Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Leeloo and the Sheep Crook

One thing I can't abide, is a barking dog.

My two big dogs are pretty good. Mostly they remember to be quiet. And when they forget, I tell them, "Quiet!" and they shut up.

Of course, it wasn't always that easy. For a certain period of their lives, I'm sure they were convinced that their name was "RUBYJESSEBEQUIETNOBARKING!" But, like I said, now they're pretty good.

It's another challenge altogether to try to teach a Pomeranian not to bark!

Leeloo is a spoiled princess who doesn't actually believe that humans are the dominant species in the house. She humors us because we're the ones who can reach the fried chicken, the macaroni and cheese, and the popsicles. But she doesn't actually think we're the boss of her.

She has a private doggie run outside, which she hates. She's not in it that much, but for the time she is there, she usually runs back and forth nonstop, waiting to be freed. We call this place "Puppy Jail."

She knows we disapprove of her yapping constantly while she's in puppy jail. She knows that if she's barking, we won't let her out until she's quiet. All this means is if she thinks we're looking, she'll be quiet. If we don't hasten to immediately let her out, she proceeds to curse us out: "Yarp! Yarp! Yarp!"

Scolding her merely convinces her that she's succeeded in getting our attention. Spanking her has no effect. Neither does ignoring her---she'll persist in barking all day long if we let her.

But, quite by accident, we discovered a secret weapon: the sheep crook we recently bought to assist us in catching our sheep. You know, the classic Little Bo Peep tool with the long handle and the hook at one end.

When we first got the crook, we played around with it for a while getting used to how it handled before we tried catching sheep with it. During this experimental phase, we tried gently hooking a few cats with it. We were amused to discover that we could hook it under a cat's belly and hoist up a little, and the cat couldn't get away. The cats, while disgusted with our antics, were relatively tolerant.

When we playfully tried it on Leeloo, however, she was horrified beyond words. Scolding and punishing have no impact, but apparently EMBARRASSING her makes a huge impression. Now if she ever sees us brandish the sheep crook at all, she slinks into a corner and makes herself small and humble---and most of all, QUIET---for a while.

It's become something like a visual exclamation point between us---a canine hearing aid, if you will. If we tell her "Quiet" and she still keeps barking, we go out and wave the sheep crook at her. Suddenly, she can hear and understand our commands again---and we can enjoy a few blissful hours of peace!


Anonymous said...

I need to know where I can get a sheep crook for my chihuahuas!!

Nancy Chase said...


If you do an online search for "sheep crook" or "shepherd's crook" you'll find some places that sell them. Jefferslivestock.com sells a fairly inexpensive one.

I don't guarantee they'll work on other dogs---I just know it works on Leeloo.