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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all!
My husband and I adopted a 1 year old lab/hound mix about a week ago. We adopted her from a shelter where she came in as a stray about a month ago. She has a very sweet temperament, loves to cuddle, house trained and knows some basic commands- although she has been testing her boundaries with us and wont always listen. Because of her past, she has some fears and one being other dogs. She will bark aggressively and get out of control at times when she feels she is in danger. She pulls aggressively on the leash when we walk her and because of her strength, I actually physically can't do the walking. We are working on her with training, but I cant help by feel completely overwhelmed. When my husband isn't home, I get very anxious about being alone with her during pee breaks in the backyard- not because Im afraid of her, Im just worried about her reaction when the neighbors dog is out, etc.

My husband grew up with dogs his whole life so none of these issues phase him. He is very comfortable, assertive, calm and positive with her. I follow his lead, but I have never had a dog before (I grew up with cats) so this whole experience has been stressing me out.

My question is that I'm wondering if these feelings are normal? As I type this, she is laying with her head on my lap. She is such a sweet dog and I dont want to give up on helping her through her anxieties... but as 'ignorant' as it may sound, I never knew it was going to be this hard.

Any advice, words of wisdom, assurance, etc is very much appreciated! :)
 

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Oh boy. I know how you feel!!

You should check out my second post here. My boy had a lot of problems as well, still does. It does get easier with time; you figure out how to manage.

I'm leaving work right now so I can offer you much more advice and encouragement when I have time to type it all out :) But for now, do you have any schools in your area that deal with behavioral issues in a positive way? It may not hurt to have someone teach you how to watch your dog's behavior and manage situations. Your husband may be great with her, maybe he can help, but sometimes if you can find a really great trainer they can explain and teach you better than a family member can!
 

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I have returned :)

With basic commands, did you teach her these or was it someone else? Dogs really don't generalize well, so the times you think she isn't listening she may not actually know what you want from her. She may know that "sit" means sit in your living room, for example, but not outside or in any other room of the house.

It can also get more difficult if she's distracted by someone else - for example, she probably won't sit as easily when she's reacting to another dog.

Loose-leash walking is something that can be worked on. Do you walk her on a collar or a harness? I have found that my dog just walks better on a harness; no idea why, but it's worth a shot. There are lots of videos on YouTube as to how to teach loose leash walking; just stay away from jerking the leash or any sort of aversive tool like choke chains or prong collars and you should be fine.

As for the reactivity - it's a pain, I know. I've had some success with counter conditioning; it's pretty easy to do. Essentially, bring some really delicious treats along with you and when you see another dog - treats; when the dog leaves the treats leave. You can also look up Look At That training, which is similar and has also been helpful.

Just be sure to keep her under threshold - if she sees the other dog and isn't barking/growling/lunging, you're fine. The second she reacts, you're too close.

I do think a trainer would be beneficial, especially for the reactivity. Again, just be sure to stay away from anyone who wants to use aversive methods. They can create more problems than they solve especially in reactive dogs.

I do promise that once you get into a routine, life will get easier. It's normal to feel anxiety with a new pet and when you have behavioral issues as well it's 100x worse. But you've done her a great service by bringing her home, and I know you'll be happy soon! Just hang on!
 

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I think you are in good company here, many of us have had that feeling! When we adopted Betsy nearly 4 years ago now, although there was no question she would go back to rescue, I found the first week quite stressful & did question what I had done! Betsy cried for four days, even when we were in the house with her! She was unsure of her new surroundings & boy was that hard. Then she had surgery to remove some very bad teeth, & I spent the whole day worrying about her, that's when I knew I loved her & she settled down after that (she had obviously been in some discomfort). It's early days for you & your dog, give it time as well as following the great advice you have been given on this forum. Best wishes :)
 

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I think you are in good company here, many of us have had that feeling! When we adopted Betsy nearly 4 years ago now, although there was no question she would go back to rescue, I found the first week quite stressful & did question what I had done! Betsy cried for four days, even when we were in the house with her! She was unsure of her new surroundings & boy was that hard. Then she had surgery to remove some very bad teeth, & I spent the whole day worrying about her, that's when I knew I loved her & she settled down after that (she had obviously been in some discomfort). It's early days for you & your dog, give it time as well as following the great advice you have been given on this forum. Best wishes :)
yes, yes, and yes.. very much agree with you... takes a little time and things will get better.. sadly they don't get better over night!
 

