Sew Buttons On Your Underwear.

Anyone who has spent time with prepubescent or adolescent humans has had or heard a conversation that goes something like this after an adult makes a statement or request-

Kid: “So?”

Adult: “It’s important.”

Kid: “So?”

Adult: “I feel insulted when you talk to me that way.”

Kid: “So?”

Adult: “That’s a rude thing to say.”

Kid: “So?”

Adult: “I’m losing my patience when you say that.”

Kid: “So?”

Adult: “I want you to stop that right now!”

Kid: “So?”

An experienced adult knows that when an immature mind has latched onto the power of the word so, there’s only one reasonable response and that’s, “sew buttons on your underwear.” I learned this from my grandmother who understood that any attempt to discuss the inappropriateness of the so response would end up in a maddening loop. For a two-letter word so packs a double punch. It demeans the request and slights the person making it.

puppy being dragged into the ocean

“I’d rather not.”

It’s a conversation style that I observe often between dogs and owners.

Dog: “I’d like to sniff that.”

Owner: “So?”

Dog: “Hang on a second I think I should pee on that.”

Owner: “So?”

Dog: “I’d like to get out of here.”

Owner: “So?”

Many dogs give up and give in. They may have been punished for doing otherwise. There are others for whom the request is of such importance that they will keep asking until they are taken seriously. When that finally happens they may be labeled bad dogs or red zone dogs. Once that occurs their future hangs in the balance. Will they find someone who takes their requests seriously or someone even more adamant in their commitment to demean them by creating labels such as; dominant, stubborn, alpha or mean, for these requests?

No one enjoys having to take so for answer.


16 comments so far

  1. kdkh on

    Thank you. I have long advocated at home that dogs have a life, too. They do not exist merely for our convenience or entertainment. I do a lot of things to enrich their lives. My in-laws think I’m a certified nut. My husband is a little better. It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

  2. meghan on

    So (no pun intended), are you saying that we should let them stop and smell everything they want to when we go on walks? I try to respect Moose and Taffy’s dogi-ness, but if I let my half basset hound mix smell everything she wanted to smell when we went for our 2 mile walk, it would take us three hours!!! How do you find a balance between trying to get them their exercise (and mine) and letting them stop and smell the roses (and everything else!)?

    • Debbie Jacobs on

      Sometimes we make decisions which our dog may not prefer we made, but at least we should be aware of what their preferences are. This is especially true when we are dealing with behavioral challenges in a dog.

  3. Donna in VA on

    Our conversations might go something like:
    Max: “I want to sniff this”
    me: (gentle pressure on leash) “Is it really important?”
    Max: Nah, we can keep going – or –
    Yea, just wait a minute here (OK, I wait…)

    me: (urgent pressure on leash) “you can’t stop in the middle of the road”
    me: (yank on the leash) DON’T EAT THAT!!!!!

  4. rangerskat on

    We tend to have yours, mine, and ours time in our lives with our dogs. When it’s your time the dog can stop and sniff, choose routes, etc. and my job is to say cool have fun unless there is a serious problem with what the dog is choosing to do (no you can’t eat the dead squirrel in the road) when it’s mine the dog is supposed to stick with me and basically say “cool, let’s keep jogging or walking or…” Ours is the part of the walk where we actively train. It feels to us like that’s a way we can respect our canine companion’s need to do dog things without relinquishing all control. I’ve always been uncomfortable with those who have trained their dog to look to them for permission for everything. Sometimes a dog just needs to be a dog.

    And as a mother of a 13 year old I am totally stealing the “Sew buttons on your underwear.” To be fair, I don’t get a lot of “so” but it isn’t an extinguished behavior.

    • Debbie Jacobs on

      You are welcome to steal the saying, but expect to get eye rolling in response!

    • Donna in VA on

      re “Our/train time” – good point, and I used it yesterday. Max sat down in some grass/field during the middle of the walk. We looked at the sky for a while, we looked at each other for a while. Gentle leash pressure did not get him moving. Then I give him a verbal “Let’s work” and “place” hand signal (sit by my left foot.) He complied and we set off at a heel again. He knows treats are involved so that overcomes whatever notion he had in planting his butt. I have also resorted to throwing treats ahead of us on the path (bread crumb trail in reverse.) There is one hill in the path he does not like where he is tempted to stop/dawdle.

      • fearfuldogs on

        Is he old or afraid of something on that dawdling path?

  5. meghan on

    Thanks guys! That’s kind of what I thought, I just kind of wavered for a moment and thought perhaps I was being a walk-Nazi. We do have “novelty walks” as I call them when Mommy needs to go slow because her butt/back/hip/head hurt (or she’s just plain feeling lazy) and they’re more allowed to smell things (within reason, Moose could spend all day checking out every one of the many many mole hills around the development). Actually, I think today might just be one of those days 🙂

    • Debbie Jacobs on

      I don’t think I have any walk-Nazis following my blog 😉

      • jet on

        Hah. I think the point is kind of that the dog says ‘I want to sniff this’ and you say ‘let’s go’ and the goal is getting the dog moving along without any leash pressure. Yanking dogs around for no good reason isn’t cool in my book and I admit I’ve been guilty of it in the past. All it does is teach them to lower their centre of gravity and tug back harder…

  6. Jessica on

    Such a good way to look at this. My favorite is “I would like to go sniff that” (checks in), and then I feel like I can say, “Yes! Let’s go!” as a reward. But, my dog is nervous outside, so we play all of our walks his way as long as he isn’t pulling on the leash.

    • fearfuldogs on

      That’s a nice thing to do for a nervous dog.

  7. Lorre on

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels the “pack Leader” Alpha teaching has to be balanced with a relationship with your dog. You can’t just have a dictator relationship, it needs to be a positive nurturing leadership based on an awareness of the animals feelings and needs, too. And my dog will definitely let me know her opinion about things. If she doesn’t want to do something I ask, she will still obey me, but will be sure to let me know by her attitude and grumbling sounds that she isn’t happy about it. It’s important that she listen to me, but it is also important that I communicate to her that I love her in the process, and that I also
    listen to her needs as well!

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