Against my better judgment, we have resumed crate experimentation. You can read the entire gut-wrenching tale here. To me, it feels a bit like poking a rattlesnake with a stick, just to see if it will bite. But my PH believes Shiva has gotten to the point she can handle the stress. Or at least he figures it’s worth finding out.
We’ve been leaving her alone for brief periods without securing her away first. Despite all my nervousness, she has done amazingly well. Beyond amazing, really. Just the other day she was left alone for a full sixty minutes in a row and when my PH returned, she was right where he’d left her, laying at the top of the stairs. Not a thing had been touched. The word “milestone” doesn’t quite cover it.
But I am still anxious about pushing her any further. We have a formula that works. Why mess with it? Why set her up for potential disaster? I suppose, I’ve never been good at leaving my comfort zones. I worry that Shiva isn’t either.
The secret of my PH’s success – so far, anyway – seems to be a complete lack of preparation. When he left her for the hour, he didn’t move the garbage can to in inaccessible area. He didn’t put things away or shut any doors. He didn’t even give her a stuffed Kong. He just put on his shoes and left. His behaviour remained calm and casual, like the event was just so mundane, she may as well just remain sleeping on the couch.
I’ve tried very hard to do this myself. Since I am a generally tense person, I have to make a very concerted effort to relax. I know when it comes to training a dog with separation anxiety, the absolute worse thing one can do is make a big deal over comings and goings. I worked very hard to be as cool about it all as possible. But after the first set of disasters, I just couldn’t trust her. Perhaps she sensed this from the very beginning and it made her even more uneasy.
Well all have our strengths. Though I have made great gains, calming my emotions isn’t one of mine.
However, it’s been a long time since those early days. Shiva will have been with us three years in April.
Three long, long years.
Many things have improved. She really is almost a completely different dog. Maybe it is safe now to give this another try. Maybe the reign of the crate is almost at an end.