Why Does My Dog Sit For Treats?

This is Buckley – one of the dogs featured in a story that won second prize in the writing contest that HRD co-sponsored with the Fairport public library.  We’re almost ready to post his story.

While we’re waiting for that, take a good look at this photograph. What do you think Buckley’s doing? What’s he looking at?

The story taking place outside of the photograph has two other people working to help Buckley be still.  What you don’t see is the little girl who wrote the story about Buckley. Her name is Becky and she’s holding a dog treat up above Buckley’s nose. And, THAT’S what Buckley is looking at.

(Buckley REALLY  likes treats and he knows that if he sits very still, he gets one.)

The other person you can’t see is my husband. He’s taking photographs of Buckley.

Buckley’s not paying attention to what my husband’s doing. He’s watching that treat. Waiting patiently for the time when Becky will lower her hand to just below his mouth, so that he can take it from her.  And eat it.

Which will make him happy.

Buckley wasn’t born knowing how to sit.  Somewhere in The Life of Buckley, he learned how to sit because a person took the time to teach him.  Maybe this happened in an obedience class.  Maybe it happened because a former owner was pretty savvy about dogs and knew how to teach this.

Becky’s mom might have taught Buckley how to sit because she knows about dogs.

But. Not everybody knows about dogs. And, sometimes, that not knowing can be very scary.  Like it was for a nine year old little boy who got bit by a dog when he was playing over at a friend’s home.

He was rushed to the hospital where he “…received more than 100 stitches around his face and scalp.”

Really scary.

His story was published on the front page of the Fairport-East Rochester Post six days ago.

It’s a nightmare true story that completely contradicts the story of Mia and Devo that I posted such a short time ago.

Why is it that one family’s dog story is unspeakably tragic and another family’s dog story is so happy? Part of the answer is found in what people don’t know about why dogs behave the way they do.

And, perhaps,  I can help with that.










  1. Polly says

    The other female rottie we were looking at, Bella, about whom I went back to the rescue group to check on her (thinking about giving her a home if no one had spoken for her) has a sad story similar to the one you recount about the little boy – a family wanted to give her a home, and on the first day in the new home, the owners left the dog unattended with five children. The littlest one, five years old, approached the dog from the back, surprised it with a hug from the back, and was bitten in the face as a result. The first day in the new house, unattended by an adult overseeing the transition…
    Bella was returned, and is now considered unadoptable. They may have to put her down. I would still give her a home except I would hate to ask my daughter-in-law to overcome her hesitation about dogs enough to take a biter into my house where the grandgirls come to visit on occasion. I so want to rescue Bella all over again. She haunts me.

  2. says

    All too often you hear about a dog who has always been friendly, good with kids, great with other animals, etc., suddenly snapping or biting a child or mauling another dog. And there is always a “knee jerk” reaction to that and that reaction is to destroy the dog. Does anyone ever bother to take a closer look at the circumstances? In the case of the little boy who was bitten by a friend’s dog while playing catch with the dog….could they have been teasing the dog with the ball, maybe holding the ball just out of the dog’s reach until he got angry and frustrated?

    When I was 13 (many moons ago) I had a German Shepherd. Duke was a good dog and was a neighborhood favorite. He was always up for a game of catch and loved to run with the other kids and me. One day our neighbors’ kids (there were 6 of them all 1st grade and under) were outside holding a deflated ball up high for Duke to jump at. He did and on his way down, accidentally scratched one of the kids. Nothing malicious there at all. It was an accident but the parents of the kids called the authorities and we had to quarantine Duke for 10 days, which meant he had to be not only restricted to our fenced in back yard but tied out there, too, to make sure he didn’t get out. While he was tied out, that same neighbor’s son came over and started teasing him with another ball. I told him several times to get out of my yard and leave my dog alone. My parents weren’t at home at the time but his father was. The child kept teasing and teasing and when I went inside to call his father, Duke broke his rope and jumped on the boy. Animal control came and my father took Duke away after that. To this day I don’t know where he took him but I can guess.

    Was that Duke’s fault? Was it fair to him and to us that he had to leave because of what that boy was doing?

    So many “good” dogs end up being euthanized because adults don’t teach their kids how to behave with them. In a lot of cases, the dog is either protecting himself from what he feels is a threat or as in the case of Duke, becomes so angry at the constant teasing.

    Before a family with children ever get a pet, no matter what kind, I truly believe they need to teach the kids that the pets aren’t something to pull on, kick, ride or tease. They need to know they are living being with feelings and emotions and different moods, just like people. If they are thinking of getting a specific breed of dog, they need to learn everything they can about that breed since they have different temperaments and needs that can be breed specific.

    Getting a new dog requires a lot of thought and a lot of commitment. Training a new puppy or adult dog is only the start – you must train your children and yourselves, too.

  3. Polly says

    Bella is considered unadoptable now, by the rescue organization, to families with children, which must be their primary client – she was otherwise assessed as totally submissive, friendly with children, adults, other dogs, etc. She probably, with proper attendance upon her for her first days with the new family, would have done fine, but the new owner was not on board for that type of attention for the integrating time period. Hence the “new dog, new house, new environment with four children” unattended.

    • htkhp says

      Such a shame … will the rescue organization consider homes with kids over the age of 16 or homes without kids? I find it hard to believe that this is the first time the org. has had this scenario play out with an adoptive family. When I was still involved in ex-racing greyhound adoption, we dealt with this kind of incident a number of times.

  4. Polly says

    Hopefully the woman running the rescue group was overwrought when she used the term “unadoptable” – she did indicate she felt it would be very hard to find the person who would give Bella a change given her (new) history. One has to think not only of who lives in the household (no children under 16) but might you not get non-incidental visitors of that age? For instance Duff and me – no kids, but the grandgirls do come over on occasion….it is safe to have Bella as part of our household? Will my son and his wife be able to be comfortable letting their daughters stay with us, knowing there is a dog with a bite history in the house?

    • htkhp says

      My two word answer is “dog crate.” A crate is an amazing tool that has all kinds of uses, including, and most importantly, keeping a dog safe. it takes the bite issue completely off the table … so to speak.

  5. Polly says

    Status update: we have contacted the Rottweiler rescue group who holds Bella still and told them we would take her – they have resumed the vetting process (this weekend our neighbors have received calls asking about how we treat dogs, as I had listed them as references) and we breathe easier knowing we are doing all we can for her. Large cage has been cleared of dust bunnies and is ready for her if necessary. I hope our familiarity with the characteristics of rotties (reserved when you first meet them) will help create the right environment for her to thrive.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *