Every once in a while I reach out and ask readers what they’d like to talk about. When I started this blog twelve years ago, I thought I might need to do so because I’d run out of topic ideas. That’s never happened–animals and the people who love them are a never-ending source of inquiry. I have some topics in the hopper, but lately I’ve been wondering about what YOU want to talk about.
I suspect that this is in part because I’m been “Safe at Home” for three months now, and am feeling a tad isolated. I am aware every moment how lucky I am to have Jim, the dogs and cats, the farm, and so many good friends and family members. That doesn’t mean that even the luckiest among us aren’t cut off from much of our daily lives though, and especially from those all important social connections.
So, friends and readers, let’s talk. What would you like to hear about, ponder and discuss? I make no promises that I will answer all or even most of your requests, but I’ll do my best. Let’s have a conversation about what’s going on with your dogs, cats, horses, ferrets or goldfish. Even if you just want to talk about how your companion animals have 1) kept you sane, 2) driven you insane, or 3) mostly kept you sane, while occasionally driving you insane. (Vice versa is fair game too.) Think of it as open mike night at The Other End of the Leash Cafe.
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: I went outside to get some photos, planning to go back up the hill and shoot the gorgeous scene of Maggie driving the sheep through the woods, the green iridescent leaves of the trees backlit by the sun. But when I sat down to prep the camera, Nellie sat down beside me, and well, Queen PhotoBomber seduced me into photographing her. And who could blame me?
Earlier in the week, good friend Harriet alerted us to the Wood Lilies blooming in Rettenmund Prairie. What a gorgeous scene.
Plain old Salvia blooming in my garden, but such nice light . . .
The white spots in the photo below are Cabbage Butterflies in the background. Couldn’t resist being a bit impressionistic; there’s something about the contrast of light and dark that pulls me in.
Skip would like me to stop tapping on the clicky thing and go outside to work sheep. I’m pretty sure that is what he would like to talk about.
What about you? What would you like to talk about? I’m all ears.
Having a dog you love but don’t like.
I’ve been very lucky in that all my dogs have been wonderful. And I don’t just mean friendly and loving. But they’ve all had personalities that, if they were a person, I’d want to be their friend. For the first time, I now have a dog where that is not true.
He’s not aggressive, he is just a jerk. Likes to bark at random people for no reason, will lunge at maybe every other dog on a walk (doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to which dogs “annoy” him). Will leap up from a deep sleep to bark at a seemingly non-existent alarm. Does not know how to relax. I know these are all behavioral issues and I could go on and on about how I’ve tried to modify all of these behaviors with years of training and multiple trainers and techniques. (We’re now trying pharmaceuticals with the help of a veterinary behaviorist.) But while some of it has been modified, he is who he is.
I think that’s the hardest part, just accepting him for who he is and stop wishing he were a different dog. It’s not easy when you are surrounded by images of cuddly, fun loving dogs on social media. Let’s face it, videos of lunging, barking dogs don’t usually go viral.
Anyway, not liking your dog is something I don’t read about much, so I thought I’d bring it up in case anyone else out there can relate. Thanks for asking!!
Hi Trisha! I love reading your blog and check in once a week.
How about this for a topic of discussion:
We’re all getting older. As we enter retirement years, many folks downsize their home, opting for something smaller and easier to care for. Would you ever advise that folks “downsize” their dogs as well? If so, what small breed dogs would you recommend for those of us at the retiring end of our lives? (I say this as a trainer who has more than once had to shake her head over frail, elderly clients who come in at the end the leash with a giant beast of a dog–perfectly amiable and friendly, but outweighing their owners and just one over-enthusiastic greeting from injuring them accidentally.)
Thanks for this. Here is my question: how would you get a dog to like going for a walk (or even just be WILLING to go)? My 4 year old chi/terrier hates walks and will often just stop and refuse to move. I’ve tried treats, toys, praise, waiting her out, taking her to see squirrels (her favorite) but she still seems like she’d rather stay home under her blankie. I don’t think it’s good for her to never leave the house though! She had a rough start, abandoned and nearly starved to death, but has a clean bill of health 2 years later. I’ve had many dogs but they all LOVED walks, so I am at a loss. Thank you!
Great idea Maria, about downsizing dogs as well as homes. I myself deciding against getting another Gr Pyr when it became clear I wasn’t able to pick one up and put it in the car in an emergency. I’ll put this on the list for sure.
Oh HFR, this is a great topic, albeit a tough one. Thanks for telling your story, and for bringing up an issue that I KNOW is more common than one might think. It’s on the list!
I am facing sadness – Poppy (11) has liver failure, and although she is doing very well long walks now tire her too much to be fun, and it is a matter of making her life as happy as possible for as long as possible. Sophy (11.5), meanwhile, is full of beans and would like a five mile hike every day, so I am balancing one dog’s need for more fun and exercise against the other’s desire for a calm quiet life and constant companionship. And one part of me wonders whether a youngster now would make the inevitable partings easier, or be too much for the older dogs to cope with. And I am 67 myself – when is it no longer fair to take on a puppy? Big, hard questions…
Oh I hear you Frances. At 71, Jim and I decided a puppy was not in the cards. I was looking for a 5-6 year old dog, but then, SkipperDoodleDo (he gets a new nickname every day) came along a month shy of three, and here we are. And Tootsie too would be perfectly happy to have us to herself with no tiresome Border Collies around. One day at a time, one day at a time. My sympathies, and my thanks for a good possible topic.
Balancing time & money for dog related activities vs humanitarian efforts? I recently signed up my 8 month old for agility and tracking classes, which has many positives – we get to learn new skills together, deepen our bond, she LOVES being in classes, and I’ve found that I really need the structure of classes since being underwater on work/school for the last month has caused me to slack on training. And yet, I look at my class fees and feel a pang of guilt that it didn’t go to anti-racism efforts, or combating climate change, or addressing the humanitarian crisis in Yemen or…you get the picture. I’m sure the real answer is “it depends” and “it varies from person to person”, but it would be interesting to hear from you and others in the comments on how to balance nourishing your soul, fulfilling your dog, and battling the societal issues we face.
Sometimes I feel I don’t relate as much to the older dog I acquired at 3 years old as opposed to the dogs I raised from pups. I begin with the same enthusiasm for teaching a trick, or obedience command, or a game I used to play with my dogs, but many times the response from the older dog is different from what I expected. I don’t get discouraged, but have to wonder how much influence my interaction (and environment) plays on a young pup. Are older dogs “untaught” from their previous experience and environment to meet our expectations? Please note that I love my older dog!
I would really like to talk about how to reduce prey drive and as you so well named it Feline Frenzy…
I know that prey drive is instinctive and unfortunately cats are literally EVERYWHERE but there must be something one can do to teach doggie self control? Please say there is 🙂
From someone whose arm is very painful from feline sudden lunges smelt before sight!!
Jim Payne says
Want to echo some of the same questions as HFR. We have an 8 year old rescue Basset Hound that likes ,us likes other people and other dogs, likes little kids but at any moment might bite someone because they try to move him ,or pet him or stop him from eating a dropped napkin.
He is not resource aggressive, is extremely afraid of kitchen noises, but will stand and watch lightenly and listen to thunder. We love the dog but some times he is hard to like.
I can relate to HFR’s post very much and would love you to address the topic, Trisha. Our very difficult dog whom I loved dearly just passed, and I am thinking about getting another dog someday. But I want to avoid getting another dog with such a difficult personality (and yes, I tried training, trainers, vet behaviorists, medication, and of course your books). I’d love some tips for avoiding this situation when I get our next dog.
