Dog Forum banner

1 - 13 of 13 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
207 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I adopted a nine month old puppy in May. And since I've had her it's been endless stress. Let's forget her puppy behaviors - those I can deal with. But her reactivity, I can not. She barks, jumps, and lunges at anything unfamiliar. For some reason old ladies are a trigger and she's bloodied my grandmothers arm twice from jumping relentlessly and swatting her. Once while on a very short leash but still within striking distance. I can't trust her at all. I'm afraid to have people over because of the way she acts. I can't take her in public. We've been working with a certified trainer but her reactivity isn't getting any better and I find new triggers daily (it was a bag of garbage last wk). I don't know what else to do and I'm thinking of giving her back. I'm riddled with guilt because I spent so much time. I combed through PetFinder ads for months, researched, drove three hours to meet her, drove back a month later to pick her up. I've spent so much money on her - but that doesn't matter to me. What matters is the time I've invested in her. She has literally been my project for the past six weeks. I work with her several times daily and while her overall behavior may be better - her reactivity is not. And I'm afraid the reactivity will manifest into aggression once she realizes what she's capable of. It's just so sad. I was so looking forward to getting a second dog but it has been nothing but an endless source of stress.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,034 Posts
What matters is the time I've invested in her.
That is a 'sunk cost', what you need to be thinking about are 'prospective costs'.
You can't get that time back. You obviously worked very hard and gave it your best, but living in misery is not good for you, and not good for your dog.
Take the time to find her a really good home. Don't guilt yourself over it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunk_costs
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
207 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
I just didn't want to fail her but I feel like I have. I'm going to keep trying the positive reinforcement strategies and give her a little more time. But I've been doing it for two months now with little success.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,177 Posts
I'm sorry to hear things with your new addition aren't going as well as planed. I think reactivity, especially the more severe cases, is not always something every one can handle and that's ok. I think you did take a step in the right direction with working with a trainer. I think sometimes to when you get a new dog not expecting there to be issues such as this it can sometimes make it feel a bit more overwhelming.
What is your trainer doing to work on her reactivity? Have you talked to a behavioralist at all?
Reactivity can be managed and depending on the case can be heavily improved on to the point where the dog isn't really bothered by it any more.
When I got my aussie at 5 months old he came home fear reactive to a lot of things. I'm now going on two years with him and he has improved a lot, he's still reactive to things but usually its easier to get him out of that over threshold state, and some things he is no longer or barely reactive to any more. Reactivity takes time and patience, but it does/can get better. But I do think it is ok to take a step back and look at your situation and say that this isn't something you feel you can handle or you feel she would do better in more experienced home. I would maybe try talking with or having a consult with a behavioralist.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
207 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Unfortunately the only behavioralist in my area moved recently. But my trainer consults her often and seems well versed on dealing with reactive dogs. Right now we're working on going to trigger-heavy environments (the park) for short periods of time (5-10 mins) and stand behind her threshold. When she looks at a trigger - I click and treat. Problem is - her threshold changes often. So it's sometimes hard to do this activity successfully. And triggers change too. She's always been fine with my mom - but one day she let loose on her. Barking over and over and running from her. No clue.

I just feel like I can't make her part of my family with this behavior. If I was more isolated then it would be easier but I'm from a huge family. I can't take her to family get-togethers because I don't trust her around children or adults for that matter. I can't take her to festivals or the park. So she's always stuck at home because her behavior is embarrassing and unpredictable. Right now it's not really dangerous but I'm afraid it'll get that way.

She plays with dogs fine off leash and she's fine with people once she takes a few minutes to warm up. But who really wants to engage a dog that acts like such an *******?

I have a Ridgeback mix that is amazing. And even though I've worked with her a lot - she was just born gentle and kind. I'm afraid my puppy was just born this way. And I'm afraid that even if she gets better that I'll never be able to trust her.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,901 Posts
I'm curious as to whether her reactivity is fear based or frustration based/barrier frustration. Has your trainer been able to assess the underlying cause for her behavior?

If it's fear...I'd back way up and start in environments that are not super trigger-heavy. It will make it MUCH easier to keep her under threshold and not overstimulate. I recommend this a lot I'm sure but try looking into the BAT 2.0 book. I absolutely love it in addition to counter conditioning.

If it's frustration...BAT 2.0 will still work really well. Again, I'd still back way up and go to a zone that has far less triggers but at least you don't have the added level of fear.

Out of curiosity, have you discussed whether she needs more exercise/mental stimulation OR if medication would be beneficial?

Have you had any luck with supplements, Adaptil products, or a Thundershirt?

Unfortunately, there's a lot of playing around to be done to see what works.

The real key is to not push too fast or too hard. Success with something "easy" will benefit you far more than slipping backward by putting too much stress on her.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
9,240 Posts
I'm so sorry you're in this situation. Sounds like you've taken the right steps in finding an accredited trainer to help you. Have you discussed her issues with a vet?

