Tonight, for whatever crazy reason, I decided I would tackle Ian’s out of control excitement, crying and anxiety when it comes to meal times.
I tried putting gates up so they were not underfoot by the food; I tried making him lay down; I tried a spray bottle; I tried saying “no”; I tried holding his face staring into his eyes to see if I could shake him out of it; I tried calmly praising him the brief moments when he was quiet; I ignored him; I put him in another room; I crated him; I tried to put snoods on before getting out the food bowls;…nothing worked.
Mealtime is clearly where Ian has challenges and his poor energy spills over to Larkin who growls at him, Nicklas who starts to copy him and Elly who wakes up from her nap and runs out excitedly barking causing them all to bark. A madhouse!
I’m so happy they all love their food now and have healthy appetites but OMG, the craziness needs to stop.
Tonight, I fed everyone else one at a time as they were all happily calm, having listened to me and received praise for patiently waiting, sitting nicely and putting on their snoods with good manners. After they each finished eating, I sent them outside leaving only Ian who was running around, spinning circles and being loudly vocal, knowing it was finally his turn as there was only one bowl left. (sigh…)
He finally quieted down a bit, although still anxiously breathing, but every time I reached for his snood he would lose it and start howling again.
Nothing I was doing was working, I was getting frustrated and that’s not helpful. At my wit’s end with how to help him, I walked away and sat down in the library to meditate. I did it for me. I know it’s not the right time for the dogs to expect them to participate in a meditation when it’s mealtime, playtime or bio break times but goodness, I had nothing else left to try so as a last resort I wanted to calm ME down.
Ian escalated his efforts, coming over to shrilly bark and cry right into my face, rattling my ears, all while I had my eyes closed and was “meditating”.
Determined to ignore him (that was certainly a challenge!) I persisted and after finally starting to feel more centered and able to be kind, I stopped meditating, opened my eyes, gently grabbed Ian’s cheeks and firmly said No.
He eventually laid down at my feet where I decided I was going to stay sitting and watch a documentary while I waited him out. He got quiet after some time passed but if I made a move to get up, he’d immediately start excitedly crying.
At some point, now over 2 hours since I’d first started prepping their dinner, he moved to the couch and curled up.
After a few minutes, I calmly and ever so slowly got up and walked to the kitchen, all the while not looking at him. He followed and calmly sat there looking at his food bowl on the counter. I looked at him then and when he looked back at me I wanted to jump for joy! My handsome boy was looking back at me, making a connection. The crazy man who was out of his mind was gone.
We had a few tiny hiccups with the snood but he quickly got it this time, that he had to be quiet. He kept eye contact with me the whole time as I smiled and praised him for being quiet. Snood was on!!!
I turned to grab the bowl, expecting the howling to start but though he followed the bowl, he kept his manners, was politely excited to see his bowl coming, sat down in ‘his spot’ and quietly waited for the “ok” after I had put the bowl down.
What a shift! Hallelujah!
THIS was Ian, my handsome gentleman that I love and the one I feel like I lose at every mealtime. A Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
It was such a joy I felt inside and such a beautiful moment.
2 1/2 hours later and dinner is finished!😎
Was is the meditation? Ignoring him? Leaving the kitchen? Him being alone with me? My not giving in or giving up? All of the above?? I don’t know. All I can say, I’m documenting this for posterity so I can remind myself and I hope we had a breakthrough tonight as I’m not ready for another marathon at breakfast.🤦🏼♀️