A Living Room Drapery Sneak Peek + A Cooper Update (Some Mystery Behavioral Issues)

As I mentioned in my post about my goals for this month, my first goal for April is to get my living room draperies finished. Well, it took me four days to get one drapery panel finished. Ugh.

Hopefully now that I figured out the process and worked out the issues on the first one, the other three will go much faster. I wanted to do a Greek key design in the two corners of the leading edge, and it took a while to figure out the best way to adhere the twill tape, and then to figure out the design itself. But I finally got it, and here’s how the first one turned out…

I just hung this panel this morning, so I still need to “train” it to hang right.

And I also need to add more rings to my curtain rods. The last draperies I had on these windows were only one width of fabric, and the current draperies for the windows on either side of the fireplace are 1.5 widths of fabric. The frustrating thing is that in order to add more rings, I literally have to take the rod and brackets off of the wall completely since there’s no room to slide the rod out of the bracket. Anyway, all that to say that they’re not exactly hung correctly just yet, but you can get the idea of what they’ll look like.

Only three panels to go. And I hope to goodness those don’t take me a week per panel like this one did, because I’m ready to get outside and work on some shutters! But I want to finish these before I start the shutters so that I can get my breakfast room turned back into a breakfast room with a usable dining table as soon as possible. If I start dividing my attention between draperies and outdoor projects right now, my breakfast room could be unusable for two months, and I don’t want that to happen.

Now switching gears, I wanted to share a Cooper update. For those of you who missed it, Cooper is a sweet dog who we adopted from the Human Society ten days ago. You can read more about that here. Overall, he’s doing well, but he’s developed some mysterious behavior issues, and I have no idea what brought it on or how to deal with it.

The good news is that he’s gaining weight and looking healthier every day. If you’ll remember, he was way too skinny when I brought him home from the shelter ten days ago. His hip bones, spine, and ribs were all very visible.

From watching him in his kennel at the shelter, I knew it was from his anxious pacing all day every day. So after ten days at home with us, he now looks like this…

So much better, right? He could still stand to gain a few pounds, but he’s looking so much healthier.

Overall, his anxiety is greatly diminished, although he still seems anxious sometimes. His food aggression is also almost completely gone. When he first came home, I would pick up his food bowl and he’d start jumping on me and anxiously pacing, and then before I could even set the bowl of food on the floor, he would lunge for it and eat the entire thing in less than a minute, as if he hadn’t seen food in a month. Now, ten days later, he is calm when I fill his food bowl. I pick up the bowl and say, “Cooper, it’s dinner time,” and he sits down and waits. He now knows to sit there until I’ve filled the bowl and placed it onto the floor, and then he eats calmly.

I feed him twice a day, and he eats at the same time that Matt and I eat breakfast and dinner. For the first couple of days, when he would finish eating, he would start pacing back and forth again. The first day, he paced the entire time Matt and I were eating. We could tell that he was incredibly anxious, but he wouldn’t sit still or lie down. As the days went on, the amount of time he’d spend nervously/anxiously pacing after eating decreased, and finally for the first time yesterday, he didn’t do any pacing at all after eating his dinner. He ate (rather calmly), walked around for a couple of minutes, and then lay down on his bed while Matt and I finished our dinner. It was a dramatic change from the his first meal here.

The first time I tried to give him a treat (a piece of ham) out of my hand, he lunged for it as soon as he saw it and nearly took my fingers off. It scared the heck out of me and made me very nervous about feeding him out of my hand again. But now he waits until I actually give him the treat, and he takes it gently from my hand. So that’s great improvement.

Also, ten days ago, he was afraid of anything going over his head, like a leash or harness. Every time I’d try to put his harness on, he’d run from me and start bucking like a rodeo bronco that had just been let out of the gate. I feel like we finally had a breakthrough on that yesterday, and he’s learning that the harness means that he gets to go outside or go in the car with me, so he’s getting used to it. And for the first time yesterday, when I got the harness out of the drawer and said, “Let’s go in the car,” he actually came to me rather than running away from me.

But here’s the mystery. When we first brought him home, he did so good with only doing his business outside. We have a rather large area in our back yard fenced off, so he can go out and run, do his business, etc. He didn’t want to go out by himself, but if I’d go with him, he would walk around, run, sniff everything, do his business, visit with the neighbor dogs through the fence, etc. Then at other times during the day, I’d take him out and we’d play fetch with a Kong tennis ball or the red Kong Original toy that I bought him.

He seemed to be getting used to being out there, so I started sending him out a few times a day by himself. I’d open the door, tell him to go pee, and he’d go right out. I’d only leave him out for about 10 to 15 minutes at a time by himself, and then I’d either bring him in, or go out and play fetch with him for a while before coming on. For a couple of days, he seemed to be doing really well with all of that.

Then around mid-morning yesterday, he peed on the living room rug. He had already been out, so it shocked me. I told him no, and put him out for a few minutes, but that time he didn’t go out willingly. I had to put the leash on him and MAKE him go outside. Then I brought him in and about and hour later, he pooped on the rug. I told him no and took him out again. And once again, he didn’t go out willingly. I had to put the leash on him and make him go out. And for the rest of the day, every time I’d go to the door and tell him to go pee, he’d run back into the living room. When I did make him go out, he wouldn’t leave the back door step. I even went out with him two or three times and tried to get him to play fetch, and he would just sit on the back door step wanting inside.

And then again this morning, I tried to put him outside as soon as we got up, and he wouldn’t go out willingly to do his business. I finally got him outside, but he sat on the back door step wanting inside. I finally put the leash on him and walked him around the back yard until he did his business, but each time we’d get close to the back door, he wanted to head inside. And he has zero interest in running and playing fetch. But it’s not for lack of energy, because as soon as he comes inside, he’s a crazy dog full of energy and he wants to play.

So I’m completely baffled. I have no idea why he’s suddenly resistant to going outside and doing his business, or even to playing fetch in the yard with me. He just wants to be inside. Only. It’s a bit disheartening, because he’s doing so well in other areas, but this seems like a big setback. I don’t know what caused it, or how to fix it. And he’s part lab and part German shepherd. Those are two working breeds that NEED to be outside running, playing, and working off energy, but he just sits by the back door hoping to be let inside, even if I’m outside with him and wanting to play.