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Totally normal!!!! I just adopted the sweetest puppy in the universe, much much easier to do everything with than the pup I adopted 2 years ago, so I thought this would be a piece of cake. But now that she's injured herself and is on 2-months forced crate rest, everything that was going so easily has been turned on its ear, and I'm stressing out big time all over again. It will settle down -- I know this, but it's still not easy to remind myself sometimes -- and a routine will develop, and then you'll feel less anxious about the whole situation. If you can take her yourself through some basic dog training classes, it helps form a really good bond between you and the dog even if she already knows some of the commands. And I always learn something new in every class. Good luck with your new pup :)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I appreciate your replies so far.

Things are still a struggle. I haven't felt this emotional/anxious since...well probably since high school! I really hope as more time goes on, her anxieties will decrease and I will be able to develop a bond with her.
 

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Hi. I came across this having one looking for help myself.

We picked up our first dog from a rescue home in the UK on Tuesday. He is a Cavalier King Charles, aged 7 called Robin. He is adorable. My wife has wanted a dog for years and since starting to work from home, I recently came round to the idea to give me some company. We have an old cat (20) who just pretty much sleeps on one chair and while she's company in terms of someone else in the house, it isn't the same and I was getting to feel quite lonely; hence feeling a dog was right.

Boy, do I feel like I've made the most terrible decision of my whole life right now. I have tears streaming down my face as I type this. I've had two panic attacks this week where I can hardly breath and I am feeling so low and depressed.

Robin couldn't be better. He sleeps on his bed when told (pretty much). He hasn't chewed anything, hasn't gone to the toilet in the house. He couldn't be better. The stress has come from introducing him to the cat which we knew wouldn't be easy but I under-estimated how hard it would feel. He has barked at the cat and tried to chase her.

I truly don't know why I'm feeling so low. I was so depressed and lonely beforehand maybe I was hoping getting Robin would be a miracle cure. I'm finding having to take him for walks a hassle rather than an enjoyable experience. I've even been going for a walk myself on the weeks leading up to getting a dog and I used to love going out. I now just find it a chore.

I know. I'm a horrid human being. I haven't particularly looked at other posts on here so don't know if I'm going to be abused or helped but I truly feel awful and so selfish that maybe I got Robin for all the wrong reasons. I see him as a hassle and noose around my neck right now. I'm not eating. Not sleeping. Being sick. Crying.

I know it's early days but I just have never felt this low and not in control in my whole life. I look at Robin and see a chore in my life; I look at our cat and see something I love and care for. Yes, I've known Robin for 3 days and the cat for 15 years (my wife had her 5 years before we met for anyone doing the maths above). Did I just get swept up in the initial emotion at the rescue centre when we met him? Have I made the worst decision of my life? All I can think is can I take him back to the rescue centre and what will they think of me and what will my friends think of me.

I'd take any advice right now. My wife has been so supportive. I think she feels slightly guilty as it was her who initially wanted a dog and raised the idea. The rescue centre have given us plenty of advice on how to introduce him to the cat, but I just haven't had the guts to tell them how I really feel. I don't know if I'm just not cut out to be a dog owner or whether the stress of the cat is the cause. If something happens to the cat because of this, I would never be able to live with myself.

I'm writing this to see if it helps me talk about it and hear other experiences and also so anyone else reading this in my situation at least knows that they are not alone.

Would love to know how the original poster is getting on.

Thanks for listening.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
jdmartin: I know exactly how you feel because I feel the exact same way! I thought getting a dog would be this great adventure, but instead I feel depressed and anxious. I have had crying fits probably every night for the past week and I don't see it improving. Im starting to wonder if Im just not a dog person- that then makes me freak out because I think about how my dog will be with us for at least 10 more years and I start to panic over that!

I know this isn't offering you any advice, but know you are not alone!
 

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It will get better, you just have to give it some time. Take lots of breaks by yourself - have someone else watch your dog. Make a list of things you have to get done daily (ex. feed your dog, a walk, potty breaks, short playtime) and wing everything else based on how you feel, for now.

The disruption in routine is what makes you feel the way you do. I cried daily when I first got Chisum, because it was an entirely new routine - on top of the fact that he had behavioral problems and refused to interact with anyone but me (so I couldn't pass him off and take a break).

There were times I thought I'd never bond with him, that I had made a massive mistake. I wanted a dog that could go to dog parks and friends' houses, and that wasn't what I got at all.

