I looked over at Windy, who I just tucked inside her travel crate.
I didn’t utter a sound. I kept movements as subtle as possible.
She’s been awake since 5 in the morning. I didn’t take her on her usual early morning walk; instead, she got to romp with her Corgi brother, Brooklyn, have some of her breakfast kibble on the garage, and go on an hour-long car ride with us to McDonald’s.
I chose to break routine because, last night, Windy threw our nightly routine out the window.
- She didn’t pee when she should’ve peed.
- She was excited and aroused that a 5 to 10-minute relaxation session did little to slow down the panting.
- She nipped my hand several times as I’m about to hand feed her.
- She refused to go inside her crate, then reluctantly stepped in, only to whine her way out of it.
- She didn’t pee when I brought her back down again.
- She outrightly refused to go into her crate and slipped out of her collar in protest.
That’s when I lost it.
Lost my cool
I started talking to her/talking to myself, agonizing over this unprecedented refusal to follow routine. I threw treats on the ground, threw her leash and collar on the bed, stomped all over the bedroom, and let out frustrated sighs and grunts.
Windy looked at me and kept her distance.
My heart sank.
Last night was the first time I lost my 💩 and cried in bed.
The last one was 9 months ago on the stairs. Puppy blues hit me hard and I thought the worst things about Windy and myself. Fortunately, things got better when I sought professional help. Our communication solidified and our bond developed.
When she turned a year old last August, things took a different turn again.
- She kept pacing and whining when I didn’t crate her.
- She’d show attention-seeking behaviors.
- She’d repeat tricks she’d normally get treat jackpots for.
- She started eating old poop and all sorts of nasty things on the ground on our walks.
I dug through my training knowledge bank for strategies. I added her enrichment games back into our routine, let her play with Brooklyn more, and reviewed our old training exercises. We worked on our leave-it cue inside the house and I kept managing her access and freedom to keep her from getting excited and restless.
I still don’t know what I’m doing
Really, I don’t.
I kept wishing Windy could speak English and tell me exactly what she needed to help her settle.
I kept doubting my efforts, if they were enough or if they weren’t addressing the underlying issues.
I questioned my abilities to keep up with my herding dog’s needs, knowing she was one I couldn’t provide any significant occupation that she was originally bred for.
It felt like there was no end to this process. The wild waves of canine adolescence has kept me on my toes and had me fall on my knees that a year and ten months more of this feels like an eternity.
Patience in these trying times
As I let out long breaths and rubbed the frustration out of my eyes, the word adolescence kept flashing in my head, popping in and out of my consciousness.
Of course. Windy’s still a puppy, an intelligent, teenage puppy.
Maybe she’s exploring her world and making choices for herself, and it so happens those choices were getting in the way of my own schedule.
Maybe I needed to sit down and look at what’s on my plate, instead of controlling her actions to fit into my schedule. This got me thinking about what I need to prioritize and and what I should remove from my agenda.
Ideally there’d be a balance between the two, but I don’t think I’d be writing all this if I’d not call it a day. It was one of those times where you just need to cut each other some slack and try again the next day.
Looking forward to better days
I’ve stepped in and out of the room, and thankfully Windy’s still sleeping in her travel crate.
I’ve got X number of things in my to-do list today, but with more sleep and a better sense of what she’s going through, I hope to get through each day, week, and month with a better hold on my emotions and little to no expectations.
It’s so easy to lose sight of progress when your dog does something wrong. Hopefully this helps anyone remember the wins and not let this rollercoaster overshadow all that your dog’s accomplished. 🐾