Poodle Empowerment

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Molly, a standard poodle friend of ours, came to stay recently. She’s been a frequent visitor, but this was her first overnight stay. She spent several days with us while her humans were traveling.

Molly can be a little anxious when her mom is out of sight, so we wanted to make sure that she was comfortable. We needn’t have worried; Molly established her sleeping place (the middle of the king-sized bed) and her reclining spot (the leather sofa) right away.

Molly is particular about her diet and came with elaborate feeding instructions. We further embellished her meals with the side dishes our own dogs have come to expect: yogurt, veggies, brown rice, salmon. (Yes, the dogs live quite well at our house.) Soon, Molly was eating like a golden retriever, licking her bowl clean.

The real transformation came, though, when our automatic dog door — the same model we have in our Florida house — was ready for use. We solemnly attached the magnet-keys to each dog’s collar and turned on the magic portal. Wylie, Jana, and Oriel knew just what to do and were delighted to once again have free access to the outdoors (see A Doorway to Your Dog’s Independence).

To Molly, though, this was all new. She watched the others go in and out. She put her head through the open door and quickly pulled it back in. A gentle nudge convinced her to step gingerly through. She still wasn’t ready to try this on her own.

Armed with some of her favorite bison treats, I held a short introductory session. Jana eagerly demonstrated opening the door, walking through, and eating a treat on the other side. (She was especially eager to demonstrate the treat part.) I lured Molly through, made a huge fuss over her, and served up the yummy reward.

This was fun!

Oh, THIS is how it works!

Molly tried again, and again, in, out, in — with my encouragement and rewards. I ended the session and decided to wait and see what she’d do next. Jana let herself out. The door closed. Molly approached cautiously, her magnet-key dangling from her collar. The door opened. Molly stepped through! Hooray!

Molly very quickly grew to love her new power. She stood taller. She pranced.

And she went in and out, in and out, several times a day over the next couple of days. Just because she could.

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