The Puppiness Project – Stop Spending So Much D*#@ Time on the Computer

Gretchen Rubin wrote in The Happiness Project about the year she spent “test-driving the wisdom of the ages, the current scientific studies, and the lessons from popular culture about how to be happy.” The Puppiness Project is my attempt to learn the same from Honey, my Golden Retriever.
Golden Retriever Staring at Computer

Yes, I know it's compelling. But don't you think it's time to do a little laundry? My toys smell like warmed over death.

Honey has assigned herself the job of monitoring my computer time. If she’s decided I’ve been sitting at my desk too long, Honey lets out a series of high pitched barks.

Now you fellow dog people know that sound–the attention bark. You know that if you respond to it immediately, your dog will learn that’s the best way to get what she wants. And with increased repetitions, your eardrums will eventually bleed.

I started ignoring the barks and praising her when she settled down.

But I also noticed something. Honey never barked for attention this way when I was doing anything else. Washing dishes? No problem, she’d lay on her pillow and chew on a bone. Reading a book? Honey would cuddle up beside me and chew on a bone. Talking on the phone? She’d lay down in the hallway and chew on her bone.

Sitting at the computer for too long always caused Honey to urge me to get up and do something else for a while.

I choose to accept it as primal, puppy knowledge.

Maybe Honey knows that I’m being blasted with low levels of radiation for every hour in front of the screen. Or maybe she knows something about the quiet, continual whine of the fan. And just maybe she knows that it’s good to get up, move your body, and do a variety of activities.

So now when Honey tries to bark me away from the computer, I’ll wait until she settles but then I’ll do some dishes, straighten up a mess, or even play a quick game of tug. And I bet I’ll feel better for it.

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  1. I think you may be on to something here, or rather, maybe the dogs are. Shiva also tends to leave me alone when I’m doing other things, but if I’ve been on my laptop just a wee bit too long she will start whining and shoving her face on top of the keyboard. If I continue to ignore her, she will try her best to climb all over me. Primal puppy knowledge? Why not? After all, my dog has already taught me other things about living a better life.

    I love this idea, by the way, “The Puppiness Project”. Dogs seem to have a much better handle on happiness than we do.

  2. I think you might be on to something, too! Morgan will come stick her head under my hand when I’ve been typing on the computer for a while. Thank gosh nobody barks at me about it!