I’m struggling to like my dog again

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Original artwork by Aaron Finley.
Original artwork by Aaron Finley.
I love my dog, but I don’t like him anymore. Our dog is five years old, and we’ve had him for over a year now. We adopted him from the shelter when my son was about 10 months old.

I used to be able to look past his constant barking, awful separation anxiety that leaves us un-wanted surprises when we get home, and tendency to knock over our toddler often. We’ve tried medication and behavior modification to no avail.

I used to get angry with my husband when he would talk about not liking our dog, but now that I’m pregnant with our second, I find myself in the same boat.

I don’t want my dog to be gone, I just want to enjoy him like I used to. -Mallory

Sigh. Heavy truth time: I feel you on this…

I love my dog, Jackson. He’s amazing with kids and house guests, he’s smart, he’s just so damn handsome. But sometimes I really don’t like him. He’s aloof, he’s stubborn, and he has leash aggression issues that embarrass the hell out of me. How do you like a dog that won’t cuddle with you and turns taking walks into nightmares!?

In the meantime, I’ve been working hard to accept him as he is. When I need doggy cuddles, I don’t go to Jackson; I get my cuddle time with our smaller and more affectionate dog. I’ve also been thinking about taking some classes with him that will both bring us closer together, give us a positive shared experience, which will hopefully help with his leash aggression as well.

Anyone else have advice on learning to like your difficult dog again?

Comments on I’m struggling to like my dog again

  1. Classes, classes, classes! Rescue pups come with so many issues – including trust issues – that taking a couple training classes a year can help you to really bond with your dog which, in turn, can help make him feel more secure while also making him an all-round better trained dog to be with. Starting with basic obedience and then some cute tricks classes will really help the affection flow! Try to find positive reinforcement classes because they are the most gentle and “lovey” for a traumatized dog and “out-of-love” owner.

    • Positive reinforcement really is (IMO) the best training method period, but is particularly so for dogs if you’ve had any problems with them in the past.

      It gives you a better framework to communicate with them (clickers are really good at signalling something precisely, for example) and teaches you what things just aren’t going to work to communicate with your dog. For example, one of the common things that people do is to ‘rub their nose in it’ if they have an accident. That has absolutely no effect on a dog. It doesn’t connect the unpleasant sensation of someone rubbing their nose in their pee or poop with not peeing or pooping inside. All they know is that something is wrong.

      Basically, it’s best to assume that dogs have a memory of about 30 seconds, if we’re being generous. If something happened more than 30 seconds ago, it’s in the past and you cannot correct or reward it properly.

      For those of you who may not have the budget to do dog training classes, there’s a huge amount of information online. My personal favorite is kikopup on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/kikopup

      She has tons of videos about many topics – some simply showing off tricks, but most being really critical things (sit, stay, barking, settling, house training, separation anxiety, leave it, etc.)

      Really try out positive reinforcement and see if that helps you.

      • Agree times a million. So often I see people angrily calling their dogs out of the yard, pissed because the dog isn’t coming, and then scolding it when it finally does show up. All that does is teach the dog not to come! Arggg!!!

        Think of dogs as young, not-too-bright children who only remember the last thing that they did (and “going over there” or “sniffing that thing” count.) THAT is the thing you are rewarding or punishing. If it wasn’t the last thing they did, it’s too late to recognize it. And nobody wants to come to a cranky person who’s just going to yell at them, c’mon.

        I find that remembering that our dogs are not intentionally trying to aggravate me helps a lot- I’m naturally pretty empathetic towards animals anyway (much moreso than human children, haha), but they can still sometimes drive me nuts. Remembering that my dog does not understand that I am trying to do work so I can afford her fancy-ass dogfood, and only knows that she misses me and wants to play helps me take a second to pet her and find a toy to distract her instead of just yelling “noooo no no no no no stop go away”. She doesn’t know that the mailman is TOTALLY FINE OMG HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO EXPLAIN THIS…. she just knows he’s some creepy dude who turns up at our house once a day and runs away when she barks at him, confident in the knowledge that she’s done her job and protected us. And ever since she got attacked by another dog on a walk (some idiot had her giant dogs on ROPES that she couldn’t hold onto) I can hardly blame her for being wary of them.

        Though our smaller and more barky dog has no excuse. As far as I know he’s never met a dog who didn’t wanna be his friend, he’s just a jerk ;-P

        I will say though, I’ve found clicker training kinda tricky with two dogs :-/ I have to take them into a room away from the other one and do a formal “session”, none of that on-the-fly stuff, or they’d just be confused by all the clicking (and of course the one who isn’t in the room getting treats pitches a fit.) Luckily both our dogs have only mildly annoying behavior problems rather than dangerous or awful ones.

        • Great points! Reading dog behavior books really makes me think about life from her dog-perspective. And putting it in that context makes it a lot easier. My husband also has a great dog voice where he narrates her thoughts in a funny way, and that makes her raging against the mailman funny instead of annoying.

          I see my neighbor do the yelling at the dog to come and then scolding it all the time- it still doesn’t work. For my dog, I don’t even say come, I say “food!” and she runs right over. (I’m the same way. We have a lot in common.)

        • Clicker training two dogs totally can be a pain — we had three in training at one point and it was crazy! What we found helpful is three different brands of clickers that each make a slightly different sound. I know that some come with “adjusters” for skittish dogs to make them quieter. Then you just train each dog to respond to THEIR clicker. To keep non-active-training dog calm, every three/four commands to In Training, ask not-in-training to do something he loves to do. Not-in-training will be proofing his waits/stays and In Training will be practicing with distraction!

  2. I know lots of folks with issues like these. You may wish to crate train him to keep him from randomly leaving you unpleasant presents. I’d also try more classes with him. Modern life is tough on dogs because it requires that his pack leave him every day. I have a friend who rehabs the worst of the worst at the local shelter. Dogs can normally be rehabilitated, she’s only had one that could not be saved, but it’s not easy and requires massive amounts of discipline, time, and energy.

    • I’m doing a lot of commenting today, but I know a lot of people see crate training as inhumane or somehow distasteful.

      IT’S NOT!!! Crate training can be an enormously helpful tool and so long as you don’t use the crate for punishment, is not at all harmful for the dog.

      With crate training, the first thing you want to do is to get your dog to like the crate. The crate is where they get fed, where their toys are. It’s a fantastic place to hang out. Reward them for going in the crate by themselves. Start to close the door, open and reward. Do this again. Close the door, leave the room, and immediately come back and reward, etc. Give them something to do in the crate like a Kong toy stuffed with peanut butter and then frozen. Keep taking small steps (it’s probably best to do this over the weekend or if you can, take a few days off work when you first get a dog) and reward for doing well.

      The crate is now a place that the dog genuinely likes – great stuff happens when they’re in the crate. Some people even only give the dog certain treats (like liver, for instance) when they’re in the crate. And when you come home, you won’t have to worry about being upset at the dog for leaving messes (dogs don’t like to defecate where they sleep) or chewing things up.

      • I totally agree with this. We’ve got a pen attached to the crate to give our large dog some more space – so he can move around easily etc. with water and toys and some treats for him during the day.

        He’s now started to go there in the evenings when he gets tired to put himself to bed.

      • I absolutely advocate for crates but I recently attended a talk by a veterinary behaviorist who clarified that some dogs just will not ever “like” and certainly not “love” their crate. I think the important message that you are giving here is that dogs that are crated should like their crates and shouldn’t be forced into the crate. But no one should feel like a failure if their dog does better loose in the house or confined to the mud room when they are unsupervised.
        That being said, I have never succeeded faster at potty training than with using a crate and one of my dogs will likely never be left outside of her crate for more than an hour when unsupervised because she has a tendency to ingest poisonous things. (She is very smart, very tall and can open cabinet doors.) I think crates are really appropriate for most dogs.

        • I just want to say that the only faster house training I have had than crate training was the time we got a two month old puppy and he fell in love with our three year old catahoula and followed him everywhere having a grand total of three incidents in the house but that is a one in a billion scenario.

      • As an aside, if you have a dog who still doesn’t like the crate, we’ve had luck with leaving ours in small, dog-safe rooms. One of ours started out okay with the crate but got to a point where she’d hide under the bed rather than go into her crate and eat her peanut-butter Kong. Once she was in there, it was fine, she wasn’t freaking out or anything, she just wasn’t a fan, and never went in there of her own accord to hang out- she actually prefers to hang out in the other dog’s (much smaller) crate. Once we switched to letting her have the whole room, she’s happy as a clam to go in there and snooze on the couch by herself.

