Picking Sides

Being a puppy in training, Riley sometimes makes mistakes. When this happens, we put her in a time-out pen, set up in our living room. While she’s in the pen, we ignore her, which can be pretty hard since she’s so damn cute. Our disinterest in her and her inability to join in really bothers her. When she settles down, we let her out of the pen and she romps back into our good graces. Works like a charm, and she quickly learns bad behavior gets her nowhere.

Riley HATES her time-out pen. But she LOVES John. She does not have much enthusiasm for me, however.

When John puts Riley in time out, she goes quietly, looking at him, repentantly. “Alright,” she says. “I see your point. I shouldn’t have done that. My bad. I need to stop barking at you and biting you when you don’t answer me. I should also lay off the socks. Tell you what – I’m going to sit in here, take some time, and just think about what I’ve done. No, man, it’s ok. I need to do this. You carry on.” Then she lays down and quietly contemplates her choices, occasionally giving him puppy eyes to let him know she’s truly sorry for what she’s done. It’s really quite touching.

John is gone most of the day, when the majority of Riley’s unwanted behaviors spring to life. Guess who puts her in the pen 90% of the time? Me. That Lady.

When I put her in time-out, it’s a very different scene altogether. When I grab Riley’s collar and head towards the time-out pen, she makes it clear she does not want to go and that I am being very mean to her. So unlike John, who clearly loves her and I so obviously hate her.

“Ok, Riley, that’s enough. It’s a time-out for you.”

“Uh, Lady, you need to get your hands off me. I’m biting you because you’re not giving me enough attention. Just do as I say. There’s no need for this violence.”

“Riley, you need to calm down. You can come out when you’ve calmed down.”

“Oh, I’m calm, woman, you don’t even know. Just try to put me in that pen. THEN you’ll see what crazy looks like.”

“Riley, it’s ok. Just get in.”


“Just have a little quiet time, then you can come out and we’ll play, ok?”

“I will cut you.”

She sulks, she does not lie down and give me the sad, loving puppy eyes. Instead, she gives me an angry side-eye, leting me know this was not a wise move on my part. I clearly don’t know who I’m dealing with. 

Quite a difference.


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