Perhaps it’s time to hire a trainer who can work one-on-one with him. Or a doggie psychologist. 😀

But he’s so darn cute and sweet that I can’t stay mad at him, even when he poops on my all-time favorite rug.



I spent quite a bit of time outside with Cooper today to see if I could figure out what the problem is. In the front yard, he’s perfectly fine and content. He was even fine when my neighbor came over on his big, very loud riding lawnmower and mowed my yard. Cooper wasn’t bothered by it at all.

But in the fence-in area of the back yard, he’s nervous and anxious. And the thing that he’s scared of is a noise that he hears often back there, even on a leash and with me there with him.

My neighbor has a big metal building that he uses as a shop where he enjoys working on cars. And when he’s in there working, which is pretty much every day with nice weather, he opens up the huge front and back doors. When there’s a breeze, that huge back metal door, which is right there by the fence between our properties, and right by the fenced-in area of our yard, makes a loud creaking sound, and Cooper is scared of it. Each time the breeze blows and he hears that sound, he crouches down to the ground and whips his head around towards the sound like dogs do when they’re startled and scared, and then he takes off for the door to go inside.

I have no idea why that sound is so scary to him (perhaps it reminds him of something scary from his past before he came to live with us), and I have no idea how to get him over his fear of it. That’s the only part of our yard that’s fenced in, so if I can’t get him used to the sound, then he’ll never be able to be outside off leash. I tried taking him out there on a leash, giving him treats for going out, doing his business, etc., but he’s so anxious out there that he won’t even eat the treats. He just drops them on the ground and takes off towards the door.

I don’t know what to do other than keep taking him out there and showing him that there’s nothing to be afraid of. Hopefully his fear will go away after a week or two.

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  1. I LOVE Cooper! He is looking so much healthier! I have trained many dogs in my day and I would recommend keep doing what you’re doing but I’d offer a nice treat and a happy “Good Boy” for awhile every time he does his business outdoors. Even if you take him out every hour for a few days. I’m sure you’ll see this problem go away quickly. My dog is food driven and learns any new thing quickly with a food reward!

    Your drapes are STUNNING! Oh how I wish I has half of your vision and talent!

    I’d love to hear what Matt thinks of the new addition! Hi Matt!!!!

    1. I love Cooper. He is such a loving dog. can’t believe he was at the kennel so long. What a sweet face.

  2. First, the drapes are wonderful! Just the right touch of something to jazz them up a bit. I like the extra fullness too.

    Your Cooper is going to be a great dog! As to marking in the house, perhaps he has settled in enough to declare to all and sundry that it is his and he is marking to make sure everyone knows it. I am sure he can smell Peeve around the house, so this might be his way of staking his claim. As to the aversion to going outside, could something have frightened him while he was out by himself? Crows, the smell of coyotes or foxes, or the neighbor dogs acting aggressive? Sometimes it takes a while to work out the quirks rescue dogs have acquired in their frightening sojourn in the larger world. A good trainer can help and give you ideas to try. It may take patience and time, but overall, based on what you have said about his willingness to learn, he is going to be a wonderful addition to your family.

    1. I’m thinking something must have scared him. The neighbors dogs (two pit bulls) are a bit aggressive and bark constantly, but he didn’t seem to mind that the first two days. So I’m not sure if he suddenly developed a fear of them, or why that would have happened. I have seen foxes in the area, but never one in our yard. I honestly don’t know what happened, but something must have scared him.

      1. something happened to him that is making him afraid of outside.
        he can’t tell you exactly what it was……but maybe give him a private potty area with a more solid fence so he doesn’t feel so exposed? i would say that he probably got either bitten or snapped at …either way he’s not a bad dog, just afraid
        and you probably won’t need anyone to come in if you can figure what scared him.
        so take him around and watch him closely, see where he starts getting anxious

      2. Snakes? I live just south of you near Austin, and it is that time of year. It is a uite possible that you have had some babies moving around in your area. He instinctively knows to fear them, but his flight or fight is so strong that his anxiety is now focused on that instead of his previous needs. Especially since you have addressed those so well. Good luck – he is one lucky dog!

      3. Have you thought about placing a wireless camera outside? My favorite is Ring spotlight or floodlight cam, but there are so many cheap options on Amazon. It would be good to identify whatever it is that is scaring him.

      4. Kristi, I think you are right. Something outside scared him and it could be those two dogs. Having a session or two with a good trainer is well worth the investment. Have you tried taking him on walks outside of the yard and see how he does? One option is to take some treats outside and just work on some commands like, sit or come or down. Another thing is to hide treats and teach him to “go find.” But I would definitely consult with a trainer.

      5. Kristi,
        It is that time of year here in Texas that the snakes are coming out. Have you noticed any small holes in the yard? Even the non-poisonous snakes can bite and scare the snot out of them.

      6. Anything can frighten a dog – I’ve seen deflated mylar balloons scrutinized with the highest degree of suspicion! I would look for things that could flap or make sudden noise. As to getting him over it try walking around the yard, pausing in different areas and keeping your overall attitude as “nothing happening here”. No reassuring or rewarding, because nothing is happening. Our shepherd is definitely more likely to regard things as suspicious than our retriever. I think it’s part and parcel of their intelligence. The pacing thing seems to be a breed characteristic as well.

  3. Your drapes are going to be beautiful! I love the panel you have completed and am looking forward to seeing all of them. Exciting stuff!

    I do not have a dog so would never give you advice other than to ask a dog trainer his/her opinion of what to do. Cooper is obviously gaining weight and even his coat looks healthier with a good diet.

  4. A trainer is always a great idea, especially as Cooper is adjusting to his new life. I highly recommend making his outside potty a part of your training regimen for a bit longer. Take him out (not necessarily for play time) and when he goes to the bathroom, enthusiastically say “yes! good potty!” and give him a high value treat. It feel ridiculous to be so happy for a poop but it does make them realize that outside potty equals treat (works well for food motivated dogs). It sounds like being alone feels like punishment to him, even though he’s got a yard, I’m sure it’ll ease as he becomes more sure of his belonging.

