Need advice on my relationship with my dog

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Need advice on my relationship with my dog

This is a discussion on Need advice on my relationship with my dog within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; Hi there! I have an almost 9 month old pit bull/american bulldog mix. He's a pretty laid back guy, goes to obedience school, gets along ...

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Old 01-24-2019, 08:20 AM
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Need advice on my relationship with my dog

Hi there!

I have an almost 9 month old pit bull/american bulldog mix. He's a pretty laid back guy, goes to obedience school, gets along with all dogs and people. He obeys commands and is generally just a well tempered dog.

I'm scared, though, that he doesn't love me. In our house is 4 people. He's equally excited to see each one when they get home, but I feel like his connection with me is lacking. I'm the one who feeds him, gives him treats, trains him, he sleep with me at night, etc. When he looks at me, I feel like he's not happy. When it's just he and I in the living room, he barks at me and nips at me. I'm not sure if he's frustrated with me or he's trying to play.

It's killing me that he likes me the least out of everyone and I have no idea what I am doing wrong.

I desperately want to have a great relationship with him and I love him more than he knows. Any advice would be greatly appreciated because I've been feeling very down lately.
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Old 01-24-2019, 01:30 PM
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Those are signs of wanting attention and could be wanting to play. You feed him and sleep with him, that's awesome. What else do you do with him? Who walks him? Who takes him out to just run around and play? Since he gets along with other dogs do you take him out for play sessions with his dog buddies or to a good dog park to keep him socialized?

I definitely wouldn't let him nip you, but maybe he's asking for more attention and fun things from you? At his age he's also in adolescent age, which is a lot of testing and exasperating behavior.

I had a lot of trouble bonding with my current dog for the first year or two. I had a lot of grief over my last dog's death after almost twelve years together and this dog had a lot of trust issues himself. Plus he was an adolescent with little to no prior training and a lot of "bad" and dangerous behaviors.
We did bond and it took a lot of helpful feedback, from people here and elsewhere, to help me see how special he really is. And to appreciate his unique abilities and character
Another thing that helped me a lot was researching and reading everything I could on dog behavior. It took me a long time, too long, to realize he was really doing a lot of little gestures to try to bond with and protect me and I was inadvertently rejecting him. And that he's much more sensitive than I realized although he acts very tough and fearless.

So there's hope, don't give up!
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Last edited by Shadowmom; 01-24-2019 at 01:34 PM.
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Old 01-25-2019, 08:43 AM
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I take him to the dog park and walks and we have play dates with friends with dogs. I literally do everything for him.

What sorts of things was he doing to try to bond and protect and how were you rejecting him?
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Old 01-25-2019, 01:05 PM
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I just kept reading a bunch of stuff about dog behavior. I let him sleep on my bed at night because I've had my cats much longer than him and they do so it doesn't seem fair to let them on the bed and not him.
He always has to lean his face on my foot or leg or arm or some part of me. When we're out in public anywhere or even at the dog park he'll come over and just lean on me and randomly give me his paw and wrap his whole paw around my arm in this unique way no other dog has ever done before. He'll sit there and want me to hold his paw until my arm feels like it's going to fall off and not let go.

He'll step on my feet, sit on my feet, follow me everywhere. I can't go to the bathroom or take a shower without him lying right outside the tub. I thought that was his separation anxiety. But from what I've read all these are his little ways of trying to be close to me and show he loves me and some of these things means he wants attention and some are protection. He'll bring me his favorite squeaky toys and I just throw them. Who knows if this is true but one place I read said that dogs bring toys to share them and just throwing them can hurt their feelings.
Since he's not over the top licking your face off like my last dog and more subtle, it's harder for me to tell sometimes. Apparently just looking at you with big shining eyes can mean good things which he also does.
He'll start doing the trick I taught him which he likes the least but gets him theost praise, which is roll over, when he's bored and wants attention.

What really made an impression one was he recently was playing with another dog and they started running fast and chased each other. He misjudged a turn and ran into a concrete tunnel, slamming his hip hard into it. He immediately limped/ran to me and lay down for a few minutes, then got up and pushed his head right into my chest wanting hugs and reassurance.

If that's not a sign of love, racing right to me and asking for hugs when he's hurt, I don't know what is. I know I see articles everywhere saying dogs hate being hugged, but every one of my dogs has craved hugs from me once we've bonded. Definitely not from strangers. Maybe it depends on the dog and level of trust with the person.
But it took over a year to get to this state with this dog. I took him everywhere and did everything for him since day one too. It took time and we both had past issues to get through.
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Old 01-25-2019, 06:55 PM
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Maybe your dog loves you (I'm betting he does!) and the barking is him trying to communicate with you! My dogs definitely talk to me and my significant other (their dad) ALL the time!

If it gets too loud or annoying we just tell them politely shhhh and use our hand signal that we taught them with shhhh. If I have treats or food nearby I will reward the shhhh if they go quiet. If not I just verbally thank them for listening.

The nipping may mean your dog wants you to do something particular like play or something else. I don't allow my dogs to nip me or bite me in play bc then they will do it to others...and this is not ok with me. Many people (esp kids) can be afraid of this and then scream or yell and escalate the situation.

As for the staring.... or when you look at him and he looks "unhappy" maybe he is just staring at you.

Many times my dogs will stare intently at us or bark at us to "round us up" to do the next thing, like eat dinner, feed the cat, go to work, take a walk, go to the bedroom, be let out to potty or see squirrels etc. Gracie is a blue heeler mix...hence the desire to "round us up" like it is her job

In fact my shy cautious dog Gracie has recently started playing with our Puma puppy. Finally. It took months of Puma inviting her--- and then one day Gracie said ok. But they both prefer me to be outside in the yard with them to referree. I think they are both cautious about playing together so they appreciate me being there to run back to if they get nervous at any moment. And I really think Gracie is trying to tell me "Hey Mom, look at me now. I am playing with another dog!! Aren't you proud of me for being so brave???"

