My dog has now mastered the command “roll over.”
It’s actually a “quit being a butthead” version of “roll over,” because I tried to teach him “roll over” months ago and he refused, apparently thinking that because he is so short, if he properly rolled, he wouldn’t be able to right himself, like some kind of hairy turtle. At that point, I revised my expectations and downgraded the trick to “show me your belly,” which he consented to, since it only involved him having to roll halfway.
However, he is a greedy little butthead, and in his excitement for whatever treat I’m offering, he would usually only show me his belly at lightning speed before righting himself. This led to the additional requirement of me sighing, glaring at him disapprovingly, and exhorting him to “show it nice.” He would then snort, lie back down, and expose his belly properly (read: for about two seconds instead of .0001) in exchange for delicious treats.
Anyway, he has realized in the last week that he can, in fact, roll all the way over, and he has decided that this is what I am asking him to do with “show it nice.” It probably has less to do with what he thinks I want than the fact that the action of rolling lets him circumvent the Terrible Dachshund Problem of having to pretend to be passive and submissive, and either way, I give him what he wants, so now he rolls over.
This adds to his repertoire, which now consists of sit, shake, stay, lie down, show me your belly, show it nice, speak, woof, and, bizarrely, surf and turf.
"Surf and turf" means "freeze while I balance this treat on your nose and don’t move until I tell you you can." He wouldn’t do it with any other phrase. Cooper periodically gets bizarrely excited over random words that he hears you say—in the past, he was fond of "sausages" and "library"—and so with "surf and turf," we just decided to try making it a command since he liked it so much for no good reason.
You’ll also notice that “speak” and “woof” are separate commands. This is because the command “speak” does not get him to bark. “Woof” makes him bark. “Speak” gets him to sneeze on command. That’s because my dog is pretty awesome sometimes.
This is all particularly impressive, I promise, because dachshunds are buttheads. It’s a breed feature. Wikipedia uses the word stubborn twice and aggressive six times in its description of dachshund temperament. It also uses the words challenge, stress, anxiety, difficult, snappy, obstinate, and destructive. Oh, AND they’re biters.
E.B. White put it best: “Being the owner of dachshunds, to me a book on dog discipline becomes a volume of inspired humor. Every sentence is a riot. Some day, if I ever get a chance, I shall write a book, or warning, on the character and temperament of the dachshund and why he can’t be trained and shouldn’t be. I would rather train a striped zebra to balance an Indian club than induce a dachshund to heed my slightest command. When I address Fred I never have to raise either my voice or my hopes. He even disobeys me when I instruct him in something he wants to do.”
What I mean by all this is that my husband was an absolute fool when he fell in love with an obese, grumpy little one-eared rescue dog. But Cooper is REALLY cute sometimes, I guess. When he’s not growling.
None of this, however, pleases me as much as my mom’s dog. My mom’s spaniel/lab mix is the Stupidest Dog in the World, and she only knows one very specific trick (and that one only because I spent a week dog-sitting her and teaching it to her). If you extend your index finger out, touch my mom’s dog on the forehead, and announce, “Dead forever,”* she flops onto the ground, rolls over with her legs in the air, and freezes as best she can (except that she is big and sweet and stupid and wags and grins the whole time).
*The reference, if you need it, courtesy of Allison’s Favorite Show of All Time: