By Dennis Swett 

Last year, I was cleaning and preparing for the 2012 holiday season and my thoughts wandered as they always do during such chores.   I began to wonder “If puppies were given an instruction book to help them in their mischief, how would it read?”   I imagined that it would probably be hidden under my puppy’s bed and would be a “How To” manual.   

Here Are A Few Of What I Thought Could Be “Excerpts” Taken From Its Leaves:

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NOTE TO PUP:  Be Affectionate!  This is rule number one!  Be sure that the humans are hopelessly fond of you.  This requires sleeping on the lap, cuddling, lapping the face at the right moment, and convincing them think that you are cute, loving, and affectionate.  It is important that they have a strong attachment to you.  This is the foundation of your emotional control over them and allows you to exercise the following techniques:


101:       Toilet Paper

This is an essential skill of puppyhood.  It requires stealth and agility.  Do not try this until at least 3 months old.  Quickly move into the bathroom, and grab the last section of paper in your teeth.  Turn and run as fast as you can down the corridor, around the kitchen table and back down the hall.  (Optional:  Run the paper into the living room.)  The most recent record was 58 feet. 

102:    You Can’t Trust Me Yet

This technique requires some self-control.  It is important to go pee outside at least a week and a half without fail.  Then, while the boss is looking directly at you, bark once and then immediately pee on the floor.  The boss will think that you had been trying to tell him that you had to go, and he missed the cue.  You’ll be able to get away with this at least three times if properly executed.  

103:  Shredding: 

Identify a piece of paper or Kleenex.  When everyone is looking at something else, deftly pull it from its place and disappear with it into another room.  If you have been successful with the “theft”, shred the paper.  Scatter the pieces in a large area—this makes clean-up more difficult.  When discovered, give the “happy look”.  This technique also works with gloves, hats, socks, pillows, and insoles. 

(Note to pup:  The most expensive things are the best targets.) 

103.4   Dog Beds: 


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Dog Bed Technique  

This is best begun at about four to eight months of age.  Quietly lie on the dog bed after an active period (running, swimming, training, or whatever…).  Once you awake, quietly start to chew at the seams and zipper until a hole is created.  Pull the stuffing from the hole, chew it thoroughly, then spit it out and go for another mouthful.  Properly done, a dog bed can be ruined in 18-24 minutes.

(Note:  Don’t be discouraged, Inexperienced pups take a little longer.) 

104:  Wet Kitchen Floor: 

Drink from your water bowl, carefully submersing your lower jaw into the water.  Then, with wild abandon, lift your head and flick the water on your beard like a child would do with a paintbrush.  The objective is to create a glistening arc of flying water that leaves a long trail across the floor.  Done correctly, this will excite your female human for hours. 
 (The males are generally less responsive.) 

105:    “Mr. Myagi” Technique

Similar to “wax-on, wax-off” in the Karate Kid, the Mr. Myagi technique is  performed after the boss has learned to recognize your signs for “needing to go” outside but hasn’t gauged how long you can “hold it”.  Make noises and motions that you have to go out to do your business.  Once successfully outside, go through a few motions of elimination, then bark to come in.  Actual success in “doing your business” is not necessary.  Repeat the process.  The “Mr. Myagi” technique can best be described as “dog-in/dog-out, dog-in/ dog-out”  repeated incessantly.

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Nest Building

106.8   “I Have A Dream”:   

This is especially good if you sleep in the same room as the boss. This technique works best if the human is completely tired out before retiring. (A person that hasn’t learned to sleep when you sleep is especially vulnerable to the “I have a dream” technique.)  .   In the wee hours of the morning, make “I have to go out now!” noises and yip once or twice.  When the boss turns on the light, pretend that you are asleep and dreaming—that you are totally unaware that you just barked.  Greatest effect is obtained when the boss has an important meeting the next morning. 