So Gracie will look at me in the mornings now and politely "woof" me to get me to go out to watch them play. So dang cute!!!

Maybe your dog feels so connected to you that he is constantly hoping you will read his mind and figure out what he wants by him staring at you and talking to you

Dogs are highly intelligent and they are always studying us, hence the stare. I don't think it means they don't love us enough. I think it is the opposite! They love us and are just trying to figure us out!
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Last edited by AthenaLove; 01-25-2019 at 06:59 PM.
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Old 01-25-2019, 07:16 PM
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I highly doubt he likes you the least- you do everything for him, you love him and he knows it. Dogs sense these things. But...you're a readily available resource, you're very familiar to him. He knows you're going to there for him all the time. If he acts different with you it just means he has a different relationship with you than others. Dont assume its in a negative way. The barking and nipping is probably just him being pushy about demanding attention. He might need more exercise or mental stimulation. Its also possible if you're really feeling down he sees that and is worried about you- and is trying to do something to help but doesnt know how. The other side is if you're pandering to your dog too much he might have learned to be pushy and bratty- barking and nipping. Learn to read your dog, how he's communicating with you. Its your job to figure out what he's telling you and go from there. And honestly, 9 month old males can just act like jerks at times. Think teenage boy.
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Old 01-25-2019, 07:16 PM
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True love...When your dog seeks comfort from you!

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Originally Posted by Shadowmom View Post
What really made an impression one was he recently was playing with another dog and they started running fast and chased each other. He misjudged a turn and ran into a concrete tunnel, slamming his hip hard into it. He immediately limped/ran to me and lay down for a few minutes, then got up and pushed his head right into my chest wanting hugs and reassurance.

If that's not a sign of love, racing right to me and asking for hugs when he's hurt, I don't know what is.

But it took over a year to get to this state with this dog. I took him everywhere and did everything for him since day one too. It took time and we both had past issues to get through.
Awwww that is so cool that your dog came straight to you when he got hurt!! And wanting hugs from you. Such trust, right?

My shy cautious Gracie dog will now bury her head in our hands, and sit in my lap upright and press against me tight wanting me to hug her and massage her like that. But boy did that take TIME!!!! Such a big deal for some dogs like mine who have so many issues and are cautious about everything.

@Shadowmom--Sounds like you guys have worked hard together and now have an awesome relationship. I love hearing things like this. It makes my day! Thanks!
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Old 01-25-2019, 07:46 PM
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Thanks Athenalove! It took a lot of time, frustration and hard work, and literally millions of bacon treats to get to this point with him.
He was an anxious aloof basket case when I got him from the shelter nearly three years ago. And a very defiant rebel. Escape artist, it took me an hour of more to catch him at the dog park EVERY night, and God help me if he didn't get his time at the dog park. He chewed up everything, including eight and a half leashes, barked and lunged at tall men, men with hats, bicycles, skateboards, anyone with big hair or anything on their heads, kids, toddlers, strollers, grocery carts, anyone who moved strangely, joggers, people dancing or roughhousing, construction workers (they wear helmets), chased my ancient horse until she kicked him in the chest, jumped out of my car, took off a harness, you name it.
And wouldn't give kisses, come back when called, if I dropped the leash for a split second he'd take off for an hour at full speed. He'd jump on people barking at them. Drag me everywhere chasing rabbits and squirrels and to meet every dog he saw.
I literally spent the first year debating whether to give him back to the shelter. But I couldn't.
I had to train him to give kisses with mayonnaise.
Now he's friendly and bold and loves everyone. Sleeps on my bed and cuddles up to me literally hugging me with his paws wrapped around me or holding my arms. Wants endless belly rubs and literally holds my hand down on his belly with his paw if I try to stop lol. Buries his head in my legs or chest and constantly leans on me or sits on me and follows me and does tons of tricks. Very sweet and now I realize how sensitive he is. It took me reading about dog behavior to learn the little ways he was seeking affection, than when I responded more he started doing more obvious things.

I also realized he might be sensitive to my mood and voice even when I didn't intend it to affect him. One time I was stressed and in a bad mood and on a long drive and there were a lot of irritating things happening with other drivers and traffic. He was in the car with me and I was literally just cursing and muttering about every irritating thing about the traffic or getting cut off or whatever. At some point I realized that he was cowering in the back as if I was yelling at him when I wasn't thinking about him at all just absorbed in my own problems. From then on I make more of an effort to talk to him in the car or put on music and not be negative all the time when he's with me.

Although we go everywhere now and people compliment me on how well behaved he is and I always start laughing since I was always the one with the embarrassing terrible dog before.
I've been dogsitting a lot the past few months and he finally is really good compared to some of the other dogs I've had. He's good and helps me with them lol. He always gets along with them and shows them how to behave. If they're a handful to walk I can even trust him to stay loose with us on the walk. A couple of years ago he'd have taken off to the next state.
I'll keep him lol.
I like reading about your bond with your dogs too and especially how far you've come with your fearful Gracie.
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Old 01-30-2019, 06:30 PM
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I dealt with a similar problem with my dog (also a pit mix). I thought I was doing everything right: I fed her, gave her treats, took her to the dog park, all that good stuff.

I really started to feel like we were getting somewhere when I started putting extra effort into training her. Now she rarely leaves my side
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