I think that part of every dog’s training should be a gentle regimen of Dog Annoyance.
What is Dog Annoyance, you say?
Just that – doing things that are just very slightly uncomfortable to your dog, just a little odd, in order to expand their horizons and their ability to tolerate uncomfortable and weird things. When you take your dog with you everywhere (like I do) they are inevitably going to end up in some odd situations. They’re going to meet odd people. And making the odd normal is something that I would argue is essential to the welfare of every dog.
I’m not a fan of bubble-boy dogs that are managed heavily because their owners don’t want them to ever feel a moment of discomfort or alarm – I think that dealing with a certain amount of weirdness and discomfort is normal, and it is negligence on the part of a trainer not to equip their dog with the ability to handle that.
That being said, dog annoyance can also be HILARIOUS.
I think to a certain extent these sorts of exercises grant your dog a sense of humor about weirdness, too – after all Dax is smiling and happy even as he flops down the hallways in his platypus gloves.
Even more, I think that exposing your dog to little bits of weirdness, and then resolving them – making sure that you “check under the bed for monsters” and assuring them that there really is nothing to fear – really strengthens your dog’s trust in you, and assures them that even when the going gets tough, their person will take care of it.
And that is really invaluable.