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Weekly Training Update (Oct 2)

I spoke too soon in last week’s Coping With Changes post. While working on the basement, Tom felt water dripping on his head. It turned out our dishwasher was leaking a LOT in its final death throes. So, in addition to changes upstairs and changes downstairs which Lilly seemed to handle well, my sensitive border collie girl had to deal with disruption in the kitchen too. And, it freaked her out.

We had fans and heaters going to dry the floor. We had a gaping hole in the bottom cabinets, where the old dishwasher once sat. We had tools and towels, wrenches and water, and a couple of grumpy people clomping around for a little over a week.

Perhaps the worst part came when I did the dishes by hand. Sure, that put me at the sink and near the SCARY kitchen window for extended times But, the sloshing around in the sink made Lilly the most nervous.

You see, she gets very worried, slinks away, and worms like she is the most fearful dog on the planet when I try to wash her face. (Tom lets her lick the bottom of his yogurt cups, and her nose gets crusty from the yogurt, if I don’t wash it off.)

So, any time she saw me near the sink with a wet rag, she thought she was in for. After a few days of no face washing, she got less worried. It helped that I kissed her and gave her treats for approaching me and even hanging out while I did the dishes.

I’m happy to report that Tom installed our new Bosch dishwasher this morning. This beauty is heavily encased in a rubber-ish shell that provides serious sound dampening. The only thing you can hear when it is running is a little swish-swish of the water. It’ll be interesting to see how Lilly copes with that.


Spontaneous Recovery
The other big training issue this week was the spontaneous recovery of attention-seeking behaviors. That’s when something you’ve trained “away” comes back with full force. Earlier this week, Lilly began fussing at me for attention, fussing at Ginko for attention, and being an all-around nervous girl. The whining, the whining nearly drove me nuts.

Two theories. One is that the winter winds began in earnest this week. Even with chimes now banned at our house, the gusts still make Lilly jumpy. The second theory is that she perhaps could hear new borzoi pal Thunder up the road as he too fussed as he gets used to his new digs.

Either way, it made for an interruption-packed day, as I got up and left the room for 30 seconds each time she fussed at me and as I grabbed Ginko and brought him into my office for 30 seconds each time she fussed at him.

That bought us 15 minutes (tops) of peace before the process began again and again and again. I got pretty frustrated, but I didn’t say anything. I just withdrew myself or Ginko so that it was clear being difficult did NOT result in anything good.

The relentless retraining must have helped because she hasn’t been as fussy since.

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.

Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell - October 5, 2009

I know it sounds strange to people who don’t have fearful dogs, but I understand completely. My Emma gets anxious every time I do laundry. Now she gets to come over the writer’s studio when I’m doing laundry. I tell her I think the laundry is scary too, but she’s lucky that she gets to run from it! 🙂

Samantha - October 3, 2009

Wow! All of that sounds so frustrating. I know busy days with lots of renovating, cleaning, etc. usually get to Marge, too. Unfortunately they also seem to coincide with days that my dad is home a lot (perhaps because he is doing the work) so that makes the day extra scary.

Glad the whines seemed to have stopped, at least.

KB - October 3, 2009

Sounds like a tough week but, in the end, successful if Lilly is being less fussy. It is *so* hard not to get frustrated when dog management/training unexpectedly takes over. But, it sounds like you came through, managing to calm her without letting your frustration shine through.

Maybe you should try keeping a journal of how windy it is and how fussy Lilly is, just to see if there’s a correlation.

Your kitchen looks beautiful!

Elayne - October 2, 2009

My first thought, before I read it from you, was the wind. Strummer was an impossible bag of nerves yesterday and couldn’t settle down at all I put it down to the wind because he’s fine today. I’m sure whatever winds we got down here yesterday were way stronger up by you.

We have a Bosch dishwasher and it’s awesome, so quiet. Our house is so small, we used to not be able to watch t.v. if the dishwasher was running until we got the Bosch.

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