If you read this blog on a semi-regular basis, or know me personally, you would know that I recently inherited a mini schnauzer. You would also know that the first couple of weeks of my having her were quite the adjustment periods--for the both of us. The first week I was an absolute basket case, getting overwhelmed, frustrated and stressed out incredibly easily. I also didn't go to the gym that entire first week either, which is something I do on a regular basis, because I was terrified to leave the apartment, since she had this habit of barking whenever I left. The second week was a bit better, I wasn't as much of a basket case, although still a bit stressed, and I went to the gym twice--however, I was a straight-up hermit Saturday and Sunday because a) I had no plans and b) I was still stressed over leaving the apartment. Well, kids, I'm proud to say that this week--week three--has been a lot better.
First of all, I stopped stressing out over her barking. I was just over it. Secondly, I had to face the fact that if I wanted her to get over her anxiety at me leaving, I would have to actually leave the apartment. So I went back to my regular gym schedule, and took each time I left as a training opportunity. With the help of my friend A (who also had the same problem with her lab), I had a system that I was using to work with her to overcome her separation anxiety, and today we had a major breakthrough: when I left to go to work and heard her start to bark, I simply rapped on my bedroom window a few times (I keep her crated in my bedroom when I'm not home) and gave the command for her to be quiet. And she got quiet. And she stayed quiet. And I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. The magic replicated itself when I left to go to the gym after work: she barked, I rapped on the window, she got quiet, and I did a celebratory fist pump.
This was the first week I was able to truly enjoy my dog. Not gonna lie, those first two weeks I contemplated giving her back to my sister, but I'm really glad I stuck it out, because the progress I'm seeing makes all the hard work and tears worth it. I also had a really good group of friends who were dog owners and encouraged me to stick it out and offered tips, their support and stories of their own. So to A, AA, Taylor, and Carrie--thanks for the support and for putting up with my crazy.
Not gonna lie, I'm feeling like a rock star. :-)