Friday, November 4, 2011

Least I should forget it is Friday....

Koira will remind me. Friday is garbage day. To Koira, this means that Friday is the Day Large Noisy Dog-Eating Beasts Roam the Neighborhood. She will get up super early in the morning, about an hour before the first signs of garbage collection. She will either nudge me until I lift the covers for her to burrow under, or else hop off the bed and go hide in the "dog cave" in a corner behind the papasan chair. Whichever behavior she chooses, she will do it shaking. Then, Koira will continue to shake until at least noon, which is a good 4 hours after the last garbage truck in our neighborhood leaves. The slightest noise, on a Friday morning, will turn terrifying. The neighbors do laundry, causing their washer or dryer to make noise. Normally, the dogs don't even notice, since this happens on a daily basis. On Friday morning, though, this noise causes Koira to shake like a dry rattling leaf on a tree in a windstorm.

And this happens every week. No frantic behavior is the result, unless I try to take her out of the house. All that happens is I have a terrified puddle of quivering dog laying right up next to me all morning, or hiding out behind my chair. She will refuse to go outside to potty, and turns down her breakfast until the afternoon. The only thing that scares Koira as much as Friday mornings is when we visit my mom on Tuesdays, and the normalcy of the world is turned upside down when Tuesday becomes "Dog Eating Beast Day" to Koira. In fact, our garbage day used to be Tuesday as well. When they first rescheduled garbage pickup to Friday, Koira had two days every week of terrified shaking. Eventually, she realized that Tuesdays no longer eat dogs.

So, question. How in the world do you desensitize a dog to a day of the week? I can't even hear garbage trucks from my bedroom. There is no where we could go that would avoid them completely (especially given that cars drive past garbage trucks and under overpasses, which is a whole different issue). Turning on the TV or radio does nothing, which I concluded after about two months of sleeping to loud music and/or turning the TV on when I went to bed and leaving it on until after the garbage runs were over. Koira reaches a fear threshold where food and play mean nothing, simply by waking up on a Friday morning. Desensitize that, why don't you?


  1. That is a very interesting dilemma. Have you tried the thundershirt for her? We've heard great things about them but haven't used them for ourselves. It might be worth giving it a try!

    Boondocks & The Love Shack Pack

  2. I've heard the thundershirt works great too. We were thinking of getting one for Marlon Brando. He's afraid of everything under the sun. It's so hard when pups go through a hard time.

  3. Aside from drugging her, you're very close to being out of options. Gawd. How awful - I can't imagine what it feels like to watch your little Koira so terrified.

    You can always try finding a CD of noises meant to desensitize dogs with. I know there are ones for fireworks and such -- garbage trucks I'm not so sure about (yikes?). Anyway, with those, you'd start at a very low (I mean so low you can't hear it) volume and VERY gradually work your way up. Rapid Rate of Reinforcement or Play while the CD is playing (for very short periods of each day) can make a huge dent in how far into her fear routine she actually gets.

    Maybe you could record your own? I really don't know! :(

  4. Thanks for the ideas. I actually have a Thundershirt for Koira, which has so far not helped at all with either her garbage day fear or her riding in the car past huge trucks and under overpasses fear. Doesn't seem to help her at all, really. Pheromones help a tiny bit in the car, but make no difference with the garbage day fear.

    I have tried to track down a tape of traffic sounds through my contacts in the theater world (sounds for everything are available), but a CD with the garbage truck noise lasting a few seconds costs over 50 dollars. Might have to find a way to make one myself, but not really sure how to go about it.

    Training tips from things like Control Unleashed and other programs geared towards fearful or reactive dogs are pretty much all about getting to the dog before the threshold levels are reached. Koira hits threshold just based on the day of the week, so I am at a bit of a loss on how to work on training.

  5. This is a really tough one and I have no suggestions. I just hope you find something that works, poor Koira.

  6. Hi Koira and Pallo! I'm very sorry to hear about your terrible Fridays! I understand how difficult that must be because I have 2 dogs with fear problems. Nero is in panic when he needs to go to vet and we go only if it's totally necessary and he needs always calming pills even for the easiest things and to give injection. Now lately he's also very scared about shooting and we hear often hunters very close to our house. I think that might have started with the ear problems.
    Then our Hanna is just worried about everything! She is the most sweet and not exactly scared but worried and barks very much.
    I guess that you have tried everything but if you still could try with some most delicious food. I'm sure it can take a long time but would be great if Koira could see that the rubbish car means something good and no need to be affraid. I hope you find a way to help him even I haven't with mine.
    xxx Teje & Nero
    PS. New Year is a total nightmear to us!

  7. Poor Kiora!!! The poor pup is so afraid. I wish I knew how to help! I have no clue! If/when you find something that works please post it. I'd love to know what helped her get through that kind of fear.