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Separation Anxiety…. of owner!

1087 Views 4 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Moonstream
Hey everyone,

I'm looking for some advice/support about the guilt I feel leaving my newly adopted 3 year old foxhound home alone. I adopted him on Saturday, and had to leave him alone for three hours yesterday and felt sooooo guilty about it! He was perfectly fine when my partner came home; he didn't mess in the house, and didn't chew anything at all.

I know I should be encouraging a healthy independence, but I'm such a wet noodle when it comes to training. I'm working on having a firmer hand with him. We start obedience classes tonight.

This is a bit of a separate issue, but part of the reason I am so submissive toward him (bad for the dog, I know!) is because I was attacked by a large dog a few years ago. To be honest, I'm still very intimidated by dogs, despite my love for them, and when Copper growled at me when I did something he didn't like the other day, I felt too scared to correct his behaviour.

I'm willing to work through my fears to develop a healthy and loving relationship with Copper, but it's tough! Anyone else out there with a similar experience?
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It sounds like good positive reinforcement training will be cathartic for the both of you!

Also, like Poppy said above, growling is actually not a behavior you want to 'correct' or do away with. A growl is often the first signal a person has that a dog is uncomfortable (because people tend not to pay attention to more subtle signals from dogs because they can be hard to notice without practiced eyes). When you correct a growl, you're not making that dog any more 'respectful' or 'safe', you're correcting the vocalization itself.

The reason people see growls leading to aggression is because they are people who aren't addressing the reason why their dog is growling- whether that be fear, resource guarding, being uncomfortable with a certain gender/clothing/hats/whatever. If a dog growls, you should back off and think about why they're growing and how you can address the behavior/feelings that are leading to the growl.

Personally I would avoid any trainers that push you to use corrections. You can train a dog using only positive reinforcement training, and it sounds like you're not very comfortable correcting a large dog anyways. Correction training can sometimes work faster than just ignoring behaviors you don't like and reinforcing behaviors you do but IMO it produces a less enthusiastic dog that doesn't approach training with the same level of "if I do this maybe I'll get a treat" because they've been taught that the wrong thing will get them a leash jerk.

Also, given that he's a hound, and one bred to hunt in a group at that, he's likely not to have the most biddable temperament. I'd highly recommend the book "When Pigs Fly: Training Impossible Dogs". It's a book specifically about training non-biddable breeds (the author has Bull Terriers) and focuses on positive reinforcement only.
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