Like that catchy and original post title? Thought you would. Guess what I want to talk about today? that is right, my dog.
Yesterday was Lucy’s annual blood draw to test her thyroid levels. For those of you that know my dog, you would never recognize her at the vet. If you know Lucy and she knows you and IF she has deemed you as one of her pack, every time she sees you she nearly explodes with love. I am surprised that her tail does wag itself right off. She will cry with joy every time she sees you. She will do her best not to jump on you but sometimes her best just can not contain her love and she will jump. With her heft she could easily knock you over if you are not braced for it but because she loves you and you are part of the pack, you know to brace yourself.
If you know my dog because you are a delivery person, the teenage boys across the street or the poor unsuspecting Mormon knocking on my door ready to share the story of Moroni and a golden book that was buried in Joseph’s backyard you are not a part of Lucy’s pack. If I can not sequester her before the door is opened you will see nothing but a hackles raised, teeth bareing ready to fight to the death 80 lb mutt.
Contractors fall into the second category.
Although Lucy has never actually lunged at anyone I don’t ever want to take that risk so I do my best to keep her away when people are coming and going.
I was telling all this to the Vet yesterday and telling him how anxious and stressed all the construction is making Lucy and he was shocked. Lucy is so submissive at the vet that the vet tech can, without any fear, tell Lucy to sit, stick a needle in Lucy’s jugular and draw out a vile of blood.
Explaining all this to the vet he told me something that never dawned on me before. Lucy isn’t acting out of aggression towards all those people knocking at our door, all the contractors demoing our basement or the teens across the street – she is acting out of fear.
A story for another time is where I think this fear stems from but the vet said dogs have one of two instincts when it comes to fear, fight or flight. What Lucy has learned over the years is that when she growls, barks and bares her teeth the delivery people go away…. the delivery people were going to go away anyways because that is what they do. They knock on your door and then they go away. Lucy doesn’t know that. All she knows is that when she barks, they go away. She wins. Fight works.
I thought about this a lot last night and although it made sense I still wasn’t sure and then today happened. Our drywall mudder was supposed to come this afternoon so when I left the house this morning to drop off kids, hit the gym and run some errands I was surprised to see the drywall guy’s van in our driveway. I was also worried. Lucy wasn’t locked up and if that man came in he would go after her.
I parked quick and ran towards the house. I was surprised that there wasn’t any barking until I opened the door. As I opened the door Lucy started barking. Lucy was barking from upstairs. I called to her to let her know it was me and she came running and greeted me with such relief that I was worried that maybe the drywall guy had to do something physical to keep her away from him. I calmed Lucy down and locked her up and went down to the basement ready to either throw the man out of my house or apologise. He greeted me with a smile and said the dog has been barking the whole time but never came down.
The vet gave me a whole bunch of things to try but in the end it is going to take some serious behavior training to help her. My poor Lucy. All this time she has just been scared.
So that is my Lucy update. I have a lot of work to do with her and then I will need some volunteers to come knock on my door to help desensitize her to visitors. Looks like we will be hosting a few parties or get-togethers in the name of helping my dog get over the fear of strangers. Who wants to come ring our doorbell?
Anyone else have a dog with quirks or in need of behavior training? Have you tried behavior training? Anyone out there ever tried pheromones or the thunder vest?