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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello, I am coming here in tears, having finally confessed the above to my partner, and realizing I HAVE TO find a way to change, soon. Ill start by saying; its not the dog, it's me.

Some background; I have had two dogs before in my life; a pitbull mix rescue who I had for ten years before he succumbed to cancer, and an olde English bulldogge who died of kidney disease at age 3. The loss of the bulldog was devastating and I swore I would never again own a breed known for having health issues. We began to search for a "healthy dog", really looking for a breed known to be healthy, long-lived, and full of life, after nearly a year of a dog on deaths door. Sum it up, we got a RAT TERRIER puppy. His name is Chase. He came from an excellent breeder, champion bloodlines, and has been cleared for a variety of genetic problems. He is one healthy pup.

Now, here is my HUGE MISTAKE. I did not think at all about what I wanted in a dogs behaviour. I was just thinking about health. Now, one year later, we have an extremely hyper little dog. His behaviour is fine, really. He listens, he is not destructive. He can be really loud, but that's part of the breed. His personality is a mix of extremely hyper/extremely sensitive, with a mix of nervous timidity. Very different than my previous dogs and I have a really, really hard time relating to him. His energy level drives me nuts, and while I SWEAR I HAVE NEVER HIT/ABUSED HIM in any way, I have yelled at him when I lose my temper, and he gets very upset by this. He shakes a lot, especially if I make eye contact with him. He is very submissive towards me, which actually annoys me. I have never hit him but he acts like I am going to. This is what really bothers me about him. When I get home from work he begins shaking and running around with a tucked tail, rather than coming to greet me. I hate that. My partner spoils him and treats him like a human baby. I hate that too. We argue a lot over how to treat the dog. Basically we have "good cop/bad cop" and I'm the bad cop.

I try my best to keep Chase exercised, with a flirt pole, walks, trips to the park. He is impossible to tire out though, I havn't succeeded in tiring him completely yet. He could go go go all day. The breeder was hesistant to sell to us cause we don't have a yard. I know why now and wish I took this more seriously.

I don't know where I'm going here, anymore. I just fully admit I made a mistake, and don't know what to do.
We DO NOT want to get rid of the dog. We would never do that. But I need help. I don't know what kind. Its a problem with me more than the dog. I dunno, anyone else experienced a similar situation!?! What could I do to bond more with this dog and not be so frustrated by his (totally normal for his breed) behaviour? I messed up bad and have to make the most of it now. If I could get to the point where he is happy to see me, that would help immensely! He is just trying to be a good, submissive pack member I guess he sees me as the 'alpha', but he really doesn't need to grovel so much...it is having opposite effect than he desires! If I call him to me he does so practically crawling on his belly, shaking and licking lips. If we didn't have him from 8 weeks Id swear iup and down he was horribly abused before. He has never been corrected any worse than yelled at and check with leash.

oh and he acts the same way to dominant/larger dogs, very grovvely, submissive, meek
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
p.s I think Chase may be just physically intimidated by me too?? He is 12lbs. I am 6'3 220lbs with a deep voice. I am gay though lol he really shouldn't be intimidated! My partner is shorter with higher pitched voice. Chase absolutely melts for women too. I try to put on a cutesy voice for him and act non-threatening as possible but he doesn't buy it.
 

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I have yelled at him when I lose my temper, and he gets very upset by this. He shakes a lot, especially if I make eye contact with him. He is very submissive towards me, which actually annoys me. I have never hit him but he acts like I am going to. This is what really bothers me about him. When I get home from work he begins shaking and running around with a tucked tail, rather than coming to greet me. I hate that. My partner spoils him and treats him like a human baby. I hate that too. We argue a lot over how to treat the dog. Basically we have "good cop/bad cop" and I'm the bad cop.
Firstly, throw out the idea of "alpha/dominance/submission". That garbage has been scientifically discredited for over a decade. The individuals in a group that people refer to as 'alpha' are really only the parents of the rest of the individuals in the group. They actually don't assert power over any others and very rarely, if ever, squabble over resources. Once you can accept that very common mindset is total hogwash in the real world, you will be on a better track.