I think I’ve decided not to go the rescue route again because I’m worried about getting another difficult pup with issues that are too much for me to fix. I’d really like a dog who is more human-oriented and cuddly, rather than the prickly, lunging jerk as described by HFR.
But it seems like so many breeders in the UK take your deposit before the puppies are very old so you don’t really have the chance to pick one yourself. And even if you can pick one yourself, what do you look for when they are so young? I feel like I can’t bear to go through the same thing again but I desperately want another dog.
Agree with the 1) dog you don’t like— we had a poodle for 6 months who ended up going to another home, and it was so hard, discouraging and shameful— we were refused from one rescue for returning him to his veterinarian breeder after so much hard work but a final straw of biting our granddaughter, 2) downsizing our dogs as we age— we have a wonderful lab who is from our SPCA, hand raised and a true gift. Luckily she’s petite, but we’re in our 60’s. We always had Shepard mixes prior to the poodle. Our lab has such a kind and gentle manner— very different from the wonderful shepherds, but perfect for us right now. Our daughter volunteers for a rescue that adopts behavior challenged dogs and I read their descriptions and wondered about the people who would want reactive, resource guarding, biting, not housebroken adult dogs.
HFR – you’ve described our dog to a T! And our feelings about him. We are committed, and we recognise that despite his foibles (aka irritating behaviours) he actually suits our lifestyle well. We fostered for 9 months, and when he was not adopted after 3 trials, we committed to keeping him. He’s not a dog I would ever have chosen, but we have learned a lot about him and ourselves. I think you nailed it when you said, “he is who he is” and so now we are working on our side of the equation. We’ve learned a lot about this acceptance from Susan Clothier’s work. I too am interested to hear about how others deal with this situation as well as ‘next dogs’ for people entering their 60’s. One thing is for sure – my next dog will be a smoocher! (We might as well be living with an aloof cat for all the attention our dog pays us!). But that said…after 5 years…we were just saying the other day…between annoying behaviours….that we probably wouldn’t give him up now! Amazing what you can get used to. HFR thank you so much for raising this topic. I had no idea there were others out there who felt the same!
Lynda Costello says
We have 2 Newfoundland dogs 6 and 20 months. I’m 80 and my husband is 82. I got x-pen for puppy training because stepping over plastic playpen carrying puppy outside to potty wasn’t feasible any more. My youngest daughter ( who gave us puppies) lives upstairs in 2-family and makes this doable. She walks both every morning and we have good sized fenced in yard. Both intact males. Get along very well with each other. Younger one is training for water work. Years ago I speculated smaller dog but knew could still manage but only because of our circumstances. Vet has commented what great shape both dogs are in.
Both dogs impressed trainers at puppy kindergarten at how they tempered play when there was a smaller or timid puppy. We are just so lucky!
Thank you for this blog!!
Ana Schnellmann says
Hi, Trisha! thanks for your blog and your frequent posts. I love opening my inbox to see another entry. I am wondering about your thoughts regarding “fur mommies” and “fur daddies.” At times, I’m concerned that people forget they’re dealing with a different species. I know several folks who decided to adopt a “fur baby” during the loneliness of this pandemic, and I worry about what will happen to the “fur kids” a few months down the line. One of the many reasons I enjoy reading your books is your emphasis on how dogs are dogs–we can love them, connect with them, build relationships with them, but still understand they are not humans. (I am also wondering about the downsizing dogs question–that’s a very insightful and valid question!)
Marjorie W Sovec says
My Doberman girl Caelyn is sweet, smart, and wild. Full disclosure–got her when she was 8 weeks old and I was 70.5. 1st mistake. All my previous dogs were trained to the nth –this girl not so much. Add that to a high energy dog (still same at 7 YO) and what a challenge. She’s super high in prey drive and we have the perfect home surrounded by woods with 5 patio doors in one room, floor to ceiling windows in an adjoining room and you can imagine our life. She barks, screeches, races through the house when she sees anything. We replaced patio doors with new ones that have mini-blinds inside the panes. Helped some but the slats don’t close tightly so she can still see movement. I train her in scentwork, do some obedience with her, until recently (due to CCL injury) was doing body conditioning on all sorts of inflatable equipment. We also go for an off leash walk at least every other day where she can sniff till her heart’s content (she loves sniffing) and play with other dogs when desired. Living with a dog like this is a challenge. What else can we do to limit this behavior?
Erika Surkin says
I have a new puppy after searching for the best candidate for Animal Assisted Play Therapy for a year. My hard work in searching has paid off with a wonderful little Springer Spaniel who is very trainable, affectionate and playful. Your Puppy Primer is my go-to source and has enriched my life as well as my puppy’s. Your techniques are right on target. Thank you for all your wise ideas!
Sabena Lund says
I would love to know how to attune more /deeply listen to my dog.
Adrienne K. says
There is some mention here about aging and dog ownership. Since we are aging I have been concerned should both my husband and I leave this mortal earth what will happen to my beloved dog. We have no children or any family member or friend who we would want to step in and become the new parent for our dog. What can one do to prepare for this and have peace of mind?
HFR I’m in the same boat. I lost my most beloved boy a year ago. Had one remaining dog and a foster. When the foster got adopted my remaining boy was so sad my neighbors could hear him crying all day while I was at work (last fall). I rushed into adopting another but didn’t take the time I should have. New guy is a real jerk. After 3 months I started fostering again, figuring that 3 months is ample for new guy to settle in, but no. First day there was a bloody vicious fight. Had to find a different foster home for foster dog and have done everything I can think of to train and build relationship with new dog. He is still a jerk. My older dog isn’t safe with him when I’m not there policing their interactions so new dog must wear a muzzle while they’re both outside without me. I know new guy is doing the best he can. He’s not quite 2 years old. I’ve had him for almost a year and he’s still a jerk. I don’t know if I will ever get back to fostering (something I’ve done for 14 years – 60+ dogs). I’m sad and angry and I don’t like new guy at all. I am committed to giving him the best home and doing everything I can to help him mature. I do love him. He is a being with feelings and deserves to be safe and loved, but I just don’t like him. I’m sorry you are in a similar boat.
HFR, can I relate to that! Your’s sounds so much like our’s. We LOVE our 9-year old Shiba Inu, but she is not the dog we hoped for. I guess everyone wants their companion pet to be loyal, devoted, loving, affectionate, and explode with joy when you walk into your home. We get none of this — or, should I say — very little of this. We liken her to a special needs dog, and although we love her to the moon and back, very often, do not like her. She is unpredictable and sometimes crazy. She can snap at you — and sometimes connects — when you go to pet her. Thankfully, this is very rare, but does happen once in a blue moon. She’s hypothyroid and on Thyroid meds and will be the rest of her life (assume you have ruled that out with your pooch?). Even though she is 100 times better than she was before she was diagnosed and medicated, there are moments when I think “why did we choose her as an 8-week old puppy?” Ironically, we have been in touch with the owner of her brother, who tells us that his dog is the happiest, gentlest, and the most well-behaved and loving pet he has known. So, on we go. She brings me joy most of the time, and I love her so much. I just wish that she was more “into” me!
