Specs is a wonderful puppy, a total super star, no question. She’s also the puppy that I’ve worked hardest with, as I’m sure you can tell. I feel as though we’ve been everywhere – stations, busy town centres, shopping centres, supermarkets. I’ve introduced her to so many people that I’m sure I’m getting a bit of a reputation.
But this last week has been a bit weird. When we went out for our first ‘proper’ walk, in exactly the same place where I’d been taking her on carrying walks, a big truck came past and she freaked out. Hmm, I thought, we clearly haven’t been doing enough traffic.
And then last weekend she was in the garden trying to do her business when someone in a nearby garden started a lawn mower and she came dashing back in to the house looking a bit worried. Hmm, I thought, not what I’d like but I’m sure she’ll get used to it when gardening season really starts.
And then she ran and hid in the kitchen when I got the hoover out.
And this morning she refused to go into the garden because the big dog next door was barking (he doesn’t often bark so this may have been the first time she’d heard him).
So, anyway, this evening I had planned a walk with a friend next to a really busy road to get her used to the traffic. She was a bit concerned at the traffic, but not too bad – she looked worried but she kept on walking, which is actually what I wanted – it showed she was starting to realise that it’s scary but not dangerous.
The real trouble started when we went into the park. It was a lovely calm evening with not many people around at all, considering it’s in such a built up area. We met a few people walking by and all was fine until I realised she was dragging on the lead. The only untoward things happening were some very loud teenagers talking in a nearby car park, some distant loud music thrumming in the background, and three young boys playing football.
I encouraged her along and she was doing fine until one of the football playing boys ran behind us to put something in the rubbish bin, and little Specs totally freaked – she screamed as though she’d been stood on. The poor boy was really upset as he hadn’t been anywhere near her, and I had no choice but to pick her up and put her tight inside my coat until she calmed down.
So what was going on there then? I have no idea. I was really quite upset and worried that my lovely bright, brave puppy could be so frightened. It was horrible to see. The only thing I could think was that maybe it was the thrumming music or the speed of the footballing boys, or maybe both together.
I rang Jenny to talk it over and she said that all of her dogs (and actually mine too) have freaked out at something in the past. Sometimes you can tell easily what it is, sometimes you can’t. You have to remember that their hearing is so much more sensitiive than ours that they could be freaking over something we can’t even hear.
My suspicion is that Specs is a sound sensitive dog. That explains all of the weird incidents over the past week or so.
So what to do? I could ignore it (WRONG! – it will only get worse) or I could deal with it and get her desensitised to loud noises. That’s going to take a lot of work, but I have to do it. My lovely Sheltie Callie was a nervous dog and it was a nightmare to live with. She would bolt if I so much as dropped a knife on the floor, and when we were outside she would bite if she felt threatened.
So my plan is:
- lots and lots and lots of hoovering – as many times a day as I can
- take her into the garden on the lead so she can’t bolt into the house if she hears a loud bang
- more trips to the park with the loud noises and football players
- anything else I can think of that involves loud bangs and running children
All accompanied by large amounts of lamb, turkey and kibble so that she starts to associate the loud bangs with lovely food rather than with fear.
It’s going to be tough, but I shouldn’t grumble – I’ve had an easy ride so far!