Since bringing Leni home in October of last year, we had yet to find something to phase her. She has been so confident and even keeled, even things that spooked other dogs really didn't bother her. Until our recent trip to MN to see my mast cell specialist...
I used to do a good bit of swimming. I was on the swim team in college and did a few triathlons. I LOVE open water swimming, but unfortunately can't do it while I have Herman due to the infection risk. Anyway, while we were in MN, our hotel had a really nice pool (an actual LAP pool) that my mom and I wanted to use. The only catch was that Leni had not ever been at a pool with me, and we had no idea how she would react.
She didn't react well...
We decided to try tethering her to the benches along the wall to keep her away from the actual water because we thought she might try to jump in with me. I got in at the closest point to her and just stayed in the water by the ladder. Leni was NOT happy. She started with whining, and eventually progressed to small yowls/barks.
We tried to make it a fun experience with her by giving her treats when she was quiet and distracting her. She was praised and talked to the whole time. I would get in and out of the water to reassure her and remind her that I was okay.
She wanted no part of it. Her job was to stay with me and watch out for me. When I got in the water, she couldn't do that. After about 15 minutes, she did lay her head down on the pool deck (even though she was still whining) and that was when we left. We made sure it was a positive experience by giving her a chance to walk with me a bit on the pool deck (no whining) and doing a down-stay with me at the edge of the pool (no whining). She got praises, treats, and pets when she calmed down a bit, so hopefully pools will not automatically be a negative experience.
We are hoping to do some pool training with her and work through this trouble spot for Leni. Hopefully as she realizes that I am okay in the water, she will be able to sit quietly without whining. My guess is that it will take some time, but with practice, we're hoping that she will understand what is going on when I get in the pool and not get super distressed.
Project Desensitize Leni to Kylene in a Pool has begun!