    Also for a slightly grabby dog, I tuck treats into my fist, emulating a Kong, so they have to shove their nose in and lick it out instead of grabbing from my fingers–it’s a small reminder to be polite 🙂

    1. Little tiny treats will get a dog to do just about anything – such a great training tool and YouTube is full of great videos. One video we watched said the treat only needs to be no larger than a pea (HA!) So we bought a bag of a carrots, sliced them up small keeping them in a baggie in the fridge, and used them in our training and now when its “time for bed!” our little Lilly gleefully trots to her pillow bed and we give her the “treat”. We love our little dog 🙂

  5. I think it is time to expand his territory with longer walks outside around the neighborhood. I also agree that he is in some way marking his territory and probably, just like toddlers, testing you to see how far he can go.

  6. When you adopt a dog, they come with baggage you’ll never know about. It looks like you’re doing everything right, with patience and understanding. It sounds like something spooked him while he was out alone, probably reminding him of something in his past. Could one of the neighbor dogs have gotten aggressive with him or maybe a strange dog going through the neighborhood? Since he obviously has anxiety issues, it’ll be a while before he isn’t affected by things outside his comfort zone. You’re doing a great job with him and it shows. Good luck!

  7. Kristi,

    Your drapes are so gorgeous! I love the way you did the greek key design and the extra stripe and I love the fabric and the color.

    I have 3 cats and can’t get them to stop doing their business in the wrong places so I absolutely no help in the dog department. He is very cute!

  8. I wonder if the ‘by himself’ has stirred up a little anxiety and it’s compounded by something spooking him? I’d love to hear what a dog expert would say (because I’m totally no one!). I’d totally reccomend reaching out to https://www.kathysantodogtraining.com/ or connect on her FB page. She’s awesome and does a lot of work with rescue animals!

  9. Love the drapes. You did a beautiful job. I’d be dreading taking the whole thing down to add rings as well but you’ll feel so much better once you do and all is hanging as you want.

    Cooper is just so handsome. We have always had shelter doggies and I’ll tell ya, I have an affinity for pugs and have gotten all of mine from rescues and they always have poddy problems. They are so darn cute though. I look forward to hearing more about him.

    1. Our pug took 9 years to potty train! Still there are the occasional misses. Didn’t know this was a characteristic problem. No wonder they are so cute!

  10. I’d suggest you check for a good place that does obedience training. They have the experience to assess him and offer advice. And perhaps they have personal training vs in a group. At some point, they can help “socialize him” so he gets along with other dogs and people.. so he’s not jumping on visitors. Ever. I’d make this #1 priority. Learned behavior will set in and you want it to make a turning point to that end asap. You might want to store the rug til you get a handle on things.

    Also, I’d take him to a vet and get a recommendation on what he should be eating. Type – brand – quality.. etc. Pretty sure he will tell you – people food is not a good idea. You really do not want to start that process. It makes us feel better, but it’s not good for the dog.

    Drapes are stunning. Love to see the progress.

    1. I feed him a high quality kibble (Taste of the Wild), and the only “people food” I give to him (as I did with my last dog) is animal protein (preferably raw, but sometimes cooked) and specific raw veggies in moderation — basically anything I’d put into a raw food for dogs. He doesn’t eat table scraps. I don’t feed him this way because it makes me feel better. I do it because I don’t think it’s healthy for a dog to eat nothing but processed kibble. They need real, unprocessed animal proteins and roughage that would naturally be found in the stomachs of their prey if they were living in the wild. I would seriously question any vet who told me otherwise. 🙂

      1. Kristi, you are so right. Pkgd food (kibble etc) are not natural for animals and they need exactly what you are doing! Keep up the great work!

    2. Kristi- I absolutely agree with you regarding pet food. It’s incredibly processed with the lowest common denominator of a food product. Raw or lightly cooked foods such as broccoli, meat, organic veggies are so much better for them than what’s in dog food.

      Dog food companies, unfortunately, have been excellent with brain-washing us to think we should only feed our animals that crap. There’s a great free video series on now called “The Truth About PET Cancer”. It’s so unfortunate that now over 1 out of every 2 dogs will develop cancer in their lifetime.

  11. We have had our Daisy for 11 years and just last month she started doing the same thing that you described. We didn’t know what to think. We were actually afraid that with her being 11 years old it was the beginning of the end. Finally, we realized that the day before it started happening we put a kerchief around her neck. Every time she goes to the groomer, the groomer puts a kerchief around her neck. One time she was at the groomer, her ears are very sensitive & I think the groomer hurt her when cleaning them. She does not like going there anymore. As soon as we took the Kerchief off she was back to normal. I think it was fear of going to the groomer because she associated the kerchief with the groomer. I bet you anything something scared Cooper and that is why he does not wanna go outside .

    1. I thought that first thing. Has he bonded a lot with Matt and maybe doesn’t see Matt outside or have Matt outside with him when he plays?

    2. Cooper hasn’t taken to me like he did to Kristi. He just recently started wanting to be pet by me.

  12. Gorgeous drapes, Kristi! And yes, I agree with others…sounds like Cooper needs that extra attention from you yet while outside doing his duty, sometimes they will take negative attention cuz that’s still attention, and he might be used to negative attention from his past. =( He seems like such a good boy, a quick learner, and with lots of love & positive reinforcement he will correct his potty behavior. You’re doing great with him! He’s very lucky to have you! =)

  13. I believe dog trainers are hit or miss because almost anyone can complete the exercises and be “certified”. I know because my son bought a pure bred Siberian Husky that was bred for looks and not temperament. He has severe fear issues. He had been to two trainers as a puppy and young dog and their methods were not good for any dog much less a dog with fear issues. I know that because we ended up going to a wonderful behaviorist. She has degrees and certification for animal behavior, a trainer does not have this knowledge. She was one of the behaviorists that worked with Michael Vick’s huskies after he was convicted of animal cruelty and dog fighting. She does not trust trainers because you don’t know what you are getting and although they are well intentioned they do not know how to diagnose the dogs issues. They only have a formula to make a dog do the desired action without regard to the needs of the dog. Don’t waste your money on someone who can make your dog do the desired action, please go find out from a behaviorist what is going on with your dog and how to correct it.

