I SERIOUSLY am at the end of my leash.
I am fighting back tears, or the will to scream… or both.
Napoleon has completely driven me crazy. I’m supposed to be a newbie dog trainer. I will make mistakes. But when I can’t even control my own dog… I am seriously a ‘frustrated owner’ right now. I feel like I’m in the position of someone who doesn’t know what else to do with their dog.
We were going on a walk, and practicing distractions as well as leash work. He was just doing fantastic. Just wonderful, and then I saw my neighbors, who wanted to chat. That’s fine, great opportunity for him to be ignored right now. Again, wonderful. So far so good…
So, because he was doing so well, he got to play with the neighbor’s boxer for a bit. They are friends, but we have to watch out for-yep, there it is… mounting. My dog always mounts this boxer for some reason. He’s 9 years old, and neutered. And completely … perfect. Then there’s my dog…mounting him. Great. I try to catch it, as I see the signs happening and ‘Ah-ah, NO!’. But he ignored me. I have no training tools with me, and he’s off leash. Great. So, I run over, and pull him off. Then, I have him do something else for a bit – “Puppy Pushups” I like to call them. Sit-Down-Sit-Down and so on and so forth. Eventually, he seems to have relaxed. Well that was embarrassing (“I’m sorry my dog just completely dominated your dog.”). Ok, they are playing now, good. Good play, everything is going well again…
Until a fucking idiot teenage kid on a skateboard was being pulled by a pit bull ran down the street. Napoleon FREAKED OUT! He started lunging, and snarling, and barking/whining. Behavior I have never seen before. Even in a fight, he’s not like that! Unfortunately, for me, he was off leash. I tried to get control by his collar, and then remove him from the situation. The little fucking asshat teenager decided it was fun seeing my dog all freaked out and then came back again! This time, as I was trying to get control of Napoleon, I was able to [somehow] slip the Halti back on, and secure it so I had more control.
Yeah, I decided that was enough of that, and that we needed to go. I wasn’t going to take him home yet, because he was too worked up. We walked around the block, and we went real slow until he calmed down.
When we got home, he was back to his out of control ‘I-want-dinner-now-mom’ attitude. I don’t respond to that at all, and he doesn’t get fed until he calms down. So, he was ignored. . . which resulted in ear-splitting howls and whines. This, again, doesn’t usually happen unless he’s in the kennel. So, the Pet Convincer was used on him. Then, another uncharacteristic thing- growling at me. This has never happened. So, I stood there, and waited for him to calm down. Then put him in the bedroom by himself to ‘cool off’.
My boy – having a temper tantrum is what it looked like. It was like my high energy lab, just turned into a huge problem. Hmm… wow. Either I royally screwed up on something, or something is really wrong.
I feed the cats, and then eventually let Napoleon out again. He is jumping, knocking me over in the hallway, getting in the kitchen (he’s not allowed), and jumped COMPLETELY OVER a sofa and smashed into the window.
WHAT.THE.HELL.IS.GOING.ON??? No. No. NO. NO! I don’t even care right now. I am up to my eyeballs in these negative feelings.
I give up… feeling words:
-KILL ME NOW
I want to ‘fix’ him. I want so badly to do this. I want to know how to solve ‘difficult’ problems like this one, and it feels like the whole damn world is against me. I ask for help from the organization I am a member of, and they tell me ‘It might be because he should be getting a 5 mile walk every day’, and ‘it’s something you might just have to deal with’.
Yeah. Well, if I have to ‘deal with this’ … seriously: Please kill me. Put me out of my misery and take me out back and just shoot me. I could run him 5 miles, and it wouldn’t make a difference. It really, REALLY doesn’t. It’s not an exercise problem. He’s OVER-ADRENALIZED. I was very unhappy with these responses, so now I’m even more frustrated.
FAILURE. I CAN’T DO THIS EVERY DAY FOR THE REST OF FOREVER WITH MY BOY. He is so good when he’s not over-stimulated. I just can’t do it all the time. I need a break every once in a while. Ignorance was bliss. Before I knew what ‘over-adrenalized’ meant and before I realized that he wasn’t just ‘a really happy dog’, we were all really happy. Now, it feels like I have one of the worst dogs in the world. My poor boy, getting all these emotions from me. If he can read my mind – I’m sure he feels awful. See, there I go -putting human emotions on a dog. FAIL.
But if he could talk, I think he would be saying, ‘But Mom! I’m really trying! I’m working so hard, see? See me work so hard? ‘. And now, GUILT.
I can’t even talk to my husband. It’ll start a fight. When I get like this, I have to attack something/someone. And I don’t want to start a fight. I think I’ll just sleep downstairs. By myself.
DON’T BE SO HARD ON YOURSELF! sorry for shouting, but seriously, don’t do it, you’re doing brilliantly with him, and I’m willing ot bet that your his world, he’d hate to have made you feel so bad.
