Friday, February 12, 2010

Hannah and the Door, part 2

I wasn't thinking clearly when I taught Hannah the command, "Open the door." The problem isn't that she opens doors when she shouldn't. The problem is something else. I'll tell you.

The latch on our bedroom door doesn't latch so from the hallway all I have to do is push it and it will open. Inward. Hannah's not so thrilled to open that door, but she'll push it open. On the other hand -or rather, on the other side of the door - she could open the door because there isn't a latch, but she has to pull instead of push.

The problem is that the command was wrong. I should have been teaching her to "Push the door open" and "Pull the door open." We humans know the word "open" can include push or pull, but to an Airedale, "push" means one action, and "pull" means one thing. So I've had to go back and reteach. Now when we come in the back door or stand outside the bedroom door, I tell her to "Push the door open."

The fact is, she doesn't want to pull the door open because it pulls into her - and that's exactly what she's afraid of: being hit by a door. I know she can overcome this fear and learn this job.

To help her learn to pull the door open, I put a knot in the end of a bandanna and tied it to the inside bedroom doorknob, leaving the knot hanging down. (I should probably use a long sock and put a toy inside to make it more enticing.) Every morning when we get ready to come downstairs, I tell her "Take it" and put the knot in her mouth and hold her mouth closed around it. At first she just sat. I put her up on all legs again and tell her to "pull the door open" and help her do it. We've been doing this for a week or so.

For the past several days she's taken the knot in her mouth and held it tight. And then she lets go without pulling. I think that's a great start! Then I put it in her mouth again and help her hold it and pull the door. She's learning!

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