HFR, I hear you!!! I have a 6-year old Cavalier King Charles (who I love!) that drives me insane! She barks incessantly and does what you describe, waking from a dead sleep to bark at something that we cannot hear. She is so sweet most of the time, but anytime we let her outside, we know that she will turn into “Cujo” if there is a stranger or dog anywhere in sight. We’re in a constant training mode with her and had really made progress until we had the nerve to bring home a puppy in April! So I feel like we’re back to square one. Our Cavi is obviously jealous, so we’re always trying to make her feel like she’s #1. To make matters worse, she is in constant pain. We’re working with our vet, and she will be going in to be sedated for radiographs. The vet suspects arthritis or Lyme, even though she is up to date on all of her shots, including Lyme. So my life right now is centered around training a puppy and appeasing a jealous, miserable Cavi. So Trisha, a topic I would love to be addressed is how to stop the BARKING!!
Dorothy M. says
We are new dog owners, adopting a five-month old puppy from a local shelter. She is an absolute delight but also a challenge. We have had her now for six months and found our life completely upended!
I realize training is a constant process and consistency is crucial but what’s a realistic estimate of how long the overall behavioral training phase can take? She responds well to positive reinforcement, is eager to please but can be willful and independent. Her breed seems to be Beagle but looks like a Besenji, 25/30 pounds, loves to run and track. Luckily, we have a large fenced yard but I had hoped to allow her to run without use of a long lead. I’m not sure that’s a possibility with her apparent hunting instincts.
She lacked early socialization so she is very cautious about engaging with people. She is totally devoted to me, mainly, and tolerates everyone else but seldom allows them to pet or touch her. I’m hopeful that anxiety can be overcome somewhat in time.
Any thoughts on these issues?
Cori McKee says
I can relate to HFR. I have a dog whom I love but she is a great disappointment. I adopted a puppy from the South after my Aussie passed away unexpectedly from Cancer. I was so excited, she was my first puppy-puppy, and I couldn’t wait to train her from the start to be my next Agility dog. Unfortunately she is a highly nervous dog, and was growling at people at 12 weeks old. I am fortunate enough to have experience with anxious dogs. She’s on herbal supplements, and combined with methodical training, she is as well rounded as she can be. But she’s a terrible agility dog. She is too environmentally sensitive to focus well. She will perform sometimes, but she does it for me not the love of the sport. She’s a dear, and the most cuddly dog I have ever owned. She’s smart, and athletic. But I wish I had another dog instead of her, poor thing. (and yes I love her but she can be a lot of work.)
I agree so much with HFR. I have a cattle dog I rescued as an adult 6 years ago and she is a lovable goober to people, adores every one and is wonderful with kids, but has some behaviors that no amount of work and training has been able to eliminate, like pulling on leash and reactivity to other dogs. My BC mix who I adopted as a pup 18 months ago is proving so much easier to bring places that I feel guilty about doing more with him than with the cattle dog. I don’t love her less than him, but sometimes, yes, I think I like him more.
It may be a transitory topic but it would be great if you addressed socializing puppies during a time of less social contact, esp. if one is in a rural setting. Also interested in the topic of should we downsize our dogs as we get older, and to overlap or not your new dogs with your old or at end of life dogs.
Second above re: difficult dog, downsizing dogs
I’m about to get a puppy with 7+year old dogs, a bit nervous about puppy training all over again, it’s been a while! How do I balance it’s needs with my established pack? I’m worried with obedient dogs that I will slack when it comes to the puppy.
Oh my you all are speaking to me. I love my two year old foster-fail pup. But oh she’s such a challenge behaviorally. We are working hard and after a year and a half, most of the time I can enjoy a walk with her. But we’ve struggled and I’ve often had thoughts of giving up and I’m too old to be doing this and why can’t she be an easy dog and maybe she’d have been better off with someone else. Love her, don’t always like her. But I seem to be attracted to challenging dogs without at first realizing just how much of a challenge they will be. My 10 year old lab is proof of that too. Thanks all for affirming that I’m not alone in these feelings!
Alice R. says
Oh, so many good topics. My request, like others, comes from my current dog life. My guy is cautious and aware, although generally relaxed and happy on walks. Since the Covid 19 stay at home orders, I see so many more people walking alone, in pairs, families, and with a dog on our walks. As we are trying to be safe and considerate, we are all changing side of the street, moving to the street, performing all sorts of maneuvers to calmly avoid each other and my dog has definitely noticed. I don’t know what he thinks it’s all about, but he’s looking longer, pausing to watch more, and even sometimes deciding he’d rather go home on a given day. He’s not obviously fearful, it appears to be a preference, and he will contently move on to the walk instead if I want him too, but I’d hate for this to get worse. Any ideas on how to make all this seem less weird, and to convince him it doesn’t matter?
Nan Kujolic says
I am so impressed with your readers willingness to “bare their souls,” so to speak, to describe dog behaviors that aren’t working. And so…I’ll bare mine as well.
I had to re-home a standard poodle (male) whom I adopted at 14 weeks, where he came from a 2-litter home, raised inside and lots of outside time i.e. lots of dogs in his upbringing. His pedigree went back six or seven generations to the very same dogs that I knew from that time when I first became interested in standard poodles. I raised him the way I raise all my dogs….massive socialization to people, dogs and situations, including going to the car dealership, ukulele class, my hairdresser, lots of doggie gatherings. And yet…at around 5 months old he started to show unpredictable dog aggression. Male or females, young or old, neutered or intact, dogs that were strangers and the final straw, my older, always well-behaved 10-year old standard poodle. Everyone neutered. I felt ashamed and that I had really failed somehow. I rehomed him through one of the VERY few rescues I like, a one-woman show who only does poodles. She said he was the best dog she ever had in rescue and that she’d have kept him if she didn’t already have five dogs (most of them older toys and minis with major health issues.) She found him a home where he is utterly adored, where he is an only dog except when the son of the couple visits with his Yorkie for a week or two. The man of the household, who refers to himself as this dog’s “poppa,” keeps in frequent touch via emails, photos and phone calls. He and his wife applaud me for how well I raised him and that “he is the most delightful dog they ever met.” So…all’s well, except that I still wonder what I did wrong, or was there something in the cards I wouldn’t have expected? Shame, too. Anyone else have this happen?
ps After years of being interested in only big dogs, I rescued a mini poodle. He showed me that there is a spot in your heart where only a little dog can fit. Now I have a malti-poo who is such a character that I couldn’t imagine life without him. I also was lucky enough to rescue a moyen poodle who is 31 pounds. Love the size, as I’m 71 years old.
Ralph Matacchieri says
My latest dog Beaux Jangles is around 9. She is a Am Staff Terr/Border Collie/Bulldog/Yorkie/Cocker/Guard Dog mix. She has a habit of licking the wood floor and I am afraid she is going to pick up a splinter when she is out on the deck. She does not do this all the time …. I am afraid I do not understand
Thank you, Trisha, for all the amazing resources you’ve produced for dog parents. A couple of years ago we adopted a five-month-old pup who experienced separation anxiety. The method in I’ll Be Home Soon completely cured her, and I’ve been a fan of yours ever since.
I would like to learn more about what I’ve heard you call Juvenile Onset Shyness. When we got our pup at five months old, she was already cautious with people. She was born in a rescue, and my guess is that she was exposed to a great deal of dogs, but few humans. At around eight months of age, though, she began to show much more fear of unfamiliar people, especially men.
She’s almost eighteen months old now, and with help from The Cautious Canine, we’ve seen some improvement. The best way I’ve found to build her confidence is to put her in situations where she can approach and sniff men while off leash, but not in our home. (And of course it helps if the men happen to drop chunks of chicken now and then.) Despite that work, she’s still warier of strangers than she was as a puppy. (Thankfully, she’s never shown the slightest bit of fear-based aggression.) I don’t think she’ll ever be a confident dog, but I would like to give her a life with with less fear.
