Frustrated and unsure

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Frustrated and unsure

This is a discussion on Frustrated and unsure within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; I am new to this site and new to dog ownership. We got our 3 year-old terrier mix at the beginning of January from a ...

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Old 02-21-2018, 11:16 PM
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Frustrated and unsure

I am new to this site and new to dog ownership. We got our 3 year-old terrier mix at the beginning of January from a local shelter. When I met her there, she was very quiet and scared...while other dogs were barking their heads off, she was sitting there quietly. She checked all of the size and behavior boxes we were looking for. We brought her home and were pleasantly surprised to find she was near perfectly potty trained. However, the first night home, she did start freaking out and begging as soon as I opened a small snack bag of chips for a snack. Ultimately, we made it through the first night and the first few weeks and overall she is a very sweet dog.

The biggest problem we have run into is she flips out when walking anywhere near other dogs while on the leash walking. She will lunge, bark, growl, and snarl even if it means flipping over on her back due to her front harness. We end up feeling like bad dog owners when she has these confrontations. We are working with a trainer and have multiple ideas in place to practice. My husband is working even harder than I am because I work 12-hour night shifts and he is home more than I am. Today, apparently, my husband was rounding a corner and another dog owner with two dogs was rounding from the other direction. Those dogs started flipping out as did our dog and my husband stated they were "fighting" though our dog has never acted on aggression before, normally she just wants to sniff the other dog and possibly be dominant. Apparently, the other owner started cussing out my husband and my husband ended up carrying our dog home.

I am a little bit at a loss. I am upset for my husband and upset for our dog. She just hasn't ever had any socialization or leash training. I know it's not her fault. I am just not sure how to help my husband's and my frustration with her going crazy with other dogs. Any tips or suggestions?

On a separate note, the dog has kind of taken over our life. We don't get enough sleep...she will cry and scream if she wants out of her pen to explore the house. (She is well crate trained when she chooses.) It feels like all we ever do is walk, train, and give her attention. When we aren't actively doing things for her, we are both too exhausted to do anything else. How do we make our sweet girl a part of our life instead of our whole life?
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Old 02-22-2018, 01:26 AM
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"She ticked all the behaviour boxes? All the other dogs where barking, she was shut down, scared". < right there, is the clue. Something is wrong here.
Others may of walked away, you did not. And you've bought in a trainer. Brilliant start.

This stuff takes time. You know that and its seems daunting. But you are a battler, your shift pattern tells me that! So giving up, is unlikely to be possible. Though darn tempting!
A vet consult, re her levels of anxiety to discuss medical options that will calm her, so that learning can occur. And the time that you can put in training her, will be maximized in its results.

She's a terrier (mix) so her nose is likely to be good. Can she 'find' her dinner, scattered around the garden?
Can she find which tennis ball cut in half laid down, her treat is under?
Find which cushion, her toy is under?
CAN SHE HUNT? When searching, does she air scent? or is her nose on floor. Then consider tracking. Dead easy to learn how, and Foot step tracking is done in slow motion. great treatment for anxiety. As the dogs mood is altered in tracking.

Whilst you play, put some dog program on tv, sound down. That's where i would start. And get her relaxed, at home, with dogs in view on tv.
Then write a hierarchy of stressful for her situations.
Start with easiest. Play, engage, dont bother so much about 'walking' just muck about with the dog, tack a hand towl and play tug of war. See if you can play where she can see a dog coming clearly, but it wont pass too close.
At some point, you are going to need calm, sociable dogs to help you. Your trainer should be able to arrange this lesson.

Its a slow path, needs constant practice.

good luck
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Old 02-22-2018, 12:46 PM
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As far as taking over you life goes, you really need to set some boundaries and hold to them. It's very easy to give in if your dog makes you miserable when you don't, but then you become your dog's slave.

I would start with 2 things:

1 - never ever let her out when she is behaving badly, so she can learn that those behaviors no longer work. Unfortunately if they have worked for a while, she may take a bit to give it up. Don't even talk to her or tell her to shush. Total ignoring until she quiets down.

2 - Nothing in Life is Free. Teach her that to get things she wants (play, ball, treat, dinner, leash on, etc.) she must do something you like, usually "sit" is the simplest way to start. This exercise often teaches bratty pups that they aren't in charge of life, but you are, and the best way to get things is to do what you want.

Treat your pups like children - firm, with love, and plenty of boundaries.
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