The thing about counterconditioning your dog’s most common fear is that you are forced into a constant awareness of it. My husband and I are, no kidding, easily over 15 instances of various lengths a day. Now, sometimes that’s the same person on the street, having a loud conversation and then being quiet and then starting it up again. Or, there are clusters around particular times of day–school letting out, say, or the popular hours for going/coming from the restaurant down the street. (Have I mentioned that we live in a terrible neighborhood for Silas?) Still, it’s a pretty rare half an hour that goes by between 10:00am and 9:00pm that one of us doesn’t have to intervene.
The other important thing is that you are probably responding to sub-incidental occurrences. That is: Silas only gets hysterical over a few things. While that number has been on the uptick since the plumber came (hence, urgency of this process), those 15+ incidents a day are not times when he would be absolutely inconsolable. That’s every time he woofles, every time an ear twitches, every time his head pops up from a nap.
This is wearing. Yesterday, when some people were moving in across the street, I couldn’t go long enough without dispensing treats to get my hair combed so that we could leave the house. After a day or two, your patience and empathy start to get a little thin.
It’s also depressing. Really watching your dog for reactions will make you feel like a terrible person. “How did I not notice before how upset he is?” “Am I ever going to be able to fix this?”
I’m hoping that we’re at the low point right now. Please oh please.
There is a little ray of sunshine, though. Today I realized that I can beat his reactions. Sometimes, even for some pretty loud triggers, I can get the treat in his mouth before he starts barking. When I can’t get to him, he seems to be less upset than before.
Also, somewhat ironically, the one thing he didn’t react to today? The lawn service.
8 thoughts on “Progress”
I can only imagine how tiring this level of vigilence is…I so admire your dedication to Silas…he is a lucky dog to be with such loving and caring people
Thanks! I’m hoping that it doesn’t take too long to at least get the very minor things done.
Good news about the lawn service.
I can relate to the exhaustion of constant vigilance. Hopefully it will pay off for both of you.
The hard part is that you become so alert to stimuli that you’re almost as aroused as Silas. I wish I could think of some way to give you a break.
We’re going back to see my parents next week, which will be nice. He’s not necessarily “easy” there, because it’s not our house and he needs more management, but it will be a nice break.
That’s a tough one, I feel for you. I wish I could help, but I can only tell you that you will get there, one day you will say, “gee it’s 2 o’clock and he’s been amazing.” 🙂 Hang in there.
Thanks! My secret hope is that counter-conditioning all the “outside” noises might rub off into him actually liking it outside.
Fortunately life is full of little rays of sunshine to mark progress, no matter how slowly it seems to come.
Indeed. You just have to watch, and to remember. That’s why I write posts like that–“hahahaha remember when that seemed like such a big deal?”