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Run, Toto, Run… a Lesson from The Wizard of Oz

Author: Greg Raub | Date: March 5, 2012

Even if you haven’t seen this year’s Academy Award Best Picture winner, you likely have seen or at least know about one of the stars of The Artist, Uggie.  The Jack Russell Terrier is the latest in a long line of famous movie dogs.  Another we all grew up with is Toto from The Wizard of Oz.

There is a scene at the very beginning of The Wizard of Oz that has an important training lesson.

I was reminded of the scene by my partner when I came home from the recent IKC show with a story about a woman who stopped by our booth asking how to keep her dog from chasing cars.

At the beginning of the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy is running home because Miss Gulch was trying to hurt Toto.  Miss Gulch was after Toto because he was running through her garden chasing her cat.  Dorothy tells her Aunt Em, Uncle Henry and the farm hands about the incident.  One of the farm hands, Hunk (Ray Bolger), gives Dorothy some good training advice:

“You ain’t using your head about Miss Gulch. Like you didn’t have any brains at all.  When you come home, don’t go by Miss Gulch’s place.  Then Toto won’t get in her garden and you won’t get in any trouble.”

At AnimalSense we are all about positive training—reinforcing the behaviors we want, ignoring the behaviors we don’t.  But another way to ensure good behavior is simply to not let the bad happen.  If you want your dog to stop bothering Miss Gulch, don’t expose your dog to Miss Gulch.  This basic principle can be applied to a lot of common behavior problems:

  • Chasing cars?  Keep your dog leashed.
  • Jumping up?  Stand on the leash.
  • Housebreaking accidents?  Crate train your dog.
  • Leash pulling during walks?  Try a harness or Gentle Leader that restricts pulling.
  • Eating your plants?  Put your plants out of reach.
  • Shredding toilet paper?  Keep the bathroom door closed.
  • Rummaging through the trash? Get a trash can with a lid.

You get the idea.

The best way to deal with a bad behavior is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Or, if your dog has already found joy in doing something you don’t approve of, takes steps immediately to prevent the dog from continuing to “practice” the behavior.  It really is a lot easier to prevent a problem, or stop it early, than to try to fix it later.  It’s good for you, and for your dog.  It sets your dog up for success.  It makes living with your dog more fun.


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