Our little woof, Bertie, can behave a bit like that sometimes, though we don’t have a sofa for him to jump over… Usually it happens when he gets stressed. It might be something you have to just live with, but there are ways to cope. We put ‘Rescue remedy’ in Berties water, every day, just to help him keep calm – it seems to work too, might be worth a try? He’s a rescue, and I have no idea what happened to him before he came to us, but he can be as nutty as a fruit cake if he is of a mind.
We also have some calming routines, for when he is having a crackers moment. Firstly, we’ve made it a game. I grab his favourite toy, wave it at him & get his attention, then throw it for him (garden or hallway, somewhere he isn’t going to wreck stuff) and he goes and gets it. I am prepared with a little treat in my hand (which I show him, but don’t let him have), when he comes back to me, he has to sit, then lie down before he gets it. As soon as he’s down, he gets his treat, and then has to roll over (‘show me your paws’ in our house). which he does. Then I rub his tummy, because for Bertie, that’s the most soothing thing in the world. Sometimes we have to do the whole routine a couple of times before he chills out. My secret tip, I put some extra rescue remedy in his water & feed him salty treats, so he winds up wanting a drink. 10 minutes later, all calm again.
It might feel like rewarding him for being naughty, but think of him as a kid that just got picked on by the school bully who called you names. He was doing his best to defend you & got upset. All he wants to know is that you’re safe, he’s safe and you love him (he know’s he loves you), even though he’s crackers. Think of this calming game as rewarding him for protecting you in stead.
I hope you find your own calming routine quickly, it took us ages to work ours out, but we don’t have anything like the dog-handling expertise you have & Bertie is our first woof.
The mounting though… no idea how to get him off that one, except maybe find a smell he really hates, one that makes him sneeze – we used to use ground white pepper on our dogs when I was a kid, to stop them peeing where they shouldn’t. Keep it in your pocket & sprinkle his nose when he’s up to those sorts of tricks. He’ll get the hint quite quickly I would have thought.
Awww, thanks so much.
Yes, we have a calming routine (I call them ‘puppy pushups’, I should upload a video.). Sit-Down-Sit-Down, and so on and so forth. It wears him out, and he’s pretty calm afterwards. The mounting, well, I just need to not let him do it. I wish there was a ‘guide’ where I could look up why it keeps doing it. I think it’s stress-related, as he only does it around this dog, in this yard, or when he is ‘dominant’ at our house, like if we have a dog come over. But I have more control over that, so I usually catch it before he does it. I do know he has a problem with this at boarding facilities as well, and I believe it is stress-related. He doesn’t just mount… he GRIPS and DOMINATES. Which is completely unacceptable. He had been doing so well, and I haven’t heard of him doing this in … oh… a year! And then, BAM!
I will ALWAYS have to carry my Pet Corrector (another version of the Pet Convincer I have mentioned in previous articles) just in case, I think. It’s annoying, but I would rather be able to control the situation. OR I could just go straight to the SprayShield (basically pepper spray for dogs. It’s a citronella spray that interrupts behavior). However, I don’t like to use that often. It’s mainly for if an aggressive dog starts to lunge at you to bite, you spray it in their face. It’s safe, but it burns.
Your story sounds like mine!!! I got my Lucas when he was 10 or 12 weeks “adorable cocker pei”. Wild, but was a pup!! Suddenly he started behaving very aggressive with other dogs or even people….. I did not know what to do, I was already taking him to school and they were wonderful, but he was the terror of my community . One day one owner of the dog school spoke to me about e collar, i hesitated a lot!!! at this point Lucas knew all his commands but that was not the problem… (1.4 years in school!)….So I decided to buy the e collar( dogtra) and read read all I could because I did not wanted to hurt my dog . I started taking him to parking lot, parks, places with people around. The idea was to attract his attention with the pager and make him focus only in me” Lucas watch me”. And he starting passing around people and every time closer to what he was “scared at” always giving him treats. He learned a lot! And at the same time I felt that I had the control with the other part of the e collar that I very, very seldom used but gave me the confidence to do what I did. I still have some issues with Lucas and other dogs if they get too close into his space!! , minimal now, he is better and me too, but I do not know if I could do this without e collar. Good luck!!!
Thank you! Yes, my boy – he doesn’t have many problems. Just the one – adrenaline. And like children, when the adrenaline is going, it’s very difficult to get his attention. He is showing LOTS of improvement, and in the 2 years I have had him, I have never seen him act this way. Turns out, (now that I learned more since I posted this a while back) he was past his threshold and was pushed too far. I’m lucky he didn’t bite me or my neighbor… and that I didn’t lose the leash! My dog is a very, VVEERRRYYY sweet boy, so this was a shock to me. But again, every day I learn something new, and I won’t ever stop learning. I’m happy to have experienced this, even though it was scary at the time.
I’m glad you and Lucas are doing better, too! 🙂
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