    Your draperies are beautiful.

  14. Something must have happened to him. I would always be with him outside to ease his anxiety. He is obviously a good dog with all his good adjustments. Work with him closely and observe his behavior. Time and your presence will help him adjust.

  15. Drapes and Cooper look great! And I believe you’re on the right track to getting to the bottom of Cooper’s sudden and unexplainable aversion to the outdoors.

    On another note . . . my mom had a male miniature schnauzer who dearly loved marking his territory indoors at first. She had a carpet cleaner come out, of course, who told her the very best pet stain remover is simply peroxide and water at a 50/50 ratio. He suggested not using anything with soaps or fragrances because even though they clean, the soap or fragrance left behind can actually attract more dirt to that spot in the future. The peroxide and water will not.

    So for YEARS we have been using this as a stain remover for all stains! Works like a charm!

    1. I love the drapes. I’ve been working on some 1-1/2″, 7 color moire plaid. YIKES!!!

      I also agree with the no soap or cleaning products when working with a spill or mess on carpet. We had a spill of red kool-aid on cream carpet and used the shop vac. First getting the spill vacuumed up, then poured about 1/2 cup water, vacuum that, more water, vacuum, repeat as necessary, you get the picture right. the red spill disappeared completely. We’ve cleaned pet messes too.

      I can tell that Cooper is very smart and you’re very good with his training. You described a noise that the neighbors metal doors make, I think that’s definitely the issue. Dogs ears are very sensitive and high pitched squeals & squeaks can be maddening. That’s something that may not be easily fixed.

  16. What a sweetie he is. I agree with the others that something freaked him out. I had great success using food as a motivator to house break our dog, and taking her out every 45 minutes to make sure she had no accidents. You seem to be doing everything right with him, hopefully this is a minor setback. He seems to learn quickly.

    Maybe take him on a leash to do his business in the front yard or in a different spot, or just go on a short walk – then when he goes, give him a treat as a reward?

  17. I still think you should loose drapes. Looks bulky and takes away from you beautiful windows. Roman shades would’ve been enough. Just my opinion))

  18. Kristi, the drapes look awesome! Peeve sitting on the mantle cracked me up! Cooper is looking great! I took my sister’s Sheltie for her when she moved out of her home and into an apartment. She did not want me out of her sight for quite awhile. I think he has bonded with you so much and feels most secure in your presence so that little bit of time outside alone is too much for him. I feel too it is something that will get better over time, but is kind of typical of adjusting to new surroundings. He may be afraid your going to get away from him. My sister’s dog was always tied up but at my home she had an acre to herself and she was intimidated. Eventually she found a job in chasing the squirrels out of the deer feeder my husband had at the back of the yard. She was so happy to have a job!

  19. It must be the barking, aggressive dogs next door. He probably didn’t encounter them in the first days out on his own. Too many bad things can happen with 2 aggressive dogs. I hope you are double checking the fencing. If it’s chainlink they can come over the top if motivated.

    1. We had a dog escape over chain link fence and then again over a 6 ft. wood fence. Seems like no fence is enough, if the dog is motivated enough! EEEK!

  20. Hey there! Long time reader, but this is my first time commenting. I love your blog! You’ve inspired me to tackle many home renovations myself.

    I am a big dog lover and am passionate about dog training and behaviour. I would agree with the other comments that it seems like something spooked Cooper outside. When I got my current dog, she was very afraid of everything. So I did what is natural for humans to do, and tried to comfort her when she seemed afraid. I learnt the hard way that coddling thel when they act anxious or afraid only encourages the behaviour. For them, they think “when I act like this, I get extra cuddles and treats and attention”, so they’ll continue that behaviour to get the desired response. It’s much better to act calm and confident, like there is nothing to be afraid of. Our dogs pick up on our energy, if act as though nothing is wrong, we provide security for them. If he is fearful of going outside, I would take him out first thing before you feed him (so he’s nice and hungry and extra motivated to earn some food) and go outside (you can leave him in the doorway or wherever he naturally stops) and just wait with some high reward treat outside so he learns that good yummy things happen outside. And when he potties outside, praise him while he’s in the act, and immediately give him a treat when he’s finished. In my experience with my own dog and working with other dogs, when they are around a calm, confident leader, it boosts their own self confidence and creates much happier, calmer, more secure dogs.

    I love hearing your adoption story and he is so lucky to have found such a great forever home!

  21. I’m not an expert, but I’d say that he got spooked. If it was just that he was lonely out there by himself, he would play willingly when you were out there with him. But the fact that he doesn’t want to play makes me think he got spooked. Maybe by an animal, maybe by the neighbor dogs. Not sure. Our Panamanian rescue (yes, you read that right. we rescued a dog all the way from Panama…) was super submissive when we brought him home. Wouldn’t bark at any dog or person, wasn’t protective of us as a family at all. But, after about a month, he settled in and decided that our house really was his home. From that point on, whenever anyone came to the door or a dog walked by, he would bark his little head off. Maybe Cooper didn’t even think the backyard was his home at first, so there wasn’t anything to even be scared of. But now that he’s actually settled in, he can think about being scared and think that something could intrude on his home. I agree with several of the suggestions: 1) lots of treats and excitement when he goes potty outside, 2) go out there with him more, 3) make his place more private. I also think that walking him on a leash to go potty also might be a good option. Would give him more places to go potty, while also getting to spend time with you and get exercise. You also might want to put a different rug down for a while, in case it takes him a while to get over this… He will. Ultimately dogs don’t like to mess up their space too much, so he’ll get over it.

    Curtains look great!