Do you have any suggestions? Thoughts on Juvenile Onset Shyness? Do you think she’ll grow out of this?
I would like to hear about downsizing dogs as we get older and which breeds you recommend.
Maria, a friend once remarked that as we get older, our dogs get smaller. However, Olive, the smallest so far at 34 pounds, is the most all encompassing, affected every aspect of our lives dog we’ve ever had in our 40+ years of living with dogs. Many readers here know how the past 11 years (yikes) have been dedicated to Olive’s health and well-being. So, it’s not always size 🙂
HFR: I can relate in a way: Phoebe is the first dog I’ve had that I love but not in that deep down, oh-my-god-can-you-be-any-more-amazing kind of way. She is so sweet, a true peacenik, and a bit of a simpleton. Which is all lovely but doesn’t grab my heart in the same way my other dogs have. She is in her twilight years, and I am getting nostalgic, but I hear you.
Which brings me to my topic request. I seem to be drawn to the DWI’s (dogs with issues), and while I wouldn’t trade those relationships for anything, someday I’d like a dog that is smart but not tricky; alert but laid back; responsive but can entertain his/her self; loving but not clingy. Does that beast exist? If so, what traits do I look for in my next doggo, and how can I tell without spending a year together, which by then, we’re in it for the duration. How do I make the right choice based on very little information and lacking a degree in animal science or behavior? Age and size don’t matter to me as much as heart and soul.
Twelve years? Wow. Congratulations for crafting such an insightful, informative, and intense (in a good way) community of caring people. What an accomplishment.
Six months ago, I adopted a 9 year old male border collie that needed a home. I knew that my 10 year old border collie missed her chow/samoyen mix sister. It has been a good fit. And they have formed a relationship. The cats get along with him too.
I am 60. I don’t want to be an older person with the wrong size and energy dog. And I travel a good bit and kennel only at my vets office.
Older dogs need homes and they can be best for us. There time with us is shorter. They may have health issues that need to be addressed. They may need training. They may cost more or not. Perhaps older shows you who they are better than a puppy. But then they become part of your family and you would do anything for them. We can give them the home that they deserved to have as a puppy.
This has been my perspective on taking in an older dog. What is yours? Have you ever taken in an older dog rather than a puppy?
Pat Morlan says
We had not had a dog for years and 5 years ago got a Cavalier King Charles puppy – she is the sweetest dog ever. We walk every day and she is known as the Ambassador in the neighborhood. She is friendly with every dog and person she sees. I am quite sure she would not know how to bite and she “talks” to people to get their attention. We are in our 70’s and having a puppy was quite a change – but we made her a part of everything we did from the start and by 6 months she was just part of our family. She has one habit that I cannot break her of – she LOVES to eat feathers – and she spots every feather on the street or sidewalk on our walks. It is pretty much a joke – everyone knows that Sammy LOVES to eat feathers. Do you think it is possible to break her of this habit. It is seriously the only thing that I can think of that I would love to change. Adopting this pup has added so much joy to our lives.
I love my BC, but I hate the things she does.
She chews furniture. She destroyed a wood French door, since replaced. She barks ALL the time, at everything. Nothing I’ve tried works.
Background: got this BC for my husband in May 2017. Our fifth BC. He passed away June 2018, and she witnessed that. Traumatic for her, I’m sure.
Fast forward to today. I’m a stroke survivor who can’t do things with/for her life I’d like to. She’s a cuddle bug at night, sees other dogs and people daily, eats well and is very healthy except for some shedding.
I just keep loving and caring for her. It’s all I can do right now.
I’m thinking of trying anxiety meds for her and would like your thoughts. Your blog has been invaluable to me. Thank you!
Susan Hamilton says
Like many on this blog, I have a dog I love, but don’t always like. She’s the first pup I purchased from a highly recommended breeder, and though she is, in many ways, the dog the breeder said she would be, she is sensitive, fear-reactive with new people, and can be a jerk. I’ve developed all kinds of good techniques to work with her, and she has responded well overall. But sometimes, I remember my dream of just going for a walk with the dog, maybe to the beach, and just, well, walking, rather than being on alert myself for all of her triggers. I suppose what we’re all asking for is reassurance that we’re not bad people for wishing matters were different. So many here have voiced a version of “what did I do wrong?” and that is, I think, at the heart of our dilemma. We love our dogs, we take care of them and cuddle them and fuss over them. But we get tired too and fear we are responsible. And some days I wish I had received a different puppy from that litter…
Linda Gallacher says
Love all these suggestions! As another aging trainer I am more concerned about adding a rescue versus a new puppy. I have found, over the years, that it seems to be easier to start with a clean slate and raise a puppy that fits in perfectly with our family. A rescue dog with a lot of baggage seems to take far longer to integrate into our pack. Sometimes it is harder to form the same loving bond that you have with the puppy. Thoughts?
Debby Gray says
Michelle asks about socializing puppies in a time of isolation. That is like a topic I’d like to see considered in future weeks on your blog the effects on pets of this period of social isolation.
I’ve seen a lot of articles on preparing your dogs to your going back to work so they don’t suffer from separation anxiety.
But what else are problems pet owners face during the Covid pandemic? I too worry about my adult dog’s socialization when I am his sole human contact.
What about dogs’ reaction to seeing you and others wearing masks?
Do they seem to experience anxiety because of an upset in their schedules even if its led to good things like more wall…etc?
Nan, our bad poodle experience shook us deeply. He had many vets and behaviorists and we made no progress. Luckily our dog walker made a video of his incessant tail spinning and random attack on her. He’s apparently quite happy in his second home. He was well socialized with other dogs. He was odd and aloof from 9 weeks. We kept thinking we’d make progress. I was shocked at how much confidence I lost. And how much stress he caused in our family. We’d never had a dog we couldn’t manage before.
Kathryn, I have a suggestion for giving your dog a bath. Go on Amazon and search for “Dog Lick Pad” or “Slow Feeder Lick Mat.” These are rubber circles that have suction cups on the bottom. You stick them to the side of the bath tub and smear peanut butter on the front. The dog will lick the peanut butter while you bathe him/her. It has worked wonders with my two pups!
You’ve written so eloquently about your grief losing Luke and Willie, and others. I’m wondering if you might write a bit more about the unique grief around losing a dog? I’m really struggling right now…my one year old bc was diagnosed with cancer (so unjust) with maybe a 2 year prognosis. He will never know anything but joy and happiness and he’s certainly not grieving something that hasn’t even happened. But I can’t stop crying and I’m also losing it over my slightly older dog who’s perfectly healthy because three years total or fifteen doesn’t seem nearly enough. Add to that my fiancee and I are planning on (human) children in a year and we don’t want to puppy raise as well as baby raise, so should we add a third to our family now when I can devote the time to teach them? I loathe the idea that my boy might be easily replaced. But dogs love easily and expansively and without worry for the future and I would love to emulate that. Still I don’t know how to silence the howling in my soul or explain it to my friends and family who love dogs, but perhaps don’t regard them as furry children. I’m hoping you might be able to put more wisdom and clarity in your words than I can muster in my head.
Wow. I have read every comment so far, and will read every one again at least one. Probably at least twice. May I repeat myself. Wow. What a community, and what fascinating topics to discuss. HFR started a heartfelt discussion already about dogs that you love, but don’t like. Or don’t even love the way you want to. Fantastic topic. Keep ’em coming!