        The other dog likes his crate- we still give him a whole room anyway, because he’s proven himself trustworthy, but he’ll hide and nap in there, or sometimes sleep in there at night.

    • You might try some operant conditioning with that. Basically, you want to try and change the emotional response of your dogs to the toddler. Everytime they see/interact with (appropriately)/smell the toddler, awesome things happen!

      Start out with just having them be rewarded for just looking at the toddler (clicker training is really good for this as you can precisely cue when something is good). Then you can work your way up to having the toddler touch them, etc. and them being rewarded for it.

      • Sorry, training nerd needs to butt in here and just say that what you’re describing is actually classical (counter)conditioning, not operant conditioning. Classical desensitization and counter-conditioning is definitely the technique of choice for rehabilitating an upset dog, though! 🙂 Working with a professional trainer for this is probably a good idea. And progressing only as quickly as the dog is ready for.

        • Actually, as it’s currently defined by psychology, she had operant conditioning right – that’s where positive reinforcement and behavior shaping comes into play. Classical conditioning is Pavlov’s dog territory – dog drools when he sees food, they start playing a tone when dog gets fed, after a while dog drools to sound of tone regardless of if there is food present.

          • Whoops, just re-read! The positive reinforcement is operant, the clicker is classical. My apologies!

      • Or just coat the toddler in peanut butter and squeezy cheeze 😉

        (kidding, of course- but I do think some dogs learn to like kids because they realize how often they’re covered in delicious human food residue…)

        • My dog generally likes children (that he doesn’t live with any probably helps a lot). But, when he gets access to a stroller, he doesn’t go looking in the seat to see/sniff the kid, he tries to stick his head in the basket underneath. (I don’t actually let him do this, I’m pretty strict about manners – and he’s a big dog.)
          Obviously, at some point before I had him, he learned that’s where the food lives.

        • Haha, yes, my dogs love my kid because he’s constantly dropping food. He’s like a tiny god to them, raining food down from the high chair. Of course, now my kid doesn’t really like the dogs because they are always in his face trying to get his food, but that’s my fault for not training them better, but I mean, c’mon, the kid is always covered in peanut butter, so I can’t really blame them.

        • Everyone in my family keeps talking about how our dog is so bonded to our youngest. Meanwhile I’m pointing out that the dog follows the toddler around because the toddler shares his food with the dog.

  3. We’ve got an appt with our vet this week to decide what to do about our dog. He is 10 years old and I really am so sick of his cr*p. He was a street rescue we adopted when he was 6 months old. We have dealt with severe seperation anxiety, aggression issues, barking issues, and we have hired trainers, taken classes, tried holistic therapies…. for 9.5 years.The straw that broke the camel’s back was when he snapped at a friend’s child who may have leaned on an injured leg — and it required several stiches in her face. That was just really terrifying and everyone told us to put him down. I gave him the benefit of the doubt and faulted myself for not having a protected space for him. But now 18 months later I have a new baby on the verge of crawling and even the kennel and soft muzzle I bought don’t give me peace of mind. If anything ever happened to my children I would absolutely never ever forgive myself. I have to consider that this dog is not ever going to get any better. I love him, I still do, but like the OP I do not like him or trust him. I don’t think he is mean, just emotionally unstable. Unfortunately unless there is some person who takes damaged aggressive older dogs I can only see one option 🙁

    • As a rule I would say it’s almost always better and kinder to an older, unstable dog to be euthed by and with their owner/family.

      You have no control as to what happens to an animal once it leaves your home /possession and for an old dog who has known you as his family for however many years I can’t think of much worse than permanent separation from the people he loves going into an unknown and scary future.

      We have a plan for our dogs who are both animal aggressive, unseparable, and big old black dogs (hardest to adopt out) that if we ever feel we are unable to keep them safe and together they’ll go over the Rainbow bridge together with both of their humans present. And Now I’m crying because we came thisclose to having to do just that a couple years ago. But honestly I do think it’s the kindest thing people can do for old dogs who’ve been with their families for a while, especially if they are dogs with other issues.

      • It’s so SO sad, but I agree with this. I had a friend years ago who got a rescued chihuahua who was known for biting and hostility. My friend then spent 4 years doing continuous training, positive reinforcement, and even anti-depressants… but the dog just couldn’t stop being aggressive. He attacked almost anyone who entered their house, and sometimes even turned on my friend.

        At a certain point, my friend made the difficult choice to euthanize the dog. After talking to the rescue group where she’d gotten him, they informed her that he was “unadoptable,” and she figured that the most humane thing to do was a loving in-home put-down. She held him while he got his shot, and ushered him out gently… it was so SO hard for her, but ultimately I think was the best ending that aggressive pup was going to get. 🙁

        It’s not a choice everyone would choose to make, but I think in some situations it’s the most humane option.

        • Have you heard the This American Life about Ira Glass’s dog Piney? It’s really interesting (and heartbreaking)… similar story, the dog is just… emotionally damaged. I don’t even think it was a rescue, or that they did anything wrong, it just has issues, and they’ve had to mold their whole lives around it. It’s such a tough thing because you have to balance between living your own life and walking the delicate line where this creature you love can actually feel safe and happy and enjoy HIS life… I seriously have no idea what I’d do in that situation :-/

          • That was an interesting TAL episode (the most recent one: Animal Sacrifice) . I feel really bad for Ira and Anaheed.
            I recently listened to a podcast (need to go figure out which one) with Caitlin Doughty (Our Favorite Mortician, Order of the Good Death). And she talked about about home animal euthanasia (home vs. at a vet). Oh! It was Savage Lovecast Episode 382 (Live V-Day episode) Around ~18:00-21:00. (she’s done 3 episodes; #314, 366, 382)
            [NOTE: Dan Savage can be crass, and very descriptive, so sensitive ears might not want to listen about the ‘icky’ sex and foul foul words. 😛 ]

      • I really hope that you would try to find them new homes (not dump them at a shelter, of course, but seek out adopters) before defaulting to euthanasia :-/ Would not be easy, of course, but such homes exist- if I was between dogs and heard of a duo like that, I’d take ’em in a heartbeat. A new home would take some adjustment, but if it’s a good one, they would be okay. Dogs are more adaptable than we think- the last senior dog I took in, the previous owner was convinced he was going to be a total wreck when she left him… he was seriously fine. A little confused for an hour or two, then got right over it and settled in. (Our current dog whined for two days when we first got her, before getting used to everything and calming down, but she’s one of the most neurotic dogs I’ve ever met. Still only took a few days, though. They might love us, but they really seem to live in the moment ;-P)

    • Sometimes there are no other options. You have given your pup a long life and give him more chances then many people would. I rescue and it’s hard to deal with cats and dogs abandoned by their owners when they’re seniors, it’s a struggle to get them happy and healthy again. And many times they don’t live more then a couple of months past when they were surrendered anyways. Sadly many rescues wouldn’t take a pup with a history like yours and mixed with his age, and if you surrender him a kill shelter all he’ll face is a couple days of horror before being put to sleep anyways, assuming it’s not an automatic thing since he’s proven to be people aggressive. You can try, as there are people who do take in only special needs older dogs but they’re few and far between. So no matter what decision you make at the vet this week, just know you have done an amazing job and given your pup a long life of happiness.

    • Stitches to a child’s face…? And you still have him 18 months later? To me that would’ve been the decision maker.

      Not trying to sound like I’m passing judgement, but I’m really curious. How did your friends react when their child was hurt by your dog? If that were me I’d never take her/him over to your house again if you still had the same dog, I can’t imagine the strain that has put on your friendship. And aren’t there laws about dogs who bite?

      • Having lived in an attic apartment to a house where my landlady’s dog attacked me on multiple occasions (one of which I probably SHOULD have gone for stitches), I have to say, if it were my dog, I would not have been so tolerant. She and I had some serious discussions about the situation–she had rescued the dog (which had previously been both abused and neglected), the dog had a history of being aggressive to family members AND at least one previous tenant, yet she continued to retain the animal, though he wasn’t getting any better.

        I was concerned, as she has younger nieces and nephews, and I thought, well, while it hurts me a lot to have my leg all chewed up, if it’s a small child, how much worse it could be! Having said all that, she probably still has the dog, this number of years later, as every time I talked to her it was a “yes, I need to make that appointment” and yet nothing would happen, and nothing would happen, and meanwhile I experienced anxiety every time I had to leave my apartment or go back.

