Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Lawnmower?

Spencer makes peace with the lawnmower

Spencer makes peace with the lawnmower

Like many dogs, Spencer is afraid of the lawnmower. He used to remain in the house or the other half of the yard when we were mowing.But he’s making a lot of progress recently. Now, he can tolerate our lawnmower, as long as it doesn’t get too close. And he is more comfortable when he is behind it than in front of it. I can only assume that is because he sees me behind it and figures it must be safe there.

Today, we worked on approaching the lawnmower on command (“Touch”) when it was off and not making scary noises or moving.

Spencer supervises the lawnmowing laying on the patio

Spencer supervises the lawnmowing

I put a chew toy on the patio and encouraged Spencer to consider that a safe spot (“couché” and “reste”). It seems to have worked, because he didn’t look too stressed while I was mowing.

However, he still goes crazy when the gardeners at the school next door start mowing along our fenceline. Apparently, Scary Men with Mowers are not OK when they are near our haven of peace. I’m working on desensitizing him. When they come, we get a comfortable distance away and he is rewarded for looking at me and sitting down instead of barking at them. It hasn’t “cured” him yet, but he gets less intense than he did before, so there are good signs that he’ll gradually learn to be Zen when they are working.

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