Katie Traxel says
We have two male neutered cats, one 9 yrs old, one 7 yrs old, adopted 2 years apart as youngsters. On the whole they get along fine, sometimes snuggling but mostly going their own way. Except, at least daily they will start grooming each other which then turns into a wrestling match and one, the younger one starts screaming and trying to run away and the older one chases him and continues to harass him until we step in. No cat gets hurt, there are no injuries and seconds later it’s as if nothing happened but the noise in bloodcurdling and I’m always wondering if we should stay out of it and let it take it’s natural course or if intervention is the right thing to do. It saves our sanity but I’m not sure it helps the cats’ behavior.
Do grief support groups (pet) help when we lose a pet?
I lost two important pets (dogs) in the last three years and my life is not the same.
Not sure I can get another. These two, especially one of them, were so close to me.
Hi there, my question would be, when considering a rescue dog to be a companion to an already existing dog (also rescue in my case, who can be a little reactive), how can one ensure that they are compatible? What things to look out for etc…. Also, perhaps a question to ask first is how do I know if my existing dog would be happier with a companion, rather than being an only dog? Thanks!
sorry, a follow-on question: Would you go for a similar type dog (i.e. another sighthound) or something completely different? If I do decide for a number 2 dog, it will have to be smaller than my existing 30kg galgo, as I simply can’t handle two big dogs if they spot a hare / squirrel etc… but I’m wondering if something very different might be better? But then we met some sighthounds on our walk today and he just loves seeing them… so perhaps a whippet after all – if I can find a rescue one!
Ashley Taccone says
I would love to hear more about farm life. I hope to start a homestead soon. I have a GP and a Foxhound. They are pretty good friends but need to be separated when I leave because they both resource guard a little bit and have gotten into it. I would like to know about deescalating fights or issues like that once they have begun.
Adrienne, one thing you might do is speak with the people who are in your dog’s life, like vets, vet techs, trainers, daycare workers – do you have any of those who love your dog? You could ask them if you can nominate them to take over the care and placement of your dog if you and your husband should die before your dog. If you can find a taker, then I’d talk to an estate planning lawyer to see about including language in your Wills to pass the dogs, plus a cash gift to cover expenses and express gratitude, to the taker, and then he/she can go from there. (If it helps, you can assure the “taker” that you mean only for them to find a home for your dog, not to BE the permanent home.). If you still can’t come up with anyone, you might be in touch with some organizations for senior dogs, like the Grey Muzzle Organization, to see if they have any suggestions.
As for the blog topic, we’re faced with the same issue as DogMom2 — a young, healthy, happy dog not wanting to go for walks. She is a rescue, but our other rescues loved it, even the ones who had confusing and tumultuous early-puppyhoods like our current one. Once we’re ON the walk, after some hesitation and hanging back for the first block, she will come along, and the walks are often more “sniffaris” than a forced march. And she plays hard in doggy daycare (on different days – we know she’s tired after daycare and don’t push it then), and is clearly physically okay. And we have done quite a bit of obedience work and agility work with her, so we have SOME communication with her. My theory is that she is USED to thinking of walks as having too many stimuli (and we do live on a busy street, so the first block of the walk can be busy, till we can turn to a side street). But our other dogs seemed to LOVE going for a walk, despite this — even the poor dog with degenerative myelopathy who could barely walk, for pete’s sake. But this girlie just does not seem to want to go on walks and it’s bewildering. (FWIW, the saliva DNA test says: 25% Lab, 12.5% each of Border Collie and Beagle, then a whole lotta mystery “Super Mutt.”) Thank you.
Rhonda York says
As a dog trainer, what do you do when all else fails? When positive methods are not working?
Anne Johnson says
Unrelated to most responses. But worth a try. I have had some trauma in my recent years and found myself relying on my dog to help me recover. He was not feeling comfortable reconnecting while I was gone in hospitals for 5 months. He had an older companion at home with him. Someone came to feed dogs, but no one was living at my house for that length of time.
Forward to a year later. Older dog passed. I did get another dog. A puppy. My existing dog did not even seemed interested in new pup.
Forward three years. I still have the two. The younger one proved to be what I needed to get through the dark times. I constantly work at their relationship with each other. I find myself totally devoted to the younger one. He provides the comfort I was needing. My other dog is fine as long as he has the “play ball” attention. It’s just two different worlds for two different dogs. Love them both for different reasons. I am thankful to have worked with Dr. London. She makes sure we are safe and making forward progress.
Have to tell you that reading “Education of Will” was very appropriate for me. I was in denial that I needed to heal after my trauma. It was a blessing to read your account. Thank you for the heartfelt memoir.
Lynne Stott says
I would really like to know if there is anyone researching or noticing some of the possible links between shelter stress or routines and the development of new behaviors in dogs once placed in their adoptive homes. Since millions of dogs from shelters are now becoming the family pet each year, we can do better to understand the damage a stay at the shelter does, what we can do to remediate or avoid the fallout and how to estimate and communicate the training needs to the new owners.
In my work with newly adopted dogs, I see cause for concern about the development of resource guarding, separation anxiety, isolation distress and especially containment distress. In cases where the dog’s behavior history is available, these problems seem to occur after being in the shelter but, what I want to know is, could it be the result of being in the shelter? Unfortunately, these dogs often become frequent flyers, returned again and again because the new family is ill equipped to deal with the needs of the dog. If shelters are a source for these problem behaviors, how do we turn it around and make them a resource for the dogs and adopters?
HFR, I hear you. I both love and like Nina, but she is a very high-needs dog, and sometimes it gets exhausting. Her separation anxiety has improved greatly with medication, but it’s always there in the background. If I vary my routine she regresses, and leaving for more than a couple of hours (except work, she’s habituated to that) is a problem. My other dog, Kate, whom I got to be a companion to Nina is just so much EASIER. She really doesn’t have any issues (beyond barking–she’s a Keeshond, and if there’s any Spitz-type dog that doesn’t have a lot to say I’d like to hear about it).
I’d actually love some ideas on reducing her kind of hurry-UP-dammit barking without sending her into the frenzied extinction-burst barkfests that drive the neighbors nutty, especially at 7a on a Sunday morning. I live in an older neighborhood with narrow lots and close neighbors, so it’s a problem.
Re downsizing, I’ve had a 2 Kees, 2 Flat-Coats, and a small Lab, and I’m 64 with severe arthritis. I would not go bigger than the Flat-Coat, and may get another Kees.
I do have an alternative for the puppy vs. rescue decision–an adult from a show breeder. I did not get Kate from her breeder, but from a woman who bought her as a puppy to show and then add to her lines; all was well through finishing her championship, but she didn’t like puppies. The woman doesn’t do performance events, and really had no use for her, but she’s a great dog, and has turned out to be a wonderful Obedience dog. A much better life than sitting in a kennel, even with other dogs.
Long way around to say it’s a source for a bombproof dog who is a known quantity, temperment, health, and all, and whose only issue (puppies? Ick!) was of no matter to me at all. There could be lots of reasons why a breeder would have a sound, sane, healthy dog to place.
Welcome any and all posts about dogs in their golden years. Especially any posts concerning when we are fortunate enough to have the golden years last two, three, or four years beyond expected. (My deep sympathies to those in an opposite situation.)
I wonder when and if it is acceptable to spoil our dogs… and if we are spoiling them, when do our goodies lose their effect, their special magical potency? When does a novel treat, or extra treats, become expected as standard? At 16.5 years old, I’ve spent near three years trying to keep my dog around 50 lbs, even though he should be a few pounds less than that still. He’s still considerably active and agile, but food means the world to him. I let the scales tip for a few weeks at a time, then have remorse… Just one aspect of the challenges of living in this extended state of not knowing how much time we have left together.