203     “Body Slamming” Flower Beds

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Body slamming technique

This requires a suitable flower bed.  A daylily or Iris bed would do just fine.  Form is important in this effort and high scores are given for originality.  Velocity must be as high as possible.  First take a 30 foot run, and with absolute abandon, leap into the air and body slam the plants.  The result will be a satisfying landing amidst the greenery.  Important:  After doing this properly, the puppy should look the human in the eyes with an extremely happy and satisfied expression, vigorously wagging the tail.  (This usually gets you off.)  Building nests in the flower bed is optional.

203a    Flowers: 

Flowers are particularly fun to chew because they not only have fragrance, but color. When the color disappears prematurely, the people in the house go “ballistic”.  It’s fun to watch.  Care must be taken however, to look absolutely innocent when the loss is discovered.  This may take practice.

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Practice Flower Chewing

206:    Rose Bushes:  

Most owners think that because rose bushes have thorns, that you will not be interested in doing damage to them.  Care must be exercised, but rose bush excavation is very possible.     This method works best when a human hitches you outside and gets distracted by the phone or other things.    Imitating an excavator, start with a small hole near the bush, and silently proceed to throw as much dirt all over the immediate area.  If you are successful in this endeavor, they will never find enough dirt to fill the hole again.  The last recorded hole exceeded two feet wide by two feet deep.

207:    Hitching Post:  

This technique requires a great deal of self-control.  When the boss hitches you out on the chain gang—or on a stake,  wait until everything looks like it is going the way the boss wants.  When he/she drops his/her guard, immediately dig a hole at least 1 foot by 1 foot and two feet deep in the lawn.  This is guaranteed produce new words which are not part of the training vocabulary.  They sound like Chinese. 

212:    Woodpiles:   

Size of the pile is not important, but as you physically develop, you may want to increase the size of your “stick”.   This technique almost resembles work—except that it is done in reverse of the actual human work.  Steal a piece of wood and run across the lawn for about 50 feet.   Chew on it for a moment or two, then leave it, go and steal another piece.   Don’t rush!  An average of 30 pieces within 1 hour is a good“ratio”.   Be sure to spread the sticks far and wide.  Above all, do NOT return any to the pile.  Doing so is considered “bad form” for pups.

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Charging Through Gardens

213.5   Gardens: 

This is a technique that is very exciting.  When just out of reach of your humans, charge through a newly planted garden as fast as possible, throwing a rooster-tail of dirt behind.  (Vegetable gardens seem to provide the most fun because of their size.) 

213.5a Green Gardens:

A later version of 213.5, this requires the pup to run into the garden when produce is green and between 4-12 inches high.  The technique requires the pup to pull up stakes or green growth.  Scatter said objects upon the lawn.   (This is best done just after a good rain because the humans won’t want to send you into the house for “time-out” because you are covered with mud.) 

216:    I’m So Happy You’re Here!

When your humans receive company that you sense is too “high strung”, the “I’m So Happy You’re Here” technique is warranted.  Run gleefully to the (“high strung”) people and firmly place at least one paw on a newly laundered shirt or blouse.  Good definition of the paw-print is desired.  This shows your proper preparation.  Be sure to wag your tail (or what’s left of it) for effect. 

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 Preparing For "I'm so happy you're here"

219:    “Help! I’ve Gone Deaf!”

The “Help!  I’ve Gone Deaf” technique should be mastered as soon as possible.  It is best used occasionally and discrimately.   Randomly using this technique will keep your humans off-guard.  Simply pretend that you can’t hear the boss when he gives a command.    (You will notice that the pitch of their voice will rise dramatically.  This is normal.)  Caution:  Use this technique only at times when you want to disobey and your humans have not prepared for this contingency.   Judiciously used, this technique is useful throughout life.  

Note To Pup:  Keeping your owner “wound up” and occasionally frustrated is truly an art form.  If you don’t succeed on your first try, be patient.  New opportunities will present themselves.  Be sure to try variations on these techniques.  Be sure to sleep when the boss is awake so you can be awake when he wants to sleep.  Once you have mastered these techniques, please destroy and bury this handbook. 

Well, there you have it.  These are but a few of the techniques that I believe could be found in a puppy’s instruction book.  There may have been such a handbook here by my computer, but all I see is a pile of shredded paper on the floor.