How do you have a dog and not train her?
I’ll never understand that. However old Nora is—let’s say a year—it’s obvious her prior owners did minimal if no training, and if anything scared the beejabbers out of her. She cringes so fast. Her cringing and eagerness to fit in give me the sense her prior owners scared her. A lot. I wonder if they hit her.
She responds so fast to either love or rebuke—even when mild. It reinforces how much as I believe in: 1) lots of love, 2) consistency, 3) love, 4) establishing proper behavior, and 5) lots of love.
For her first few weeks she was with us in January, while it was still cold, she would stand outside the door on the back deck and give me a polite, single bark, indicating she wanted in—or more accurately, she wanted the door open. Because when I slide the door open she would dance a few steps away. So I would close it again, walk away, and a few minutes later she would approach and give me the single bark again. As if to say: I want you to leave this door open for me. You aren’t going to win this war of wills, little girl …
I’ve read about small dog syndrome, especially how we teach little dogs that they are alpha, by giving them access to furniture and letting them jump on us, among other transgressions. And she is testing those boundaries. Which is fine—it’s her job, so to speak.
But we have had a rule: no dog on the beds and only on certain pieces of furniture.
And she’s so good at flouting the rule!
For the first two days we pushed her off the bed onto a chair with two arms but no back at the foot of our bed. She suffered this for the first night or two, but kept inching from chair to bed, then finagled her way further up from the foot of the bed the next night, sneaking up to our ankles the night after, by our bellies the next, and then up to our heads, except that’s where we draw the line, and she ends up plopped back down by our bellies.
Okay, so she got us to knuckle under on the no-dogs-on-the-bed rule. But let’s not push it, little girl.
So she is willful, in her own way. She has already: found the frayed corner of the backseat of our 20-year-old Corolla and chewed a hole into it; chewed up the foam backing of one of our rear CR-V seats, and destroyed a dog bed by ripping a hole in it through to the bottom. Yet each time she is so sensitive to “no, no, no!” She cringes and flees—so she clearly understands the reprimand. And doesn’t transgress in exactly the same way again—just something similar.
Overall, Nora is learning well. Both from us and from Edie—who is, after all, the best at showing her how a dog fits into this family. She is getting much better at sit and come. And clearly recognizes her name, coming to us eagerly with tail waging. She is also figuring out what our different behaviors mean (putting on shoes, getting her leash, etc.).
It’s funny, since the first walk where she joined Edie and me, she approaches doorways as if she can go in anywhere. I indulged this some, at first, following her up walkways toward the doors of the Ballena Bay condos before returning to our regular walk, but she’s sorting things out and doesn’t do it as much any more. I’ve no idea where this behavior comes from—her prior owner took her to visit people often? And here’s another odd thing: she didn’t like grass, at first. She preferred to stay on pavement.
As our walks have progressed, however, she has come to love walking on grass and through the open fields out along the shoreline of both Ballena Bay and at the old naval air station.
Overall, a very happy little dog, and we get the sense she feels like she’s hit the jackpot, moving in with us. Enough so that she is exerting her will …