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I have always had dogs - from a young child, as early as I can remember to about five years ago when my springer Zina died (which really knocked me for six) and after that I couldn't quite bring myself to get another dog for a while.

I am now 43 - and I have always thought I am a natural dog person, perhaps never really thought about it concretely - until now when I am struggling and I am very confused.

The dogs that I have owned two springers (concurrently) and a border collie have been the best dogs that anyone could have wished for ... gorgeous, lovely and the archetypal 'woman's best friend'. I had them since puppies.

Three months ago, friends of mine were leaving for Dubai - as a family - and they decided that they could not take their dog. He is a big tricolore Anglo-French Hound, who wouldn't have taken well to their high-rise flat in Dubai and they asked if I would want to have him. I was delighted. I hadn't been able to think about getting another dog and this seemed perfect. He is eight years old.

The problem is I have had him for two whole months now - and I just don't think we have bonded at all. I need some help in how to change this because it is actually depressing me.

I realise now that he was never exactly a 'family' pet for his last owners - more of an outside dog. That was why the children didn't seem particularly fussed to leave him (I would have been distraught at that age). They also didn't train him to come to call, which is a pain but I am hoping I can start to do that.

But I feel so little for this dog in comparison to every single dog I have ever owned that I feel guilty and bad about it. But whatever I try to do - to make a better connection just doesn't seem to be working. We go for long walks (but he always has to be on the lead because of the lack of come to call) and I try to be affectionate towards him in the evenings and during the day but HE is quite aloof, not bothered. He only seems to 'hassle' me when he thinks he wants something - feeding time/or a walk.

Is there something I can do to improve this - I always thought I had a natural affinity with dogs and I can't understand this at all.

I am going to sign up for some obedience classes so I can teach him to walk to heel and (hopefully) to come to call. But I think what I really miss is a dog who trusts me implicitly, who responds to me in what I always thought was an emotional way. It is early days, I guess - being just two months but the dog seems depressed (a little to me) and I feel depressed too. I have never taken on an older dog - maybe you just can't get the bond if you haven't had them from a puppy stage???

I am sorry for the really long post but I am just lost - I feel like I just have a big walking/eating demander who is otherwise a bit depressed and I feel bad for him and bad for me. What am I doing wrong? Will this change after a bit of time? Is he too old to change? Are hounds just not particularly affectionate/family-style dogs?
 

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Many dogs are bred to be companions, and part of this is creating strong bonds with humans. Other dog breeds, or lines within breeds, not so much.

Hounds are some of the dogs IMHO that are less likely to have strong human-dog bonding in their genetic makeup...especially the more traditional 'big pack of fox hound' type Euro breeds.

And to this add a dog's individual personality

And to this add how a dog was raised up.

I want to set the bar here...you shouldn't plan to ever turn this dog into a lovey-dovy clinky pet like a Golden Retriever or Vizsla.

Another thing to realize is that it takes many months for an old dog to change. Also people talk about 'rescue' dogs often taking 3 months or more to come out of their shells. Note, I am not saying this is a rescue dog, it seems like he had an okay life, but I think there are some similarities.

So here are my recommendations

#1 be honest with yourself and make sure you are setting reasonable expectations with your new dog.

#2 be aware that it may take half a year before you really see the true dog, fully comfortable in his new life.

#3 Training. Training training and more training. For the beginning, you need to get the dog to recall, sit, behave as you desire him to, etc. Next, you training your dog really helps build the bond between dog and owner. Few people train their dog to roll over or play dead because they find it hilariously funny. They do it to strengthen the bond between themselves and their dog...plus they just aren't very creative about what they should go about training, so they just grab some old classics.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Akodo - I think you are right. I need to readjust my expectations but I also think (hope) the training will help a lot. I really hope so!

There are positives - he has a good temperament and is not in any way aggressive either to people or other dogs, which is great. So if we could just get to work together a bit better (perhaps through the obedience training) then I think it will be ok.

I spent some time looking up his breed on the internet last night - and a few sites did mention that pack hounds like D are, as you said, not necessarily best as family pets --- so I need to realise that and not try to make him into something that he is not by nature.

I have always had 'soppy' dogs. Ones that love affection and interaction and - I think the thing that bothers me most is I always felt that they trusted me implicitly. Whereas D, I feel there is a sort of resigned semi-acceptance perhaps to his situation rather than a sense of trust and I keep on wondering whether he wouldn't be happier in a kennel/pack of working hounds --- but it is as it is! We both have to try to make the best of it and I am hoping it will get much better.