Sometimes the hardest part of being a pet owner is admitting when you're in over your head. If you feel like she is just too much dog for you, and you're not enjoying the process (and it's not getting better) then maybe returning her to the shelter with a full list of the problems you have encountered would be for the best. Maybe they would be able to place her with a smaller family that have a better environment to help work through her re-activeness. If you're looking for a dog that you can take places, go out in public, and be around people a dog like her may never be a dog that is comfortable doing that.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Sabina88

·
Registered
Joined
·
207 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
I'm not enjoying the process at all. People say things to me in public (i.e. Why do you bring an aggressive dog to the park). I also get plenty of looks. It's both embarrassing and frustrating.

The reactivity is both fear and barrier. It depends on the trigger. I treat it as if it's fear but a lot of times it's not.

I just don't know how to handle her while she's working on it. How do I have people over? How do I take her anywhere? I feel very isolated. I moved in a new house two months ago. Guess how many people have come to see my house? No one. I've had no friends come over at all because I can't trust her. I can't live like this forever.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,661 Posts
The day I realized my dog had both fear and barrier frustration I cried. A lot. I wanted a dog I could take everywhere, dog everything with but Tessa isn't that dog. The other posters are correct, you have to take each step at a time. It's not easy, very time consuming and you will feel a little isolated until you reach your routine. Eventually you will find owners like you, you'll learn your dog's body language and you'll know the triggers. You will be able to determine if a situation is too stressful or ok. But it is going to take awhile. It's a game of management vs reward. Working with a trainer is a good start, as well as working at home every chance you get.

No one will judge if you determine this is all too much and rehome her. No one usually signs up for a dog with issues, but you have to be very committed if you wind up with one. If you do rehome her you need to also think about her next home. They will need to know her issues, and be prepared to work with her. If you don't do private rehoming, please surrender her to a no-kill rescue. If you return her, and the shelter is not a no-kill rescue, she will be placed on the top of the euthanasia list sadly.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Sabina88

·
Registered
Joined
·
207 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
If re-homed then she will go back to the no-kill rescue that I got her from. That was part of my contract. I understand where you're coming from. I've cried more this summer over this dog than I have in ages. I typically cry multiple times daily. In fact, every time I post about her on here I baul like a baby. I feel like I've failed her. Or am failing her. I feel guilty for wanting to give her back because she's been shuffled so much in her life.

But I can't be this isolated. I'm in my early 30s, single, and very involved in my city. Not being able to go places or have friends over because of my dog just cant work. I love my dogs but they can't be my only source of interaction - and I hate to leave them at home when I'm able to take them places. I'm going stir crazy having not seen any friends this summer. No one has seen my new house because of her behavior. This can't be my future.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
9,240 Posts
@MorganE84, That sounds like a horrible position to be in. Honestly I would sit down with your trainer and give yourself a realistic time frame. A month. 3 Months. 6 Months. Set realistic goals and discuss where you want to be. If your end game is you want a dog that you can bring to events, breweries, and have around people, this very well might not be the dog for you. At least if you have a goal of in a month you want to see considerable improvement in his reactiveness to the point that he can he 10 feet away from the playground without any barking and have 1 informed guest over to the house with no problems, then you can have a realistic view on things. Honestly, from what you are saying, she might really just not be the dog for you.


I feel like @NannerPudding would have some great insight on this. She had an extreme case much worse that she had to make these horrible decisions. I bet she would have some great insight.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Sabina88

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
3,746 Posts
If you click on my username and then statistics, you can read all about my experiences with my first dog, Maru, a two-year-old Great Pyrenees mix. I had adopted Maru with the best of intentions, but without any idea of how challenging it would be. For two months, I devoted myself to him, easily spending five hours a day with him on my days off and paying for doggie day care on the days that I worked. I took him to obedience classes. I hired a personal trainer. I spent hours watching on-line videos and reading posts on this forum.

However, after two months, I realized that we were not making any progress, his latent reactivity was increasing, and we had not bonded with each other. He needed a much more experienced dog owner who led a more active lifestyle, and I realized that what I really wanted was a small companion dog. I shed many tears, and my closest friend here at the Forum helped me realize through an exchange of PMs that rehoming him was best for both of us.

I was very lucky that a rescue group was able to place him in a no-kill shelter for me, and he was adopted that same afternoon by a much more suitable family. For the next year, I checked the shelter's website, and he was never listed again. I can only hope that he found his forever home. That was the best I could do for him and for me.

A few months later, I adopted Miles, the wonderful dog in my avatar. He was an older dog that no one else wanted at a high-kill shelter. He's a wonderful companion to me, and he's the kind of dog that I can happily walk around the neighborhood park. He's alive today because I let go of that first dog and I let go off the guilt of an adoption that didn't work out.

The good news for you is that you will be returning your dog to a no-kill shelter. Let the staff know what your experiences with him have been like, and we can hope that they will adopt him out to a better home. It's o.k. You tried. Not all adoptions are good fits, and when you're ready to adopt again, we can help you make a better choice.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
207 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for sharing, Susan. That makes me feel better. It may come to that for us as well. I'm going to continue working with the trainer and doing what she recommends. She keeps telling me that I can't put deadlines on it but in mid-September I'm going to re-evaluate. At that point she'll have been with me almost 4 months. I'm trying to find a balance between giving her a fair shot and not dragging it out too long. We'll see. Fingers crossed.
 
1 - 13 of 13 Posts
Top