Lynn was such a sweet, good natured pup. She never gave me a reason to worry about her with Livie or the children. She was a smiler, a lover, a wagger.
And yet, life with Lynn was not always simple. Even if she had once been loved, Lynn had never been trained. She just didn’t know the rules of being an inside dog. This naivety, coupled with her reluctance to be confined, made for some interesting, sometimes frustrating, weeks.
Lynn had to spend the nights in her crate. I tried to let her sleep by my bed (Livie’s spot of choice), but she ripped up a shirt that was left on the dresser one night and a book another night. She paced around restlessly and once even peed on the floor right by the bed, despite having just been out. We all needed sleep.
Lynn quickly learned where the crate was and would not come to me once she saw that my intention was to confine her. I tried to make the crate as positive of an experience as it could be with cozy blankets and special toys, but the rouse was up: being free to roam and enjoy the family was way better.
To her credit, despite disliking confinement, Lynn rarely fussed anymore about being crated. She made me work to get her there (often, I ended up carrying the 70 pound pup up the stairs and into the guest room before she would willingly enter the crate with the bribery of a treat), but once in, and especially if she had enjoyed some light exercise and sufficient mental stimulation, Lynn settled in quietly.
We started the days with a trip outside. Then, Lynn and Livie would help me prepare the children’s lunches (Livie hoping some things would hit the floor, Lynn helping herself to the more delectable bits right off the counters or out of the lunch boxes if I dared turn my back).
We woke up the children and helped everyone get ready for the day. During this time, I kept a close eye on Lynn, because if she hadn’t pooped on her first outside trip of the day, she would sneak off to do it now. After she taught me this routine, I started keeping her attached to me with a leash in the mornings.
After the children were off to school (Nora was going to preschool three mornings a week and the other kids were gone from 8am-3pm), I took the girls on a long walk. After the walk, they would lay down with their toys or Kongs and I could trust Lynn to stay out of trouble for a couple hours.
They got another walk at noon, 3:30pm, and before bed, with some outside time in between.
The problems arose whenever Lynn got bored or when I wasn’t watching her closely.
She thought everything was a toy. Items she chewed and destroyed while in foster included numerous kitchen towels, a Barbie, a shirt, a book, a shinguard, a shoe….and this was with vigilant supervision.
Lynn thought anything edible was hers for the taking. She had no qualms about surfing the table or counters for scraps (or our dinner!). She snagged a couple sandwiches, a slice of quiche, cheese, apple slices…the list goes on and on.
Lynn did not understand the ins and outs of housebreaking. Despite amble opportunities to eliminate outside, Lynn gave me (and the steam cleaner!) a regular workout!
Also, Lynn assumed she had full access to any part of the house. She broke our “no dog on the living room couch” rule on day 1 and every day thereafter. She leapt up on the kitchen table even when there wasn’t food there. I even found her up on my dresser one day, just hanging out! Funny girl!
I found that keeping her close worked to reduce each of these issues. I learned when I could trust her to be on her best behavior (for the hour after a walk!) and when I had to be on guard (every other hour!). Lynn trained me as much as I trained her, for sure.
Many an hour was spent reading about dog behaviors and working with Lynn. With each article I read about improving these behaviors, with each positive reinforcement tactic I employed, I knew that I was helping Lynn to become the best companion animal she could be. I was helping to ensure that her forever home was indeed forever. While she was recovering from heartworm and her vaginal prolapse surgery, she was also learning to live peacefully alongside people. She was learning some basic manners and some fun tricks (sit, stay, shake, down, rollover!). She was getting better (physically and behaviorally) week by week.