  22. I wonder if, in his prior life before ending up at the shelter, if his people threw him outside for punishment. It sounds as if he knows he has been bad, and is conditioned to think of going out as punishment. I know there are some vets who specialize in “pet psychiatry.” Our dog’as behavior improved when we took him to obedience school. I imagine you can get into a class and discuss his potty behavior with the obedience teacher. But obviously you need to do something NOW or your house will be ruined. Dog pee on the new carpet is a real problem. You may have to “crate” him or confine him to the kitchen. My inexpert option or “lay” opinion as a dog parent is to make sure he understands that going outside is NOT punishment. This dog has probably had some psychological trauma.

    1. Kristi, please do NOT crate Cooper! I know a lot of behaviorists use crating as a potty training/obedience training thing especially with puppies, but it should not be used with a rescue dog with a traumatic background, who had adverse reactions to being caged. I think that would be one of the worst things you could do to him right now. He’s just gotten out of the shelter where he was anxious while caged, and I think he would view being crated as being imprisoned and I’d bet you’d end up with him regressing further behaviorally, to say nothing of what it would do to this poor boy’s emotions!

      Cooper is a smart dog, and he’s also very sensitive. He’s had a tough go of things until you came into his life and literally rescued him. The food aggression means to me that he was not properly fed as far as frequency and/or perhaps quality, so his nutritional needs weren’t being met — I believe he likely worked off a lot of calories with his anxiety and pacing while caged, but I also think that shelter animals are not given the quantity/quality of food they should be receiving. Shelters are usually running tight on money and it wouldn’t surprise me if they cut corners with the food. Animals often naturally have a fear of things going over them (my cat ducks if I move a box or package over her head), but with Cooper the fear of having anything go over his head makes me think he either was punished in some way with a leash or harness or associated them in some way with punishment. It sounds like he is doing better now on both fronts, which means he is feeling secure about the food situation and trusts you that you’re not going to hurt him or otherwise punish him after the leash/harness go on.

      Dogs in particular receive their cues from their people, so the person up-thread who commented on being confident around him has a good idea. Dogs also really want to please their people, and smart and sensitive Cooper wants you to be happy with him, it’s a source of pride for him. He’s not peeing and pooping on the rug because he wants to. I too believe that Cooper is scared of the two aggressive neighbor dogs — he’s young, in a new environment, and has a background of being anxious and fearful in certain situations, he may also have more of a submissive personality, which the more aggressive dogs could sense. Animals sometimes can be bullies, too! He seems to only be comfortable going outside to potty if you are there with him, which needs to be addressed now because you do not want to train him to only be able to go out in his own fenced yard if you are there. Is there a way you could sub-fence out a section of the side yard away from the aggressive dogs to be used as his personal potty place? If so, and with positive reinforcement from you about using that particular section of the yard, the potty issue with this sweet boy will likely remedy itself.

      I also agree with the people who are urging you to check your fence for reinforcement for the sake of Cooper’s safety. A friend of mine had a Doberman who was attacked and killed by a pit bull by having its throat torn out right in front of her. It was horribly traumatic! Pits aren’t the only kind of dogs who attack, but you’d be surprised the lengths some aggressive dogs go to to maintain a pecking order.

      Keep us updated on sweet Cooper with the soft fuzzy ears, please!

  23. Your drapes are gorgeous and so is Cooper!

    What I would recommend right now is seriously limiting his “real estate” indoors. Have him in an area where you frequent but it’s easy to clean– gate off a room and roll up the carpet. This will make it easier for him to feel comfortable and for you to clean up correctly. It does not sound to me like he is marking indoors but rather afraid to relieve himself outside.

    Make sure if he has an accident that you don’t get upset. I know it’s hard but if he’s in the limited area it makes it easier. Just be cheerful and say, “Outside, outside!” if he starts going. Otherwise he may hide what he’s doing when he goes inside. Then, if your yard is gated, do not bother with the leash and YOU rush outside with the absolute BEST high-value treats. Cheese, boiled chicken, etc. If you want to have some “on” you at all times, liver (dehydrated) works really well. It’s not messy.

    Right now, your number one goal with him is to build trust with you. His world should start off small– baby steps all the way with only positive experiences.

    If you want to keep him busy, mental stimulation is GREAT! It can tire dogs out fast! This can all be done indoors… train for the basics but then make them harder by adding in distance, duration, and distractions. I highly recommend you also work on this Relaxation Protocol every day: https://championofmyheart.com/relaxation-protocol-mp3-files/

    Food puzzles are another wonderful way to keep the dogs busy. When I bring home a puppy, I use kibble like it’s gold! I don’t just feed them in a bowl. They get treat balls, stuffed Kongs, and earn their food via training. If he sees to grab the food then you can toss it to him while he becomes more comfortable. Check out https://fenzidogsportsacademy.com/ for online classes you can do with him.

    Keep everything really positive. He has been with you such a short time… you will see changes in 3s… 3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months. You don’t know him yet and he doesn’t know you.

    Find a great training place where you can sit in and watch the classes before you go. It makes such a difference.

    Congrats on a beautiful house and pup!

  24. Hi Cathy…I am new to your blog. You are such an inspiration…with your decorating, DIY skills, and also your kind heart in rehabilitating Cooper. My dog’s name is Cooper too 🙂

    Love your new drapes and am so impressed at how you handled the trim so expertly! Can’t wait to see the rest of your home come together!

  25. Kristi, the drapes are fabulous! What a shame that first one took a while, but you will definitely complete the rest more quickly!

    I believe you do not have an obedience issue with Cooper, but rather something has made him feel unsafe outside. Have you tried taking him out on leash to the front yard or for a walk around the block instead? It may have been a bit too soon to have him be outside on his own (perhaps a large bird overhead? …my dog gets very anxious when we have high winds).

    It has only been around two weeks since he came home with you and he has made so much progress in other areas that a talk with or visit to a behaviorist might be in order… and maybe in the meantime you might want to roll up that gorgeous rug…I’ve heard that we can’t really get the scent out…although Nature’s Miracle claims it does (can be found at all pet stores).

    Good luck, you and Matt and Cooper will figure this out!

  26. The panel is stunning. Those drapes are going to be fabulous. No input on doggie behavior, I have cats. Sure hope you get the bathroom issues resolved with him.

