought an entire entourage of four. Two had no one helping them – except for their Frenchie “peeps” who stepped up and were there.

Meet more dog people

We’ve said it many times and will repeat it forever – dog people are among the finest on the planet. And a welcoming community as well. If you’re ever feeling the need for a home away from home – get involved with a dog club or group. 

You can start with taking a class at a local club. Finding one may be as easy as saying “Okay, Google!” Or “Hey, Siri!” Resolve to spend your time doing things you’ll enjoy with like-minded people. Resolve to have some fun with two- and four-legged friends. 

Welcome to the Naughty Dog club!

Do you have a naughty dog? Welcome to the club!

Not to name-drop (which we’re actually not going to do), but we know some of the top dog-sport competitors in the country. In a variety of sports; obedience, rally, agility, etc. Some are friends, some friendly acquaintances, some we nod and smile when we see.

Every single one of them is a member of the Naughty Dog Club, too!

They’re dogs!

Our first “Aha!” naughty club membership moment came a few years ago when a friend, one of the highest-achieving obedience competitors we know, admitted that her dog jumped on the dinner table, while she was eating, and begged for food. To protect her identity, we’ll just say that, naturally, her naughty dog was a toy breed. Just sayin’.

That’s when we realized that even the most competent trainers, world-class dog sport competitors, all have naughty dogs – just like you and us. There are times when their dogs are brilliant in public. And there are those private moments when we just sigh, or laugh, or throw our hands in the air. 

Everyone has a story

One of our favorite “naughty dog” stories happened quite a few years ago. We had a Boston Terrier named Daemon, a very well-mannered gentleman, most of the time. 

It was Memorial Day and the family gathered around the kitchen table, enjoying an adult beverage, catching up with each other, and waiting for the grill to heat up. The sirloin steak was waiting on the table, seasoned and ready to go on the grill. 

Boston Terrier Daemon the naughty dog

Daemon was sitting on the breakfast nook, as he always did, watching the conversation like it was a tennis match. With the utmost delicacy, he reached over, sank two teeth into the steak, and started dragging it over. 

At first, we were too flabbergasted to react! Our perfect “gentleman” was attempting Grand Theft Steak right in front of our noses!

We were laughing too hard to yell at him. So we rescued the steak (yes, we still ate it!), grilled it, and Daemon got some. Crime does pay, after all!

Every dog is naughty

You’re not alone – every dog has moments of indiscretion! Some are funny, like Daemon. Others are frustrating.  Or infuriating. Or just aggravating. When Hope’s Teddy decided it was bedtime, he caterwauled until everyone knew about it. And usually got his way. He had an uncanny built-in alarm clock – it was usually time.

Those odd naughty dog moments are the ones that stand out. They’re the fabric of your special dog’s personality, the times that bring a smile to your face long after that beloved dog is gone. We’d love to know your “naughty dog” stories! Won’t you share?

Kinder, gentler dog training

We joined a dogh training cluhb more than 20 years ago. This week it hit us how much has changed in two decades. Thank goodness! Kinder, gentler dog training is lots more fun than it used to be!

Hope teaches the Novice Class for the club, the first competition level. Lots about competition obedience is precise and picky – but most of it, like all dog training, is having fun with your dog while you do the “stuff” that qualifies you for the American Kennel Club’s “Companion Dog” title.

Starting a new puppy

A friend and fellow club member is just starting in obedience with his year-old Cocker Spaniel girl. Rich has been a club member and instructor longer than we have, but it’s been quite a while since he’s taken a puppy through our classes. Suffice it to say, he got side-tracked by retirement, grandkids, and the allure of agility. He shelved the obedience stuff.

Rich was also one of Hope’s first instructors back in the day. He learned and taught with negative reinforcement, also known as corrections. It’s what he knows and a habit he’s been successful with for many, many years.

cocker spaniel puppy

His new puppy’s personality is different than his previous Cocker Spaniels. All of Rich’s dogs have been easy-going, love-everybody dogs. One dog’s initial shyness was quickly overcome and his dogs have always been people and dog friendly.

Every dog is different

Bella, the new girl, has a different mind set. She’s wary in new situations and can light up if she takes exception to what’s going on. She met Fran’s puppy Simon this week and, to put it politely, she wasn’t impressed. She was still a bit riled up when Hope walked in and she grabbed Hope’s pant leg as she walked by. No damage done. No one hurt in any way.

None of this is to say that Bella’s unreliable, or naughty, or a “bad” dog. She’s not. She’s just a bit more cautious than Rich’s other dogs have been.

Which means that Rich is going to have to adapt his training to reflect this dog’s personality, learning style, and tendencies. We hope he’ll have fun with it – but it won’t be easy breaking old habits.

Learning new habits

We have a family joke that habit is the most powerful force in the universe. We’ve all heard the statistics about how long it takes to form a new habit – and how difficult it is to break an old one. We’re going to do everything we can to help our friend form some good, new habits.

In the “olden” days, our trainers told us we should never let a dog make a decision because they’d always make the wrong one. We controlled pretty much every aspect of our dogs’ lives; made every decision, made every choice for them.

Making good decisions

Now? A complete turn-around. Training is all about teaching our dogs to make good decisions! It’s so much more fun! Rather than having our dogs just obey us, we come together as a team to do “stuff” we both enjoy.

If Rich retains that old way of thinking, rather than the kinder, gentler current dog training mode, it’s possible that Bella will have a hard time in new situations – especially if Rich’s attention wanders and leaves her to make her own decisions.

Our dogs aren’t afraid doing the “wrong” thing, because there is no “wrong.” (Except going potty in the house. That’s always wrong.)

Dogs trained with positive reinforcement know that when they do something we want, they’ll get a treat and a celebration. If they do something else, there’s no reward.

Reward or ignore – gentler dog training

It’s as simple as that. Reward the behavior you want. Ignore what you don’t.

Sounds simple, but so very complicated. Fortunately, Rich will have our help every step of the way on the new adventure. We hope he has an easy adjustment. Because it’s so much more fun to be a kinder, gentler dog trainer.