The Girl and the Dog

I awake at 7:00 am to the sound of the dog whining to be let out. I move my feet toward the edge of the bed and let the weight of my legs bring me to a standing position next to my bed. He seems excited by my response to his whimpers as he pants with anticipation. I know from experience that any deviation from the action he desires of me will result in more whining and possible barking. I move my bare feet toward the door and begin to open it. He quickly pushes his muzzle into the crack and forces his way out of the bedroom. I follow, my bare feet moving me across the dirty cement floor. He stands at the back door, looking at me as if to say “hurry”. I begin to open the door and he pushes his way out. He barks immediately as if to say “I’m here! Everyone wake up!” I command him to shut up. He continues on his merry path to raise a leg on the nearest tree. As soon as his leg drops, I call him back in. I can’t leave him out here without the expectation he will bark at everything, everyone, and nothing at all until I have police knocking on my door. It’s happened before. He comes when I call. Once we have returned to the bedroom, he begins whining again. I tell him to shut up, but he is unreceptive. I attempt to ignore him, being woken every few minutes by his noises. Eventually the roommate is awake. I can let him into the main area of the house. Shortly after this dismissal, I am woken by a single bark coming from outside. The roommate has let him outside. I contemplate going to quiet him, but there is no second bark for now. I am woken again by barking. It is, again, a single bark. I am woken again by barking. This time the barking continues. The roommate does not hear him. I must put a stop to it or risk a visit from the police. I quickly raise my pants over my legs and to my waste and button the fly. I walk down the hall to the back door. There is no one in the house. I open the back door and angrily shout his name. He looks at me and smiles. He continues to bark. I walk quickly toward him with a water-gun in hand and squirt him in the face. He attempts to avoid me as he continues to bark. I grab him by his collar with my right hand and slap his face with my left: “No!”. He winces, but keeps his smile and, looking away from me, barks again. I go inside and bring back a muzzle. I angrily grab him by the collar and force his face into the muzzle. I secure it tightly. The muzzle does little to silence his barking. I tighten the muzzle to the point that he might not be able to extend his tong for a drink of water. He continues to bark through the crack in his nearly sealed mouth. I pull up on his collar so that it tightens around his neck and slap him again: “No!”. He makes a choking sound and ceases to bark. I release him and he begins barking immediately. I strike him again, this time with a closed fist on the backside. No effect. He is not interested in me, but rather the people in the yard across the street. He barks again. I punch him again, this time in the head. He continues to smile. I bring him inside, remove his muzzle, and hold his head between my knees as I sit on the couch. I am hopeful this act will enable me to claim dominance. I hold him in place by my grip on his collar. His head rests in my lap when he is not trying as hard as he can to release himself from my grip. 10 minutes pass and I still have him in my grip. I want him to understand that he is not in charge. I move my hand slightly. It is almost completely numb now. This movement inspires him to attempt to brake away from me again. After 20 minutes or so, I release him. He desires to go back outside, as evidenced by his excited whimpering and galloping back and forth between the back door and my position on the couch. I tell him “No!”. This “No!” only inspires a whimper and further galloping. He begins to paw at the glass door. I command “Stop!”. He begins barking again: “I want out! Get off your butt and let me out!” I have read the kennel is not supposed to be used for punishment, but what option do I have? I leave the house to fulfill another obligation. I can hear his barking from the street. When I return home, I let him outside. This time the barking doesn’t begin until he is ready to come inside. I command “No!” I would have been happy to let him in, but again struggle for dominance in hopes that he will eventually learn to listen. He begins jumping into the air, body-slamming himself against the glass door. The last time I let this go on for more than a few minutes, I had to replace a wheel on the bottom of the door. I stand at the door and command “Sit!”. He sits eagerly awaiting my compliance. If I return to my seat, he will continue barking and jumping against the glass. If I comply with his demands, my actions reinforce this undesirable behavior.
10 years later I am in the grocery store with my 8-year-old daughter. We start to pass by the toy isle and she stops. I hear, “Daddy, buy me this cheap toy that will break on the ride home.” I explain that we are not going to buy any toys today. She begins to scream and a crowd starts to gather. What should I do? I can’t give in. That would only reinforce the undesired behavior. I certainly can’t hit her. Even if I was okay with the idea, the crowd would crucify me and I’d soon be explaining my actions to the police. I try to explain my reasoning. This infuriates her. She would seem to have already developed an emotional attachment to the toy. Should I attempt to reason with her? I explain her actions are inappropriate. Should I insult her? I tell her she is acting like a baby. She throws the desired toy at me and continues in her tantrum. I attempt to remove her from this heated situation by picking her up. She bites my right forearm before I can lift her off the ground. What should I do? If I comply with her demands, my actions reinforce this undesirable behavior.

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