  27. OK, my two cents. I believe your boy has separation anxiety. He’s been left before, maybe by someone that he felt safe with. Then, that person went away and never came back. This explains the circling in the shelter. Now he feels that when you are not with him, you will not come back. He’s afraid you will shut the door and shut him out. So he doesn’t want to leave your side or let you out of his sight. He knows you will most likely always be with him in the house. It’s very common.

    BTW, the drapes are perfect!!

    1. I agree with this. Absolutely. He’s afraid of losing track of you and ending up back at the shelter.

      1. I agree. My dog is really bonded to me and had separation anxiety. When we moved to a house, it was a new thing to have a yard. It took a bit for her to be ok by herself. She still wants me outside with her. She will still stand by the door for a bit waiting for me to join her. SQUIRREL!!!! If she sees one, instincts take over and she is gone. She even rings the bell on the door now to go out. Just be patient. Cooper is afraid of being left.

  28. I love your blog posts and have for a while! I just wanted to let you know that i also LOVE the Cooper updates as well and I sure hope you continue to include him at times!

  29. Cooper is so cute. I’m glad he is looking so much better already. As far as the anxiety goes, it could be that he has adjusted to being yours now and he associates you with safety and providing for his needs and he is afraid of being separated from you (and the house). Our rescue has been the same way. Once he knew that he was loved and taken care of, he didn’t want to be without us. He won’t stay outside by himself even now (unless he is out there to chew on a bone). We just always say that he doesn’t like to be without his “pack” which I’m apparently the head of. We also had problems with our dog marking but that phased out once he realized that we didn’t like it. For the most part, it stopped after the first month. We also trained him to swat at a bell on the wall when he needed to go out so he could communicate with us when he needed to take care of his business. I think that helped as well. I think it looks like he is adjusting to being in your family quite well and issues will fade away as time goes on and you all get to know each other better.

  30. Have you considered that Cooper may be trying to tell you he doesn’t want to be separated from you? It sounded like he did well until he started going out by himself. Lots of shelter dogs have separation anxiety once they’ve bonded with their new families.

  31. The sneak peak of your drapes with the Roman key look beautiful, you’ve done a fabulous job of the design with the double line. They look uniquely custom and very professional. I think the first made design is always the hardest, the rest will be faster and easier for you.
    Cooper is already looking so well and healthy and already learning so much. Sorry to hear about his new issues with doing his business inside and being in the yard. I hope he overcomes both of these soon.

  32. I LOVE the trim on those drapes! You are tenacious! i can only imagine how long that took to apply the greek key design.
    I recently heard to use Vodka on carpet stains….apparently it combines with the enzymes, and when it evaporates, the odor is taken away by the evaporation. I haven’t tried it yet, but I have a 1 yr. old pup, so I’m sure I will at some point! LOL!
    I won’t advise you on Cooper’s behavior, since I’m not an expert. It does seem as though something outside has put a fear in him though. I wouldn’t leave him alone outside until you figure it out, as he may try to find a way to escape if he is scared enough. Maybe take him out a different door before heading to the back yard? And roll up that gorgeous rug! Good luck!

  33. Something definitely spooked him. He’s made so much progress only to have him digress with his business habits.He looks like he’s fattening up nicely. My dog is very confident and dominant and while friendly, never backs down from greeting or being confronted by another dog, but one time on a trail near our house- he started cowering and pulling on the leash and tugging to go back. I immediately did so as it was very unlike him. As we do have cougars, bears and coyotes (Washington state). I’m guessing it was coyotes because we hear them at night. But it made the hair on MY neck stand on end to see him like that. Something has to be distressing the poor guy. Territory is a tricky issue for a dog- especially coming from a shelter. His confidence is still vulnerable. A trainer would probably be able to give you more valuable insight for your specific environment and triggers. It sounds like you are on top of it though. But I know inside accidents are frustrating especially when you know they know better.

    FYI- my favorite enzymatic cleaner is called “Kids and Pets”. It’s freaking fantastic. I think I find it at Target, Wal-Mart, Fred Meyer, etc.

    The drapes look awesome!

  34. We took our dogs to our cabin last summer in Kentucky and we tie them up when outside. Our dog jack started barking and going crazy we couldn’t see anything until we got closer. Jack was stung by a bee and he did not like it. He does not want to go outside ever now. If he here’s any sound of bugs he will not go out. Hopefully this year jack will be better when the bugs come back. Good like, he looks like a wonderful dog.

  35. I’m with so many who believe something has scared him. We recently had a rabid fox in the area jump a fence and attack a 6 year old. It could be the other dogs. He could have been stung. I would leash him and take him out front to be sure he does his business. It may not take long. Any day that was so good brand new in your home, must have some reason for the sudden change. If you don’t figure it out, I good trainer could be a lifesaver.

  36. I like the Cooper updates(and curtains) , I know you are DIY but everything takes a little time and effort. So is pet ownership, I’ve never had a pet long term, but friends and family have adopted pets and I’ve somehow acquired a few skills. One day we’ll become a home when we feel ready. I’ve learned from experience body language and confidence is key. They’ll mirror and exaggerate quite a lot of the owner they bond too sometimes.
    A friend has a Pit, and spent time alongside my friend when they’ve training her. We went to dog parks for a quick session it’d be 50/50 chance of getting a angry pet-owner giving us an earful for bringing an “aggressive” dog in the large dog area. The pit never approached anyone’s dog unsupervised, perhaps sniffed when their dog came running up to investigate. So we were in arms reach and the opposite corner of most of the activity, working on a variety of obedience behaviors from a class. At that point we had to leave, because then the pit started to mirror my friend’s nervousness because of the earlier interaction with the pet owner (that left after giving us an earful). Has Cooper seen you interact with the neighbor’s dogs? Not sure it’s an option, but if you get along maybe Cooper seeing that might help, if it was the Pits that spooked him. Again I’m a novice, but I bet you’ll work through it fine.

  37. You tube has a ton of videos. Emily Larlham is great and has a ton of videos for reactive dogs. My dog isn’t reactive in the typical sense, but hates parking lots. I have been working with him and his favorite treat (which is spray can cheese on wooden spoon ) walking Around parking lots. Now he gets out of the car willingly and walks and even plays.
    Good luck to you!