I don't know why you're so surprised that your dog is behaving like this. Dogs can be sensitive. Yelling at a dog, especially a smaller dog, can be just as aversive as beating them. All the dog learns from either is to fear you, and that's what you have been teaching him. You have trained him to be afraid of you whenever you yell at him, so he is just responding "appropriately". Eye contact is something that most dogs are uncomfortable with; it is very pressuring and can be threatening. Behavior and body language is a great thing to become familiar with.


I try my best to keep Chase exercised, with a flirt pole, walks, trips to the park. He is impossible to tire out though, I havn't succeeded in tiring him completely yet. He could go go go all day. The breeder was hesistant to sell to us cause we don't have a yard. I know why now and wish I took this more seriously.
Dogs need mental exercise just as much as they need the physical. Mental stimulation is just as important, if not more-so, than physical exercise. It is also often more tiring than physical exercise. Training, puzzles, and other stimulation could very well go a long way with an energetic dog, especially a Terrier breed.


He is just trying to be a good, submissive pack member I guess he sees me as the 'alpha', but he really doesn't need to grovel so much...it is having opposite effect than he desires! If I call him to me he does so practically crawling on his belly, shaking and licking lips. If we didn't have him from 8 weeks Id swear iup and down he was horribly abused before. He has never been corrected any worse than yelled at and check with leash.
Again, throw out those "alpha/dominance/submission" ideas. He's not trying to be a good pack member, he is flat out terrified of you. He does not see you as a parent figure, which is what an 'alpha' actually is, he sees you as a threat to his safety. His body language makes that extremely obvious.

Stop the yelling. Stop leash correcting.
At this point I would advise seeing a behaviorist and/or a positive reinforcement only trainer. Someone who is willing to work with you to show you how to train your dog without hurting or scaring him out of his wits.

When all else fails, I'm sorry to say that you may want to consider returning him to the breeder. Most good breeders will take back a dog that cannot be kept. There is no shame in asking for that if you can't handle your dog.
 

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well. terrier can be special and pretty tiring especially if you had more relaxed dogs like a bully breed before. Some of them have a lot of pepper in their behind. XD
that's quite a change.

some dogs are intimidated by size and a deep voice. it is also not unusual for a dog to act very different towards different members of the family. I grew up with sisters and while we are very similiar, our old dog, Teo made big difference in behaviour between us. He was a lot more submissig with me and my dad than with the rest of the family.
i think more than treating him for being near you and staying as untreatening as possible only time can help with that.

have you looked into dogsports? doing stuff together and achieving things together builds up the relationship, it is fun for both of you and he learns to relate you with positive things.
I've seen terriers doing dog dancing and agility for example.
terriers are pretty smart. :)
 

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You're yelling at him, you're scaring him. As you said, he's 12 pounds and not very tall, you are huge and scary. If you were yelling at me, and then told me to come over to you, I probably wouldn't.

I'm going to mention @RoughDiamond because I believe she has a rat terrier, and can hopefully weigh in with some helpful advice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I don't yell at him on a daily basis, it's just I have in the past and he really takes it to heart. I know I have to work on that, I do try. I have one of those squeezy stress ball things that I go and throttle when I am frustrated. I don't mean I sit there and scream at him. Most recent was thanksgiving and he launched himself into grandmas lap, I yelled "NO" before I knew what I was doing, and he got off and shook, then rest of family coddled him like "oooo its ok baby mean man yelled at you". This is how the rest of the world reacts to him too....kissy kissy cuddles and "ooo poor baby scared of big mean man oooo what did he do to you?" I hate that :(

SO yes controlling my temper is priority #1.
I should try dog sports. I am clumsy and uncoordinated though, we did obedience when he was puppy and I stepped on him during heel traning and he screamed bloody murder. I think that's when he first realized "this guy can hurt me". Something where I can cheer from the sidelines would be great. Or where the dog can work at distance from you. I have bad knees and cannot run or turn quickly, so dunno if I'd be able to do agility.

finally, I was brought up with sub/alpha/pack leader dog thing...if this is all considered baloney now, I gotta lots of learning to do....
 