But, a year later and I can't imagine life without him. He's a doll. He's still got issues - tons of them - but I love him and am going to work through them and see where we end up. No more tears. There are days I feel frustrated, I think that's the nature of having a dog, but I don't regret him for a second.

Hugs to both of you. It's hard now, but it'll get better. Promise.
 

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Oh, you guys... just first... ((( HUGS ))))

I just posted a big post on my own feelings of being overwhelmed, lol. I'm beginning to realize this is all very, very normal. I feel weird giving advise since I'm basically in the same spot, but ... it's going to get better for you both. I know it because I've been in both of your situations with my first dog.

Riley is fear-aggressive to people. It is a very hard thing to cope with because if your dog bites a human it is almost always put down. I put a LOT of work in with him and after 5 years have finally gotten to the point where he is fine around people as long as they ignore him or don't just immediately try to pet him right away. And even then he gives lots of warnings that he's uncomfortable, and he won't bite. But in the beginning it was very difficult and I lived in fear of meeting people while out on walks, especially kids since many are not taught that you ASK FIRST before just petting a dog. But again, with dedication, love, and lots of routine, Riley is alright now - not cured, but alright - and actually prefers kids over adults since they generally less threatening to him. Unless they are loud and unruly anyway.

My husband and I started our pet life together with two cats. They were 7 and 5 when we first brought home Riley, and had never seen a dog before. Up close anyway. Asia, our oldest, is much more confident than Zoe, the youngest, and she came around within a few days. Now she torments Riley for the fun of it. Zoe took a good 3 months before she finally came around, and that experience was utterly HEARTBREAKING. Zoe was my shadow before getting Riley. She went everywhere I went and slept on my head at night. Riley bonded hard and fast to me, so for the 3 months that Zoe put herself on self imposed exile, she would literally HOWL the most heart wrenching howl from the top of the stairs and then peer down at me as if to say "why, Mama?? WHY???". She only came to eat and use the litter box when she was absolutely certain that Riley was asleep in his crate. I thought I had totally broken the spirit of my sweetheart cat, but one day, three months later, she slinked downstairs while we were all out watching TV, and jumped up on my lap. Riley got excited and ran up to her, but she hissed and batted and then jumped up to sit on the back of the couch behind me. And from then on, she stayed in his presence more and more. Now, they sleep together. He loves his kitty and she tolerates him, lol.

So, I can tell you for sure that IT WILL BE OK! Don't give up hope.

Melly, just keep working with your pup - she will get better. I too would recommend finding a trainer to work with because they can give you peace of mind and show you some tips and pointers.

JD, Robin and your kitty will come around... it has only been a few days. Robin may never have seen a cat before in his life! He will eventually get used to the fact that kitty exists and will stop barking and chasing. But have to give it a little bit... it doesn't happen over night. As for feeling like walking is a chore... been there too. Am there now. We just adopted a second dog and since we crate her while we are at work, she HAS to be walked EVERY MORNING rain or shine, for at least a mile and a half. I hate walking in subdivisions, I prefer forest preserves, but for these morning walks it's too early to go to the preserve, so sub it is. And that just adds to my overall view of the unpleasantness. But, I keep telling myself that it's good for us both. And Riley, my first dog... he loves the walks too.

It will get better... I promise!! ♥
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
jdmartin- if it helps, everyone I have talked to says it does get better in time. I have owned cats my whole life and for me, they are great companions and offer so much love! I think getting a dog is a huge life adjustment- even if they are well behaved.

My cat is 8 years old and very territorial. We are very slowly introducing the dog to her. I have her set up in a room upstairs (litter, bed, food, water) and the dog roams downstairs. During the day I put a baby gate up at the stairs so the cat can wonder out of the room if she pleases (although she tends to just sleep most of the day anyway). Each day my husband and I get them to interact by just removing the gate and having them in the same area. At first my cat would growl/hiss and run away, but after 7 days of daily interactions she is getting more comfortable. She's still very nervous around the dog, but she is adjusting. I feel guilty about taking her space away, but cats are adaptable and I make sure I spend some time cuddling/hugging her every day. It will take time and sometimes, it could take weeks or months!

If I have learned anything this week, it's that patience is key.

