Acknowledging, Working Through

I just spent a week and a half banging my head into the wall of Silas’s limitations, and I’m a little frazzled and testy. Let me complain for a few minutes, then I’ll try to put positive-self back in the driver’s seat.

Silas is not great with people. If you are in a place he expects you to be, he’s fine. Say, the park. Or, already in a store or room when we go in. Anything else startles him, and he barks. In most cases, it’s something he can work through pretty quickly. Bark bark bark, realize person is okay, solicit attention from person in some inappropriate way. I don’t usually let him meet people, because his soliciting attention can look a lot like “ATTACK!” to a person who was scared by the barking. Also, some people will set him off again trying to pet him.

Silas and I have been staying at my parents’ house alone for a week. My husband was there for a few days, but then he needed to go back to work. My grandparents share the house, which was set up as a duplex until my grandfather had a stroke. Now there’s a door between the two sides. Grandpa has a constant stream of people in and out–family members, nurses, etc–some of whom are very scared of dogs.

So, this week I have needed to:
1) Issue dire warnings about opening the adjoining door. It wasn’t there the first few times we stayed with my parents, and it Freaks Silas Out.
2) Check before we go outside, to make sure that none of my little cousins are around.
3) Scream at a toddler I missed in my sweep, who was running up to Silas to “play with the doggie” (who was seriously upset, not just having his usual “work through it” reaction. Child+running+waving arms+talking loudly=perfect storm of Silas’s least favorite things. And the kid would not stop coming toward us. WTF, parents? Now, because I also freaked out when the kid came up, Silas will be that much more scared of them.)
4) Carefully plan my every attempt to leave the house around guaranteeing that nobody would come in the house and upset Silas while he was in his crate.
5) Skip seeing a large part of my family and going even dog-friendly places, because Silas couldn’t go with me and I had used up his crate-time on hospital visits.

I also spent a lot of time saying, “Oh, I can’t, because of the dog” to people who don’t even let their dogs in the house. Couple that with the constant stream of inedible objects that Silas found to chew on, and you’ve got a frustrating time.

If I put the positive hat on, he actually did pretty well, aside from the toddler incident. I was watching my 14 year old nephew while I was there, and Silas did fine with him. Silas adores my mother, and mostly reacted very well toward her the few times she was around. She even let Silas out of his crate one day. (She’s usually our dog babysitter on our regular visits.) My brother stopped by a few times and committed the big no-no of coming in the door without meeting the dog first. Silas handled it without freaking out too much. He met one of my aunts. My husband says that Silas even came to a detente of sorts with my father-in-law. Last time we were home, Silas barked what seemed like every time that my father-in-law moved, for eight hours.

I would now like a vacation. Something without so many “opportunities for growth.”

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8 thoughts on “Acknowledging, Working Through

  1. Sounds like you do need a vacation! Gosh, Silas is a lot of work – but at the end of the day, isn’t he worth it? You go ahead and rant – he still did pretty well and is probably better than he was at first, so just hang in there and keep on training him. Maybe when he’s 15 he’ll mellow out! šŸ˜‰

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    1. Mellowing out: something I wait for every day. There is a tiny, irrational part of my brain that is ridiculously excited for him to turn 18 months old, the technical “end” of dog adolescence. Like, maybe he’ll magically wake up calm and happy!

      There were definitely things to be happy about–he did fantastic on the car trip, he did better than I expected with a lot of the people, etc. It was just a lot to handle on my own.

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      1. Haha – don’t want to make you worry. But honestly – I had that same hope for my last cattle dog mix. She was about 9 when she “mellowed”. Just sayin…some dogs never quite leave that stage according to the time table.

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  2. Hang in there ’cause it does get better! I remember the good ol’ days when I was always on alert and on edge whenever someone came over but now Sadie handles all visitors like a champ, except for some light barking at first.

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    1. Yes, settling nicely. I didn’t really think about how hard the trip was on him, too, until yesterday afternoon. Wednesday he slept all day in the car, then came home and went right to bed. Thursday he slept all day on the sofa. Today he’s more normal, but still pretty quiet.

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