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Hi SadOwner,

First of all, I really want to welcome you to the Dog Forum. I think it's terrific that you're asking for assistance, and I hope that you'll come away with some sound advice.

To start out, I'd like to suggest that you watch this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIjMBfhyNDE

Unfortunately, dominance-based training has made a come-back with the popularity of the "Dog Whisperer," but clearly this "good-cop/ bad-cop" "I'm the alpha" approach isn't working for you at all. It's time to ditch it completely.

A popular on-line positive reinforcement trainer is Zac George. Here he also talks about different training methods:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33mLzcOU5wM

You may not have used a shock collar or struck your dog, but your dog clearly is intimated by how you've been interacting with him. This thread will give you more insights on your dog's behavior:

http://www.dogforum.com/training-behavior-stickies/suppression-modification-shutdown-fallout-4776/

So, where to go from here? First, I would suggest working with a positive reinforcement trainer or behaviorist who can observe your interaction with your dog and help you create a more positive bond. I'd also encourage you to learn more about canine behavior and psychology. An excellent book to read is:

Culture Clash: Jean Donaldson: 9781617811128: Amazon.com: Books


Good luck and keep asking questions!
 

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Yelling or scary but non-physical behavior can be as scary as any beating from the dog's point of view. Especially when there is such large difference in size when your dog is tiny. Also, if the corrections are unlogical/inconsistent, it is very confusing and scary to the dog.

The paragraph above made me think about Jean Donaldsons book The Other End of the Leash which I'm re-reading now and it occurred to me that maybe you should read it too.She keeps repeating how human behavior can be misinterpreted by dogs in so many ways and how our natural body language and behavior differs from dogs.

You cannot tire an energetic dog. They would keep running all day long. They would never admit they are tired and some might even run 'til they're dead. What if you'd give your dog some calming exercise? Make him use his head and nose. Teach him to find a scent or to search his food. Teach him calm tricks by clicker training.

If you are looking for a sport, I'd suggest rally obedience. Lots of heeling though, but you must train yourself and your dog so that accidents do not happen. some dog s are quite sensitive, I once met a water dog that had to be trained to heel all over again because its handler accidentally stepped on its toe and it got scared.

Clicker training would also open a positive way to improve your relationship. Your dog can actually success with you and enjoy your presence.
 

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I'm going to assume you mean Thanksgiving last year? That's a long while. Dogs do tend to have very amazing, if somewhat selective, long term memory. You can easily start rebuilding trust with positive experiences. From the way you described the situation, it really feels like a vicious cycle. You got angry at the dog for whatever reason and yelled at him, causing him to fear you, which in turn made you even more annoyed and frustrated with his fearful behavior.

I honestly dislike when people coddle their dogs like small children. I mean, I'll cuddle my animals and do baby speak just to be funny in private, but I don't do the whole overprotective coddling thing with excessively high-pitched baby talk. I believe we have a thread somewhere here re: reinforcing fear (whether it is possible or not). I don't have it off hand. People generally see a small dog and think "helpless baby". No. It's a dog, and a dog should be treated like a dog (albeit a member of the family) no matter what size it is.

If you don't feel like you could do agility or the like which requires a lot of motion, how about flyball? Does he like balls? Fetching? That might be a great sport for you, and it would get some of that physical energy out too, plus it can be self-rewarding. If you are unfamiliar with it, there are plenty of videos online that you can watch. It's a really exciting and fun sport.