        I moved after living there for a year because I couldn’t handle the feeling that I wasn’t free to safely come and go, and still had nightmares for years afterward about being attacked by that dog. Yes, nightmares. That and anxiety around unfamiliar dogs, a feeling I had never experienced beforehand, having grown up with a friendly–and fairly large–labrador mix dog. I’m still working through that fear.

        My thought is, as hard as it is to think of it this way, if a dog has attacked a person to the point of someone needing stitches, probably the dog isn’t going to be able to be rehabilitated. (I could be wrong, but this is just how I feel about it.) At that point, it’s more of a danger to you, your family, your friends, and strangers, than makes sense for keeping it alive. It’s hard to hear, especially as someone who loves animals, but especially when it comes to children, you just can’t take risks.

  4. I’m sorry, I know that’s hard on you. I had a puppy and my grown dog. My big dog Hondo died shortly after, and he was my perfect dog. He was always watching over the house, always made me feel better when I was upset, if the kids were outside he was always right there to keep them safe. German Shepherd a companion dog. When he dead I was broken, was one of my best friends. I was left with Blue, the not so small puppy that he’s nice, but into everything. He’s a blue tick, so a hunting dog, not what I wanted or needed. I won’t be some that got a dog and just took them to the pound when they didnt fit my needs. So I kept him, tried not to let him drive me too crazy. But the other day I broke my foot, and Blue was right there, he was by my side being protective and loving. He was just what I needed.
    I guess my point is, don’t give up on him, try classes or just working with him. You’re not a bad person, or even alone. Btw I use to get mad at my husband for saying he didn’t like Blue too, it kinda sucks when you feel the same way, I know.

    • I was just going to write a submission called “Learning to Love My Dog”.

      I’ve got a 13 month old dog, and had huge issues with him for most of the first 10 months of his life, finally we have achieved a mutual respect (except for yesterday we had some issues again).

      Given this post, I’ll probably wait a bit before submitting, but I’m glad I’m not the only one who doesn’t love their dog unconditionally.

      • I would love to read this post! I got really lucky with my rescue dog, but sometimes when I have a migraine and she won’t. stop. barking. it’s hard to feel the love.

        • I think they’re a lot like kids… it’s just that people won’t admit to having moments where they don’t like their kids 😉 You love them deeply but occasionally you wanna throttle ’em.

      • After owning several dogs, my experience has taught me that most dogs still exhibit puppy ‘disbehavior’ until about 2 years old. So I would encourage any and all dog owners to give it until AT LEAST 2 before they decide they can’t overcome their difficulties with their dogs.

        • I will second this. Jackson went through a BIG CHILL when he turned three. He was almost a totally different dog… almost. But WAY easier to handle.

        • I agree with this. My parents’ dog, a husky/lab mix, had a puppy phase of about four years. She’s pretty chill, now, but it was a lot of years of jumping on people and chewing up shoes.

  5. The road to liking my dog was long and difficult. We adopted her as a 10+ month puppy when my eldest daughter was 8 months old. She had and still has a really high energy level, although it was really insane as a puppy. Absolutely no manners when we got her; within the first day, I found her standing with all four paws in the middle of our dining room table. And she’d sail over baby gates as if they meant nothing, bounce and nip my upper arms and shoulders when I turned my back on her and within the first week we discovered that she had a massive fear of older men when she cornered my father in law when he walked into our house alone.
    Oh, have I mentioned the reactivity to damn near every dog? Yeah.
    So….classes. Classes. Classes. Classes helped give her something to do. And helped give my husband and I tools to learn on to train this super fast dog. We took a break from formal training for a while just after discovering I was pregnant with kiddo #2. Now that kiddo #2 is just about 2 years old, we’ve enrolled in training classes again, this time to practice looking at dogs, things, people and not freaking out about them.
    When we first adopted Sally, I had many, many lofty goals. Maybe agility, maybe therapy work, maybe a lot of things. Nowadays, my goals are much more realistic for the dog that we have: someday, I want to walk her in public, in broad daylight, and not have to worry about her screaming insults at any dog in sight. And oh gosh, dare I hope? Getting our CGC certificate.
    The classes really helped cement for me that despite her flaws, we have an amazingly good dog. She loves her kids, she loves her people. She wants a job to do. She’s a pretty okay running partner. We had a training class yesterday in which she managed to *look at another dog* sitting directly across the room from her and she did not freak out about it. I am so damn proud of even little accomplishments like that. All this work into this dog has made me absolutely like her for exactly who she is.

    • I really don’t know how to train animals, just how to avoid problems, haha. My cat started climbing the blinds in the morning when I would be getting dressed, so I bought one of those automatic laser toys to turn on while I was getting ready in the morning. He was keeping us awake at night by jumping against the door, so we put his cat bed right outside the bedroom door and spent one terrible week of ignoring him when he would jump or meow. Eventually it worked.
      When I lived in my first city apartment, I brought my cat with me from my parents’ house. My roommate decided to take in a feral cat, which resulted in my cat being constantly terrified and peeing on my bed as a way to reclaim a small amount of territory for herself. It was not a problem I could solve, and I had to take the cat back to my parents’ house. So, moral of the story- there are plenty of non-feral cats in shelters EVERYWHERE, so it would be a lot easier to adopt a non-feral cat than try to domesticate one from the street. And not all cats can get along, but you’ve probably got a much better chance with one that is actually domesticated.

      • I work as an animal control officer, and I second your message about feral cats. After about 6 months old, it is extremely hard/impossible to tame a feral cat. The best thing for a feral cat is TNR (trap, neuter, release), especially if it has a “safe” place where it gets shelter and food from a caretaker. Some shelters even have Barn Buddies program as a more humane alternative to euthanizing feral cats; people can adopt fixed and vaccinated feral cats as “outdoor only” barn cats.

        • We have a feral rescue, we got her just before the cut off (she still had her milk teeth when she arrived in our house!), and she STILL has issues, 7 years later. Absolutely food driven, she’s learned to open zippers to get at things that smell DELICIOUS (this includes things like coffee beans, empty tupperware, chocolate, anything tomato sauced, butter, etc). She’s also quite skittish, but an absolute snuggle bug once she’s relaxed. She’s very bonded to our other kitty, who is being put down on Friday (18 year old cat with progressive chronic pancreatitis, who stopped eating over the weekend), so we’re anxious about the behaviour stuff escalating…. She’s pretty neurotic, but does some very funny things, and we’ve just learned to live with her (not leave dishes out, make sure all food is secured).

    • This is actually why I don’t have cats. I love cats and am the biggest cat person ever. We always had cats when I was growing up, and I loved all of them. But they were all neurotic in some way or another. I have never had a cat who doesn’t leave surprises, destroy furniture, or just generally freak out. Perhaps it’s too much to expect, but I just don’t want to deal with that stuff.

      Anyway, I love cats, I just can’t have them in my house because I’d be a very bad cat-parent.

      • I have never had a cat, but “bad” cats can definitely improve. I watched this show “My Cat from Hell”, which is pretty much The Dog Whisperer for cats and I was amazed! When the people fixed some things and worked with the cat, they started behaving so much better! I recommend the show to any cat owner 😀

        • Well, I am not a fan of the Dog Whisperer, but Jackson Galaxy from “My Cat From Hell” is the bees knees. I think it’s on Netlfix.

          • Yeah, it is on Netflix! I love Jackson Galaxy! He is so great with the animals. I agree, even as a dog person, I like “My Cat from Hell” so much more than the Dog Whisperer.

        • Through a combination of a companion, pheromone diffusers, switching food, and creating high-up places for the cat to climb, my “bad” cat’s behavior really improved. He went from being anxious and neurotic, vomiting all the time, peeing on stuff daily, and being destructive to peeing only rarely, and vomiting only about once a week.
          There are practical, easy to make changes that can make a cat much happier in your home.
          (Although side note: while the cat was at the pet sitter, he got so anxious he escaped and never came back. I like to think he’s happier living as a stray.)

        • Jackson Rules!!!!
          Yay for the kitties!

          I was really worried about the psycho two blonde roomies kitty from season 3- when Jackson says your cat is particularly interesting or fascinating, it’s like if Spock has just said the same thing, and get the “Oohhhhh this is not good” feeling.