  38. Possibly coyote? We’ve had one occasionally in the neighborhood. Our dog, a chihuahua/terrier, chased it up and down the fence line….until it went into the neighbor’s unfenced yard and approached the our fence, all head down and ready for a pet dog dinner! I ran out and picked my dog up but she will now not go out if it’s dusk or dark outside even if we are out with her. Coyotes are bigger than you think they are! Yikes!

  39. I’m by no means a dog expert, but I wonder if by punishing him by sending him outside (after the rug incident), he’s now associating outside as a negative thing rather than a place to play or a bathroom. Perhaps his timeout place needs to be different from the backyard.

    That, and it almost sounds like he fears being abandoned or something. He seems to really like being WITH you but is so afraid you might leave him outside and not come back. It’s almost like a previous owner would just disappear and not play with or feed him for long periods of time or something and he doesn’t want that again.

    BTW, I love your draperies…and I don’t usually get all excited about window treatments or Greek keys. For some reason, I just really like the pale linen fabric and the contrasting white trim. It’s pretty and elegant without being girly-girly or overly contemporary.

  40. We had a beautiful little Shi Tzu who was a rescue. He was also starved, didn’t trust people and didn’t want to go outside except to the bathroom. The vet recommended puppy food because it has more calories. His weight normalized but he never wanted to go on walks. When we took him out, he would make a beeline for the first porch he saw. He was obviously traumatised by his past experiences. He did improve, but never took to walks. He did enjoy sitting on the patio and playing with his toys as long as we stayed out with him. Dealing with a rescue dog can require a lot of time, patience and trust-building.

  41. Love your drapes. It won’t take you so long with the rest now that you have the pattern down.

    Nothing to add with Cooper, praise him when he does his duties outside. Hopefully that will work. Try to find out what might have scared him maybe. My last rescue, I also gave her vegetables. She loved them.


  42. Oh my word! I’m so glad he’s better. He looks so sweet! Bless his heart–he’s probably scared he’s not going to see another meal! Also, our dog did the same thing about her “business”–came from a shelter as well. Take him to the vet! It took three rounds of deworming (I was at my wit’s end because this went on for a couple of months), but finally they found the specific kind of worm, and it was happily ever after. 🙂 That was almost three years ago.

  43. About Cooper. I think the pacing he does after eating is he needs to poop. And some dogs really want someone out there with them when they poop cause by nature they’re most vulnerable. (when Pooping) I know it sounds weird but I have a Maltese & Shorkie & the Maltese will not poop without me out there & will run right in & do it in side. Good Luck with him. He’s looking good & the slow weight gain is good for his health. Just a silly happy voice when he poops outside will be all he needs. I have trained other peoples dogs for years & this always works. Not by trade or anything, just frustrated family members!

  44. About Cooper, I recently trained a new rescue on our invisible fence. She was on the lowest setting, with me walking her near the boundary, when she only heard tones. She heard those tones once, ONCE! and dragged me back to the house. She wouldn’t go outside after for days, without me literally carrying her out to go potty, and then she would make a beeline for the door. I think something spooked Cooper. Snakes, bugs, coyotes, something. Also, maybe you will be luckier than we were, but our dogs just hated to be put in the yard to do their business. They would just stand at the gate waiting to come back in, wouldn’t do what they needed to do. I have to go out with them and act like I was STAYING out there, so I would putter around or something, and then they would go. It is silly, but that is our absurd custom now that they have trained me to do what they want. But I love them and there is too much wildlife around our unfenced (invisible fence) yard to leave them out alone. Good luck

  45. After reading your update about his fear of the noise, you might look into trying some type of natural calming/anti-anxiety supplement on him for a few weeks to work through the issue. I can’t remember the one I’ve used in the past, but it helped a lot with my storm/firework phobic dog, and my dog that gets anxious in new places. It doesn’t “deaden” them like a tranquilizer or true anti anxiety med would, it’s just enough to take a little bit of edge off. I still use them with my girl when we go new places, but my storm-phobic dog eventually got to where he didn’t need them any more. Anyway, maybe that little bit would be enough for him to work past his fear and get back to enjoying the outdoors.

  46. Could you ask the neighbor to oil the hinges maybe or tie the door back with a bungee cord so it doesn’t sway?

    Cooper is adorable! And your drapes!!!!❤️

  47. Those drapes are GORGEOUS! I love that purple-y linen and since I’m a lover of the classics, am seriously swooning over your Greek Key treatment. Elegant, sophisticated, timeless, LOVELY!

  48. Desensitizing training might be needed for the scary sounds in the backyard. We adopted our middle aged pit bull after he was found as a stray and he was so ready for love and a good home. He was great for the first 1-2 weeks and then started showing anxiety around other dogs. We spoke to a behaviorist and she felt that sometimes dogs are really polite when first adopted and then they start to settle in and form an attachment, and begin to feel like there is something to lose, but they haven’t yet developed the trust with their new family. It must be quite a mind trip actually to be in jail, basically, and then get taken away by strangers to a new place. We tried to desensitize our pup with his reaction to other dogs but it didn’t work. He just got over it in his own time as he gained more confidence in us and his new situation. Hopefully, it is just a phase as Cooper works through adjusting as you shower him with love.

  49. I’m sorry your sweet Cooper is having issues. Have you thought about taking him to the neighbors workshop to check out that noise that scares him?

    I love the curtains! The whole room is just gorgeous and I’m looking forward to seeing it completed.

  50. I love the drapes. I’ve been working on some 1-1/2″, 7 color moire plaid. YIKES!!!

    I also agree with the no soap or cleaning products when working with a spill or mess on carpet. We had a spill of red kool-aid on cream carpet and used the shop vac. First getting the spill vacuumed up, then poured about 1/2 cup water, vacuum that, more water, vacuum, repeat as necessary, you get the picture right. the red spill disappeared completely. We’ve cleaned pet messes too.