I was raised in the early 90s under those same beliefs as well. I believe it was '99 when the first game-changing article was written. It can be hard to change, but it is well worth it to have a dog that enjoys being and working with you instead of one who only obeys out of fear. I'd like to think that most people would want a happy dog, right? XD

Kikopup is a positive reinforcement trainer who posts some really great instructional videos on YouTube if you're interested. She covers a LOT of topics and has some really great stuff.

I think it's good that you have a different outlet for your frustrations now. Even if you don't have it on you, you can try just taking a deep breath and removing yourself from a frustrating situation (when possible). It really doesn't make you or your dog feel good if you're angry or yelling :)
 

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Sorry you are feeling such things about your dog...the bad part is you say you don't want to get rid of him, but on the other hand...it's not fair to you or your dog to spend the next 13 to 16 years living like you do...given that is a reasonable lifespan for a dog his size.

And...since humans are suppose to be smarter than any critter on this planet...it's going to have to be up to you to think your way into a better relationship with this dog. You might not ever bond with it...but you can adjust the way you are reacting to the dog so that he doesn't react negatively to what you are doing.

You will have to interact with the dog...as you said, walks, playing and such...but if you just talk to it in a normal voice...even if your voice is deep...and never raise your voice in anger...this will help gain the dogs trust. Also as some here said, direct eye contact for any length of time can scare a dog.

I've been working with a dog that came to me in a feral state. At first I couldn't even talk to her much less look at her...or she would bolt and have a huge panic attack - run around the house trying to find a way out or a place to hide. I'm only 5 foot 2 inches, and this dog is a larger dog...but so filled with fear due to it's last master keeping her isolated and often beating her....that she had good reason to fear.

Your little dog, even if never hit...is intimidated by you...and sometimes rather than 'pushing' the relationship...you might just step back...and try to ignore the dog. Don't talk to it while it's in a state of fear. Just try to be quiet and when you out of the corner of your eye see him settling down...maybe toss him a treat...but don't talk to it. Later, a treat and a 'good boy' in a soft voice can happen.

You might want to talk to a trainer who trains using positive methods, but I bet they can show you some tricks in getting to a point where you are comfortable with the dog and the dog stops being afraid of you.

I hope you and your partner can work on this together and understand that bonding might not ever happen, or maybe it will and you and Chase will bond even better than you ever imagined - just try to be patient.

And KUDOS in coming to this site and trying to better things between you and your dog. So many people would just continue on and take their frustration out on the dog even more.

Stormy
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you all so much, I am digesting all I have read. Yes, I was a big fan of Ceasar Millan before, and I guess his philosophy worked for my bully breeds, as I never had any (behaviour) issues with them at all, we had great relationships. So I've been kinda "out of the loop" when it comes to dog training for the last 14 years. Yes, obviously, my approach has not worked with Chase. I need to take a step back, think about where to go from here, then start again. I really didn't think before about mental exercise, I guess I am just spinning my wheels trying to satisfy him with physical exercise only. Something else to think about. My bullies weren't interested in anything more challenging than getting a biscuit out of the kong. When we give Chase a kong or treat ball, he quickly "loses" it under the couch or table then barks for someone to come and help him, which I'm pretty certain he does on purpose, cause that's more fun than just playing with the toy.

oh and no I meant this thanksgiving, last month (Canadian here)
 

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@SadOwner
Well fwoop. I'm in the US, so holiday differences XD

Cesar is, quite honestly, an animal idiot masquerading as a dog trainer, impersonating a behaviorist, and conning people out of money while creating more instability in those dogs. Many of his "methods" are physically and/or mentally averse and cause pain or distress to the animals. In a dog with aggression problems (especially ones based on fear), all this does is teach them that they get punished for showing their discomfort and warning about their feelings, which in turn makes it far more likely for an unpredictable bite since the dog will feel more trapped while scared and unable to show that discomfort.
 

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Firstly, throw out the idea of "alpha/dominance/submission". That garbage has been scientifically discredited for over a decade. The individuals in a group that people refer to as 'alpha' are really only the parents of the rest of the individuals in the group. They actually don't assert power over any others and very rarely, if ever, squabble over resources. Once you can accept that very common mindset is total hogwash in the real world, you will be on a better track.

