4: Top Dog

4: Top Dog

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Dog

Top Dog

Fun fact: July is National Doghouse Repair Month.

“Come on, boy. That’s right, go inside,” I said to my new puppy after buying him a doghouse. My eight-week-old puppy, Strider, was apparently afraid of his doghouse. I didn’t understand it. Most of the dogs we had growing up didn’t have doghouses; they slept outside or sometimes inside the house, but what dog wouldn’t want its very own house? Every day I would come home from work, collect my bag of treats, and go to the back yard to train little Strider to go inside his doghouse. I offered him treats, but he would just look at me like I was out of my mind. I put the treats inside his doghouse, but he just turned his head away from me.

After weeks of not getting anywhere, I decided I would crawl into the doghouse myself, along with the treats, to show him that it was safe. He ended up running away while I struggled to get out. I persevered in spite of that unfortunate setback. “Come on, boy, it’s dinnertime,” I said sweetly, placing his dog dish inside the doghouse. Strider sat down about six feet away, nose in the air, and gave me the most pitiful look he could muster. I sat down on the swing and decided I would wait. This was going to work for sure.

Two hours later, Strider still lay six feet away from the doghouse, looking at his food. I, too, sat there, staring at his food. “I give up!” I said sternly as I threw up my hands and walked over to his doghouse. I picked up his dish, set it just in front of the house, and stood up to look at Strider. He barked at me and stayed where he was. I said to Strider, “Who is training who here?” I gave in and put the dish closer to him and a little farther away from his house. To be fair, he met me halfway.

The next day, I started over. First, I tried his treats to no avail, so I set them on top of his doghouse and went inside to get his dinner. As I came to the door, I saw him jump up on the roof and stick his head in the treat bag! I was a little miffed, but I had to admit it was a pretty cute thing to see. I put on my stern face and swung open the door, yelling, “Bad dog! Get off of there right now!” He jumped down, still gripping the bag with his teeth, and I proceeded to chase him around the yard to win back the bag of treats. Eventually, I got the bag away from him and figured that was enough training for one day.

Before going to bed, I decided to check on him. I took a quick look out the window like I did every night. I had to do a double take because he was asleep, quite comfortably I might add, on top of his doghouse! I couldn’t help but laugh. I’d never known a dog afraid of a doghouse, let alone one that slept on top of one! I was so tickled that I couldn’t help but gaze out the window at him for a few more minutes before going off to bed.

Months passed, and I finally managed to get Strider to retrieve his treat from inside the doghouse. He wouldn’t eat it inside, but he would quickly run in, grab it, and run right out. It was frustrating, but entertaining to watch. A few more months went by. One day, I put his dog dish inside the doghouse, and as I was heading back inside, I turned around and saw that Strider had gone inside the doghouse and was eating his food in there. “Yay, Strider, good boy!”

That night, I looked out the window, sure that I had finally gotten him comfortable enough to sleep in his doghouse. I pulled away the curtain and there lay Strider — on top of his house. I went to bed in a huff. Almost a year, and poor little Strider would only go in his house to get food or treats.

Finally, I decided enough was enough, and I left Strider to whatever sleeping arrangements he chose. For another year, Strider chose to sleep on top of the doghouse, but he was growing into a pretty big dog, and he found it harder and harder to balance himself on the roof. Even so, I stopped trying to get him in his house and started focusing on other, more useful commands.

One day, we got another dog. Lady didn’t mind the doghouse at all. Her first time in the yard, she went right in. Strider barked at Lady, lying inside his house. I called them over to have dinner. Lady ran out of the doghouse, and Strider ran right in. He was finally lying in his house, and he wasn’t coming out any time soon!

~Christina Eichstedt

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