Confessions

In my last post, I wrote about how Our Best Friend is a part of the family. And he is. He’s the most beautiful, loving, protective dog I could ask for.

That doesn’t mean I don’t think of giving him away. Every. Single. Day.

It was hard enough when I wasn’t alone. The Ex-Spouse worked long hours and was seldom home. Still, he sometimes took Our Best Friend out when he got in late at night, for that last pre-bedtime pee. Now it’s me. Every night. The Eldest has lost interest in the dog (she wants a cat), and the Middle Child, who adores him, is in bed by then (or at least she should be). It’s me at 6:50 every morning too, and when I get home from my new part-time job at 5:00. I take him out Wednesdays before I leave for school, and I’m the one who takes him out when I get back at 10:30 at night, after a two-hour drive home.

"I think I smell squirrel..."

“I think I smell squirrel…”

I wouldn’t mind any of this if he was obedient. If I could open the door, let him out to pee, and he would come back when he’s done. Like Blackie does. If he didn’t chase after squirrels, and poop in the neighbour’s yard, or voom out of sight and end up a block away.

When I walk him, he pulls like a maniac. Sometimes he looks like he’s pulling a sled, he’s tugging so hard. I don’t know how to fix this. I’ve put treats in my pocket to try to entice him to stay by my side. He grabs the treat and goes back to pulling. I make him sit. He lunges forward. He still almost pulls me off my feet out the door, even though I make him sit and wait to leave on command. At least I’ve finally gotten him to stop barking insanely when he sees the leash in my hand. Now he just whimpers madly.

How can you get mad at this face?

How can you get mad at this face?

The barking. Oh man, the barking. Every time the doorbell rings. Every time someone opens the front door. When the tenants come home. If I come in through the garage so I can put groceries in the basement fridge, he howls and barks until I make my way upstairs. Someone suggested I spray water in his face when he barks. I tried– it made it worse.

He used to run down the stairs to meet me, but he’s not allowed downstairs any more. Ever since the last time Duke and Blackie stayed, he pees in the office, or poops in the guest room, any time he gets downstairs. I can’t even go down with him. If I take my eyes off him for two seconds, he sneaks into whichever room I’m not in and does something bad.

I don’t mind the fur so much, except when it gets embarrassing. I returned some clothing to WalMart a few weeks ago. When the clerk pulled it out of the bag, I saw, to my horror, dog fur clinging to it. They took it back without a word, and now I live in fear of some poor unsuspecting person being exposed to those leggings and going into anaphylactic shock.

And I’m sick of the guilt. With my schedule, when am I supposed to walk him? I’m not Kristine; I can’t drag my carcass out of bed any early than I already do, and I have three kids to yell at to hurry up or we’ll be late for school. Get up at 6:00, in the pitch dark and cold, to walk the dog? Not happening. I started working part-time, so afternoons are out. And after dinner, I’m doing homework with someone– or three someones, sequentially. Once the younger two are in bed, I usually drop dead. Or decide that watching Once Upon A Time beats walking the dog.

So he’s wild with pent-up energy, which is exacerbated by taking his role of man of the house too seriously. When the kids play too boisterously, or shriek at each other, as sisters are wont to do, he rushes forward, barking furiously. More barking, in addition to the door and the garage and seeing the leash and being offered a treat.

The Goofball Pose

Every time the barking starts, I think, “I can’t handle this any more.” When guests are here, his barking makes them jump too, and I’m embarrassed by my out-of-control animal. Every time he pulls on the leash, I think, “I need a professional trainer, and I can’t afford one.” I live in fear of catastrophic illness or injury. Simply put, he frays my nerves.

But every time I threaten to get rid of him, The Middle Child cries. If I walk him once a week, it’s one walk more  than I would take if I didn’t have him to force me out. And when I drive up at 10:3o at night, get out of the car, and hear that crazy, insane, mind-numbing barking, I don’t mind it at all, because I know my girls are safer with their over-zealous protector around. We’re not the right home for him, and he’s not the right dog for us… but if I tried to tell him that, I doubt he’d agree. And who am I giving him to? Who would I ever trust to take care of my baby? So the frustration, annoyance, and fur will continue, and we’ll just have to make the best of it.

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About one person's view

I'm the mother of three girls, three cats, and a dog. All need constant attention, but only the dog likes to go for long walks!
This entry was posted in Dog behaviour, Dog training, Dogs, pet ownership and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Confessions

  1. 2browndawgs says:

    Oh yeah having a challenging dog can be exhausting. But look how cute he is!

    Have you tried doing some brain challenging play with him? Maybe involve the kids with hide and seek in the house or use treats? I agree that he probably needs more physical exercise, but maybe some mental exercise would help a bit? I also think the lack of exercise is the problem with the leash pulling. I realize that you don’t have much time, but maybe start incorporating 5 minutes of training a day in your house or the yard. Work on heel or sit or paw, anything. Sometimes just some one-on-one attention can help with behavior issues. He may challenge you because he thinks he can. He may listen better after you do a bit more structured training (don’t forget the treats :)).

