When Scout had been with us about a week, she suddenly (everything seems to happen that way–overnight) learned that when we run the water for a few minutes and shuffle around in the pantry, food is on its way. She started to cry and scream and basically throw a little tantrum when it was time to eat. A brand new habit was born, though in our naivete we didn’t realize it.
Extra info: Per our breeder, Scout is fed twice a day, a combo of dry food mixed with hot water and a dollop of vanilla yogurt. The water makes the dry food soft for her baby teeth, and the yogurt is good for puppies’ digestive systems. The food has to sit in the water a few minutes to soften. Scout’s hunting dog sense of smell detects when the food is in the bowl and on the counter softening, and she proceeds to kick it into what we call “Ethiopian mode”: she basically acts like we’re starving her and starts crying at the top of her 8-week-old lungs, running around like a banshee as she tries to find where we’ve meanly hidden her food.
Well, by the end of the week we’d caught on to the trend and decided that it had to stop. Our poor neighbors must hate us, as breakfast time is 7 a.m. and that means that by 6:50 she’s in full tantrum mode. The last two days have been miraculously quiet, so we gave her the food with lots of praise and no hesitation. This morning, though, Scout decided to be difficult. Promptly at 6:50 she began to cry in her playpen. B, who was in charge of her during this time slot (we tag team the mornings so that we can both get ready for work), started scolding her in an attempt to convey that quiet, calm puppies get their breakfast on time, while insane, screaming ones have to wait it out.
We waited it out. A full 20 minutes. By the time 7:10 rolled around I was about to cry myself, but B was handling it much better than I was, firmly telling her no, along with a full on conversation, “Cry me a river, Scout. Come on, keep it coming. You know, your food is just on the counter, and if you would shut it you could get it now. Scout…Scout!…No!”
We held our ground, and when she was finally quiet for a full minute (those 20 second pauses can really fool you), we gave her the food bowl, now thoroughly soggy, and exchanged exhausted congratulatory high fives.
Developing parenting skills, one morning at a time = exhausting. Knowing that one day she’ll get the message = priceless.