      • For destroying furniture: First, DO NOT declaw cats. It’s horrible and inhumane amputation. *shudders* But, they do make a product called Soft Paws. They’re these little plastic caps that glue over your cat’s claws so that they can’t scratch. They stay on 1-4 weeks and then fall off; you just replace them as they come off. My cat was raised having his paws handled and his claws trimmed with nail clippers, so it wasn’t hard for him to adapt to these.

        As for accidents everywhere…if a cat is peeing places, it could be a medical issue so they should go to the vet first. Then, it’s important for them to LIKE their litter box. If it’s dirty or enclosed somewhere with ventilation, they might not like it. Try placing 2-3 litter boxes around and see which one they prefer. Now, my TOP recommendation for litter box problems….Try the litter called Cat Attract. It’s a clumping litter that literally attracts cats to their box. My guy had some problems after we moved, so I switched to this litter and he’s been PERFECT ever since. It’s a little pricier than, say, Tidy Cats….but it’s so worth it.

        • My cat had a really bad time with soft paws. They didn’t fall off, and her nails over grew and looked horrid. While like anything, YMMV, I couldn’t recommend them to anyone. Thankfully, I was able to trim them back and make them comfortable for Patty Pants again.

          We bought a cat tree with a big section of scratching post and that stopped all bad scratching on furniture.

          • Did you put too much glue in the claw covers? If they’re filled more than a third of the way with glue, then yes they might get attached to the “base” of the claws instead of the claw itself. Since claws sort of “shed” layers (and hence why they scratch) it’s not normal for the Soft Paws to stay on long.

    • Yeah. I always thought that I loved cats. Growing up, we had them, but we lived on a farm and they were indoor outdoor cats. Then, I went and fell in love with and married a “crazy cat man” who has six cats, indoor only. SIX. Turns out, I actually hate cats. A lot. Guess you’re never too old to learn new things about yourself.

  6. This is hitting far too close to home, as I just had to surrender one of my dogs because we really just could not stand her anymore. My husband adopted her for me as a gift in 2007. She has always been a problem dog- tearing up the house, going through the trash, couldn’t still if her life depended on it- and had to be crated when we weren’t there to watch her, including just stepping out of the room to use the bathroom! The only fights that my husband and I ever got in were over this dog. She never behaved for my husband, but would listen to me. Then she stopped listening to me, too.
    We tried so hard to make it work. She had been through obedience classes and did wonderfully with sit and stay and that kind of stuff, but overall behavior just never improved. We even brought a trainer to the house to assess her for a possible intensive training program that would require her to stay with the trainer for a few weeks. The trainer told us that the dog was really hyperactive and that she couldn’t say whether the training would actually work because it is just her personality. During the visit, she tried to get the dog to sit still long enough to put a leash on, open the door, and take her outside, stopping each time the dog moved. It took 45 minutes just to get the leash on! We don’t have these kinds of problems with our other 2 dogs so I was at a loss as to what I could be doing wrong by her.
    In the last year, she also started growling and snapping at the other 2 dogs, and stealing food from and growling at my 3 year old son. It was so hard and I hate that we had to do it. I feel like a failure and that I have betrayed her. I had her for almost 7 years. Why couldn’t I just try harder? Or just deal with it for another 7 years?
    I know she has already found a foster home at least, so it makes me feel the tiniest bit better, but it still hurts.
    I know this probably isn’t making anyone feel better and I apologize for the rant, but if feels good to get it out, so thank you.

    • I surrendered a 4 year old dog as well. She was found wandering the streets as a puppy and I took her in because I felt bad. But she wasn’t the right dog for our home at all. I rescue and foster cats all the time, and dogs on occasion. So I felt like a failure surrendering my own dog when I rescue pets like her! It took around a year but we found an amazing home for her where she is happy and way better off then she was in our home. They can handle her hyper activity and they had no other pets so really it was perfect for her, as hard as it was for me. In the long run I know it was a better choice then keeping her.

      • Thanks Reikitty. It helps to hear that. I tried for over a year to find her a home, but it didn’t work out. Finally I decided the shelter would have a better chance finding her a good match.

  7. Please know that separation anxiety is a behavior problem that will NOT be solved by attending classes. If it truly is clinical separation anxiety, you really need to find a highly experienced positive reinforcement trainer or veterinary behaviorist to work one on one with. Constant barking and urination/defecation when left alone are two symptoms of separation anxiety. Being left alone is truly distressing for these dogs, and the road to recovery (where you are able to leave the dog home alone) is a long and difficult one. The dog cannot be left alone during the behavior modification process. If your dog is friendly with other dogs, having him attend daycare during they day while you work may help ease both of your minds. Here’s a fabulous article by the ASPCA on separation anxiety: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/separation-anxiety

    • Is there anyway that seperation anxiety dogs can be trained to be assistant dogs for people with special needs? Or does that have super special requirements?

  8. I really lucked out with my rescue dog- most of her issues we’ve been able to solve.
    – established boundaries when we first got her (even though your impulse is to completely spoil them)- no dogs on the bed
    – she chewed some shoes i left in the middle of the floor – don’t keep shoes in the middle of the floor. Have a basket with a lid for shoes by the door.
    – she got into the trashcan – get a bigger trashcan with a lid that is harder to get into. place overly tempting foods directly in the trashcan outside
    – she would get worked up by seeing people walk by on the sidewalk – pinned the curtain shut on that window so she couldn’t see them
    – for some reason, letting her sniff the mail or packages that are delivered gets her to stop barking immediately. i have no idea.
    – this dog needs a regular schedule. she likes taking the same route on our walks. i guess she likes knowing what to expect
    – she needs her PLACE in order for her to settle. i move her bed into the office with me if i’m going to working in there for a long time so she settles instead of roaming around the house getting ansy and barking.
    – when in doubt, exercise your dog as long and hard as you can. if i just let her out in the backyard to potty in the morning, she barks all day and is anxious when we get home. if i give her a good walk in the morning, she sleeps all day. overall she has medium energy, so i’ve been able to tell exactly how much exercise she needs. higher energy dogs are harder to exhaust

    It’s really difficult knowing what you’re going to get yourself into. Personally, I am wary of 9-10 month old dogs at shelters. To me, that says that someone got a puppy, never trained it, didn’t socialize it properly, and then it got too big to handle or deal with, and they dropped it at the shelter. I know a lot of people do fine with these dogs, but it was too much of a risk for me for my first dog.

    I am sharing this not because I’m an expert or anything, just in the hopes that one of these tricks will make someone’s life easier!

    • You’re right – you really do need to set your dog up for success as much as possible.

      For example, we’ll be moving soon into our apartment and will hopefully be getting a new dog. Therefore, we’ll be buying furniture, etc. A lot of the things I’m considering buying are partly because I know it will help set the dog up for success. Bookcases with doors, for example, so the dog can’t easily pull things off the shelf. A bench to put shoes in by the front door so they won’t chew the shoes, a hamper with a lid so they can’t get to the (evidently very tasty) panty crotches!

      Every time a dog does something, it’s practice. You want to, as much as possible, eliminate practicing of the bad things.

      Routine is also so important. If a dog knows what to expect, and what is expected of them, things usually go much more smoothly. This isn’t to say that everything is going to be sunshine and roses, but hopefully all of this together will create an environment where your dog can be the best dog they can be.

      • This is an aside, but can I just say that I’m so happy you mentioned the panty crotch chewing thing? Our first dog did this incessantly when she was a puppy, and the worst part is she would steal them and hide them all over the house. We once hosted my husband’s boss for Thanksgiving (we were living overseas – you eat Thanksgiving with pretty much anyone you know), and her toddler randomly found and pulled out a dirty, chewed on pair of underwear from between the cushions of our couch. The worst part was that the boss also had a puppy at the time, and so I took them and tried to joke it off as, “Oh, you know how puppies love to steal underwear and hide it!”…except apparently her puppy did not. I’m so glad to hear someone else has had this issue – albeit perhaps not with such mortifying consequences!

        • I was just going to say the same thing! My aunt and uncle have the most lovely, well-trained dog ever. She hardly barks, is super calm, waits patiently by the door for you to notice when she wants in or out. She’ll even leave food alone when it’s on the coffee table in easy reach. BUT. Her one vice is chewing the crotches out of women’s underwear, whether it’s dirty or not–I think she starts with the dirty ones and just can’t stop herself! She’s the best dog I’ve ever met, but whenever I visit I have to be anal about keeping my suitcase closed, or she’ll get in there the one time I slip up.

