Saturday, January 2, 2010

Smooth Transitions

These past few days, there have been significant changes to my household. My sister and her daughter have come to live with us for a while. There are several things I did in preparation: baby gates, cabinet locks, etc. But I didn't pay as much attention to helping my dogs transition as I should have.

B is a dog that has trouble adapting - this I know and have come to love and appreciate. However, I didn't help her much in preparation. I should have had my sister send some of my neice's worn clothes so my dog could smell them. I should have been more committed to watching the toddler shows on TLC so that my dog could get an ear for a screaming/crying/whining toddler on the cusp of her terrible twos. But I didn't. I got complacent. I took for granted the wonderful training my dog has already been through and I just figured I had done the basics and that was enough.

When they arrived, it was a little stressful. I introduced them outside because B is more neutral outside. She did well - letting out a few fearful, unsure barks. I encouraged her socialization by clicking and treating her everytime she touched the shoes of my sister and neice. This calmed her a bit. She gets nervous when I leave the room...B's never had separation anxiety but I feel like it's developing in to that. So I'm trying to combat that very carefully.

Today marks day three of managing the new living environment. B has calmed down significantly...going from barking everytime my neice moved to resting quietly while she walks over to pet her. This has all been a lot of work. A lot of attention, a lot of clicking and treating, and a lot of management. I have to know when B has had enough...when it's time for her to escape to her crate. I have to know when she's reaching aggravated vs. curious vs. frightened. It's my job to make sure her life is as stress-free as possible. Sigh. So far, it's taking a lot of kongs, frozen fruits and rawhides. Stay tuned!


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