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I'm new to this forum and I actually joined specifically for this reason - I'll give you the whole story.

I've owned dogs my entire life and consider myself an absolute dog lover. I love every dog I meet and every dog I've ever owned... until now. This is the first time ever owning a dog on my own. Three days ago I adopted a 3 year old pitbull mix from the Philadelphia Animal Control Shelter. I've been considering getting a dog for the last six months in anticipation of moving into my new apartment and now that I did I finally decided to go through with it. I thought it would be okay. It is not. At all.

I loved him in the shelter but once we got home I was overcome with this feeling of impending doom. I felt like my life had just ended. The condition with my landlord about having dogs is that as long as they do not disturb the other tenants, they're okay. Well he howls the entire time he is in his crate when I'm gone. He tries to break out of his crate and is starting to damage it. While trying to escape he also managed to pull my nearby curtains and blinds down , breaking them, and pulling my comforter in and ripping a huge hole in it. I'm in college and spend about 4-9 hours on campus every day. I lease an apartment so I also cannot have him destroying things while I'm not here. He also is not potty trained and does not react when I scold him for peeing inside and will not go outside (I've had him out every two hours when I'm home) Besides that he is the most well-behaved dog I've ever met but I cannot overcome the intense anxiety I feel about him enough to love him. He's adorable but I look at him and feel angry that I feel the way I do about him. I have been in tears since I brought him home and haven't been able to stomach a full meal since before I brought him home. I can't concentrate on anything even remotely related to school because I am always so worried about what I am going to do with him.

I have absolutely no idea what to do. I have this voice inside my telling me that there is no way I can keep this dog. I have a history of severe anxiety and was hoping that getting a dog would help me but I've been having some of the most serious anxiety I've experienced in months. I'm worried that keeping this dog will deteriorate my mental health even further. I don't want to take him back to shelter because he is such a sweet dog and the shelter he came from was very rough. Also, he was previously owned and returned so I would never be able to forgive myself for making him have to go back a third time, especially risking euthanasia. I would feel like the most horrible person in the world, but I am worried about my own mental health.

I'm asking for any advice whatsoever. I know three days isn't a long time to adjust but I feel almost as though he is ruining my life. If anyone has any advice about coping with anxiety over a new pet, or returning a pet to the shelter I would appreciate it. Thanks.
 

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I've rarely suggested to anyone that they return a dog. But given your living circumstances and that pitbulls are dogs that need to burn a lot of energy, I don't know if your dog can get enough exercise to do that while you are in school for so many hours. A dog that doesn't get enough exercise is a bored dog and bored dogs do things that are destructive..or bark or whine to help relieve the stress of being bored.

Also, one should never scold a dog for having an accident in the house...this just causes more stress on the dog. It's best just to ignore the dog while you clean the mess up and get the dog use to a routine of going out side about the same time each day.

A newly adopted dog, even a house trained one...can, due to stress of being in a new situation, take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months before it stops having accidents in the house. I've found with most of the dogs I've adopted that it's usually about 2 weeks....but there's always those that take longer...or don't have any accidents at all. I think most, though have at least one or two.

You also just can't shove a dog into a crate and expect it to like it. This is something a dog needs to be trained into doing...going in, feeling comfortable, sleeping in there or being fed in there while you are home and the door on it isn't locked.

I think a dog in your life could help you with your anxiety...but it needs to be the right dog, and given what you said, this to me sounds like a mis-match. You might have to return the dog.

I have a niece in college and she has a dog and I know she loves the dog but it's still like a big anchor for her. We (her mom and I) both told her how hard it would be to have a dog while in college...and now she's learning the hard way. She has to rush home between classes once a day and let her dog out, and her school is some distance from the little house she manged to rent.

She also had to pay a higher security on the house due to having a dog...and of course, money that could be going for clothes, gas and food...sometimes has to be diverted to dog food, vet care...etc.. She can't 'on a whim' just go off with her friends to eat after classes, as she needs to rush home and take care of the dog.

She won't ever give up her dog and she puts in a LOT of energy to burn down the dog's energy...she owns a border collie of all things. Border collies are like nuclear powered...just go and go and go...so my niece spends sometimes a few hours each night taking her dog out where it can run...and run and run...

Anyway...as you already know, it's super hard to do what you are doing, going to school and owning a dog. I think it can be done, but first a person needs some weeks of being at home...to train their new dog...get it use to the crate, or the house, and get it pass that 'new home stress' that causes so many of them to potty in the house.

You might consider returning this dog, and waiting until you have a spring break or something where you can stay home and concentrate on introducing a new dog into your life and a routine.

I'm very sorry you and your dog are going through this. I also suppose if you wish to keep the dog...you could try doggie day care...which cost money...but then maybe you can tackle the training issues in a near future....or work on them when you are home.

Stormy
 
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I've rarely suggested to anyone that they return a dog. But given your living circumstances and that pitbulls are dogs that need to burn a lot of energy, I don't know if your dog can get enough exercise to do that while you are in school for so many hours. A dog that doesn't get enough exercise is a bored dog and bored dogs do things that are destructive..or bark or whine to help relieve the stress of being bored.
4-9 hours away during the day isn't bad, in my opinion. I've had my Lab for 3.5 years since he was 1.5 years old and I'm not home for 9-10 hours a day due to work. He still gets 5+ miles of walking/running daily, even on days when I work late or work after hours from home. We probably total 45-55 miles of walking and running every single week. It could be hard, but not impossible.

OP, I think you have a few things you need to consider.

- routine change. You've had the dog 3 days but you're out of your normal routine. You need to get used to it and to your new responsibilities. It will take some time.