On a different note, I wish I could explain to him the concept of pandemic. Perhaps others do too. My primary reason is that I’m 37 weeks pregnant with my first. I suspect my dog thinks his whole world changed because my stomach got big, I smell different and go to the bathroom near constantly… It’s the only difference he’d be able to discern, so he could very well blame that for all of our changes. His people never leave anymore. He never goes for car rides. We wear masks when the rare visitor shows. He was always a bit clingy, but now he is a shadow. He acts quite worried about me. On second thought, maybe it’s a good thing he has no concept of pandemic 🙂
It is so interesting to read about other people’s experiences with difficult dogs – and reassuring too! We got Rosa, our Bullmastiff, based on the breed descriptions we had read. But Rosa hadn’t read the breed description. She was controllable as long as nothing else – no other dog, no other person, no other animal, no vehicle, appeared and then she was off. And when a 125 lb dog is off, the person attached to the leash is going, too. She went to puppy and next level training, but we think the trainer just didn’t know how to handle it, and nothing we read or tried seemed to help. We adapted – and Rosa had an incredibly sweet personality (she was very friendly to all the things she approached, but people don’t always realize that when a huge dog is straining towards them dragging a reluctant owner). She was plagued with physical problems her whole life because she’d been bred to be heavyset with short legs. TPLOs on both back legs before she was two, constant UTIs, arthritis…And three weeks ago she tried to get up from lying down and couldn’t- both her back legs were paralyzed by the time we got her to the vet and she was diagnosed with a herniated disc. The prognosis was so grim we couldn’t put her through an operation on spec, and we found ourselves saying goodbye to her at age 6. Even in her panicked state she had charmed everyone at the specialty vets. We are heartbroken at losing her, but still feel that we somehow failed to handle her properly. She was a very happy girl, but just not what we had expected. And I’m still angry that she was such a physical mess – we had researched the breeder carefully, but it didn’t seem to make a difference.
I just want to tell you that I have loved (and learned so very much) reading all of your books, and look forward to your blog posts, too. 🙂 Your writing always carries a feeling of caring, empathy, encouragement, and joy – which, Lord knows — any parent of a crazy Border Collie needs! Lol! So, thank you for your sharing, guidance, and honesty. Keep up the great work teaching us your ways! 🙂
With deep appreciation –
Jenny Haskins says
I sad the read that many people have dogs they ‘don’t like’.
Years ago I took on a dog that I didn’t like and found a nuisance. But she had decided she wanted to live with other dogs, and since I had had three other dogs at that time, she stayed. (I had been ‘minding’ her for a friend.)
It took me a while to learn to work with the dog I had, not the dog I wanted. I learned to work with a dog of a different temperament to the breeds I preferred and help a dog with ‘problems’, but she had brought joy to my life and increased my training abilities as well as learning more compassion
It is well worth the while to learn to both love and like the dog you have 🙂
PS Trick training was both Mad Millie’s and my saviour 🙂
Stephanie TM says
I’d love to learn how to make transitions easier. My dog Gus (a handful) often goes with us on car trips to places he’s been before and feels comfortable at. However, the process is really hard for him. He gets incredibly anxious before a trip and often wants to do nothing but sit in the car crate for the hour before we go; we hypothesize that he’s worried about being left behind. During the trip, he’s a mess: loads of barking at other cars, toll takers, ferry workers, butterfly farts… but only when we’re stopped. When the car is moving, he’s okay. Then we arrive (home or to the destination) and he leaps out barking at anything that moves. He’s quite aggressive. It takes a full day with an overnight to return to some normalcy.
How to help him out?
Melanie Hawkes says
So many great comments and questions so far! I’d like to know more about how pain and food and gut health all affect behaviour. My VB put my dog on a high dose of gabapentin, but didn’t do much for his behaviour! He’s now off it completely, taking high doses of lyprinol (green lipped mussel oil), having regular acupuncture and a daily dose of sertraline – and is doing so much better! We just went for a walk and saw a dog across the road and he didn’t bark or lunge! For the first time ever! He was alert with his hackles up, but so much better. You have to celebrate the small wins along the way.
I’d also like tips on cc/ds to noises you can’t control, like the dogs next door barking, a car horn, the smoke alarm etc. You never know when they’re going to happen!
I recently left a Facebook group due to too many posts re prong collar use. I have an open mind, but is there any safe way to use a prong collar without inflicting pain and discomfort on the dog? I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable putting one on my dog, who already has enough pain and fear in his life.
And what to do about a dog reacting to sounds in the house, when you’re not home? I have a camera that records him, and alerts me when he barks, but I’m not always available to respond in real time (I can dispense treats from it). I like to enjoy myself while I’m out! But I worry about the amount of barking he’s doing, and makes me work harder at training when I am home.
I can relate to HFR. Many times I have asked myself why I stuck with my current dog Upton. He was meant to be my service dog to make my life easier, not harder. But a bad dog was better than no dog at all, and he still helps me heaps at home. And I knew that he could be good, just needed to work out what works for him. It’s almost been 5 years. Hope you can too. Many people love him more than I ever have, but they’re not living with him 24/7! Days like today make the bad days better, and my heart fills with pride and satisfaction, knowing perseverance has finally paid off and we can enjoy life together.
Barb Stanek says
To jump in an a variation of HFR’s theme.
I had a puppy that was sick — but undiagnosed for three and a half years. Everyone, except me, said I was just being over-protective/a worry wart/seeing things/and on and on. Finally a fellow dog owner told me about the GI Lab at Texas A&M. Drew blood the next day. Diagnosis: chronic pancreatitis. No cure. No treatment to speak about. Just management.
I did get the dog stablized. Then she got aggressive with my two boys. Another “not what I signed up for” months of documentation, consultation, and finally medication.
Lovely, sweet dog. Not what I signed up for. Loved her completely. Much of the time was annoyed with her. Then she died. One of the most agonizing canine good bye’s I’ve had. All the guilt about not being able to do better for her flooded me. As a reflection of my grief, or maybe just his own grief, the other dog I had completely fell apart without his girl. This is the same girl that was awful to him and on medication because of it. But the boy was crushed that she was gone. He could not be left alone; he develped a real thunderstorm phobia; he went from knowing his place in the world to totally bereft.
We’ve both come through our trauma at losing our girl. Last year I got another girl. At my 73 years, I did question whether or not getting a puppy was wise. But so far, the new girl has been a treasure for my boy and me. We’re all doing okay. The sunshine after the storm. The new girl is not perfect. But she’s perfect for us.
Crazy as it sounds, I’m thinking of getting another puppy in a year or two for the new girl. The old boy is 9 and will be moving on. Can’t imagine the new girl being alone.
I still would love to have you talk how the insights that result from competing with your dog help you become a better trainer of all dogs.
Trisha, there’s a topic that is rarely discussed in the animal world – behavioral euthanasia. Sometimes an animal’s behavior is such that they are simply not salvageable. My friend in British Columbia specializes in dogs that have behavior issues. When others give up on a dog, he takes it in and gives it what it needs (exercise, rules/boundaries, exposure to their unique issues and praise for a job well done). Even he cannot save them all and he estimates that approximately 2% of the hard cases he takes in have to be BE. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.
