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Climbing stairs and roofs

August 6, 2010

Teaching Sigrid to sit and stay wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. I never had to tell her off for breaking the stay, as I shouldn’t do. The trick was of course to be quicker than her to get to the food and grab it before she got her reward. It’s all about patience, as I’ve discovered is the case with all dog training.

Having taught her to stay proved very valuable indeed once a while back in a way I wouldn’t have expected. Sigrid had a little tumble down the stairs up to out flat, and after that she blankly refused to walk up the stairs or even walk inside the house.

My boyfriend simply lifted the not-too-heavy dog up and carried her inside, but I didn’t feel it was something I could continue doing. Our front door is just beside two restaurants in central Fuengirola – naturally they are both filled up now during the summer months. Both guests and passers by had great laughs about the stubborn dog and shot weird glances at me when I needed to pick her up and carry her inside.

So, I tried a little trick. I bet lots of parents know of this trick, although I couldn’t tell. I asked Sigrid to sit down outside the door, then told her to stay. I placed some food on the floor inside, and waited a little longer. “You’re welcome,” I said, but being Swedish I prefer the Swedish word, so actually I said “varsågod”. Sigrid shot through the door like a missile. Ok, one down one to go.

The stairs took a little longer, the memory of her little slip was still fresh and she was terrified. Before I had thought of the “stay” trick, I had lifted her up the first couple of stairs and then let her run the rest, which she did without a problem. So her issue really was with the first couple of steps, and it was there I now placed the food. Sit, stay, varsågod. She hesitated here, could see that it was a trick but still really wanted the treat.

I waited. Sigrid looked at me, looked at the treats, looked back and started crawling upwards. She looked like what I must’ve looked like when I once tried to climb the roof of my family’s house. Every step was heavy, and every movement was accompanied by a quick glance at me (like I glanced at my brother who was helping me climb the roof). Is this ok? Is it safe, are you sure? If I fall and break my neck, will you call the ambulance?

Minutes passed, and suddenly, probably without realising it herself, she was past the first steps. Incident forgotten, she trotted up the stairs proudly and has been able to walk those stairs without issues ever since.

Sadly, the trick can’t be repeated. She still won’t go through the vet’s door no matter how hard I try to lure her. Well, she must be more clever than me. I still keep walking into the dentist’s office without treats or anything, and I bet that’s just as uncomfortable. Someone prodding at you, saying things you don’t understand. It’s ok, little Sigrid, I’ll carry you through that awful door.

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