Brainstorming Nervousness Triggers

We’ve been brainstorming why our house might make Katie nervous or wild. It’s hard since we’ve already eliminated or mitigated all the things that made Lilly a wreck, and she’s much more sensitive. So, it’s hard to think of new things. Here’s what we’ve come up with so far.

  1. Katie has never been in any houses except her own for the last year.
  2. Katie mostly spends her days outside.
  3. Katie hasn’t lived with other dogs for the last year, so she hasn’t been inside with other dogs in a long time.
  4. Her current house has radiant heat floors and carpet. Our house has wood-stove heat and often-chilly, tile floors on the main level.
  5. The main room has a vaulted ceiling, and maybe that seems freaky to her.
  6. Until recently, Katie’s only interaction with our dogs has been to play outside. Maybe she sees them and always thinks PLAY!

Then, there’s the obvious … my dogs are pretty intense. Maybe being in closer quarters with them is scary.

BUT, on Saturday, when her visit did NOT go well since she simply could NOT settle down, Ginko was sound asleep on the sofa, and Lilly was curled up on top of me sleeping. But, she still ran from door to door and paced up and down the hall.

This week, during her visits, we’re pulling out all the stops. We run them ragged outside, so they’ll be tired. We’ve plugged in the DAP diffuser (dog appeasing pheromone). When she’s here, I put the Calming Music for Dogs on repeat. Tom and move slowly and speak softly, and we get Ginko and Lilly to settle down on their beds right away so that they are not an issue.

So far, a couple of times, that’s earned us about 20-30 minutes of peace inside the house. That’s it.

Tom has his first solo afternoon with all three dogs yesterday because I went down to town for a friend’s retirement party and to run some errands. He tried to capture the following scene on video, but as soon as he got out the camera, the cuteness stopped. So, here’s my best description, based on his.

Ginko was on the big sofa. Katie was on the love seat, and Lilly (very deliberately) brought Katie toys. First, she carried in the stuffed wiener dog, holding up towards Katie’s head. Katie gently took it from Lilly’s mouth and proceeded to shake it about with joy, while Lilly stood there smiling.

Next, she brought her a stuffed lamb, again holding it up so that Katie could take it from her.

Then, she brought this silly plastic toy (Ginko’s favorite) that my niece says looks like a space ship.

Tom swears it was just the cutest thing, like Lilly was showing Katie all of the neat toys we have. And, Ginko, who we’ve already established is a toy thief, thought the whole thing was pretty funny, and only barked with a little excitement when Lilly handed over his favorite toy.

Apparently, all three had a rousing game of jaw wrestling in the house too. We call it the Nar-Nar game because our dogs make this nar-nar-nar sound as they pretend to snap at each other’s faces. I guess Katie was even nibbling on Lilly’s nose, and Lilly seemed to like it.

Tom said it was like having Cleopatra sitting on her couch, with the court jesters (or whatever the Egyptian equivilant would be) entertaining her.

Despite how happy the three seem together, Tom was feeling the weight of having 3 dogs in the house when I got home … and it was a fairly easy day for him because he wasn’t slammed with work, so he had time to manage their energy level by letting them outside as needed.

Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

Rox - March 15, 2009

Yep. Katie will be 2 in June, and we were quite surprised how much PUPPY is still in her. It’s one thing to have a 15-pound pup. It’s another when she’s the size of a small horse. Very cute, but very overwhelming.

KB - March 13, 2009

From your story, it sounds like Katie might’ve been a bit calmer this time than last – i.e., she was lying still for the other dogs to bring her toys. If so, that’s a good step.

The other thing that I keep forgetting as I read your posts is that Katie is still young. Only recently does our puppy, R, who’s now approaching 17 months old, remain calm around the house for most of the day. Previously, he was constantly getting into mischief.

So, there’s also a maturation factor to consider.

Holly - March 12, 2009

I totally agree. Going from 1 dog to two has been easier for me, also. So easy that we adopted our second dog a mere 4 months after the first!

Some people have commented on the bonds shared with the various dogs in our lives. In my opinion, it seems like more of a general management issue. Sometimes there’s more mediating between the dogs, and the fact that there’s one more dog to train, socialize, more vet bills and food, etc. There’s no denying it’s alot of work but that effort is met with affection and companionship.

Dog-geek - March 12, 2009

A couple of quick thoughts for you. You mentioned somewhere that Katie has a crate at home that she is used to using. Could you borrow that for the day? She may feel more comfortable with her own, familiar, space to rest in. Another idea is to try tethering – put her on leash and attach her to either you or Tom, so that she doesn’t have the option of pacing around nervously. Somtimes once this option is taken away from the dog, they will settle down and almost look relieved that they can’t pace around.

I haven’t weighed in on the big decision looming over all of you – it seems like an intensely personal decision, and I don’t think that there is a right or wrong way to go. I personally found the transition from 2 dogs to 3 to be much more difficult than the transition from 1 to 2, but clearly not difficult enough to stop me from doing it again! It’s just that – a transition. Everyone will adjust and thigns will normalize, but it takes time and effort, and it feels exhausting while it is happening. Good luck with whatever you decide!

Sue - March 11, 2009

oh my gosh, that is THE cutest little toy parade scene!!! What a hilarious trio they can be! I’m so glad that she’s been able to settle down at least a little bit-I’m sure it’s been a big change for her…you guys are wonderful for doing so much to give this a shot!

I’ll be smiling all night thinking of the toy show and tell story 😀

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