    • I’ve been working hard on stay– he used to be excellent at stay, and now he tries to sneak off. Heel has been a completely useless endeavour, but I still try. I would try brain challenging play if *my* brain was up to it!

      • 2browndawgs says:

        I think you can fix that stay by going back to basics. Shorten, on lead and reward when dogs stays even a bit. Lots of verbal praise. When it is solid at a short interval lengthen slowly. We often go backwards in training with our dogs. Heel is harder. All our dogs are pullers, or were. That one takes patience. Again I would go back to puppy-type training of heel. Short sessions in the house if necessary and praise when correct.

        Someday I am going to do a post on Storm. She was a real problem child. She could back out of any collar. She would pull and jump. She broke a chain link collar once. Right through the links. She was a pita. 🙂

  2. Karen says:

    Oh gosh,I almost feel like I could have written much of this post. It’s nice to know I am not alone. We love them but I am definitely not one of those people who thinks having a dog is easy and doesn’t require sacrifice. I sometimes daydream about how much easier life would be without her but, same as you, I could never trust anyone else to do as good a job taking care of her as I do. Sounds like OBF definitely thinks you are the right family for him.

  3. shoes says:

    What a tough situation. I can not imagine how tired you must feel with all that is on your plate. I had a dog Rosy, who passed away eariler this year, who would pull like crazy on walks to the point where I was rather scared to walk her. Then one of the vet techs at our vet clinic gave me a gentle leader to use on her and it was amazing. Also is there a way to fence in a small area and put in a doggie door? Just some thoughts…

  4. Oskar says:

    I am guilty of being a terrible barker. My peeps try, but the schnauzer in me just won’t let me stop!

    Nubbin wiggles,
    Oskar

  5. lexy3587 says:

    Sounds like you’re doing the best you can with a tough situation. I agree with ‘Shoes’ suggestion of a gentle leader. I use an “Easy Walk Harness”, if you’d rather not have something on his face – it doesn’t stop the tugging as much, but it does still reduce it, as long as you attach the leash at the center of the chest portion of the harness. Once OBF is walking relatively easily on-leash, and depending on oldest child’s age, I’d add that to her list of chores. even just a half-hour walk right after school (even if she does like cats more) will make a huge difference with OBF’s energy levels. You’re doing good, and OBF would rather be your BF than anyone else’s.

    • I invite you to my home to tell the Oldest she now has another chore! My kids are in school from 7:55-4:40, and arrive home at 5:15 with hours of homework ahead. I can only get them to unload the dishwasher because they need the dishes!

  6. Jodi Stone says:

    You’ve got some good suggestions here. Most of the behaviors you described can be corrected, but I won’t lie, it takes time and training. The good thing is that some training things can easily be incorporated into your daily routine with little to no additional time added. When Delilah pesters me in the bathroom I lay out a bath mat and have her practice her down.

    There are youtube videos for almost every you would ever want (or think) to train. I get your frustration though, Delilah was there once, she’s much better now, but it’s taken a time. As with everything consistency is the key, you are seeing that with his not barking when the leash comes out. 🙂

    I was glad to hear you end this on a positive (who could care for my baby better than I) note. 🙂

    • What else canI do? Barring total financial catastrophe (like losing our house), I just can’t bring myself to give him away, even though he probably would be better cared for elsewhere. I’m just too scared that someone would think they can cope with his issues, only to give up in exasperation and give him to the SPCA or worse. 😦

  7. You are not alone. Owning a dog is exhausting! No matter how much we love our dogs we always feel that there is room for more walks and wondering if we are giving them everything they need but you are absolutely right, if we asked them- I’m sure they would be quite happy with what they have! I also have a high energy dog and find that a trip to a nearby dog park or a bike ride stimulates him more and tires him out much quicker and is a much more happier experience for me as he is also a nightmare to walk! If I need to walk him, I don’t leave the house without his Halti on (or Gentle Leader)- I absolutely swear by this product and recommend it for you and your best friend 🙂 Good luck and stay positive, you just need to find what works for the both of you!

    • See above– he’s already destroyed two Haltis. I was going to mail them back to the company, but never did. And I don’t own a bike. 😦 But I do find if I can haul myself out of the house at 9:30 or even 10:00, a walk around the block, though insufficient, is better than nothing.

  8. Julie says:

    Do you own a bike? If you do get a springer, the correct kind of harness, and then take him out biking on the week-ends. It might be a bit out of control until you get the hang of it, and make sure you keep a lead on his collar so you can keep him from sniffing, but this will definitely drain his energy, and he’ll love. You will probably not get much exercise, though:P Make sure your bike has good brakes.

    I’d also try buying some of Nina Ottoson’s puzzle toys for dogs, and perhaps feeding him his daily dinner and breakfast with it. Great way to burn off some steam.

  9. I’m late stopping by, but I wanted to send a hug your way. Definitely a tough situation.

  10. Pingback: Dog-Sitting Joys | The Dog Park

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