Wow. There really is comfort in company. It’s so helpful just to read how many people can relate to my situation. Yes, guilt is big. Why can’t I love him more? That’s not fair to him, is it? BTW, I forgot to mention that I have an older dog of the same breed (and it’s a rare one) who is the complete opposite of the jerk. He’s bombproof and a bowl of sugar. That’s the reason I went to all the trouble to get another one. Just goes to show you that breeds can only tell you so much.
I think much has been written about rehoming a dog that isn’t a good fit, but it’s those of us who would never think of doing such a thing and actually don’t want to give up our dog, who need guidance on learning to love them for who they are.
I also think the topic of dogs as we get older is a good one that I would love to read about. Thank you, Trisha, as usual, for giving us all a place to not only get great advice, but to get some “group therapy” too. 🙂
Hopping back on to comment on HFR’s “having a dog you love but don’t like”. Seems like she hit a nerve!
Our current dog is one of “those.” She’s a rescue we got at 5 yrs old. Our vet thought she may have been from a puppy mill because her teeth were severely worn for her age–from chewing at the bars of her cage. She came with a plethora of issues, especially notable that she screamed like she was being killed if we dared to put her in a crate (any size crate). We worked through all of her many issues, and today she will even go into a crate (not totally happily, but compliantly) if asked. But one issue took us longest to get over, and that was the one that resulted in the “love but not liked” category.
She didn’t like us. Or people at all, really. She was never, at any point, aggressive. However, at most, she stoically tolerated us because she was fed, but she made it obvious in every possible way that she couldn’t be bothered to spend any time with us. She would actively run away from us whenever she got the chance–we never dared let her off lead. And she would duck away if we ever dared to try to pet her. Or, as I expressed it around other trainers, she had “absolutely no reinforcement history with humans.”
Luckily, she got along with our other dog, and followed his lead on most things, although they never did anything as radical as play together. But she’d go for a ride in the car when he did, go on walks when he did, settle down with a chewie when he did. So, while we worked through most of her major issues, she became the “second dog” in the household. We provided all her needs, and gave her toys and treats like her brother, but didn’t push ourselves on her in terms of affection or interaction that she didn’t want.
In the meantime, we developed a strategy that helped *us* better deal emotionally with her. We took to “narrating” her thoughts when we were around her–giving her wry, irreverent, dryly ironic things to “say” based on her reactions to things. Her most common “saying” was “I don’t like this! I don’t like it at all!” We gave her “thoughts” a funny little voice, and I think she noticed that it meant that we were talking about her, because she seemed to pay attention. But it also helped *us* pay better attention to her and to her body language as an indicator of how she felt about both the world currently around her and our own actions.
Fast forward several years. Our boy dog has since passed away, and our little rescue is an elderly 13-going-on-14, and now our only dog. And nowadays she tolerates us much better. She doesn’t actively run away from us anymore, and will in fact follow one or the other of us around the house during the day. She actually greets us when we come home after being away! She will actually approach us and demand pets and scritches! (She’s rather like a cat in that she *hates* being touched, unless she actively solicits it.) She brings us a toy and asks to play!
Most of her more unfortunate behaviors are gone, either through diligent training, or old age and lack of practice. And the ones we haven’t bothered to modify, we’re all used to. Nowadays we *do* both love AND like our dog–we just had to change our own point of view and meet her halfway on her own terms….
Here’s another topic, brought on by last night’s nosework class. When do you decide the dog just does not like an activity, and stop making them do it? My border collie would do any activity or sport like it was his job, reading my mind all the way. My chi/terrier just does not seem to care about nosework, agility, tricks, etc. and I’m pondering whether we should keep trying and hoping for a breakthrough, or just let her be her little self. I love dog school, but it’s not fair to make her do it just because I want to.
Melanie Hawkes says
Me again sorry! I thought of 2 more: I would love to hear about your experience with alternative therapies, like acupuncture, homeopathic remedies, bowen therapy etc. Why you use it, the benefits, what it does that conventional medicine can’t, when not to do what your regular vet advises or you question their advice (like annual vaccinations!), when to see a holistic vet etc. Upton was diagnosed with severe allergies almost 3 years ago and the dermatologist recommended a prescription diet and ongoing allergy medication. I did some research and switched to a raw diet and he hasn’t needed any meds for it in almost a year! Sometimes you have to trust your gut feeling and act against their advice.
And when to get professional help or manage on your own? In terms of rehab (go to a physio or underwater treadmill sessions vs doing regular exercises at home), and for behavioural issues? I have read a lot of your books and think we are managing pretty well, so why should I pay for a trainer? What are the benefits, at what stage should you ask a professional and how often for long term issues? Thanks!
Sandra Kruczek says
How about kitties? We’ve always had dogs and cats. I have a Domestic Shorthair, calico spayed female kitty that is 5 years old. She was feral and has become increasingly loving and cuddly. A behavior I noticed is that she yawns frequently when she comes up to sit next to me and cuddles. I understand this behavior with dogs and wonder if it might be similar in our kitties.
Love your blog, Patricia, especially the inclusion of flowers and lovely, personal moments.
I would like to read a post about how to figure out the best enrichment activity for a particular dog. I enjoyed a post you made once in the past about getting Tootsie involved with scent work. While she was never going to enjoy the BC’s lifestyle, the scent work was right up her alley. How can I use a dog’s breed and day-to-day behavior to figure out what activities would brighten up their life?
More generally, how can I figure out what my dog’s main motivator is? I know food, praise, and play are common ones—any others? Probably is dead obvious to a trainer, but not always to the rest of us!
Thank you, Trisha. 🙂
I don’t know if this will help anyone struggling with not much liking there dog but for what it’s worth our psycho bitch from hell was named Finna. She was reactive to EVERYTHING in the beginning. My son is a genius with voices and voices all our animals thoughts and feelings in their own unique voice. Listening to him give voice to Finna’s internal feelings of “that is scary so I will bark at it and make it go away,” I realized that I actually admired her determination to deal with the world rather than let it overwhelm and shut her down. I didn’t much appreciate her way of dealing with it but realized I could take that willingness to do something and give her better tools for dealing with things. Suddenly I found a way to take the negatives and see them in a better light and realize that I liked as well as loved her. It’s coming up on a year now since we lost her and I still miss her every day.
We like to believe that our new guy, D’Artagnan was carefully selected for us by his predecessors and that they left him note telling him how to deal various things he’d encounter living with us. Sometimes when he does something unexpected my son will have D’Artagnan inform us that “Finna said, in her notes that…” and it always makes us smile.
Linda Lipinski says
Another wonderful, thought-provoking blog & responses from readers. I didn’t realize you had such fabulous photography skills. Thanks for sharing.
Kat, I thought of Finna when I was writing about mine. I always admired how you dealt with having a difficult dog and think of you often when telling myself to accept him for who he is.
Dogmom2, I think that’s a great idea for a topic. When I was active in agility I often watched people dragging their dogs out for runs that they clearly weren’t enjoying. I think the topic is even broader: We expect our dogs to fit our lives, but not the other way around.
Adrienne K. says
Thank you Teddy for your thoughtful and very helpful response to my question. I truly appreciate it. Planning for our Zasu’s future should something happen to me and my husband is important to me.
