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Please help us! Our obsessive dog is becoming more anxious and aggressive towards other animals and people. My wife (originally her dog) and I have a 6 year old pit mix. Since I've know my wife (he's her dog), he has this obsessive need to play fetch ALL OF THE TIME. And his obsession has gotten much worse over the past two years, especially the last year. It's pretty extreme. We have increased his activity level. We walk him every day unless it's raining too hard, and take him to the park once a week. He has arthritis, so he can't run too hard for too long like he did when he was younger, but he's always physically worn out at the end. However, as soon as we get home he wants to play fetch again regardless of how tired he is. Unfortunately, he only wants to play when outside, and walking him can be difficult. He literally cannot just sit outside and chill like other dogs, he has to be playing fetch all of the time. It seems that his obsession with fetch has gotten worse since increasing his outdoor activity. He literally wants my wife (and now even me) to play fetch from sun up til sundown. He can lay there and chew and lick his kong ball for hours, in this trance, while trying to force my wife to play with him. He will chew that thing to pieces, and sometimes tries to eat the bits he bites off. She will play gentle fetch (kick his kong ball to him or toss it up in the air) with him in our apartment, which I disapprove of. He will do this for hours. If you try to ignore him or use his "enough" command, he will try to ignore us and whine nonstop until we put his ball away. When we put it away, he will continue to whine very loudly and will start panting and yawning. From there he will try to race to his water bowl to drink as much water as possible so that we will have to take him out multiple times or until he vomits. We seriously have to pull his water to keep this from happening. Sometimes he will just vomit from being too excited.

When his ball is gone, his anxiety is much worse. I know he's got extreme anxiety issues. He is a compulsive licker, which again, has gotten worse in the past two years with a spike in the past year. He can lick himself until he has bald spots, and he tries to lick the floor and furniture unless you tell him multiple times to stop. Even spraying his paws (and carpet) with bitter pet spray doesn't stop him. When you command him to stop and he listens, he will yawn and pant or just drop his head for a few minutes before starting all over again. We live in a tiny one-bedroom apartment with our cat as well. She came into the relationship with me, the dog with my wife. When he wants attention (which he constantly has), is bored, is anxious, etc, he will try to antagonize/chase (with that trance-like stare) my cat to force her to run away, thus causing her extreme anxiety as well. She has developed a bladder infection in the past due to stress caused by him. I am TERRIFIED that he will try to kill her one day. Now, he tries to lunge at/maybe even attack other dogs in our building and outside. He now very aggressively barks at some men and children in our building. He seems to be ok with adult women, like my wife and I and our lady friends. She and I are completely lost on what to do. It doesn't help that my wife is very defensive whenever I try to talk about his problem behaviors, even though she has admitted that getting him as a puppy was a mistake.

It's clear that he's miserable, depressed and anxious all of the time regardless of how much attention we give him. We can't even have guests over because of his energy and stressful behaviors which shot through the roof in front of guests. I am terrified that he will end up attacking someone, their dog or even me one day. He and I don't get along. When my wife and I hug or kiss or sit together, he tries to break us up. If we're on the couch, he'll whine at her until she sits on his dog bed with him. This goes on for hours, with her constantly moving between the couch and the floor. This is causing strain between my wife and I as well. When I'm walking around doing my thing around the apartment, I'll look up to see him staring at me nonstop. It's not a "come play with me stare". I feel as though it's a challenge, so I stare back until he breaks his stare and looks away. I am tired of doing this. I don't like staring at him and saying commands at him all of the time, but I know he sees me as the alpha in which he is in competition with. We need help. I'm at the point where home isn't a restful place for me anymore.
 

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Poor guy! & poor you having to deal with this!

Glad you have realised that he is severely anxious, not just doing it for fun or to be annoying or such. I would actually start with a trip to the vet to get him checked out & on some meds. While i dont like the idea of anyone on long term anxiety meds, esp if the *actual* problems arent addressed, sometimes... And id also be looking for a good behavioural specialist to help you help him. Below is general training stuff, assuming its not a serious mental thing, as it sounds.

Number one, i would take his aggression seriously. Ensure the cat can stay away from him, keep him away from other animals & people, & if you must have him close to them, id keep him muzzled. Hopefully his anxiety & aggression can be 'fixed' or at least greatly reduced, so these arent permanent measures.

It is likely its increased due to his life changes - he was in a bad way anyway (all his life?) and now hes forced to share his woman with you - and i would ABSOLUTELY NOT CHALLENGE HIM by staring him down or otherwise - this could well provoke an attack!

He sounds like a working dog with his obsessive play drive. Normally its just about teaching a dog consistently that behaviours wont work; enough means end of game. Period. Always. Whining, drinking water, being outside etc NEVER work to get his own way. Unfortunately, if hes learned otherwise for years, it will be a very hard behaviour to break & WILL get worse before he stops. Like a spoilt kid in a lolly shop 'I wanna!' If theyve learned it gets them what they want eventually, they will do it all the more!

The water thing could be 'just' another obsessive compulsive thing, but there is also some disease that causes dogs to do this, so get that checked out too.

I dont get the comment wife admits she shouldnt have got him as a puppy - is this because he showed extreme behaviours even then? Or the situation was not conducive to bringing up a well adjusted dog, or...?
 
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