Thanks for answering me - it is helpful to talk it through! CJ
 

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how old is he? i think it is never to late to start training. i have an akita cross husky, and he is an outdoor dog, well he is always welcome to come in, but he lets me know when he has had enough.

he is your dog now, so think about what you would like for him...are you in a position to let him live outside if he wants to?
its not cruel in my opinion...some dogs are just not breed to lie in front of a radiator.

if you decide to make him an indoor dog, give him time, it is a big change, plus he is still pining for his familie...
as you are an experienced owner, im sure there is nothing you do wrong!

have you got other dogs at the moment, apart from him, if so that makes a difference...
i think in time it will all work out... well done you for adopting him, and giving him a loving home. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Thanks Arwen. No I don't have any other dogs at present but I feel sure that D would be happier if I did get him a companion.

I have phoned an obedience class near to me and I can start on 1st Feb so that will be a good thing.

Funnily enough, despite having been an outdoor dog he LOVES being inside and he will pull his rug/bed right next to the radiator!!! and sprawl out beside it. He loves walking outside too but given the option of being out or in --- he will bark to be let in during the day even if it is not too cold. Of course, I haven't had a summer yet with him so that might be different!

I just need to feel that I bond with him better. I guess. So here's hoping the classes do the trick!!

Just to add - I forgot to mention his age: he is eight.
 

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Different breeds show affection and bonding in different ways. I really don't know much about the breed you mention, but it seems that any 'working' dog will acknowledge you but only briefly, as least that has been my observation. We have neighbors that have a border collie, he is very friendly, and will greet, then look at you as if to say, 'ok what is my job'. My point is the bonding you are looking for, may be occurring, but because of the breed, manifests itself differently than you expected.
 

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I am sorry for the really long post but I am just lost - I feel like I just have a big walking/eating demander who is otherwise a bit depressed and I feel bad for him and bad for me. What am I doing wrong? Will this change after a bit of time? Is he too old to change? Are hounds just not particularly affectionate/family-style dogs?
Sounds like people have let this dog down in the past. Its up to you to prove him wrong. He is 8 so its been years of loneliness in that back yard. Show him people can be relied on. Take him to a good positive training class ( no choke chains or negative training. ) Clicker training is a good one. Nothing about training should be punishment he has been through enough. I have rescued many over the years of all ages. My Rottie was 7 when she came to us, it was the best 4 years for me. I still miss her and its been 10 years since she passed. I have a hound and he is a love. I could rub his ears for hours and he would not move. Maybe you have not found his sweet spot. Keep looking I am sure you will find love with this pup, good for you rescuing him.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks Dawn and Laco

Just to give an update - i think it really is improving. So some things are still not exactly as I had hoped --- in that I can't really walk him off the lead because he can bound off and there is a fast road near me and although he will return in his own time, he doesn't come to call and I worry that one day he will run on to the road. So for now I keep him on the lead while I am walking him.

But apart from that, I DO feel that we are making progress and that he is relaxing and starting to trust me more ... and equally that I have become much more used to his independent nature, which is quite sweet and funny sometimes.

For my birthday - about three weeks ago - I was given a little frog toy/beanie thing, which I sit on the bed and almost every day he finds a way to sneak up and take it!! And he brings it down on to his bed ... he has plenty of other toys (including stuffed animal style things) but I think the reason he particularly likes this one is because he realises it is not his! And it just makes me laugh ... every time I say (not crossly) "no, my toy!" and replace it upstairs and then two days later, there it is again. Innocently sitting on his bed! He doesn't ruin it or anything. He just carries it carefully down and puts it on his bed.

And apart from that, I do just feel that slowly, slowly we are making progress. He is hopeless in the dog training classes because he always just wants to head for the door .... but I have only done two so far so I think it will improve, it is partly the floor - he has a 'thing' about hard floors, he acts as if he is on a skating rink and although they put very thin plastic mat/liners down, it doesn't much seem to improve it for him.

We are definitely beginning to accommodate ourselves to each other. It is a very different sort of relationship to my past 'lap/affectionate' style dogs but I think it is good - slowly something is developing!!

Thanks for the support when I was feeling a bit lost.
 

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Glad to have an update. I sounds like you are accepting the new relationship. Maybe some time down the line you can go to a shelter and find that second lap dog. Thats the thing there will always be dogs waiting for some one like you to love them.
 

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We adopted a 6 year old Maltese from a rescue in November of 2014. As precious and wonderful as he is, it took me a full year to fall in love with him.
 

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@christinej When you talk about walking him off-leash, do you mean just in the yard or out in public? If in public, you'll want to check local laws on that, most places insist on a dog being leashed. It's actually safer for your dog to be on a leash too, so personally I'd keep him on a leash even after he has better recall and training.

Don't give up - like others have said, he's not used to having love and bonding, and I think it's wonderful that you're giving it to him. Don't be afraid to play with a ball or stuffie in front of him and make a fool of yourself! ;) If you play and show that you're REALLY enjoying it, he will probably become interested in it too, over time.

I'll also echo the 3 month timeframe. I'm not sure how long it's been now, but give him lots of time to adjust and become himself. It sounds like he's already starting to make himself at home. You sound like you'll be a wonderful person for him. :)
 
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