    • We’ve taken a similar tack with ours- keep the front blinds shut so they can’t see out to bark, for awhile we kept the toilet paper on the back of the toilet so one of ’em wouldn’t pull it off the roll (she seems to have forgotten how, now… knock on wood.) We did fail at “no dogs on the bed”, though… heh. But yeah, anything you can solve by changing your own habits instead of theirs is a time saver- there’s some adage about someone asking a dog trainer if they could train their dog not to drink out of the toilet, and the trainer replies “Yeah, I could, but it’d be much easier to train you to close the lid.”

  9. You are not alone! Hey, neither am I!

    I often wish I had listened to that little voice and returned my dog to the rescue group when the aggression first appeared, before that bite occurred. We got him at about 1 year old. It was clear he’d had little or poor socialization and no training. He was goofy and energetic and stupid/smart and oh so handsome. An escape artist with an unfettered drive to hunt. But also amazing with all the toddlers at the park, and not lickey at all. Not the snuggler I craved, but the beastie I needed to keep me and him exercised. And yes, day one he was standing on the dining room table too. And days two and three.

    We made many investments that have made improvements. After 2.5 years, we have had him successfully come when called in his last three escapes. You have no idea how huge this is. He still wears the tagg gps on his collar. We have some level of operant behavior when there aren’t other challenges. Other challenges included all cats, some dogs, and any local wildlife worthy of hunting. However, it’s like that gopher game at the fairground. We get one behavior manageable and others rear up. We used to get warning signs for reactive behavior. Now he goes zero to 60 in an instant over deer, garbage trucks, delivery trucks and certain dogs. Manageability outside of controlled environments is iffy. I can’t imagine taking him to a class now. He’s lunged at people and attempted to attack extended family and house guests. He’s recently begun demand barking at family members in effort to control the environment around dumb stuff like turning a newspaper page.

    We have a crate and we use it. We’ve stepped up obedience exercises. We generally stick with positive reinforcement except when he’s red zone I will resort to a squirt bottle. He’s had a two week on site electric collar training program which was monumental in getting him to the sometimes-operancy level we have now.

    When he’s just a dog he is lovely and fun. He tosses and chases his toys gleefully for our entertainment. He’s so handsome that strangers frequently comment on it and he’s a superstar athlete. But when he’s a disaster dog, I can barely keep hold of the leash. I’m worried for the day that he redirects onto me or another human member of the pack. We’re prisoners of the dog. I’m exhausted by him. Is he a bad dog or are we bad owners?

    • I wouldn’t say Bptacoma that you have a bad dog or that you are bad owners. You just might not have the right dog in the right home. He sounds super high energy and very dominant. No dog should be barking at his people ever. The thing that concerns me for you is how you have almost no manageability in the outside world. What keeps him from biting a child that gets too close, even when the dog is on a leash? You shouldn’t have to live in an environment where you are afraid of your dog or of what your dog might do.
      I’ve worked with many people who have had dogs like yours–sometimes finding them a different home is the best thing for both you and the dog.

    • It sounds like his first owners were the bad owners (I really wish people would DO RESEARCH before getting a puppy! They require work! Education! You can’t just sail through it and expect a decent adult dog on the other end! Arg!) and you are the people trying your damnedest to make it right. Just remember every time he exhausts you that your patience with him is probably literally saving his life, every day. (And at the very least, he’ll eventually get old and lazy.)

  10. This is going to sound harsh but you should really consider re-homing your dog if you do not like him anymore. Animals, like people, can pick up on what people around them are feeling and thinking. They are as intuitive as you are.
    The fact that your child is likely getting more attention than the dog is, and I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, is probably contributing to the situation. When adopting a dog, if it isn’t a puppy, you should find out what it’s history is. Are they used to being “top dog” or are they okay with having others, canine or human, around. Doing your research will prevent situations like this.

  11. Rehome this dog, he deserves an owner that will put him first. Rescue dogs need work and it seems like he’s not the highest priority, let him go to someone who will make him a priority. It’s better for all of you.

  12. It is possible that this is a situation where you need to rehome the dog. Not all animals are suited for all homes, just like all people aren’t suited for all situations. It does not mean you’re a bad person, that you’re a failure, or that you need to have any shame heaped upon you by anyone. It just might mean that your dog would be happier in another home, with a different family dynamic and a different routine. Not all dogs do well in homes with kids, not all dogs are good with other pets. The idea that you must never ever consider rehoming a pet, even if that might be to his best interest as well as yours, is a bad one that causes lots of unhappiness. Obviously by “rehome” I don’t mean, drop off at the kill shelter and wish him luck. But if you got him through a rescue, I’m sure that they would be willing to talk with you about finding the dog a more suitable placement. I volunteer with a no kill shelter where we live, and this is a thing that sometimes happens. Especially if you feel like the dog might be aggressive with the children, better to do it sooner than later…a dog that has bit a child is unlikely to find a suitable new home.

    I will say that I adopted an adult dog with some issues, and it took a while for us to adjust to one another and get into a routine that works. He had insane separation anxiety, for one thing, and the absolute best solution for that has turned out to be crate training. I know some people don’t care for crates because they feel like it’s not cool to confine an animal in a small space like that, but our experience has been very positive. He loves his crate; it’s his very own little personal den space. It probably took a few months to get him trained, starting out with a large crate and sizing down to the one he has now, but now when he wants to chill out and not be bothered he goes and lays down in his crate on his own. Most dogs won’t soil an area that they use for sleeping, so his panic pooping stopped, and because he’s closed up in the crate he’s no longer tearing up anything he can find and trying to claw his way out the windows when we leave. And, having the crate has overall eased his anxiety about being left alone; he used to panic from the moment he saw me start getting dressed to leave in the mornings. Now, 9 times out of 10, he’s in his crate laying down all chill by the time I’m ready to close the crate door and leave.

    We also did some obedience training; in my dog’s case, neither he nor I was terribly interested in stuff like tricks, and I probably don’t make him “sit” as much as I should, but just the experience of training together made him more chill and helped our relationship click. Vets usually have cards somewhere for good trainers (I’m not a fan of those canned “obedience classes” they have at big chain pet stores personally) and many of them will even come to your house to help assess the dog in his home environment.

    Also, sometimes dogs can have emotional problems that can’t be handled with just training and behavior modification. Sometimes, just like with people, dogs need meds. We were able to calm my dog’s anxiety without drugs, but other people I know have had to get their dogs meds to take the edge off, and most have had a good result.

    I would say, consult a dog behaviorist/trainer who is vouched for and willing to come to you, as well as a vet. They’ll be able to tell you the best way to deal with what is going on with your dog. And then, you have to be very honest with yourself about whether or not this is something you are willing and able to commit to dealing with. If so, just be advised that it takes time and nothing happens overnight, but in the end you might end up with a great dog that is a wonderful part of your family. If not…consider rehoming through a reputable channel like a rescue. Either way, good luck!

  13. Thank you! I’m so glad that somebody else said it first…. my name is Deyanna and I hate my dog. Just looking at him pisses me off sometimes and I feel like such as asshole for it! I mean, what kind of horrible person hates their own fur baby?? Me.

    • I was relieved when I got this question in my inbox. I was like YOU HAVE MADE ME FEEL NOT SO ALONE! Which is why I was super-happy to publish it. Because if I feel this way, I’m sure my Homies have similar struggles.

    • To echo the comment above…

      “This is going to sound harsh but you should really consider re-homing your dog if you do not like him anymore. Animals, like people, can pick up on what people around them are feeling and thinking.”

      • I understand the concern but I don’t intend to give up on him just yet. Deep down, I still love him and my son certainly loves the crap out of him. I’m just relieved to know that I’m not the only one struggling with my feelings toward my incredibly difficult dog.

  14. I really appreciate all the comments that I have read on this post so far. My only addition – and maybe it’s not even an addition, but I think it’s worth highlighting – is that it can be helpful to reframe some problem behaviors seen with dogs (and cats) as problems for HUMANS and not necessarily a real “problem” behavior.

    For example, if your dog lived with only other dogs, would anyone care about counter surfing, digging, barking, trash diving, etc? OF COURSE, that doesn’t mean dog owners should turn a blind eye to these behaviors.

    It has helped my relationship with my dogs immensely to understand that these dogs are living in a human society that they need my guidance and management to succeed in. For me, this was the difference between feeling very bitter about my dog emptying the recycling bin or chasing our cat and accepting that the continuance of these behaviors was because *I* wasn’t preventing them or figuring out a way to make them stop. Chasing and scavenging is NORMAL dog behavior and the only problem with it is that I, as human, have a problem with it.

