Keep Yourself From Going Crazy, Too

Everyone’s a little out of sorts around here. I’m having the seasonal allergies of doom. (Why, yes, it is spring here, and I am NOT READY for it to be hot again.) Silas has been what feels like constantly on-edge, culminating in a long series of total meltdowns yesterday.

The HOA decided it was time for spring gutter cleaning, so Silas and I woke up yesterday morning to a man standing on my roof, clearly visible through my skylight. Then they moved over to the garage roof, clearly visible through our patio doors. You can imagine how well this went down. They were gone before 10:30, but then Silas was convinced that every sound–and I mean every sound until we went to bed–was the evil people coming back to stand on his roof again.

It was not a good day.

When Silas woke me up at 6:30 this morning barking like a crazy, I knew that I needed to regather the shreds of my very fragile zen in order to get through today. Tuesdays are always bad, since they’re our regular landscaping day. Despite counterconditioning him to the leaf blower for the better part of two years, we’ve only made so much progress. So, what do you do, when your dog that you can’t leave has driven you to the brink of insanity? When one more bark is going to reduce you to a temper-tantrum or to a sobbing mess, and there are probably 50 more barks coming?

Here’s my list:
–Watch dog training videos. This one is be a double-edged sword, because it can send you into the “my dog is defective” spiral, but it can also be good inspiration to work through challenges.

–Fantasize about getting away. Tomorrow, when everything is back to normal, I’m taking myself somewhere nice and quiet. In three weeks I get two whole days of Silas staying with my mom.

–Put more of the burden on your partner. I’m usually the one who intervenes when Silas has a fit, but sometimes I know that I’m just not in a good place to deal with it. Those days I’ll make my husband handle him.

–Play a silly dog game. You’ll improve your relationship with your dog and help stop some of the stress that is accumulating for both of you.

–Use the resources you have. I have a small selection of things that actually help Silas’s anxiety, but (aside from his daily meds) I tend to save them for bigger problems. If your dog is making you crazy, that’s a bigger problem. Depending on your dog, this might be a DAP product or a special puzzle toy or a ThunderShirt.

–Change the environment. This one is, again, really dog-dependent. Know your dog and watch for stress accumulations from one situation to the next.

–Take whatever break you can. Your dog needs you, sure, but does he need you right this second? This probably makes me a terrible person, but sometimes I’ll just go sit in the bathroom with the door shut. Take a mental vacation.

How about you? What do you do when your last button has been pushed?

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13 thoughts on “Keep Yourself From Going Crazy, Too

  1. Good advice! If my husband is home, and we’ve had one of those days, I like taking a walk with the dogs to calm down (on the “quiet”, fewer-dog route, for Pyrrha’s sake); it also seems to help them calm down. I also like to go wander around the backyard with them: play Frisbee with Eden, toss sticks for Pyrrha, scoop poop and marvel at the amount they generate… Quiet, outdoors things that make the dogs more tired and help me gain a better perspective on their neediness.

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  2. I love your post. Its a good one, because it makes me feel a tad more sane, and normal! 🙂 This weekend really tested my patience. My mom was visiting, Stella has recently developed this obsession with EVERY…SINGLE…SOUND in the backyard. Because she “heard” something she tore from the back of my house to the backyard. In the midst of her burst she knocked over a table and shattered a potted plant… JUST to obsess over a sound…… ugh. It frustrates me to type about it. To stop her obsession we gated the deck, which resulted in panic barking and whining because she wanted the sound. Which I finally figured out it was my neighbor pruning. This went on for a while. I finally had to put Stella in her crate to calm down. I left the house to go shopping with my mom, and left Stella with my fiancé, telling him to let her out when she calms down. Leaving the craziness helps sometimes…. and leaving it to the fiancé helps too because, like you, Im the Stella Monster wrangler most of the time. That event hardly ever happens, but it did, she had too much pent up energy, I almost snapped… BUT I didn’t, and by the time I got home she was a perfect angel again…

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    1. Sound obsessions are Silas’s biggest problem. I feel you. And, unlike everything else, they’re basically impossible to control. I can’t tell the landscapers to go away (if I owned this house, we would to the yard work ourselves) or ask my neighbors not to chat out front. You just have to deal with it the best you can.

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  3. Oh, man. Yesterday. Oh, yesterday. It was a perfect storm. A couple houses down from us, some people have a dog in a wire crate in their backyard. The dog howled the entire day, making every other dog on the block bark like crazy (most are kept outside… sigh…) which made this herd bark like crazy. The neighbor’s lawn care people showed up mid-afternoon, adding to the chaos. Then, the house behind us, which has been empty since we moved in, had a flurry of construction and cleaning activity. All at once, and – of course – I’m on deadline this week. By the time John got home I was almost in tears. I sent him off with the dogs, finished my work, then had a massive glass of wine. John asks why I don’t go work at Starbucks, but if there’s so much chaos stressing them out, I feel guilty leaving them to their distress.

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    1. The curse of working at home. That’s how I am (minus the paycheck. 😦 ). If I had a job-job, I would just have to suck it up and leave. Or, more likely, would never realize that he was having a problem. Since I don’t, I feel obligated to stay and help him. He doesn’t have any kind of separation anxiety, though, thanks partly to an independent temperament and partly to the fact that I *can* stay and help him on scary days.

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  4. Wine for me, a game of tug for Ruby.

    I’ve been so impressed with Ruby this week. I don’t have any energy or a nerve left due to unrelated things going on, and she seems remarkably in tune with this. She hasn’t asked any more of me, and has been calmer and cuddlier than usual.

    I think it’s especially frustrating when it’s things our of your control, like the landscaping and gutter cleaning in your case. These things make me frustrated at the world instead of at the dog. Taking a break is okay, too. I’ve shut Ruby out of my guest room/library or put her in her crate while I take a bath.

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  5. There are definitely times (when the college kids come back after summer break especially) that Elka decides every stray noise is OH MY GOD A HOME INVASION and goes full alert trotting around, full mohawk, growl-talking if not outright barking (though she ever only does one or two barks at once). I try like hell to redirect, and to show her “Yes, you told me. There’s nothing there, all done.” every time. Sometimes though I cop out and give her one more peanut butter Kong or a squeaky toy or whatever.

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  6. Thankfully I can hand the dogs off to the Husband for a day if I need a break – and he can do the same with me. Mostly it’s just about stepping back and catching a breath and taking some frustration out of it. And then I’ll go back an analyze whatever it was as objectively as I can.

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  7. Sorry it’s a rough time of year for both of you. But this is a great list.

    I also like to creatively curse at Honey in a sweet sounding voice. I know I can’t yell at her. But she doesn’t feel bad if I call her a rotten, nasty bitch in my cutesie voice.

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