A (more than) Fair Exchange Is No Robbery

I encouraged my bipeds to trade from a very early age. This began as treats for sitting and for walking on the lead. Any chance to get more treats is a good thing!

As a puppy, I usually only had one or two toys available to me at a time. They would swap them most days, so that the toy was always interesting and I didn’t get bored with it. I also always had a nice chew available, so that I had no need to chew the furniture. That was their theory – I still felt that I’d like to test various items of furniture for chewing, but that’s another story.

One of my bipeds would hand me the new toy and then go and pick up the one I had been playing with. I was less than four months old, when I decided I’d like to keep the toy I already had as well as the new toy, so I rushed across and picked up the old one. She said, “Clowie, give!” But I had no intention of handing it over!

She went back and picked up the new one. She also went to the treat jar and took a couple out – now she had my attention! She came back and asked me to sit – and so I sat, but I kept a firm hold of the toy. She again said, “Clowie, give!” She held out her hand for the toy, but I just held onto it even tighter. Then she held out her other hand as well. She had a new toy and a treat in it. Obviously, I wanted the treat and the new toy, but I had my mouth full of the old toy. I moved my head towards the hand with the new toy and treat to see if I could get it all in my mouth at the same time. She moved the hand with the new toy back slightly and moved her empty hand forward slightly, saying, “Clowie, give!”

I had to think about this! I sat and thought for a few minutes, but I couldn’t see any way out of this without giving up one of the toys. Is this what they mean by a dilemma? I decided to weigh up the options and I realised it came down to a choice between a new, interesting toy with a treat thrown in, or holding onto a toy I had been playing with and was no longer that interested in. It wasn’t such a hard decision after all! I put the old toy into her outstretched hand and she immediately said, “Good girl.” She moved the hand with the new toy and treat towards me saying, “Clowie, take it!”

I took the treat and the toy. I moved away and put the toy down to eat my treat. Then my biped came over and played with me and my new toy for a while. This was fun and I knew I had the best part of this bargain. After that we traded all the time, I wasn’t given anything without having to give something first – almost as though I’d done something wrong! At first, I had to think about it very carefully to see if it was a fair exchange – funnily enough, it was always more than fair!

When I was teething my chews became more important than ever to me and I hardly ever stopped chewing, except when I was asleep. One of the bipeds would often ask me to hand over my chew to get an even better one – that was easy! It was a little more difficult to hand over my chew to get my food, but I was hungry – so I didn’t have to think about it for long.

Sometimes one of them would stand or sit where I slept and give me a treat. They looked so silly, but I didn’t care – I was getting nice treats! They frequently took my food away, but it was only ever to put something much tastier in my bowl. I don’t know why they couldn’t put it in there in the beginning, but I’m not going to complain when they do remember.

My bipeds say that I needed training to not guard resources. They say that Pyrenean Mountain Dogs have a tendency to do so, as they are guardian dogs. As usual, they have things slightly confused. I never guard my food or toys because I know that I have trained my bipeds to always give me something nicer, when something is taken away. I always know that whatever they pick up or ask me to give them, even a juicy bone, I can look forward to something even better.

And that’s how I came to invent the phrase “a more than fair exchange is no robbery”.

See you next Wednesday!


  1. Clowie, you are quite the smart doggy. Lulu can learn a lot from you!

    Christie from lifewithbeagle.com

  2. You have some pretty smart bipeds there. I wish I’d been able to teach this to Delilah. 🙂

  3. Clowie, you sound so purrfectly trained! Our mom is jealous. We are kitties and we do as we please.

  4. Oh Clowie, you’ve trained your bipeds very well! I’m so glad that I’ve come to your blog as I’ve learnt a lot from you. You’re my guru!!!

  5. Hey Clowie, Jet here.

    What a smart K9 you are! Mom and JJ are working on that idea now because of late, JJ is relocating Mom’s shoes! Mom trades a toy for a shoe!

  6. You are a very clever girl Clowie 🙂

  7. you have a very smart biped. thank you for sharing this impawtant lesson

  8. This is a wonderful lesson on dog and human training. I don’t need training but my humans do.

  9. Hey!! I would like to nominate you for the Super-Sweet blogging award!!
    Here’s the link!! http://hearingwiththeeye.wordpress.com/2012/09/28/another-award/

  10. You must be a really skilled dog trainer! I’m very impressed – wish you could spend a month with mine! (but they’re old now and a bit silly).

  11. As always Clowie, I’m impressed at how well you trained your humans!
    I bet the humans wanted he old toys to play with them though. Yes, the more I think about it, the more I bet it is the reason for wanting them back

  12. Clowie, you always amaze me. You are so extremely smart and trained your bipeds so well! Impressive, as usual! 🙂

  13. I think Clowie is right.
    I think Clowie is always right……
    I love Clowie.

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