    So, we have an extra tall baby gate at our kitchen doorway that is constantly closed and we worked really hard at “Leave it” and reliable recalls with our dogs. The bottom line is, don’t blame your dog for being a dog. And PLEASE don’t blame your dog because he/she isn’t living up to your expectations for their personality or temperament – every individual deserves to have their own likes/dislikes respected, even canines and felines!

    Sometimes rehoming or humane euthanasia really is the best option for the health, happiness and safety of everyone. But make sure rehoming is done responsibly – avoid Craigslist or Facebook unless you can really vet the person you are sending your dog to. It’s only fair for the dog and it could prevent liability issues for you. If you try a shelter, learn about their placements options and understand that it might be more compassionate for you to have the dog euthanized with the comfort of your company at a veterinarian’s office, rather having the dog languish at the shelter for a few weeks before being put down by a stranger.

    • Also…the little I know of cognitive therapy has been shouting in my head, “Don’t say,’I HATE my pet!'”

      Pets can be so frustrating sometimes and that is certainly an easy thing to feel when you are cleaning up the trash for the 100th time or apologizing for the barking, lunging, hyperactive dog at the end of the leash or experiencing incessant meowing for food.

      But it’s not going to improve your relationship with your pet!

      Pinpoint concrete things that your pet is doing that are irritating/frustrating/unacceptable. Then figure out what to do about them! There are lots of resources for counter condition/desensitization, teaching incompatible behaviors or dealing with mild/moderate behavior issues. (SEEK PROFESSIONAL HELP if you are concerned about safety for yourself or your dog or aren’t seeming improvement!)

  15. Thank you, yet again, Offbeat Empire for channeling exactly what I am feeling. Long story short is that, after leaving a toxic relationship (which, in his defense, he did love our three rescue dogs) and then finding myself expecting with my new parter (who thankfully, is an amazing dad but NOT a dog person), myself and my dogs have been through quite the experience.
    The hardest choice I’ve made in my entire life, was to re-home my two older dogs. They were both well-adjusted, easygoing and loving dogs (the least traumatized of the three). They have now both been adopted into loving homes. The younger one, however, was a puppy mill rescue – after four years. She came to the rescue pregnant. She has many problems.
    She is extremely attached to me, and it is even more difficult with a spouse who isn’t a dog person, and two young kids at the house. Her life is completely different than it was a few years ago, and the heartbreaking reality is that she has fallen off the high priority list. But with this article (and the fun ‘surprises’ she leaves on the carpet), I am committing to making her a higher priority. I need to build her in to the growth and goals I am working on.
    The thing is, she rarely barks. She is timid and kind. She just poops and pees. And is super awkward. She is only destructive when kennelled (so no longer kennelled), and she only occasionally cries when she is kennelled or she knows I am home but she is not with me. I need to work on these things with her. Off leash parks, KONG toys and some structure will (hopefully!) do wonders.

    Thanks again for this.

    • This really resonated with me because we have two dogs that both have some problems/quirks/unique personalities. Thankfully (oh, so thankfully) neither is destructive or aggressive towards us, and I know they’re really great dogs when you look at the big picture. But they both have their own special types of anxiety and sometimes super-annoying manifestations thereof. There are many days where it is their simple discontentment with their pretty opulent life that drives me up the wall – because I don’t exist SOLELY to make them happy 24 hrs a day, but I often feel hostage to one or both of them.

      But the point is, I’ve considered rehoming one of them because they feed on each other’s anxiety in a negative way; I’m not sure they can ever really be happy in a home together, or at least that I will ever have the energy to attend to both of their anxiety needs separately. But if I had to rehome one of them today, I could tell you in less than a heartbeat which one it would be – the “better” one. The one that everyone loves, and no one understands why I don’t like him sometimes (aka the one that is the reason I opened this thread). He’s the one that loves every stranger, that adores kids so much that he does full body shakes when he sees them, that is laying on my feet on the couch right now as happy as a clam, and won’t complain a bit if I readjust myself. But he’s the one who would go, if I had to make a choice. I wouldn’t just rehome him because he’d be the one that would adjust better somewhere else. I’d make that choice because we just don’t click the right way; he’s attached to me and needs me as his pack leader (completely ignores my husband) but I’m not sure he really likes me – just as I’m committed to being his caretaker and have spent thousands of dollars and hours on his health and training issues since we adopted him, but sometimes I just don’t really like him.

      The one that I’d keep, and never, ever consider rehoming, is the crazier one. The one that only a few other people on the planet like, the one that has a very hard time with strangers and will growl, bark and even nip at anyone who she doesn’t know that tries to pat her. She’s the one that, on the rare occasion she settles on my feet on the couch, will scream at me if I so much as move a toe. She’s the weirdo that never, since she was a puppy we literally found in a trash can, had a single serious health issue, despite having a penchant for eating broken glass when she was little (yeah, seriously). And I love her like crazy, unconditionally (which is not to say we don’t still work on improving some of her behaviors…), and could never, ever give her up to someone else. Not only because I’m not sure we could find anyone else to love her, but because I couldn’t live without her. Now, how is that not the cardinal sin of loving one of your dependents more than the other?

      Long story short, I’m just glad to hear that someone else has chosen to keep their less popular and more difficult dog while rehoming an easier one(s). I’m still hoping we can find a way to not have to rehome either of them, but this whole discussion makes me feel less alone in this process, and I’m particularly happy to hear from someone who has compassionately found a better place for part of the fur family while choosing to keep and protect another part of it. Thanks.

  16. I think a lot of the comments are spot on: take some classes, talk to your vet (and possibly a behavior specialist), and work on crate training. Is there anyone from your rescue group that you can talk to? I adopted 2 greyhounds from a fairly large group, and when the second dog had issues, there were a ton of people I was able to talk to. You might want to try separating your dog and the toddler when the toddler is walking as well. From what I can remember, I think the recommendation is to keep walking babies separated from the dog until the baby is at least 24 months.

    Also, as a side note, know that your dog still probably has a lot of changing left to do. We’ve had greyhound #2 for two and a half years now, and it took her a long time to get comfortable with us. She still has tons of quirks, but it’s amazing to see how far she’s come.

    • At the risk of leaving WAY too many comments on this thread, just one more: thanks for the account of letting your dog settle in for an extended period. Our second guy has been with us for almost a year now, and we knew that he had had at least 4 moves in his first 1.5 years of life (before we got him), so despite his happy-go-lucky exterior, it became clear pretty early on that he was going to need an extended period to realize that this was actually his permanent home. Honestly, he still has a hard time picking my husband and I out of a crowd, and seems happier to see just about anyone else in the world (seriously – random strangers on the street, I swear he runs up to them and says, “Rescue me from these boring people!”), despite the fact that we’re the ones who have fed and loved him for the last year – and that really sucks sometimes.

      It didn’t help that our first dog had (and is occasionally still having) a very hard time adjusting to the fact that Dog #2 has the right to live here, too. Though we did go about the integration thoughtfully with a lot of structure, and both dogs have made a lot of progress in the last year (as individuals and as a duo)…there have been times lately where we’ve felt like, WTF, it’s been a year and if things aren’t settled by now then how are they ever going to be. (For the record, we’ve done obedience class, with mixed/mild success; we’ve done a lot of at-home behavior modification; we’ve addressed all sorts of periphery health issues to make sure those aren’t contributing to the problem, and have already consulted a vet behaviorist, but still have 4 more weeks until our appt with her because it takes 10 weeks to get access to a vet behaviorist in the city where we live…yeah).

      Anyway, thanks for the reminder that it can take time to settle in and grow up, too. I’m still mulling over your comment about talking to his rescue too. My hesitation is that he was ‘sold’ to us as one of their stars, who was so wonderful and easy-going and happy with other dogs and people and was a sure-thing winner (despite already having been returned by one other adopter…) who would be great for our other dog who was quite anxious. I worry that approaching them and saying he’s still having major anxiety after a year and has failed to really attach to us, we’re going to be blamed for his failure to attach – like we haven’t tried to provide literally everything a dog could need and want. Sigh…oh well, guess I’ll just keep thinking about this one. Thanks for the food for thought, though!

