Mountain or Molehill?

I took Silas to a store on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. It turned out to be busier than I expected, probably because it shares a parking lot with the grocery store. Three clerks and four customers, in a tiny strip mall store with a lot of merchandise.

Once again, he was great. He started getting a little overly excited/playful by the time I was done checking out, but he was happy. He even greeted almost everyone appropriately, only jumping up on one person.

Which has me pleased, but puzzled.

I’ve always said that he’s better with people who don’t surprise him. So, going into a store doesn’t bring up nearly the issues that, say, going through a drive-through window does.

There are, no question, still some issues with people. Even at his best, he can get too excited, which can lead to some (usually inappropriate) attempts to ask people to play. He can be hesitant to “warm up” to those people who have surprised him. But these seem to me to be pretty “regular” problems, especially for a young, sensitive dog.  His reaction to being surprised needs a lot of work, but it’s a much easier job if there’s fundamental good will beneath the barking.

What I’m puzzled about is the why and the how, so to speak. Did I do something that actually helped him? Was that last round of obedience class really that useful, even though we worked with people comparatively little? Was this whole anxious-about-people thing just puppy adolescence (Silas is officially 18 months old on the 30th)? Or, was I just making a mountain out of a molehill the whole time?

Right now I’m feeling pretty optimistic. Next week after we come back from another trip home, where we’ll have to do a lot of managing, I’ll try to come back and read this all again, and take a deep breath.

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8 thoughts on “Mountain or Molehill?

  1. Y’know, it’s okay just to be thankful. 🙂

    But I relate to your questioning. I’m always wondering if training is kicking in. Or maturity? Or just a quiet mood?

    I found that doing regular daily training with Honey improved her confidence which made a difference in many ways. People and dogs benefit from problem solving. It helps her brains become more resilient.

    Hopefully a combination of factors is helping Silas’s brain synapses to reconfigure in ways that result in him being a happier boy.

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  2. I am in agreement with Pamela Webster. I had fostered a very shy, poorly socialized puppy last year. She was fine in the house – but outside she would shut down and just react with submissive peeing when meeting other people. I feel like her interaction with the other foster that was very confident and the training I did with her increased her confidence enough so that when she met her potential new adopters – she was really quite calm and although a little skittish, so very different from how she had first been. I think it’s just like with kids – when they get involved with a sport or hobby they are good at – it just makes them more confident and able to handle new situations and new people in a more positive way.

    Good job in keeping on training Silas. I think your perseverance are really paying off! 🙂

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  3. From reading all you have done for Silas, take that deep breath and relax! He’s doing well and that can be a bit puzzling but maybe it’s just that he’s “getting it”. Your consistency is being rewarded! Silas is such a lucky boy to have someone so dedicated to him.

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  4. It’s so hard to say. Dogs have good days and bad days too, right? I try not to over-think things too much – okay, that’s a lie. I try to tell myself not to over-think things too much. Silas is a good, happy dog who sometimes has some bad moments. More and more he is becoming confident and I think more and more these bad moments will decrease. I think it’s so great you haven’t given up and you keep introducing him to these situations while setting him up for success! Eventually something is bound to click in that puppy brain!

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement. I hope you’re right! And, yes, it is very hard to turn off that over thinking

      Yesterday he was *fantastic* with my in-laws, who have usually been overwhelming for him.

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