Prada's biggest hurdle in her training and body confidence development at this point is, unfortunately, me. I worry that she'll hurt herself or that she won't be able to handle something, so I take steps to make it "easier" for her, or she doesn't have to handle it at all.
I've been working for some months on training Prada to use a small set of stairs to get onto the couch. She's been making slow improvements--she won't climb up them herself, but if I put her on the first step, she'll continue up herself. Then, when I didn't want her on the couch, I'd just move the steps away.
But I was going about it backwards. I was trying to coax her up on my terms instead of letting her desire to be up on the couch with me be her motivation. So, earlier this week, when I had someone over for a movie, and I left Prada on the floor (she's notoriously wiggly when I have company) with the steps moved away, she took matters into her own, well, feet.
The stairs weren't near. She wanted up. So, she just hopped up.
It was clearly not physically taxing--something I should have realized, since her body has adjusted to her altered mobility such that her haunches and abdomen are really muscular. She didn't hurt herself. By putting the stairs up, I was just taking up the space on the couch she would have used to jump up. The problem wasn't her body confidence, it was my lack of confidence in her. The problem was my love for her made me want to protect her from anything that could hurt her.
So, for Valentine's day, I'm giving Prada a vow to do my best not to let my protective nature and love for her hold her back from making more hops in the right direction.