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I'll apologize for the long post now, I have a lot of questions for advice, any advice at all!
Background: I have a 5/6 year old PitLab mix. He's been owned by my family for 4 years, at my mother's until two weeks ago. The transition is- a learning process. Partly because for the last year i've been away from him and my mom's let him pick up some less than stellar habits. I live in Oregon, on a farm, and it's just my dad and I. We have a chain link fenced yard that's been compromised in one place. And I'm in the process of installing a shock border fence, which he's actually well trained to obeying. Very food motivated dog- if he wants to pay attention. And is obsessed with human attention.
1. Bathtime. Having an inside outside dog is great but the smell isn't. Mom was very lax on baths, but I insist on frequent baths, once a week. My dog is terrified of water. Running, still, anything more than a bowl put down for him, he doesn't like it and will shy away. I don't expect a water lover out of him- but when I take him to the bathroom he shakes and seems terrified. Any ideas how to help him enjoy it? Or advice for how to make it easier on him?
2. Home alone. This is a bt of a problem for him. Or it was? Then he got comfortable after the three year mark at my mom's. Now at my house, it's shakey. He's left marks on the door once, and occasionally I'll find a boot (mercifully not chewed on) or a hat (mine, not damaged) moved around for no reason? My current process is to take him to one of his beds, get him to sit, down, and stay, scratch his head and leave with as little ceremony as possible. But still- i come home to a frantic whining dog and tonight, for the first time to my knowledge, mysterious damp puddles in spite of a trip outside right before leaving and being alone for only a few hours. I just wonder if someone has a better idea for how to calm my nervous dog? If i give him toys- he doesn't touch them. Ball full of food and treats- he doesn't like them. He knocks it with his nose to get stuff out, and only does it when I prompt him to. He likes antlers and horns- when I'm home. Won't touch it without me in the house. Even his favorite treat biscuits, a rare treat, given as i get him to lay down will not be eaten until after I get home. Is there some secret to a calm dog? XD
3. Farm dog?
My dad and I would like to have him with us when we're outside offleash. He's doing okay about it- most of the time. Does anyone have any tips for a more reliable time? If he sees something he bolts and doesn't listen. If he smells something he won't come- even if it's because we're leaving.

I know he's a good dog, and trainable. Despite the multiple problems, he's actually much better than he was. He used to whine as often as he breathed. We've gotten him down to whining just as communication. Such as needing a trip out, or other things we need to know.
Any advice at all- on any of the above would be appreciated!

1,885 Posts
I am not a fan of shock-fences...

& even less-so than usual, given that this dog has multiple anxieties to cope with, sans shocks delivered to him when he approaches a physical boundary.
Zapping him definitely will not help ease his worries, & is likely to add more problem behaviors to the list of Things He Does That I / We Don't Like.

I'd strongly encourage repairing the physical fence, or even improving it - since it not only serves to keep him IN, it also is meant to keep other things OUT.

As U live on a farm, I presume U have livestock - these will attract the attention of predators, particularly during their lambing / calving season. How close are U to the Rocky Mt Front? - there's a free program that distributes corpses for the bears, well-away from human habitation, which eliminates a big draw & provides much-needed food for bears emerging from hibernation.
I would also keep any F who is close to term near the house, check her frequently or have a CC-TV camera with infrared vision to enable remote viewing & overnite checks.
When she's in labor, get her into a stout barn if possible to give birth, & clean up any uneaten placenta; discard it well-away from homes & stock, or burn it. Burying will not keep wild critters from finding it & digging it up. Avoiding up-close encounters with wildlife is a Good Idea, & not attracting them to Ur stock or any garbage, kitchen waste, etc, is one way to avoid conflict.

Composting is a great idea, but no animal products in the compost; chicken skins, beef bones, gristle, fat, etc. They attract rats, roaches, & various predators & omnivores that aren't especially welcome at close distances - such as skunks, & raccoons are pugnacious critters that fight ferociously with one another, cats, & dogs over any food or turf rights.

None of this may seem to involve the dog, LOL, but he's the very fella who's most liable to get in trouble with wildlife who come onto the property. :p
Keeping them at a distance minimizes the chance of conflict.

Also, i wouldn't advise off-leash romps with the dog outside a fence - Pitties & their crosses are predatory & excitable, U cannot be absolutely certain that in a given situation, he won't take off in pursuit of _______ - birds that flush underfoot, bear cubs or adults, fawns, deer of all ages, etc. Porcupines are especially lethal to dogs, & every single quill MUST come out, intact, as the barbed tips swim thru the body powered by muscle contraction, drilling a hole that is open to infection as they go, & can emerge a long, long way from where they entered.
A single quill or barb can enter the flew & exit the eyeball with devastating results, or tunnel from the jaw down the chest & exit the elbow - or puncture internal organs. // Avoiding quill-pigs & keeping dogs on leash in any area that hosts them is a priority. Also, don't think, "He'll learn..." in ref to porkies; i've seen dogs who got quilled annually many-times over, dogs seem to lose their minds in the presence of porcupines & cannot be called off, nor do they connect approaching them with being painfully stabbed by multiple needles, even when it's happened 3, 4, a dozen times.

