You know how last week I was whining about Shiva’s front door issues? About how I had yet to accomplish my goal of teaching her not to bark at every dog, person, toddler, twig that passes by the house? Well, our landlords must read my blog as they have solved this problem for me.
The front door has needed replacing for a long time. Since before we moved in. The screen door fell off if we opened it too far and the main door provided absolutely no insulation. Icicles formed on the inside hinges during the winter months. So I was thrilled on Friday when a new entranceway was finally installed. Unfortunately, or fortunately, this new installation does not include a screen door. The only window is way up at the top.
It looks a million times better, don’t get me wrong, but I am a little disappointed we won’t be able to continue our training. Even if she was still barking, Shiva’s front door behaviour was showing signs of improvement.
Furthermore, Shiva has reacted to the minor change in a surprising way. It’s so easy to forget she was (or still is) a fearful dog. Her courage in approaching new objects and the fearless way she now runs up to strangers makes it easy to think she is normal. So I hope I can be forgiven for not realising a new front door – such an anxiety-ridden space to begin with – would put her on edge.
All Friday evening we struggled to distract her attention away from the area. Every sound had her jumping up and running over. Even if it was just a car passing by. Eventually I just gave up and let her sit on the floor in the living room, staring at the door as if she expected a monster to leap through at any moment. Or worse, a person she doesn’t know. I tossed her treats every now and then, even if she woofed, knowing it was the only way she’d get used to the change.
On Saturday, after returning from the grocery store, she freaked out at us when we came back from the store. As soon as she heard our voices she calmed down but it was so strange. She never, ever barks at us when we come home. Especially if we’re coming home together. When we went out for dinner that same night, she barked at us again as soon as we stepped in the door. That’s when it hit us.
Our old door was difficult to open. It took several turns of the key and often stuck in the frame. We practically had to punch it open. This new door is much smoother and moves almost without sound. Shiva had been so accustomed to hearing the banging sound of the old door before we stepped inside, that when she heard us enter without the usual thumps preceding, it set her off. Dogs thrive on routine. They find security in knowing a specific pattern of events. A thump and then the door opening is normal. That means we’re back. The door just all of a sudden opening and then the sound of foot-steps, is not the proper order of things, therefore something is off and she needs to let these intruders know she is not okay with it.
I have no doubt she will quickly adjust to all these changes. I will try to reassure her as much as I can by calling out to her before I enter the house. However, it does make me worry a little as we look through ads for house rentals in the city. We’ve been thinking of moving to a larger space with a fenced yard for a long time now – just have yet to find the right space in our price range. When we do finally move I will have to keep Shiva’s needs in mind to give her time to adjust. I can’t expect her to accept an entirely new living space as home right away.
Shiva has certainly overcome a lot of her former anxieties, but I that doesn’t mean I should forget she had them in the first place.