Improvements You Don’t Expect

I’ve made what seems like a dozen lifestyle changes lately. More classical music in the daytime. A DAP diffuser. More use of Silas’s thundershirt. Some new vitamins. Changes in Silas’s training. More counter-conditioning. More empathy. More interactive toys. Going to the park more and going on more errands. Meeting more people.

There have been some improvements, although because this is reality none of them have been instant or dramatic.

In Thundershirt at park

On Thursday I took Silas to the park in his Thundershirt. It turns out, Thundershirt+dehydrated liver=willing to take treats outdoors. Even when strangers are coming. So, instead of just having to physically restrain him (stepping to the side and holding his harness while he scrabbles desperately; he wants to be friendly, but I can’t let him greet people because if they don’t do it just-so he panics.) I could get him to the side, hold his harness, and feed him treats! Big revolution. Of course, he hated being at the park in his Thundershirt and kept trying to scrape it off on things. I’m hoping a couple of trips will get him in some good new habits that we can sustain minus the shirt.

Some of the lifestyle changes are more about improving general confidence, the positive (in the sense of additive) side of trying to remove his anxieties. And, even though I didn’t expect it, this is where we’re finally starting to see some real changes. One evening his ball hit the fireplace grate pretty hard, with a big unusual noise. Silas was taken aback, but after a tiny momentary pause he went over to check it out.

Then, we had what is either our biggest breakthrough ever, or the weirdest fluke of all time.

It was time for Silas to get a spa day. You know, nails and bath. He’s not the worst dog ever about having his nails done, but he’s pretty bad. I’ve never quicked him, but our old clippers were dull and it took a lot of probably uncomfortable pressure before they would slice through. The way we’ve learned to do it is for my husband to hold a huge spoonful of peanut butter for Silas to lick while I do all his nails quickly with the new sharp clippers. This time he was actually pretty good.

Then it was the bath. I ran the water, got all the things arranged, took Silas into the bathroom, and got his collar off. And he started walking toward the bathtub. Cheerfully, I said, “Hey, let’s get in the bathtub!” Now, Silas hates baths, in the kind of “I will tolerate this, but I am deeply depressed and offended” way that he gets about me putting his on his harness. I have to bodily lift him into the tub, while he cowers against the far wall of the bathroom. People, he jumped in.

Into the bathtub! With the evil water!

9 thoughts on “Improvements You Don’t Expect

  1. It sounds like things are somehow “clicking” for Silas…positive connections or associations are being made that we just can’t understand but it must be gratifying for you to observe…


    1. Oh, trust me, the bath thing was a huge surprise. I called out to my husband: “You’ll never believe what the dog did in the bathtub.” “Did he sit down?” “No, he jumped in!” “I don’t believe it!!!”

      The nails require serious peanut butter. Like, a small Kong worth.


  2. That is progress!! Delilah hates the tub, but I’ve been throwing treats in there and letting her climb in and out without water. The last time I gave her a bath, she stood in the tub while the water ran in and THAT was progress.

    Great job!!


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