Now that Scout’s one, it would be easy to think that the work is over. But in reality, being one only means Scout knows most of the rules and what to do. When she breaks those rules, she knows it (as evidenced by her sad face and the hanging of her head). Here are the thing we’re still working on now that Scout’s older:
1. Greeting people at the door. Now that we have a doorbell, there’s a loud pronouncement every time someone comes to the door, and Scout quickly put two and two together. And that calls for barking. When we first moved in, Scout would bark for minutes on end. She couldn’t calm down. Now that we’ve been working with her, it’s improving. We’re teaching her that she can bark two to three times (normally by then we’re at the door), and then she has to sit and wait while we see who’s there. The challenge: Staying seated until we say her release word, ‘okay.’ Every time she jumps up, we have to return her to sitting, and start over again. She’s getting it, but that puppy enthusiasm is hard to conquer. (After all, once we’ve opened the door and greeted the person, she sees the situation as “this person is okay to be here, and that means they should pet me!”.)
2. Digging. Scout has discovered that rain makes the grass soft and squishy, and underneath is mud, which is fun to rub her nose in. B and I think otherwise when we see the yard. I’m not talking huge holes, but holes nonetheless. The challenge: It’s hard to watch her 24/7 when she’s in the yard, and it doesn’t take long to dig a hole when your paws are talented at it. We don’t have an express game plan to conquer this one right now, other than disciplining when we catch her and not letting her out in the yard just after it’s rained if we can help it.
3. Eating poop of all shapes and sizes and genres. Sigh. It needs no more explanation. We’ve got a harem of cats living next door who love to use the grassless patch of land under our cherry blossom tree as their personal latrine. Until we can afford to build the patio we’re saving for (and relocate the unearthed grass to this bare patch under the tree), this is a problem we’re dealing with…reluctantly. Oh yes, and she also loves her own just as much. Eck. The challenge: I’ll admit it, this one seems unconquerable. We’ve tried sousing everything in hot sauce, but she licked it off like it was ketchup. We also tried Nutri-Vet’s Nasty Habit pills, which are supposed to stop the habit “or your money back.” I think we need our money back.
4. Counter surfing. Scout has discovered the joys of being taller. You can reach the countertop! There’s food up there! But there’s also things that could hurt her up there: sharp knifes, hot dishes, cleaning supplies and things that puppies don’t need to be carting off into the corner to devour before their parents come downstairs. The challenge: Scout’s learned that when we aren’t directly watching her, she can do things that she’s not supposed to. And we can’t watch her every minute. So, we’re trying to keep our counters free of food and dirty dishes and tempting objects, and when we catch her, we discipline her. Sharp tones and “bad” make her give us the saddest face ever created. But we stick with it. I’d like to try a technique from a friend’s training book where you hide behind a corner and throw an empty can or other noisy object in their general direction when they go to put their paws on the counter. They associate the sound and surprise as negative toward the action they were doing, without associating it with you.
5. The Stare Down Technique. I hate the Stare Down Technique. Yes, we’ve officially named it. And I hate it. We talked about it first here, back in July.
When Scout wants your attention and you are, for example, sitting on the couch watching the pilot episode of New Girl with Zoey Deschanel (loved it), the dog will not stop staring at you. Seriously. She doesn’t even blink. She would win any staring competition hands down. Always place your bets for Scout. And not only does she stare, but here’s where the ‘technique’ part comes in: she backs up. And up. And up again. She will back up, one step at a time, with these little pauses in between, just waiting for you to give in. I’ll video it one day. You’ll see, it’ll drive you crazy through YouTube. The challenge: You can’t give in to her, or you’ll just feed the stare. You’ve got to stick to your guns and stare at the TV like the dog doesn’t exist. Tonight she pulled out the big guns. She laid her head in my lap, cuddled my hand, and gave me the, “Aw, Mommy, I really love you” eyes. So.Hard.Not.To.Look! She threw in a heavy sigh. But what she really wants is for me to sit on the ground and cuddle with her, and though I do that on occasion (because I feel like you’re probably going, “God, A, you’re such a jerk! Just love on your dog!”), like during basketball season when I get stressed out and practically camp out on the floor during the UNC games…
…there are other times when I don’t feel like sitting on the floor, and I shouldn’t have to sit on the floor every single night. I should be allowed to sit in a chair. There, I said it! I love you, Scout, but mommy needs to feel the cushions of the couch some nights. (And also, I should clarify, sometimes Scout doesn’t want to just kindly cuddle. She wants you to sit on the ground where she can lick your tonsils and then play a rousing game of tug-of-war with what’s left of the stuffed monkey she got for her birthday, effectively making sure you don’t see an ounce of that show you’ve been waiting all week for and are not, coincidentally, DVRing.
So there you have it. There’s probably more, but this is what’s coming to mind at the moment. Even with all of this, we still think that Scout is a well-behaved little girl. She’s walking well (except on the occasion that a crazy smell grabs her attention, and then it’s HOLY-COW-LET’S-VEER-THIS-WAY-AND-SMELL-THAT-RIGHT-NOW!), she’s getting the hang of the front door, she doesn’t go crazy when someone walks by the house with another dog, she leaves our neighbor’s harem of kitties alone, she and Zoey are getting along better (knock on wood), and she hasn’t destroyed anything particularly valuable, like a pair of my heels or artwork or drywall (knock on serious wood). We’ll see where thing go from here!