  17. I can totally relate to this!

    We got our dog as a puppy, and he was pretty okay when we lived in an apartment (besides barking). But when I got pregnant we moved to our new home and things started de-escalating quickly. He’s SO good with our toddler, and that’s the only reason we have kept him, because the destroying things, excessive barking, peeing/pooping all over, sneaking out to chase cars down the street, is getting REALLY OLD.

    We did a 12 week intense positive training in-home specialist, and some of the stuff helped. I didn’t know that dogs didn’t really transfer their knowledge to new situations, so that’s why he was better at the apartment than at home. And at our home he’s more pent up because he’s guarding a territory, rather than sharing a territory like when he was in a multiple family dwelling. Also, I guess things like our big window where he sees things causes ‘barrier frustration’ where he wants to SNIFF ALL THE THINGS and can’t because he’s behind glass, and therefore really frustrated.

    It’s gotten slightly better, but I’m still really annoyed. I want to devote the time it takes to train him, and understand that some of his behavior is boredom and just normal ‘dog’ stuff, but still…it’s driving us crazy 🙂

      • YUP, we watched one footie sock pass through his digestive system, another one got stuck and we spent $3,000 to get it removed. We have to be REALLY careful about the sock and underwear-crotch eating business 😛

      • I didn’t get the super expensive pet insurance that covers chemo and stuff (I wouldn’t put myself through chemo so why would I do it to my dog) but we did get the “accident and injury” insurance that covers everything from broken bones to surgery to remove whatever random crap they eat. I think it’s less than $20 a month and completely worth the piece of mind.

  18. I love all the comments here, and don’t have too much to add. I would say that if you decide to re-home the dog, be 100% honest about the issues you’ve been having. My mom adopted a German Shepard that had a whole host of issues that were either completely omitted or glossed over by his foster. Had we known about them up front, we probably would have still taken him but made some very different decisions about his care and training. As it was, it was recommended that we take him to a traditional, dominance-based training class. For a normal, confident dog of that breed, those classes can work ok. It’s how they still train police dogs in some circles. For a dog who was already fear-aggressive, the dominance-based training only made him MORE aggressive. What’s worse is that the two trainers were getting on my mom’s case, telling her she wasn’t being dominant enough and letting him get away with stuff. It was painful to watch; he was fine by himself, even enjoying himself until another dog came in and he turned into a mess. I was floored that these “professionals” could not see the problem staring them in the face, instead making my mom feel like she was a horrible person for not controlling her dog. She ended up re-homing him to someone who works with shepards and specifically “damaged” animals. She now has a dog who’s personality is “big dumb dog” which is such a better fit for the kind of relationship she wanted with a dog in the first place. It’s OK to want a certain kind of relationship with your dog, and its ok to realize that no matter how much you love that dog, you just may not “click” personality wise. Also, while I was already biased against dominance-based training, after seeing what my mom went through, I will champion only positive reinforcement based training all the way. This doesn’t mean you never correct your dog, but only that you will get much better results by looking for and rewarding behavior you DO want instead of constantly telling your dog what he’s doing wrong. If anyone is really, really interested in PR training, look up Ken Ramirez. http://www.kenramireztraining.com/

    Dogs have different personalities and needs and it doesn’t mean you’ve failed as a pet owner if you don’t mesh with a certain dog, or that you don’t have the resources to devote to a particular dog’s needs.

  19. Wow. As a life long rescuer and fosterer of dogs and a volunteer at my local shelter I am seriously amazed by the number of people who apparently have pets they dont like. Seriously. Its very sad to me because I see daily the dogs that get dumped at shelters because their humans gave up on them. Listen people. Shelter dogs are broken dogs to begin with. If you cant commit to them for their lifetime and do all within your power to make THEIR life better, you should do them a favor and rehome them to someone who can. #1 reason listed at our local shelter for turning in a dog “Im having a baby” followed by #2 “Im moving”. Pets are not disposable people. Crate training is for your mental health as well as theirs. I have adopted over 10 different dogs in my life. All different. All with came with their own personalities, quirks and issues. I cant imagine ever giving up on any of them or not liking them.

    • As respectfully as possible, I’d like to say that your comment isn’t especially helpful, Dawn. You’re right that it’s sad that people don’t like their pets sometimes. While I deeply respect that you personally “can’t imagine ever giving up” on any of your pets, this thread is about folks who are dealing with challenging emotions and are trying to find the best solutions they can… wagging your finger and reminding us that “pets are not disposable” doesn’t feel especially constructive.

    • Dawn, while I appreciate that you find this hard to believe, and you have either been fortunate enough to have 10 dogs you could find a way to work with, or are just better than everyone on here, the tone of your comment concerns me. No one on here is talking about ‘dumping’ their dog at a shelter; in fact, many of us are talking about the great lengths that we’ve gone to to find a way to live with rescued dogs that are unhappy and making us unhappy – including crate training, behavioral modification, medication, and more. Some of us have had negative experiences with trainers who have failed to understand what kind of training would be best for the dog or the owner, and placed a large amount of shame on us for failing (see the comment above yours). And while we all know that shelter dogs may come with serious issues, rarely do we know what those issues are ahead of time, and whether it will be in our capacity to deal with them; some of us (myself included) have adopted from fosters who have outright lied about the dog’s issues in a good-hearted attempt to find them a permanent home. Do the dogs deserve to be happy? Of course! But it’s not your job as a dog’s guardian to make yourself miserable for the sake of your dog, nor is it effective for the dog for you to do so.

      I’m concerned comment like yours could actually encourage fewer people to adopt dogs from shelters, because you’re stating that shelter dogs are always ‘broken’ (which, in my experience with some of my adopted dogs, is not true). You seem to imply that if we can’t guarantee that we will do everything on the planet – including, what, give up our career and family if needed? – to try to make our ‘broken’ dog happy, then we should never even try to adopt. So perhaps we should just go to a breeder and get ourselves a puppy that won’t be ‘broken’? Or should imperfect people just refrain from ever owning dogs? I think there would be a lot more shelter dogs in that case…

      And finally, many of us won’t rehome our dogs or will wait way too long before we do (giving the dogs years to suffer alongside us in a bad match), explicitly because people say judgmental things like, “Pets are not disposable people,” without having any idea what lengths have been gone to, or whether we’ve made an agonizing decision that is best for the dog in the end. Those of us who are animal lovers have been taught over and over again that suffering with our dog, even if he’s suffering too because it’s just not a good fit for the home, is the only choice for which we won’t be judged. So please consider that your message is pretty mixed. You tell people to rehome their dogs if needed, but you also are being pretty judgmental of people who are going through the agonizing process of deciding whether they do need to do this.

      I’m sorry you find the situation that we’re all in to be so shocking, but we’re all here because we’re trying to find a safe space where we can discuss how crazy it can be to live with and try to love our ‘broken’ dogs through different phases of their and our lives.

      • “…we’re all here because we’re trying to find a safe space where we can discuss how crazy it can be to live with and try to love our ‘broken’ dogs through different phases of their and our lives.”

        I was just coming here to remind everyone of exactly that. Gracias.

      • I rescue animals, mostly cats, but dogs and exotics. I’ve done it for over 5 years.

        I surrendered my pet dog. (I did fostered her until we found a new home. ) It really boiled down to we were not the right home for a hyperactive dog with a few issues who needed to be the only animal in her home. She blossomed amazing in her new home and is like a different dog.

        I spent 3 year fighting with should I surrender our dog or not. I didn’t want to be a failure… but now looking back I should have done it earlier. She would have been happier and so would I have. It’s helped open my eyes and to help me believe that sometimes surrendering/re-homing is the right choice.

    • I agree with most of this except the bit about all shelter dogs being broken. I have had some GREAT rescue dogs with very few issues, and met a lot more- sometimes dogs are turned in because their owners have died or are too old and sick to take care of them, sometimes it’s because of a stupid reason like having a baby or moving BUT the dog is fine, the owner’s just a jerk, sometimes the dog is great but they just don’t vibe (as evidenced by this thread.) And plenty of dogs have SOME issues that aren’t going to be dealbreakers for most people- a little barking, maybe they need some basic retraining… I have one dog who’s a little needy and another who’s a little skittish, but it’s hardly wrecking my life.

      Some shelter dogs ARE a major challenge and you really need to know what you’re getting into, but tons of shelter pups are wonderful pets that need very little work above and beyond what any pet would need. A lot of times, less, since you’re usually getting an adult and not dealing with all the issues of puppyhood.

