Dilly’s been a confident and plucky pup since his earliest days with us. Unlike many of his predecessors, he has bounded up steps, even those with open treads. He’s never flinched at any new sights. Never started at loud noises.
So it’s been interesting recently to see him become a little fearful of certain commonplace experiences. It’s like he’s been reading some canine-development textbook and has gotten to the chapter about the so-called Second Fear Period. That phase typically starts when puppies become 6 months old. Dilly’s right on schedule.
It began a few weeks ago with him shying from being dressed in his cape. For months, he’d been prancing up to us, eagerly poking his head into the garment’s opening, clearly cognizant that Dressing precedes going out on an adventure. But suddenly he was ducking and slinking away, as if the familiar yellow outfit had inexplicably grown menacing.
During the relentless rains last week, Steve and/or I and Dilly ventured out many times with an umbrella. Again we noticed at some point that umbrellas have become Scary Things.Even the giant package of paper towels that I picked up at Costco yesterday afternoon — a thrilling score in these paper-goods-deprived times! — struck Dilly as being spooky.What we’re supposed to do (according to the doggy developmental psychiatrists) is project calm and reassurance, showing him that these objects will do him no harm. Probably the fearfulness will melt away, and he’ll soon return to his formerly stout-hearted self.
In the meantime, I find this little chapter in his personality development kind of sweet. It’s a bit like when your beloved two-year-old has his or her first tantrum. Confirmation that they’re a normal kid.