The more I work with Marly and take her places, the more I am beginning to realize that her meeting-new-people issue is really just at the house. A territorial thing and especially outside in the yard. Inside she usually gets over it much faster and settles down. Maybe because inside it is easier for people to appear that they belong there because they can settle in more easily by sitting on the couch or being in the kitchen (where the food comes from). Outside usually everyone is just standing around talking. Her MO is to sort of hide behind me and bark at whomever I am talking to. She will strain her neck to sniff at them, but is careful not to get close enough for them to touch her. All the while her tail is wagging like I have never seen and she is smiling – she has a totally happy posture (with the exception of the hiding behind me part). The only thing that truly worries me is on occasion she will put her fur up during the process. She does this when she is playing with Sadie too, sometimes. I am not really sure what to make of it since I know it is typically an aggressive or fearful show.
A comment from a friend on a previous post inspired this one…
This is MY house!
Apparently, she is also starting to call Neil's house "her's" too! He had people over for dinner Wednesday night and Marly did her funny non-stop barking at them while being shy and not getting close enough for them to touch her. Neil did say that she didn't do the fur-up thing which is good. And she doesn't bark at Beth (well she does, but it is just a "HI!!!! I AM SO HAPPY TO SEE YOU!!!!!" bark) these days – Beth has been around enough now that Marly views her as part of the pack.
My theory is that she is conflicted. She wants to be a 'good dog' (in her doggie mind) and protect her territory, but on the other hand, people are FUN! And she really, really wants to meet the new people. And once she has decided you are OK then she is all over you with kisses and nose nudges looking for love and play friends. Silly dog. The good part is that she also seems to be starting to outgrow it somewhat…the display Neil described was much less intense that what I have experienced with her in the past – though that could also be because Neil is naturally MUCH calmer than I am and that probably helps keep her calmer too.
Marly is also in a counter-surfing stage. The majority of the time now, she has learned that things on the floor that are not her toys are simply not hers (i.e. shoes). Her new fixation, and our new challenge, are things up on the counters or the dresser. Books, watches, hairbrushes, sticks of butter (yes, she ate an entire one just the other day), mail, coffee…the list goes on forever. Anything she can fit in her mouth she will put in it. From there she decides if it is chewable. If not, she will just carry it around (like my watch which I have found several times now dangling from her chin). If it has a good chew texture, then it is on. Her chewing MO is pretty funny really…she will usually be laying on the floor nearby chewing on a bone with Sadie – very domestic and good and calm. Somewhere along the line she quietly gets up and leaves the room, usually unnoticed, and then comes back. Later, as I look over to check on her I will notice that her bone is sitting next to her but that she is still chewing on something. This happened to Neil while I was gone – she had a nylon cooking spatula (from off the kitchen counter of course).
Her absolute favorite thing, though, is paper. Sadie went through this too at about the same age. I call her the Marly Shredder 3000. Paperback books and magazines are the best in her book, but mail or newsprint will work too. In mere seconds it is in a million small pieces scattered all over the place. Just today she got ahold of yet another book…luckily one I have already read.
It would be so much easier if the problem were just food being left out on the counter, but it is ANYthing left where she can reach it. At least she is starting to be a little pickier about what she is grabbing from the counters which makes it a little easier to make sure that at a minimum those things are out of her reach. I simply don't have enough storage room to put everything at my shoulder height or higher!
Overall she is really growing up fast. 95% of the time she is a total angel. The stereotypical, happy-go-lucky lab. Constant companion that hangs out by your feet, always "smiling", willing to play at the drop of a hat, but also snugly and loving. I can tell when she 'grows up' that she is going to be a really mellow dog – a complete sweetheart. It is just the other 5% of the time when I want to wring her giant neck.