I don't know why you're so surprised that your dog is behaving like this. Dogs can be sensitive. Yelling at a dog, especially a smaller dog, can be just as aversive as beating them. All the dog learns from either is to fear you, and that's what you have been teaching him. You have trained him to be afraid of you whenever you yell at him, so he is just responding "appropriately". Eye contact is something that most dogs are uncomfortable with; it is very pressuring and can be threatening. Behavior and body language is a great thing to become familiar with.



Dogs need mental exercise just as much as they need the physical. Mental stimulation is just as important, if not more-so, than physical exercise. It is also often more tiring than physical exercise. Training, puzzles, and other stimulation could very well go a long way with an energetic dog, especially a Terrier breed.



Again, throw out those "alpha/dominance/submission" ideas. He's not trying to be a good pack member, he is flat out terrified of you. He does not see you as a parent figure, which is what an 'alpha' actually is, he sees you as a threat to his safety. His body language makes that extremely obvious.

Stop the yelling. Stop leash correcting.
At this point I would advise seeing a behaviorist and/or a positive reinforcement only trainer. Someone who is willing to work with you to show you how to train your dog without hurting or scaring him out of his wits.

When all else fails, I'm sorry to say that you may want to consider returning him to the breeder. Most good breeders will take back a dog that cannot be kept. There is no shame in asking for that if you can't handle your dog.
I disagree with Larkspur.

Dominance/Submission absolutely does exist, just in a natural dog pack it is quite fluid. One dog may generally be more submissive to another...except if his favorite treat or toy is in play and then he dominates to get it/keep it.

I am very much believing you that your dog for whatever reason acts submissive toward you and toward other, larger dogs. Some dogs are like that, they just don't have much 'rank drive' and a few early incidents leads them to instantly go into a submissive posture when meeting a new person or dog.

In the end, if the dog's personality/temperament isn't what you want in a dog, the responsible thing is to find the dog a good home with an owner looking for a dog with that personality/temperament.
 

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Dominance, by definition, means asserting one's authority over others in regards to resources such as food or breeding rights. It has thoroughly been disproven in the canine world by science and behaviorists. You can disagree with them all you like, but that doesn't make the opinion true. Opinion is not fact, and there are many documents and scientific articles and journals confirming my "belief".

A dog slinking around, with its tail between its legs, and shaking like a leaf isn't "submissive". It's frightened out of its mind. Plain and simple. Any two-bit newbie who knows the basics of dog behavior and body language can tell you that.
 

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I believe a dog can show "dominant" or "submissive" behaviors by the definition of the word towards other dogs and people. Some dogs urinate when they meet new people and roll on their backs. This may not be fear related and excitement relating instead, however it's viewed as "submissive" behavior. So in this case the dog reacts "submissively". They may also react "dominantly" towards another dog trying to take their food, but that doesn't mean they're a dominant dog and urinating when excited doesn't make them submissive.

I don't however believe you can bully a dog into listening to you by following dominant submissive based training. Dogs interact with each other as dogs. Dogs interact with humans differently. Trying to become a dog by doing dominance based things such as jabbing your fingers into their shoulder as a means to correct the dog as their mother would, is ignorant and futile. You will instead show your dog hands hurt and my owner should be avoided and ignored. You may also get bit in the arm.

A trainer who used dominance based training on Cosmo has caused him to be extremely anxious around new people. It also made his barking at strangers problem worse. We are still fixing what he did today.
 

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That's a pic of my rat terrier Mijita when she was 11 yo next to our 14yo chihuahua x dashund (R.I.P. Mijita and Scooby).

