We’re all familiar with the phrase, “Let sleeping dogs lie.” In fact, most of us practice it on a daily basis.
When Eko is snoozing, I let him enjoy the nap while I enjoy the quiet
However, in the dog community there is no saying, “Let sleeping humans lie.” In fact, the motto seems to be, “Wake the humans up as soon as possible.” Over the years however, Eko has learned that poking my face with his nose doesn’t always make for a happy morning. I’ll sternly tell him to get back to his bed and I try to catch a few more precious bits of shut eye.
Dogs understand direct consequences perfectly: If A then B. It’s how dogs learn to understand and communicate with us. (If I sit down then I get this treat) But I am also suspicious that dogs very well understand secondary consequences: If A then B, but also C. In the case of our (weekend) morning routine Eko seems to fully grasp that I poke Will in the face then he will wake up but also he will be grumpy.
So here is his problem. Eko wants to wake up, but how can he do that without the secondary consequence of making me grumpy? Oh, let me count the ways!
1. The fitful sleeper
Eko will turn and turn on his bed, scratch his blanket and make lots of muffled sounds. If I look over my bed, he looks up like “Oh, I was still trying to sleep, but I see you are awake so we might as well get up.”
2. Bed relocation
Eko will toss his blanket off the bed and then loudly flop somewhere else on the floor. When I look up to see what that “thud” noise was, Eko pops up ready for the day
3. The sleeper-hold
If I am extra tired I will let Eko up on the bed for a short time in the morning. To get me up he will fall asleep on my leg, and I wake up to pins and needles
4. Dragon’s Breath
Eko’s last resort before resorting to a poke is putting his face directly next to mine and breathing deeply until his deep exhales rouse me awake
As a kid, I used a lot of these same passive-aggressive tactics to wake up my older siblings when I wanted to play. It seems that Eko, like I once did, hides behind the defense, “Hey, I didn’t wake you up – you just happened to wake up while I was doing something else! Therefore you can’t be upset at me.”
Eko’s sneaky behavior also seems to imply that he also understands the difference between using direct actions and indirect actions to achieve a desired result.
So what do you think, am I reading too much into Eko’s behavior or is he as crafty as I think he is? In the end, I’m not sure it matters because there is no doubt his techniques work!