Dog Training

As Pavlov and B.F. Skinner amply demonstrated, operant conditioning can solve many problems, not the least of which is a barking dog next door. Repeated visits to the neighbor got only expressions of concern and "Yeah, but what can one do?" sighs. So I took the matter into my own hands.

The dog had a favorite barking spot, right at the front gate. So I went to Home Depot and got a water nozzle, a hose, an electric sprinkler-control valve, some wire, and a doorbell switch. Mere hours later, I had tactical first-strike squirting capability from my dining room. At the touch of a button from my favorite chair, a jet of water would shoot from the bushes just on my side of the fence, right at a certain dog's barking spot. The dog would freak out and run--silently--to the back yard. It was like that barking dog had an "off" switch, and it was in the palm of my hand.

Thrilled as I was with this sudden shift in the balance of terror, I was also concerned that my homemade water canon might deploy inadvertantly, perhaps soaking the human members of the neighboring household as they were carrying in a load of groceries. But this was a risk I was willing to take.

In addition to being highly entertaining, my doorbell doggie drencher broke the dog of her barking habit in a few weeks. But then she realized that if she was not at the gate, the water did not hit her, no doubt making her something of a genius in canine circles.

Back to Home Depot, this time for an antenna rotator. For you folks not in rural areas, an antenna rotator is a remote-controlled motor that turns your antenna to any point of the compass to give you better TV reception. After you learn where each channel comes in best, you write the channel number on the rotater. Subsequently, you turn the dial to the indicated position, and your antenna turns to the right spot. It makes channel surfing slow, but in the boonies, it's a necessity.

I attached my squirt nozzle to my antenna rotator, but instead of channel 4, 7, or 11 written on the controller, I had "gate", "porch", "tree". You can run, Fido, but you can't hide.

At this point, I had more than an effective dog training device; I had a pretty damn entertaining game, one that, as it turned out, neighborhood kids would line up for and pay $1 per minute to play. $5 per minute when a grocery-schlepping neighbor came in range.