Owner Profile: The Nostalgic Nitwit

8 Oct


The Nostalgic Nitwit (NN) believes that dogs come programmed with all the basic skills and obedience required to live with humans.    The NN assumes that a dog automatically recognizes the command “sit” and knows not to shred the latest issue of US Weekly or pull that block of cheese off the kitchen counter.  They don’t remember their family dogs growing up requiring much work, so they are completely aghast that their new pooch requires effort and patience. When their current dog inevitably act like (untrained) dogs tend to do, the NN seethes in frustration and waxes nostalgic about how their last dog never needed to be told how to behave.

And we didn't have legs!

And we didn’t have legs!

Common Locations:

In their living rooms repeatedly giving commands (down..down…just…lay down!) to their confused dogs, complaining to friends over cocktails about how much more work their current dog is than their childhood pet

I’ll sit if you bring me that margarita.

Breeds Owned:  

Whatever their dog was growing up, because that dog was perfect. Collies, Labs, and Golden Retrievers are common.

Perfect(ly) Devious

Skill Level:

Low.  Having assumed that their family dogs growing up all came perfectly trained, the NN has not bothered learning anything about dog behavior or training.

Either that means he is hungry or he ate the mailman… Which one?!

Catch Phrases:

“He should have known better!”, “Mr. Fluffykins NEVER….”

Anecdotal Evidence:

BusyBee: It never ceases to amaze me how many people come into the animal shelter looking for a dog that will not require any work or effort.  Recently, a young woman came in looking for her first dog as an adult, and seemed horrified that the dog she was interested in, a stray we picked up a few days earlier, did not know that jumping was uncool.  Imagine her surprise when she learned the dog didn’t know how to shake and rollover.  I mean, her “gentleman” (her words) of a childhood dog did all those things, so surely all dogs should do these things automatically, right?  I tried explaining that her family dog probably was trained by her parents, and even though she may not have been involved or remembered it, it was highly unlikely that Fido came out of the womb knowing how to behave.  When I suggested that the dog she was looking at was quite smart and would benefit from some training classes (and frankly, so would she), she scoffed and then asked if the other major shelter in the area had dogs that came “trained”.

She probably isn’t ready for a plant either

Potnoodle: A particular nitwit comes to mind, though I know many. This particular NN had purchased a field line lab “just like the one he grew up with.” He purchased the dog, taking great care to make sure it was the same color as the one he had as a kid. I met him when he brought the dog in for training classes. It CHEWED on things, didn’t come when called and was impossible to house-train. In other words, it was a lab puppy that had no manners.  Absolutely nothing like his childhood dog, despite being given the same slightly racist name. I watched him struggle for six weeks trying to get this puppy to mind. Finally, he started to accept reality and actually train the dog. He visited his family the week after the class ended and came back afterwards to tell us that his new puppy was going to a board and train facility because that’s where the first incarnation went and it came back the perfect dog.

**Know a Nostalgic Nitwit?  Used to be one?  Share below!**

14 Responses to “Owner Profile: The Nostalgic Nitwit”

  1. Liz October 8, 2013 at 3:45 am #

    Oh good God–you all hit another one of my hugest pet peeves… If I had a dollar for every client I’ve heard say “my last dog NEVER did this”, or “my other dogs were SO much easier” I’d be a rich woman. Selective memory is a bitch.

    • ThePayferPack October 8, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

      Amen! Even having a penny for every time I hear this from a client or potential client I would never have to work again!

  2. Lolly October 8, 2013 at 4:08 am #

    Totally agree that the NN probably had parents who were very involved and engaged in training the dog, and the NN didn’t notice that as a child because all of the parental boundary-making kind of blurred together. At the dog park this weekend I saw a family with two children pull up (oh boy), and the eldest boy started in leash-popping and smacking their yellow lab while delivering rapid-fire contradictory commands. That dog is probably destined for the shelter as “untrainable” because they are idiots. My brother and SIL got a new puppy a few months ago and I’d say they’re spending equal time training their children how to train a dog as they are actually training the dog. “One command at a time and wait, be patient! No, you can’t give him the treat yet, be patient.” Because honestly, my brother would teach the dog a new thing and the girls want to show off when someone comes to see the dog by yelling all the commands at once. They want the dog to mind the girls, but that means that the girls have to interact correctly with the dog and be part of the training process. Consequently, they’ll probably remember and never be NNs, hooray!

    • ThePayferPack October 8, 2013 at 3:56 pm #

      I have some clients who bring their children to class and are told to listen to me. The whole family is involved in the training process. I love it when all are involved and helping to prevent a future NN.

      So happy to hear your brother is making sure his children are taught as well!

  3. Lisa October 8, 2013 at 4:17 am #

    I’m a veterinarian with an interest in behavior especially. The worst is the person who tells you “That dog on TV (or in the movies) doesn’t act like that!” Oh Lordy, people are really not bright! Most of my patients are brighter than most of my clients. 🙂

    • RowanVT October 8, 2013 at 7:22 am #

      As a vet tech, I am seconding this. My most recent foster puppy was more intelligent than 90% of the clients I deal with. He’s a dog that it would be easy to become an NN with however, because his food drive and focus were incredible even at 8 weeks old.