I loved her to death but it took about 3 years for her to calm down enough for me to be able to stand her for more than an hour at a time lol. Honestly she was the most devoted, driven, hyper dog I have ever had the pleasure of sharing my life with. When she was younger she was a nippy little land shark. You couldn't exercise her enough and I think that all the exercise we gave her just made her even more athletic. I never got into sports with her, we didn't teach her any fancy tricks, we never went to obedience classes, she never even had a leash on her until she was 9 years old and I got a ticket for it after we moved to the city.

She went everywhere with me. I worked in a one bay automotive shop connected to a gas station and she was like a little local celebrity. She was with me through thick and thin and she was the best companion dog I've ever had. That's including my two current dogs both english mastiffs.

It took time, patience (i mean metric tons), and a lot of work. After all the hard stuff was over, I couldn't have asked for a better friend and even just typing about her I'm literally crying because I miss her so much. She was very sensitive and at the time I never missed an episode of cesar. There were times when I would yell and she was so devastated you could just tell.

Chase has the potential to be the (doggie) love of your life. Just like any relationship though, it's a two way road. The fact that he's scared of you right now, but still comes when you call, means he will do his part and put forth the effort.

Please try to make an effort to learn all you can about up to date, positive training methods. Zack, kikopup, Dr. Ian Dunbar, all have great free content on youtube. This forum has some great stickies with links to even more info. Work with a R+ trainer in your area and/or hire a behaviorist to help you overcome the initial learning curve and do your best to further your own education.

The sooner you start, the sooner you will be able to enjoy your relationship with Chase and even look forward to your interactions with him. The more you understand him the more rewarding your time together will be.

I'm new around here but from what I've seen so far there are great folks around here that will support you in your efforts. It may not be easy, but anything worthwhile in life rarely is. Keep us posted on your progress.
 

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Hi @SadOwner --Rat Terriers can be difficult dogs to get a handle on because of their myriad of personality traits, so don't feel bad that you're having difficulties--just make up your mind you're going to do something about it!

The hyperness isn't going to go away for a while--get used to it. I do agility with my Rat Terrier and he still is never tired. Do you cuddle with Chase? Although there are exceptions, ratties are a breed that loves to cuddle and I've noticed that cuddling sessions on my bed with Skipper while I'm reading, etc. really seem to cement our bond in his mind.

I was crazy about socialization with Skipper when he was a puppy because ratties are known to be nervous if either bred or treated any way less than perfect. I had him out every day somewhere new, I played soundtracks of noises to get him used to them, we went on hiking and petstore adventures once he was old enough so he grew accustomed to different people in different places.

Skipper loves this toy, and it's impossible to push under a couch while they get the treats out! Amazon.com : JW Pet Company 43505 Treat Tower Toys for Pets, Small, White/Rings of Blue, Orange, Green : Dog Toys Small : Pet Supplies

My biggest suggestion as a dog person and rat terrier owner is to find a trainer near you who uses what is known as Positive Reinforcement methods. Terriers, Ratties included, really need training that reaches into their minds and hearts, while providing frequent motivation. If a terrier isn't motivated, no amount of cajoling, pressure or manipulation can make them do something they don't want to do. It's just a breed-group trait. They please themselves before they care about the wishes of others. This makes them whipsmart and incredibly entertaining, but very challenging.

From what you describe I believe it's going to very difficult to fix this on your own. A trainer will give you an in-person venue to learn as well as a support system--you will see people going through the same things you are with their own dogs. Like I said though, the key word here you're looking for is Positive Reinforcement methods--dominance, punishment, etc. are training concepts that really don't work well on the minds of terriers. Especially emotionally sensitive ones like the Rat Terrier.
 

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If you can afford to do it, I'd highly suggest sending him to a doggie daycare a few times a week. Especially with a dog so high energy, it would really help him drain energy while also being stimulated positively. I go to a super friendly, clean, and safe one nearby and it helps SO much! I find it difficult to work all day, come home tired (mentally and physically) only to find my dog super hyper and stir crazy. Make sure they'll let you tour the facilities and look at reviews. I go to an AWESOME place and didn't realize everywhere isn't just as nice.
 
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