      It does make me really sad to see how many people don’t like their pets 🙁 But I do think there’s a difference between a “pets are disposable” mindset (which a lot of people DO have- I recently heard of a dog being given up for being “too old”- the owner got a new one to replace it. Also, it lived it’s entire life tied up under a porch. W. T. Fing. F.) and rehoming a dog when it honestly is in the dog’s best interest. As long as we’re talking responsible rehoming and not dumping at a shelter (especially of the kill variety) sometimes it’s in everyone’s best interest.

    • Dawn, I have to agree that pets are definitely not disposable. But I don’t think any of these comments are coming from a neglectful or abusive place. I cherish my Boston Terrier and English Mastiff. I would be lost without them. They both can sit, stay, shake, lay down, fetch, walk with or without a leash, and even know what “excuse me” means. But at one time or another, my babies have eaten a cell phone, carpet, linoleum, wood work, furniture, picture frames, and ink pens, and more.

      We ALL love our pets and on rare occasions we loathe them (children, too!). It doesn’t make us bad people, it just makes us honest.

      Pets are not disposable, but that statement in itself shouldn’t be used so harshly. I worry it’s comments like yours that keep animals from being rehomed when they SHOULD be. People should not be afraid to rehome an animal. I cannot see myself ever giving up my dogs but I have a lot of respect for someone who has the courage to do so. Rehoming is not the same as tossing a dog out on the street, by any means. If an owner’s home life is miserable, more often than not, so is the pet’s. Sometimes, giving away a family pet IS in the pet’s best interest and is one of the most loving things you can do.

  20. I feel this way about my cat sometimes. We’ve had him for 3.5 years, adopted him at 6 months old from our local humane society. Most of the time he’s a great cat, but he has a few habits that drive me up the wall. The worst is that at least 4 times a week, he wakes us up several hours earlier than we need to get up. He yowls incessantly, scratches at the walls and bedroom door, basically does all he can to be a major nuisance. We keep a spray bottle by the bed to spray him with water when he does this, but he runs away only to come back 5 minutes later.

    Being a night owl with an 8-to-5 job, I’m always running a sleep deficit, but with my cat pulling this crap on a regular basis, I’m starting to get seriously sleep-deprived and it’s having a negative impact on my mood and ability to concentrate at work. I don’t know what I can do to make him knock it off because I don’t know why he does it in the first place. He has food and water and his litterbox is clean. We leave toys lying around and we also have 2 rabbits that could serve as entertainment. If anyone has any advice on dealing with unruly, VERY LOUD cats, I would really appreciate it.

    • Watch “My Cat From Hell.”
      I broke my cat of this habit over one long and painful week of ignoring him. When he’s yowling and scratching, ANY attention is positive feedback for him, even if it’s a spray bottle. I also put his bed right outside the bedroom door. This combination magically worked for me, but Jackson Galaxy has more tips. Also maybe if you play with him for 10-15 minutes at night, and then feed him right before bed it will help him be on a schedule. Sometimes when you feed cats in the morning, they try to tell you when morning is.

    • Right now he’s trained you that when he howls he gets attention. The hard part is that it’s now a learned behavior and you have 3 years of a bad habit to break.

      First and foremost, if he’s not fixed. Go neuter him. I bet the issue will stop or reduce. If he’s an intact male he wants to go mark his territory and find the ladies!

      If he is fixed the biggest thing, like justanothersciencenerd is to ignore him. That means all attention. It sucks until the habit is broke but if you or anyone does anything your just going to enforce this behavior. And you can’t ever slip. You slip once and he’s back to his bad habits. And he’ll test you, he’ll behave for a couple of weeks, then he’ll go back to yowling just to see if you’ll fall for it.

      Also like justanothersciencenerd said, start playing with him in the evening before you go bed, just 10-15 minutes can be enough to help calm him down. Change out his toys on occasion, cats get bored and different toys are good. You just need to rotate some out.

      Feed him right before you go to bed. Most cases of cats waking people up are food related, they want to eat then and now. If you feed him before you go to bed it’ll help tide him over till the morning. I had a cat that howls and knocks stuff over starting around 3am. I started feeding her just a little bit, not a full meal but a snack, before I go to bed. Now I can sleep until as late as I want. (Sorta, shes outside most of the time so it’s only nights she decides to she wants to grace us with her presence in the house that night, if she’s in I still have to feed her by 8am or she pulls out the food on her own.) You could also look at getting a timed feeder so he gets an early morning snack. Or something my parents do with a cat like this is to hide treats around the house before they go to bed. It gives the kitty something to do and feeds him at the same time.

      Also if he’s in the bedroom with you either move him out of the bedroom or leave the door open, even a crack so he can get in and out. If he’s locked in a bedroom all night with you he could quite easily be getting cabin fever in there.

      You mention that he only does it half of the week, see if you can figure out what it is that keeps him from doing it the other nights. Our cat who would do this it was EVERY night. I have a cat right now that has learned alarm clock = mom waking up and time to hop on the bed and kneed her so she gets up to feed me. She never does this before the alarm goes off, but when it goes off, she’s there. Doesn’t matter if it’s 6am on a Monday or 10am on Sunday. It’s just the alarm noise that triggers it. My foster kitties also learn that if breakfast is late it means it’s a day we have to go adoption events so right after breakfast it’s time to HIDE! Cats are pretty good about picking up on signals like this.

      Lastly look at getting some cat grass for your kitty. Sometimes kitty just wants to go outside. Dusk and Dawn and their natural hunting/awake hours, so your kitty is just telling you he wants to go out and do THINGSSSSSSS. Sometimes giving them cat grass will actually help curb this issue. (Hint – you can buy organic wheat grass from healthfood stores in a pot cheaper then cat grass from a petstore and it’s the same thing).

      But the biggest and most important thing is to STOP reacting when he yowls in the morning.

      • Thank you so much for this comment!

        Just to clarify, he is neutered (our local humane society does not adopt out cats or dogs until they’ve been spayed/neutered) and we don’t shut him up in the bedroom. He hasn’t been doing this the entire time we’ve had him. It’s actually a fairly recent development (maybe 6-8 months?) but I can’t figure out what has changed in our/his life that provoked the onset of this behaviour.

        I’m sure part of it is due to being hungry, because we’ve been trying to get him to lose weight on our vet’s advice. But he’s inconsistent. Sometimes he wakes us up at 5 AM even though we gave him a full meal’s worth of kibbles at midnight. Sometimes we give him less food before going to bed and he lets us sleep! Cats, man. They’re weird.

  21. I’ve gone through some phases of not liking my dog. Honestly, he’s probably the most chill working breed as a pet you’ll ever see…but that still comes with a lot of work. We really get into an awful cycle when we miss a walk/play session and he acts out and then it spirals. What has really helped is learning what he needs (no less than 3 walks a day, fetch in the yard, a chance to rampage and destroy his toys in the evening…as I type, at least a little training – dutch shepherds keep you on your toes).

  22. We got our youngest (she’s a lab mixed with who knows what) when my daughter (Ripley) was about 14 months and the pup (X-Ray) was about 8 weeks. Our daughter is going to be 2 next month, X-Ray is 9 months old. The classes have helped immensely (our other two graduated before the child was born) but you really have to double down on noticing good behavior and making a big deal about it (side note: doing this with a pooch makes it easier to do it with a toddler, which encourages good behavior from said toddler… I’m not saying dog training is like raising a child, but a month away from two, my child cleans up her messes, and loves baths and brushing her teeth). X-Ray still has a ways to go, but instilling that the child is above her in the pack (trainers can help), bring the child to class and having her help out in the training, all of this makes it easier to like X-Ray (she’s my husband’s, truth be told).

    Our middle pooch (Echo) was a star student in training while I was pregnant. But she reacted poorly when Ripley was born. Thankfully not violently, but she has trouble being in the same room as Ripley. We just gave her a lot of love and when Ripley was old enough to not try to poke the dogs in their eyes, we started introducing them… mostly with us saying commands and Ripley giving treats, then with Ripley saying the commands as she learned them. Echo is coming around, slowly.

    I fluctuate between liking and disliking all three of our dogs (I didn’t mention Zulu, the Irish wolfhound… but he’s pretty much the perfect dog minus the pesky habit of climbing the 7 foot fence… something he started after my brother started taking him rock climbing). Sometimes, I just get frustrated. But I feel the same way with the toddler. And the husband. And the brother. And in all of those times, it helps to have some quality time (either with or away from the offending member of my family) to remind myself why I love them.

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