    • AD January 13, 2015 at 5:50 pm #

      that’s my mother who wanted a jack Russell because the dog on Frasier Eddie “is so cute and well behaved”

  4. Sean October 8, 2013 at 5:04 am #

    I recently saw a post on my local craigslist from someone looking to adopt a dog that went on and on about how perfect the dog had to be – which breed(s) were ok, no-shedding, size requirements, had to be good with dogs, cats, kids, house-trained, trained with great recall, other commands, no jumping, taking food, etc. etc. etc….and of course the dog shouldn’t be more than a year or so old! Also, they weren’t interested in paying even what the local shelters or rescues will ask for as a donation when you adopt a pet either. The weird thing is that they made it sound like they’d be doing someone a favor by opening up their “wonderful” home and family to a model citizen canine. Idiots.

  5. Cyn October 8, 2013 at 11:57 am #

    Add cocker spaniel to that list of breeds. And St. Dead Dog Syndrome to the list of human afflictions.

  6. Emma October 8, 2013 at 11:58 am #

    LIVING with something similar right now due to an unfortunate housing change.
    They brought a new dog into the house who’s around a year old. Expected her to be perfectly trained because, well, “she’s a year old they’re supposed to be good by then!”

    She “knew” she was bad when she crapped on the floor….Sure.

    Separation Anxiety is a major issue with this dog. I’ve been working the crate into being a safe and happy place for her. Yet when they leave the house, she is often left out and manages to destroy at least one thing.
    “Oh she just needs to realize that the other dogs are her family too so she doesn’t feel alone”
    …And until then freakin’ crate the mutt!

    Left out in the yard where they have a shoddy invisible fence system, that currently is out of commission “WHY does she keep leaving the yard! She should know she needs to stay in her boundaries!”

    But because they have watched my pup go from puppy to wonderful, show dog adult, they seem to assume they just “grow up”

    I swear. I don’t understand how they ever raised dogs in the past, let alone children!
    (Oh hey did I mention these are my parents?)

  7. bgszap2 October 8, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

    My friend recently got a puppy, (she has 5 kids, 1 in pre-school and 1 in diapers) I had advised her to get a big dog, a Golden or Lab or mix of one, and an adult. She got a hound puppy who immediately began nipping and chasing, was then thrown into a crate or tied up and the kids not allowed near her. The pup rapidly turned into a monster, biting for real and yodeling in total frustration.
    Considering the time spent “training” I counseled taking the pup back (while she was still cute and salvageable) and to my amazement, she was returned to the shelter.
    The main problem?
    She wasn’t like their LAST dog, who was a Golden mix and came into the house before there were ANY children. (So got trained.)
    None of my dogs has been like the previous dog. That’s half the fun. But only if you are willing and able to spend some time.

  8. Laura Anne Welch October 8, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

    My favorite story in this regard: Nearby family had a sheltie, and they loved her. When she died, they went out and bought another sheltie. Were shocked that this dog barked so much. The former dog was so quiet, she could have been stuffed, frankly, because she never barked, was very overweight and never really moved(I observed one day that this dog spent 3 hours in a child’s wagon, fully dressed in a dress and hat. Honestly)

    So, I hear the complaining about the noisy new dog. Then, one day, from the closed house, I heard, “Stop Barking!!!!!”
    Gee, all shelties must be quiet dogs because their one experience with one was that she was so very quiet in all ways.
    Wonder how that quiet line of shelties herded sheep in the Shetland Islands? Must have been by softly spoken persuasive arguments.

  9. Ruth October 8, 2013 at 9:54 pm #

    I recently had a melt down with my husband who was appalled when I suggested he have treats on hand to reward our current young and overly enthusiastic boy. Yes, I am trying to build good behavior so that Youngster doesn’t get to molest people who want to pet him, he has to sit still if he wants people to say hi to him! Husband is surprised and bummed that Youngster doesn’t automatically sit still when very interesting people approach him saying in excited voices how cute he is and oooohhh can they pet him? No, Youngster wants to jump up and join in the excitement! And Husband is further bummed that pulling on the leash and yelling NO at Youngster results in excited barking and more jumping! When I explain to Husband that he needs to tell people that they can’t pet Youngster until Youngster is sitting quietly, and that the best way to get Youngster to do this is by rewarding him and not yelling at him – Husband shocks me by complaining that our PREVIOUS dogs did not need “all these treats” and he didn’t have to carry smelly treats around in his pocket with our PREVIOUS dogs because they were perfectly behaved! When I recover from my shock and can speak again – I explain to Husband that SOMEONE TRAINED OUR PREVIOUS DOGS! –( and that would be me)! They did not come “perfectly behaved”! And while it’s true that Previous Dogs were perhaps a wee bit easier to train than current Youngster – training is still training, and Youngster is smart and he will get it. The good news is that Husband is smart, too. After grudgingly admitting that I might have a point (this is why we are still married) – he followed my advice. Amazingly he now reports that Youngster sits to be petted and actually responds to his commands. And he keeps treats in his pocket to reward Youngster appropriately. Good Husband. Even NN’s can be trained…

  10. Victoria Price-Gee October 25, 2013 at 4:58 pm #

    This seems to be a common thing with GSD owners. I can’t count the number of times I’ve run into people saying “oh, I had one as a kid and loved it! He was soooooo protective! The one I have now has all kinds of issues though.”

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