Put it away… Bella has a trick where she brings me a shoe and expects a treat for bringing it to me. This stems from a game we played when she was a puppy. She would grab something she wasn’t suppose to have, I would ask, “what you got?” and run to the cookie jar. She, being a lab, would run to the cookie jar with me and give up her treasure for the cookie. Now, she brings me shoes, toys, socks, eyeglasses and remotes controls in exchange for a cookie. Often these gestures of good will or demands for a cookie are not solicited. Instead of rewarding a behavior I didn’t ask for I decided to let her know how amazing she was verbally and then ask for a new behavior that I would reward. The next behavior was “put it away.” She brings me a shoe and I ask her to put it back where she found it or into a box, shoe tray or something. She does and then we go get a cookie.
Recently, my amazing husband and I moved to West Des Moines, IA. While we were looking for a permanent residence we rented a small two-bedroom apartment. The apartment had a small bathroom off of the kitchen. The door to this bath was usually closed because looking into a bathroom from the kitchen wasn’t the best view. The bedroom door was next to the bathroom door and it was usually open. We spent lots of time in the kitchen, cooking and cleaning up. I noticed when I was focused on something other than Bella that is when she started to bring me shoes.
One morning I was busy preparing breakfast in the kitchen. The bathroom door by the kitchen was open, and I didn’t think a thing about it, but I probably should have. Bella brought me a shoe. Since I had been working with Bella to “put it away” in the bedroom, I said, “put it away Boo.” She had to make a really tight turn to get the shoe inside the bedroom door. This morning the tight turn was not tight enough and she turned into the bathroom. Not seeing the usual container she improvised when she saw the open toilet. Quickly and confidently she dropped my shoe into the toilet. Ploop! What could I say? “*Sigh*, good girl Boo. Lets get a cookie.”