- the hurdles of training and building a bond. This will come with time, too.


It sounds like this wasn't a spur of the moment decision and you planned it for some now. You're facing a challenge, but when you get through it, it's highly rewarding.

A note about anxiety. I get it, I have an anxiety disorder, too. I know what it's like to deal with severe panic attacks, anxiety-driven OCD, etc. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. Truth is, once you get through the initial hurdle of taking on new responsibilities, training and bonding, you'll be much happier.

Getting an animal that you are fully responsible for is a life-changing event for one who lives on their own; it requires you to restructure your life and realize that you have a huge responsibility to someone that now depends on you with their life. In a way, this is monumental. So yeah, you're stressed out and anxious. It's normal.

Worst thing you can do is let the anxiety get the best of you. Regroup, read forums, ask questions, share experiences. Take meds if you absolutely have to. But don't let anxiety beat your down.

Remember one thing - the bigger the challenge, the bigger is the reward.
 

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4-9 hours away during the day isn't bad, in my opinion. I've had my Lab for 3.5 years since he was 1.5 years old and I'm not home for 9-10 hours a day due to work. He still gets 5+ miles of walking/running daily, even on days when I work late or work after hours from home. We probably total 45-55 miles of walking and running every single week. It could be hard, but not impossible.
You have to remember that the average dog owner does not take their dog out for very long walks. Generally your average dog is walked maybe 14 miles a week? The majority of people take their dogs out for one walk a day, two if the dog is lucky. Most of these walks are just around-the-block walks, really "good" owners will take the dog out for maybe 2 miles. That's not much and not nearly enough for really any dog.

Now there's one family I pet sit for sometimes. They have five dogs. Five very ill-mannered dogs. They simply have me come in, let the dogs out for 15 minutes while I get their breakfast/dinner ready, feed them, let them out for another 15 minutes, then crate them again and repeat for the next meal. These dogs, even when the owners are home, are crated for 23 hours of the day, with only two 30-minute backyard breaks while their meals are prepared...
 

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.......These dogs, even when the owners are home, are crated for 23 hours of the day, with only two 30-minute backyard breaks while their meals are prepared...

That seriously makes me sick to my stomach. Have you dared to mention to them what life must be like in a crate like that? At least some dog get 8 feet of chain and a post to live out a decade + a few years or so of absolute boredom.

I know it's hard to tell people things like that because most don't want to listen and get defensive...and when one needs a job...one keeps their mouths shut at times...but maybe if you ever move on you should put in a report to animal cops...I'm pretty sure there are containment laws that are suppose to prevent this sort of 'dog storage'.

Also in response to camper....

The original poster never said how much exercise the dog was getting...so I assumed not much. Going to school isn't just the hours away from home...as anyone knows....there's also time needed to sit down and study all those courses one is taking. So that's just after school or before school stuff that needs done to the detriment of 'doggy time with the dog.

And I still say it's really dang difficult to introduce a new dog into a home if one isn't there to get it use to a routine and teach it certain basic doggy stuff. If she planned to get a new dog, she made a small mistake if she didn't do it during a long break where she could be with the dog almost 24/7 and bond with it and get it past the worst of the stress of being in a new home. If she did do it that way, then it appears there's a gap in the training methods, or perhaps the dog's just slower to adjust to stuff due to it's own personality traits and experiences in life.

Stormy
 
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I see your point, @StormyPeak and I do agree in general.

I sure as heck am no expert on anxiety, but dealing with bouts of it myself, I can relate. I think OP needs help with anxiety first, whether it be through meds, people, forums, or otherwise as applicable to OP's situation. I'm hoping they can get through it to see the light. Once over the hump, dogs are great at helping with anxiety.
 

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And I must admit, I kind of glossed over the anxiety bit. I'm very prone to depression...deep depression at times. But only maybe twice in my life have I had an anxiety attack...and it was just that...something that hit without warning. I had true physical reactions...pounding heart, blurring vision, almost passed out one time.

Having said that, I've also had extreme stress...which to me is different than anxiety....but it too can be debilitating...making a person just want to 'freeze' and not do anything out of ?feeling hopeless or overwhelmed. But what got me through all of my problems was I felt a deep deep responsibility for taking care of my dogs and cats. Otherwise, I probably would have crawled into bed for weeks unable to much other than get up and eat and take care of other basic necessities.

I think having a pet is good for people with emotional/mental issues...it's not easy when one does have well behaved pets that are bonded to you and there to comfort you. So I feel for the original poster in that regard, that she's dealing with some major problems, has the pet, but the pet is causing some of the stresses and not offering any of the comfort yet because no bonding has happened yet.

I hope she can keep her pet...but if she can't get the anxiety under control and the pet is what's causing the worst of it... I'm not sure of what the solution can be...other than returning the dog to the shelter. Or...maybe for the time being, at least taking it to a doggy day care, so she can be at school and not worrying if the dog is barking and disturbing the neighbors or tearing up the place by escaping it crate. That alone might help with some of the anxiety...and the training can still happen if she makes time for it after school.

I would also suggest, and dearly hope, she continues to visit this site and read up on all the wonderful advice here for training a dog using positive methods and finding out what YouTube videos are out there that can help her out with it.

Stormy
 

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I am going to suggest returning this pittie, and looking at fostered dogs who have been in homes and are ALREADY crate trained and housebroken. It'll probably be more than the fee at a pound, but you will get what you pay for.

In your situation I'm also going to suggest a dog that is at least three years old. Barring that.. consider rescuing a kitty or two!
 
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