To the dog's behaviors:
- I'm a fan of clean dogs, but why weekly baths?
Does he roll in cow-manure or fox-poo or carrion? - Labs & Pits are both smooth-coated breeds, & he shouldn't carry much crud in on him. If U or Ur father are allergic to pollens, etc, rinsing him off will get a lot of that microdebris out of his coat, & wiping his paws / legs each time as he enters will keep it out of the carpet & off the furniture.
My Akita was a therapy pet, & had to get a deep-clean bath every time she was going to visit, including ears cleaned, teeth brushed, clean between paw-pads & under claws, etc, but Ur dog is not visiting immuno-compromised folks & sitting on their laps or beds.
If he rolls in reeking stuff, i'd address the rolling & save the time spent removing Eau De Dead-Coon or Duck-Dropping Pomade. :eek:

- Get him accustomed to stepping into a DRY tub, on cue, as a 1st step.
Be sure there's a traction mat to give him security underfoot - slithery enamel is guaranteed to spook him, & he'll start to panic when he gets up on his claws & only slips worse than before. :eek: Extra-long tub mats with suction cups edge to edge are a good safety precaution, & reassure the dog.

Have him on leash, walk him into the bathroom with U, walk him back out... many times over, without doing anything. Wearing him into the bathroom every time U use the toilet or wash Ur hands would be a good idea - he's just getting used to entering & exiting, nothing bad happens.

When he enters the room without any resistance, start teaching him to step into the tub:
Place small, high value treats on the edge of the tub - let him scarf them up, 1 at a time. Then TOSS small, high-value treats into the tub, 1st close by, then further & further away. Have the door closed, & be prepared to wait him out - don't pressure him, have a book, sit on the lid of the toilet, read.
Let him get over his worries on his own time.
The 1st time he steps onto the edge, or into the tub, warm, sincere, continuous praise, in a low-pitched tone, & A JACKPOT: a series of super-good, pea-sized or half-pea sized tidbits, each given as fast as he swallows the previous one. Anything from 6 to a dozen is fine - we're making an impression, jackpots are for big leaps & any initial grasp of new concepts.
Then leave the bathroom, & let him think about that overnite; continue taking him along on toilet trips, etc, but don't ask him to enter the tub, or step onto the tub-rim - just in & out, no demands.

NEXT DAY - again, put a tidbit or 2 on the tub edge, then drop one inside... & wait. Have the book along, let him think [with the door shut]. When he steps onto the edge, or into the tub, again warm praise, JACKPOT - & leave. // Let this simmer overnight, he needs time to process it.

By the 3rd day, U might be able to lure him into the tub with one tidbit in a baited hand - we're building a cue, here; don't be upset if he can't or won't do it, give him 10 to 20 seconds to consider it with the bait just out of reach; ONE PAW on the tub edge gets the goody, he need not step all the way in, any movement toward or onto is rewarded!
Stop on a happy note, leave. // Continue having him along on all toilet trips; bringing a stuffed Kong in & letting him snack, lying on a rug, while U shower would probly be helpful, too. This is all about re-making his associations with the bathroom as a scary place where he's forced into the tub & water is sprayed on him, while he shakes in terror.

Let us know when U've gotten this far - then we'll move on to an actual bath. :thumbsup:

- terry

1,885 Posts
re home alone...

I'd invest in an airline-approved shipping crate - used is fine, they last for a decade or 2, & are easy to sanitize.
Shipping crates are the gold standard for transporting pets; they are tested for burst-strength under impact, & will not fold, impale the dog, bend & be impossible to open / trapping the dog, collapse & crush the dog, etc, as wire crates can & do [wire crates ARE NOT for transport, they are dangerous to the occupant & all other passengers, as every wire is a potential skewer].

Buying one used will save U about half the new-retail cost, & is well worth it; don't worry if one or more stubby bolts or butterfly nuts is missing, they are cheap & easily replaced.
CraigsList, eBay, GumTree, & similar classified-ad sites are all possible sources; a local vet with a bulletin board might be a helpful venue, post a wanted ad - lots of folks get rid of them once the pup is housetrained, which is a shame for them, but good for Other Folks. :p

WHen U get it home, wash it thoroughly in the tub with a scrub-brush & hose it off, stand it in the tub to dry, & wipe it inside & out with non-toxic sanitizer. // Use quaternary solution of plain chlorine bleach, 1 pint bleach to 1 gallon of water, only if U have nothing else. "Method" makes nice non-toxic all-purpose spray cleaners, Target carries their whole line.

Once clean & dry, Use the crate for meals:
PROP THE DOOR open with a fat book, so it cannot possibly swing & pinch his waist as the floor flexes underfoot! - then simply put the bowl inside & lift the door end, sliding the bowl to the back wall. Let the dog enter on his own terms, & leave him to it.
Twice daily meals = twice daily in the crate. Don't latch the door - just let him eat in peace.

Then encourage naps, etc, with the door open; toss long-lasting chewies in there, such as cow hooves, antlers, pizzles, etc. // Once he's completely relaxed in the crate, begin closing the door, at 1st when he's having a meal -
latch the door after he enters, & let him eat, but stay in the room; as soon as he's finished, open the door. Don't make him wait & get anxious - let him out immediately.

Having him sleep in the crate at night is also a good way to make associations of security & calm; don't PUT him in it, last thing before bed, lure him in with a tossed tidbit, latch the door when he enters, & go to bed.
If he's accustomed to sleeping upstairs or in a bedroom, fine - the crate makes a great bedside table, a lamp, books, his leash, etc, can all sit on the roof. :)

by this time, he should be very comfy in his crate; stuff a Kong & freeze it overnight for the next day's departure, & just before leaving the house, toss the Kong into the crate, latch the door, & go.
He won't be gnawing the furnishings or roam room to room looking out the windows, he'll be happily working on the meal in his Kong.
He should be quite calm when U get home. :thumbsup:

- terry
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