My dog Honey spent an hour watching us loading a truck. She daintily avoids walking under the stepladder in the foyer. And she barks when we’re upstairs but she can’t follow because of the plastic drop cloths on the stairs.
How can we create calm in the middle of chaos for our dog. And for ourselves?
Moving comes up pretty high on lists of most stressful life events.
We’re usually pretty good at it.
My husband can pack a box or a truck to make the maximum use of space. I can keep a thousand details in my head at once so nothing gets lost.
But our current move beats anything we’ve done before.
We’re taking things out of the house to make it look roomy and comfortable when buyers come to look. But then we’ll need to bring them back into the house when we sell everything we own.
Oh, and we’re making repairs and painting all while dealing with tons of snow and sub-freezing temperatures that are literally damaging our house every day. Right now it’s -4ºF with a -22º F wind chill (-20ºC and -30ºC with wind chill).
It’s getting tough to pack, paint, and repair (while still working our jobs) every day without everything devolving into chaos.
And Honey feels it too. We have to create some calm in the middle of the chaos.
Dogs (And People) Adapt
One thing I’ve learned from fostering dogs is how incredibly adaptable they are.
Every time we fostered a dog, my husband asked if we should adopt the pup to save him the stress of having to adapt to yet another family. No, really.
But every time, the dogs and puppies we fostered left our home quite happily at the side of their new person or in the arms of the shelter staff who’d be caring for them until they found their permanent home.
It appears that many dogs can handle a little chaos if they can hang onto something that is important to them.
For some dogs, knowing they’ll get food or treats on a regular basis serves as their security in the middle of confusion. Other dogs have a favorite toy they won’t let go. Even our extremely fearful foster dog, Cherie, could handle a little bit of chaos knowing her friend Honey was there as a secure base.
So what can we do to create calm for Honey when she sees chaos all around her?
What Calms Honey
Honey always knows she’s going to be fed by a certain time. In fact, she insists on it. Fairly loudly.
So what makes her most secure in the middle of chaos? What does she miss the most if we forget it when we’re busy?
I’ve noticed two things:
- rough housing with Mike
- sleeping near me while I work
If we can find a clean area to play tug or if Honey can wrestle with Mike on the bed, she relieves a lot of stress. In truth, so does Mike.
And although it makes me feel guilty to sit quietly when I should be up rushing around to get stuff done, it does both me and Honey good. So I set time aside to work, read, or just stare into space because I’m too tired to do anything else while Honey dozes with her head on my knee.
It’s a way to create a little calm in the middle of the chaos.
Do It For Your Dog
I know S’Waggers who are attending school, who work lots of hours, who are caregivers for ill family members. All of these things are stressful. All of these things cause chaos.
But you’ve got to create a place of calm inside the chaos.
If not for you, do it for your dog. And maybe that trail run with your dog, snowball fight, or cuddling by the fireplace together will multiply the calm until it overwhelms the chaos.
Your Turn: What does your dog find most calming when there’s a crazy amount of chaos around your house? Does it calm you too?
And the winner is…
Thank you to everyone who wanted a chance to win Kari Neumeyer’s Bark and Lunge: Saving My Dog From Training Mistakes. The winner, chosen by random.org, was Taryn.
Congratulations! As soon as you send me your address, I’ll pass it on to Kari to send your autographed copy.
If you didn’t win, you can pick up your copy of Bark and Lunge at Amazon. Click the image to order.
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