I understand your feelings of "maybe I'm not a dog person" because I have been feeling the same way. My husband has always wanted a dog and is already bonded to our new addition. Like your wife, he is being very supportive and feels bad it is causing me to feel low. Im hoping as the weeks go by, things will adjust and settle. As you fall into a routine, your bond with the dog will grow too Im sure. Hang in there!
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
PoppyKenna- your words of wisdom and assurance are wonderful. Thank you so much! The whole "I made a massive mistake" is how I feel right now too. I am going to stick it out not only for the dog, but for my husband who is absolutely in love with Kinzie already.

Storm 226- thank you! Your Zoe sounds just like my cat Tarja. She was my buddy and now I feel terrible I have her secluded in a room. I feel good reading that while it took a few months, your dog and cat can now co-exist together! That's the point Im looking forward to. Thank you for the virtual hugs too- they help!
 

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Oh guys. Your words are so comforting. I'm filling up again as I type this but it's reassuring to know that my feelings are not exclusive! I still can't get the feeling of regret out of my head but I guess both introducing him to the cat and getting used to the extra responsibility will take many weeks.

Storms - your words about feeling like you abandoned your cat really rang true. Right now I feel so selfish towards the cat.

I still can't help but constantly feeling it's the worst decision of my life but all your words at least make me try and stay positive. I'm glad I joined this community.

Hugs to anyone reading this.
 

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Today is no better, in fact worse. I haven't eaten and pretty much cried constantly. My wife is now upset as she doesn't know what to do and I can see it upsetting her which makes me feel sick with worry.

I feel so tiny, stupid and overwhelmed. I just can't look at Robin with any love and all I feel is resentment.

All I can think about is how to talk to the rehoming centre to ask them to take him back and then get filled with pity for Robin as to what that would put him through.

Everyones says be patient. I know. I just need to find a way to do it.
 

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JDMartin,

Sending you my best wishes and hopes. What I'm sensing from you is more than just the "new dog blues." You sound very depressed and I'm hoping that you will pursue treatment for it. Please see your doctor if you haven't already and seek help from a therapist.

In terms of the dog, I'd suggest taking it day by day rather than thinking of a long commitment. Also please talk with your wife about having her take on more of the daily responsibilities. Take care and good luck!
 

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JD -- If you can, take a day to yourself, away from the house. Pick a day when your wife can stay home with Robin, and go and do something that you enjoy. Just getting a bit of space and a "vacation" can help significantly with situations like this.

I also echo what SusanLynn said -- You said you were depressed before you got Robin. Please, please, find someone to talk to this about. My husband and I also struggle with anxiety and depression, and having someone to talk with about it has been a huge help, as has finding good medication. Take care of yourself.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
JD: Take a deep breath. I understand how you are feeling and I have felt some of the exact same feelings throughout my first week with our dog Kinzie.We are now going into week 2 and while I still feel overwhelmed and a twinge of regret (mainly due to my routine being changed and the added responsibility) I am slowly adjusting. I woke up today, slightly annoyed, that I have another day of working with the dog on behaviour. But, I got up and tried to project a more positive outlook.

My husband stayed home from work yesterday to work with me and the dog. We spent time together playing and doing some training. It really made me feel more bonded with the dog. While I still don't feel that strong bond that I have with my cat, I can see in the future how it will grow.

I know you said that Robin is a good dog, but have you thought about looking into a private training for some basic lessons or a refresher course. I ask only because training together with your dog can help you develop a bond.

What does your wife say about all this? Is she bonded with Robin?

Believe me, I totally understand your feelings. The resentment towards the dog is something I am feeling as well. But the more I look into these feelings, the more it seems to be a normal response for some people (especially first time dog owners) and the advice everyone gives is really to give it time. It may take some effort on your part to change your attitude and try to accept this new addition to your family.

((GIANT HUGS))
 

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Hi jd, hi melly,

I feel exactly the same. I adopted a dog one week ago and it turned out he is a reactive dog, barking at people, dogs and even when he hears sounds.

I am afraid that I cannot handle it, that I cannot leave him alone and that I'm stuck in that situation forever. My husband is a great support and he tells me when I am crying or really think I can't take it anymore that I have to take some time off.

Even taking a walk alone, meeting a friend or pushing myself to get some work done helps a lot.

I've been crying a lot in the last days and I was thinking about searching him a new home. Also because I thought I'm alone with this and everybody else is handling adoptions so well. Since I found this forum I feel so much better and not alone anymore. Thanks, guys!
 
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