    I can tell that Cooper is very smart and you’re very good with his training. You described a noise that the neighbors metal doors make, I think that’s definitely the issue. Dogs ears are very sensitive and high pitched squeals & squeaks can be maddening. That’s something that may not be easily fixed. Maybe you and your neighbor can work on a solution to the door noise.

  51. I agree with everyone that something scared him. I, too, think it could have been a coyote. We have 4 dogs – one large and three small ones. We have had a terrible situation of cats and small dogs being killed by coyotes. They pulled the poor cats and small dogs through the fence at several of our neighbors fenced back yards and their precious fur babies were killed. Just be extremely careful. Hawks can also be a problem. Be very careful and take care.

  52. Could you take Cooper to your neighbor’s house and show him that you feel safe? Show him what the noise is and that it won’t harm him? Just a thought. He is such a sweeties and I also love the drapes!

  53. Google ‘earplugs for dogs’. Seriously. They exist! I’ve seen a dog with them who was riding on the back of a motorcycle.

  54. You may want to ask your vet about giving ham to dogs. My neighbors dog ate ham from a holiday meal one year and the dog got really sick and died. They always have said that pork is extremely dangerous for dogs. I did google and saw some articles about ham/pork not being good for dogs but didn’t see anything about it causing death.

  55. Cooper looks a little like a Carolina dog….so cute! I’m glad you’ve figured out what scared him. I’m sure he’ll adjust with all of your attention and guidance.

  56. Kristi, I’m coming late to the conversation and it sounds like you’ve already figured out what scared Cooper. I have some experience with similar issues in training my own dog, so I have a few suggestions.
    First, of course, speak to your neighbor and see if he’s willing to oil the hinges, or let you oil them.
    Second, the way to transform Cooper’s fear is to make the sound of the creak mean something positive (usually by giving him a high-value food reward the instant he hears it). You can use clicker training to make that process a little easier on you. Look up animal behaviorist Karen Pryor to learn more about clicker training.
    Third, in the meantime, take him for a regular walk at about the same time in the morning and at night to let him do his business, and reward him when he does it — that will establish a routine that does not involve your rug! Most dogs prefer not to soil their own “den” or home, so if you give him an option that doesn’t scare him, he’ll probably take it.
    Fourth, do visit a reputable trainer or (even better) an animal behaviorist; make sure the trainer uses only positive training methods, because they work better, and because punishment methods are often particularly hard on a traumatized dog, and can do worse damage.
    And thanks for adopting a troubled dog!

  57. Kristie, I too have a fearful dog. She’s afraid of a lot of seemingly unrelated things, but especially riding in the car. It’s definitely a noise she hears, that I do not. She’s 9 and has gotten better, but still really isn’t calm in the car at all. She was never abused, she just has quirks. So here’s my advice. If it is at all possible, work with your neighbor to fix his door. I realize that could be a real pain in the rumpus, but it will help.

  58. Don’t rush it…. likely going to have separation anxiety. Like potty training, if I was you, I’d completely stop trying to get him out alone, and wait another 2 weeks and try again with shorter time (5min…set the timer).

  59. Love that drape!
    We too have a rescue dog. She has her quirks. Walking on different textured surfaces freaks her out. We rescued her in the winter after a cold spell and we think maybe she fell in a pond or something. Anyway, she’s 9 now and still freaked out. We just let her do her thing. She usually stays upstairs while we are in the basement where the floors are safer???

  60. I agree with Kerri Shaw – if you think your neighbor’s garage doors are scaring him, I’d ask if you could bring him by and then, if it takes 5 minutes or an hour or more, work gently with him until the fear subsides. Then go back again a few days later to see if the experience has “stuck.” Also, you may think about using a checklist (like this one http://www.lifewithdogs.tv/2012/01/socialize-your-puppy-our-checklist-will-help/) to help socialize him and prepare him for future experiences.

    He is a very cute dog and obviously very smart. He’ll do great as a result of your love and patience.

  61. Congratulations on adding another member to your family! How I envy you your fenced in yard! I could use one with two energetic dogs.

    However, in my long long experience with dogs, many do not like just going out by themselves. That I have two of them (which leads to a host of problems we did not have with one), a benefit is that they do play with each other. Just leaving one dog in the yard would likely lead to the dog getting into some kind of trouble or whining to come inside if I’m not out there with him.

    I have to walk both dogs in a routine, for them to do their business before letting them have some free pay. Can’t mix business and pleasure with my guys. Yes, it’s a pain. When i get a fence some day, I don’t expect it to be that different for a while. I would walk dogs along edge of yard so all business done there, and reward given when deeds accomplished. I know even though I’m doing this now, it’ll still take a while before the dogs will get it that if let out, they have to go to it first. Collect treat and then get to romp in yard

    Cooper clearly is spooked by something in back yard or is nervous about just being let loose without you right there. The focus for outside has to be taking care of business with a high value treat as a reward has been my experience to have dogs go right to it

    I think it’ll work out with Coopet. These rescue dogs can take a while to adjust. We have no ideas the traumas they may have undergone

  62. Firstly to say you are awesome for adopting Cooper goes without saying…not sure if you knew anything of his previous life. He obviously was not fed…and that in itself can bring on behavioural issues. One thing I would do…is deal with the anxiety…by asking your vet for something to ease his distress. There are natural remedies you can try as well….Rescue Remedy being one…but it takes a while to get in the system and see results. By forcing him to go to the place he is afraid of…for whatever reason…is likely making him more stressed out…I would establish another bathroom area for him…and if you have to take him out on leash to do his business, at least for the short term..so be it. We live on a very busy road…and have to take our dog out on leash. Cooper has make great strides since coming into your life…the mere fact you can get harness on him…speaks volumes of the trust he is starting to gain. People don’t understand once that trust is broken between dog and human…it takes months…sometimes years to regain. Don’t give up on him…a gentle method training would work best for Cooper…and lots of exercise to burn off his anxiety and energy…long walks are great for not only him…but his human too! Our neighbour is wheelchair bound…and takes his dog “walking” daily. Molly walks along side his motorized wheel chair..in time..Cooper could be comfortable enough to do that with your hubby.