Canine Manipulation Styles 

If you know dogs you know that they’ll quickly figure out where you’re vulnerable. They know exactly how to get the most attention, treats and toys out of their target human. Different dogs have different preferred styles to achieve maximum spoiling.

  • The DIYer: This dog would prefer to ask forgiveness rather than get permission. He doesn’t want to bother you with the onerous task of giving him everything he wants so he’s helpfully decided to get it himself. When caught with his illicit plunder he’ll appear charmingly clueless that the item wasn’t left explicitly for him. The advanced DIYer might also teach himself to open doors or gates and thwart the child locks you placed on the snack cabinet.
  • The Helpful Reminder: This dog knows you’ve got a lot on your mind and that you may overlook how extremely polite and undemanding  he’s being. The solution is a practiced nudge to the elbow that helpfully lands your hand right on his head. Perhaps a single soft woof to remind you to hand out the treats will also be needed. This dog has mastered the art of making sure he’s getting what he wants without ever being seen as rude or pushy.
  • The Cuteness Professional: This dog has meticulously catalogued anything you’ve ever considered cute. Even if it was “bad” and you made an effort not to reward the behavior the cuteness professional knows you were snickering behind your hands. He’s willing to be as rude, ridiculous, and baffling as it takes to be so cute you just have to give in. He knows exactly how far he can push everyone he’s ever met and he does.
  • The Nag: This dog isn’t waiting to be noticed.  He’s being good and has earned a reward. If you’re not quick enough with it he’ll be sure to let you know in increasingly rude ways. Give him half a glance as he’s barking or pawing at you and he’ll go right back to being “good”.
  • The Extremely Good Dog: This dog is almost painfully eager to make you happy and be good but somehow he’s never unseen. His soulful glance reminds his target exactly how hard this kind of goodness is for him and practically begs for a reward.
  • The Poor Pitiful Thing: This dog may actually be pitiful and willing to exploit it or he may just be a good actor, but he’s so pathetic that you just have to cater to him like a personal maid. The dramatic sighs, downcast expressions and heartbroken reaction to actually being denied what he wants are overwhelmingly pathetic. How can you say no?

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Profile photo of Laura-C


Hopes to someday train her dogs not to be douchebags.

9 thoughts on “Canine Manipulation Styles ”

  1. Omg. Daisy is a huge DIY-er, which is why we have gates and failsafes everywhere. I have caught her walking around on kitchen counters in strangers’ homes, trying to find some leftovers and hissed, “Get off of there!” at which point she hops down and walks away like nothing happened. She also pulls the pitiful act a lot. If she thinks she deserves attention, she sits next to you and repeatedly “tries to get comfortable” and sighs every time she lays down. If she wants a toy or a treat, she goes to where they’re located and sits and sighs loudly while looking directly at us. Right now, she is taking her toys to bed one at a time, because it’s late and maybe THAT will entice me to go to sleep.

  2. Gershwin is a DIYer, he KNOWS that we just forgot to give him the spatula/Tupperware/cheese/tortillas/the cat’s pill pockets so he helpfully takes care of that himself. Although, he neither asks for permission nor forgiveness. He’s just upset that he got caught.
    Schubert is the consummate nag. In fact, he just spent 10 minutes barking at Gershwin because Gershwin had the good piece of cardboard. He’s a skilled elbow flipper, and has caused numerous cups of coffee to be lost.

  3. Reji is my helpful reminder girl. Whatever she wants, she comes into the room, sits up and offeres a very, very quiet and sort whine. I look and ask her to “show me” and she runs off to the back door, the goody bag, the dinner dish or the front door. By the way, she looks over her shoulder continually to make sure I’m still following her.

    Then there is Joey (my MinPin rescue girl) who quickly jumped up on my chair and then to my art table, grabbed my half sandwich and darted under the bed with it. When she came out, the look she had was “what sandwich?”

  4. I have been manipulated by many of these dogs. The queen of them for us, though, was Maggie, who had a look we called, “Tied to a Tree!!!” because she was left tied to a tree when her humans moved from their rural home and left her there to die. We were helpless against it, even though we knew she was a hound dog and therefore was preprogrammed with tragic expressions.

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