That’s More Like It

Before we went on vacation, I posted that we were in a pretty bad place. Silas had randomly, although not without warning, gotten too afraid to get in the car. Since I have to drive him out to the park for walks, we were completely housebound.

I was hoping that vacation, which included a lot of driving, would be a reset of sorts. He’s always better if my husband and I are both in the car. I’m not sure if he finds it reassuring, or if my husband being along is just a guarantee that we aren’t going to the vet. He also prefers to ride on the freeway.

Tuesday we put my theory to the test and went for a little outing. We’re at near-crippling levels of spring pollen, so we kept it indoors with a trip to the local PetSmart. (As I’ve said before, know your dog. Silas adores PetSmart and behaves perfectly, but I also know to keep the trip very short.) Silas hopped right in the car, although he was a little anxious once we were moving.

On the way home, my husband remembered something he needed from the grocery store, so we made a quick stop. Maybe something from the trip did sink in. I had a bag of liver treats that I dispersed in a slow-but-steady stream, and Silas watched quietly as half a dozen people walked through what I had mistakenly picked as the quiet corner of the parking lot. That included two ladies who walked directly in front of our car. The ferocious barking at people walking toward the car thing is a newer behavior that I don’t let Silas practice if I can help it, so maybe it’s going to be easier to eradicate than I imagined.

The real test comes this afternoon, when I’m planning to take Silas out solo. The one thing I know for sure is that I’m walking a fine line between capitalizing on the residual confidence from our trip and overwhelming him. I hope that getting him out twice this week will be just right.

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8 thoughts on “That’s More Like It

  1. That’s awesome that you have a place you know he’s comfortable – PetSmart. How does he fare at other indoor dog-friendly locations? Some greenhouses, hardware stores, etc, are specifically dog friendly – though I suppose those don’t have treats on-hand (my bank does, actually – Moses loves going to the bank).
    But it’s awesome that there’s some post-trip confidence (for both you and Silas, it sounds) – hopefully that becomes permanent!

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    1. Silas can’t eat the treats, anyway.

      Dog-friendly here is . . . weird, like a lot of dog things. While there are technically a reasonable variety of dog friendly places, people are really not in the habit of taking their dogs out with them. I suspect it’s the heat–if you need to run one dog-unfriendly errand, no matter how quick, for most of the year you can’t leave your dog in the car. So, the dog-friendly places never have any dogs in them, which means the staff gets really excited to see you, which is a DISASTER. That’s why we stick to pet stores. (Plus Silas sometimes–unpredictably–empties his bladder when he meets new people.)

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      1. Alma once peed in a pet store. I was mortified. But the lady was nice about it – I suppose we’re good customers with two giant dogs 🙂 But it sounds like sticking to pet stores is a good mix of being welcoming to dogs, but not too ecstatic to see them.

        Good point about the heat – obviously I didn’t think of that. Man, I may complain about the blizzard we’re getting right now (someone forgot to tell Mother Nature it’s the first day of spring?), but I am glad for more temperate summers – and so are the dogs.

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        1. I really do get something like summer SAD–it’s just *crushing* out there from the first of June until the end of October. Our winters are usually lovely, though. Except this year, which I’ve whined about a lot even though we were comparatively well-off. Winter is the season we go outside and do things, and it was cold and rainy. We had ice THREE times. People had to cover their tropical plants for weeks at a time. (Go ahead and laugh, it’s okay.)

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  2. Good luck. I am hoping he builds on that confidence. My Faolan loves to get in the car, and the destination once we arrive at it. It is the time in between in the car that is trying. He cries, pants, and occasionally pees in my car.

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    1. Silas is okay, albeit nervous, in the car. He doesn’t seem to get sick at all. What he hates is the process of getting IN, and then he doesn’t like to be in the parking lot of wherever we’re going.

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  3. I’m glad you’re seeing some improvement! Ruby prefers the freeway also, she gets anxious when we slow or stop at lights in town, then of course there’s the heightened likelihood of seeing pedestrians, cyclists, etc. I keep toying with the idea of taking her on a quick jaunt to our little local pet store but I don’t want a meltdown or setback, either. A fine balance…good luck on today’s outing!

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    1. Yeah, Silas isn’t dog reactive (although he doesn’t have great manners around other dogs), so he does well in the pet store as long as I go when it isn’t crowded. He has had some really weird reactions, though–once he spotted a huge dog statue up toward the ceiling and FREAKED OUT.

      I honestly don’t see a huge advantage in going, except that I’ve gotten *too* good at taking Silas to the park when there’s nobody there. His favorite park is virtually deserted when we go. So, at the pet store we see a few people walking around doing regular stuff, we see dogs (preferably from a distance), and that kind of thing.

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