Best of 2023

Dog Training for Cowards

The Fundamentals: Sit and Stay

Ask your dog nicely to sit. If he doesn’t do it, nervously look around to see if anyone noticed him disobeying you. If there’s no one around, pretend you never actually asked him to sit. You will learn to gaslight yourself like this.

Similarly, if you ask your dog to stay and he continues to lunge or wander, you must turn it around on yourself. You stay. Stay and wonder why no one ever listens to your requests. Wonder if you’ve ever been heard once in your life. Pretend you didn’t seriously mean “stay,” and you actually wanted him to leave. That you actually wanted your girlfriend to leave, too. You are used to being a feckless doormat in your personal life; your relationship with your dog should be no exception.

Behavior Correction

Reward your dog’s good behavior. If your dog looks at you for long enough after engaging in bad behavior, then, fine, reward that, too. You don’t want him to think you’re a stick-in-the-mud. In fact, consider teaming up with him on a couple illicit activities so he thinks you’re cool. Try joining your dog in chewing up your Doc Martens or peeing in your neighbor’s flower beds – you can feel guilty about being an enabler in private later.

Nipping is completely natural for growing puppies and teething toys are a great tool that allow them to indulge their urges in a productive way. However, if your puppy craves the vulnerable warmth of human flesh, these toys simply won’t suffice. In such cases, you’ll need to divert your dog’s attention away from whoever he’s harassing and redirect it toward someone else. Make sure he bites someone who’s “a dog lover and doesn’t mind” – if you can’t find anyone, toughen up buttercup and let ‘em chomp you.

Leash Training

If he pulls the leash while you’re walking him, then increase your pace to match his energy. Remind yourself if you actually started exercising more like you kept saying you would, this would be easier. Repeat this process until you are both engaged in a life-or-death sprint through your quiet neighborhood. Continue until your dog finally gets tired or you break your ankle.

On walks, your dog might try to eat something he found on the ground. If this happens, you’ll need to haul ass to the nearest grocery store and buy him a suitable alternative to whatever urine-soaked morsel he latched on to. Don’t be cheap about it either; your dog is hellbent on consuming that rogue Gatorade bottle cap, and you can bet your ass he can tell if that salmon is sushi-grade.

Socialization & Dog Park Etiquette

When you throw a ball for your dog, if he doesn’t chase it, you must forget about the ball. There never was a ball. Repeat that until you believe it. It would be so embarrassing to chase after the ball yourself, or to ask your dog to do something twice. He would have chased it if he respected you. Sit with that.

Talk to your dog about safe sex. He won’t be able to understand you, so feel free to use birds and bees euphemisms. If he starts humping another dog at the dog park, nervously ignore it until the other dog’s owner breaks it up. Leave the dog park immediately. Kill your dreams of ever having a meet-cute there, you can never return.

In the House

If your dog picks up the habit of begging at the dinner table, take note of which foods he prefers, and which ones he seems uninterested in. Begin to slowly and methodically eliminate the foods your dog likes from your diet until he finds what you’re eating to be utterly repulsive and ceases his begging. Enjoy your cold, chopped onions in peace.

Your highly energetic, untamed dog might bark and jump on your guests when they enter your home. If he resists your efforts to temper his enthusiasm, leave a set of hockey pads outside your door. Instruct your guests to don them before they knock. If knocking triggers your dog, instruct your guests to slide a note under your door that says “Here.” If the note triggers your dog, advise your guests that Operation IKEA is now in effect. Your guests will curl up in IKEA bags, text you “In my bag,” and allow you to covertly carry them inside so as not to alarm your dog. Operation IKEA will only work once before your dog catches on to the ruse, so be sure you really like this guest – it will be the last one you have for a long time.

You won’t be lonely, though – you have dozens of nameless acquaintances at your second-choice dog park and an adorable dog that doesn’t sit, stay, or have any reservations about burying you in the backyard with the rest of his bones.