Getting back to dog behavior, interestingly I read an article this morning about dogs who have cSPS (highly sensitive dogs) which is not unlike people who are highly sensitive. Though our poodle is not negatively affected with high sensitivity I believe she is positively affected by it. Typical behavior of dogs who have this is is very interesting. I understand that there will soon be available a website addressing this topic. http://www.highly-sensitive-animals.info
Well I don’t know if this is a “behavior” problem, but it is a problem at least to my way of thinking. My 9 month old GSD mix eats her poop and has done so ever since we brought her home at 7 weeks old. I immediately started telling her to “leave it” and still do and she will when I’m around, but I find the evidence that she still partakes when I am not around. I have tried adding pumpkin to her diet and several over-the-counter supplements, but nothing has worked. I have read that puppies often do this and will usually outgrow this behavior, but when? Or maybe I just have to accept this and try not to worry about it. She does not eat other dogs’ poop so I guess that’s something!
Leslie Sachlis says
I would love to learn about/talk about many things. Age is one. The dog’s age and how it relates the age(s) of those in the household. Guidelines for “downsizing” our dogs? How to make the most of/give the best care for their golden years if we are so fortunate to share them with one of our furry friends. When my last one passed 13 years young, I was terrified. I was in totally unknown territory. My oldest had passed at 11+. We were lucky that our last lived 36 days past her 17th birthday. It was a very new experience. I need to learn more in case that happens again. Vet Care is another. When and how to know when to go with a holistic modality and which one to choose. Two more health topics: vaccinations, which ones and on what schedule and then the proper feeding of pup are things that I struggle with. The pandemic is a big one. Our Daisy would have been shattered by the isolation this thing has caused. A big part of her walks was greeting and being greeted by all of her friends, both two footed and four footed. Many of our dogs have been “neighborhood pets”. Daisy was loved by all. To not be able to say hello to them would have broken her heart. She would not have understood. Adjustment to the pandemic and to whatever becomes normal in the future is a big topic. Some dogs may feel comfortable with the isolation and not care for anyone violating their private space and routine. Rescue. I have been a part of rescue for many years. In the past three years I have learned that the posted biography is to the beginning of the conversation. Although many/most rescues offer you all of the information that they know about a pup, everyone evaluates differently – looks for different things. For years, adopting a “project’ was not an issue. Now because of the needs of my household, we are looking for a fit. That is not easy. To say that I miss canine companionship is an understatement. I would like us to be as good for our next dog as he/she is for us. Any suggestions that you have on new books to read/resources to learn more about our special family members would be wonderful. I can never get enough. The more I learn, the more I want to learn. Your books and this blog help with that.
I’m so impressed by your twelve years journey! Thank you so much for sharing and keep up your good work!
Cynthia F. says
It’s been a long time. . .
There is a topic I have never seen addressed – the potential trauma and danger of adding a puppy/young dog into a household with a very senior dog. Over the years I have listened to many people talk about their senior dog perking up with the addition of the younger dog. And then the older dog is dead within 6 months. This doesn’t happen all the time or every time, but I have heard it enough. The 6 month period is fairly consistent. If people ask me, I ALWAYS recommend letting their older dog live out their life in peace. Cynthia F. from your Wiz Kid past.
Just got a beautiful Dutch Shepherd/Malinois mix with green eyes. He is whip smart and loves my wife, daughter and I. He tolerates my 16 year old son, but goes nuts whenever my 19 year old son comes in the house, barking and sometimes growling. My son has fed him, walked him, given him treats and done some training and play with him. It doesn’t seem to matter. The dog still goes crazy when he comes in. The trigger seems to be when the dog is with my wife, who he is very protective of. My son is a 6’2″ weight-lifter. I have heard that some dogs don’t like tall men. Can anything be done for this? He is 6 months old now and I am concerned the behavior may escalate.
Thank you for this! Yes, I have always previously had dogs that I had a near instant connection with. My last dog was my #1heart dog and totally connected. I could think something and he just knew it. And now….I have a dog that isn’t the right dog for me. And I knew when I went to pick up a 3 month old border collie mix and instead found a 6.5 month old terrier mix who was TERRIFIED, that she wasn’t MY dog. But the rescue who was so wrong about her breed and age also didn’t see her fear and I couldn’t leave her there. I thought I could take her home and train her up and find her her perfect home and then get on to repairing my broken heart and finding my next dog. And that was not how it played out. I think this dog would be the dog that is constantly turned back into the shelter or rescue, home after home. So…she is mine. And I accept her for who she is and continue to work to make life easier for her, easier for me and easier for us. I love her. I feel for her. I am impressed with her progress. AND I would never be friends with her were she a human. It’s a lot of work and not as joyful and fun as I wish. But there are many rewards and many lessons.
Hi Trish … I can relate with a couple of threads here. In 2013, 18 months after the death of our 14 yr old beloved lab/retriever cross, we decided it was time for to get another dog. Hubby wanted a puppy. We were older and I didn’t want to go through puppyhood again so convinced him to go for an adult rescue. We ended up with a bonded pair of 7 yr old lab cross siblings … boy and girl, who, it turned out had even more issues than than the rescue organization had already diagnosed. We worked hard with training and behavioural trainer resources and finally were able to get most but not all of their issues sorted out. They were our love them dearly, but not always like them pair.
When they passed away 6 months apart at age 12, we again waited for 18 months before we felt we were ready to get another dog. By now aged 65 and 70, we decided to ‘downsize’. I did my research and we ended up getting an Aussie Terrier (I had a Westie cross years ago so had some idea of what to expect from a terrier ;)). He is already 5 months old, and is a sweet, strong minded boy who is smart as a whip. We haven’t had a puppy for 23 yrs so its been the adjustment I tried to avoid the last go round. However, I think I am doing a much better with him, training wise, than I’ve ever done with any of our dogs before … and I am happy with our choice of breed and the pup we got.
Now our discussion is around whether or not we should get a second AT. Off and on
through the yrs, we’ve added second dogs to singletons and it hasn’t always been the best fit. So my topic suggestion is just that … how does one go about adding dogs to your pack … in our case it would be an addition to a singleton … is there criteria to look at before doing. What is the ideal age of first/ existing dog(s) … is younger better than older – (with our last 2 not so great experiences we added a pup when the single dog was over 5-6 yo) … and what steps should one take to do to make it all work… and finally, are there any thoughts as to whether or not multi dog households better overall for the social and mental health of dogs.
I am new to your blog (but not your books) … thanks for your guidance and wisdom.
PS … and thanks for previous post that recommended Ted Kerasote’s books … Merle’s Door and Pukka’s Promise … I thoroughly enjoyed both!
Hello, I just came upon your site when I was googling “regretting giving up your dog.” Like many people who are stuck at home, I thought this would be a good time for me to finally get a dog. I’ve been wanting to do it for years but there was always a reason I couldn’t. I analyzed and planned all the reasons this was a good time and decided to pull the trigger.
I adopted a sweet, energetic, year and a half old hound mix from the shelter. They didn’t know much about him but I felt like I could love this little guy. I brought him home and the first 24 hours I found myself thinking “What have I done?!” He had so much energy, he would play bite, and he had severe separation anxiety. I couldn’t crate train him because if I was out of his sight, he wouldn’t stop barking. I couldn’t leave my house and I couldn’t sleep in my own bed because he needed to be next to me (I wanted to keep dog hair out of my bed for allergy reasons). I barely was able to get any work done with him and on top of that, I’m starting graduate school soon. I knew dogs were work, but this was a whole other level.
I made the difficult decision to take him back to the shelter because I didn’t think I was the best person for him. I wasn’t a strong alpha. I struggle with guilt and regret because he could be a good boy and such a snuggle buddy. I had the best of intentions and I know he’s still available at the shelter, because I check every day. I know I did the right thing, but I feel like I should be able to move on. At this point, he’s been gone longer than I had him. I wish I could just forgive myself for it not working out. Any tips on how to let go or forgive yourself?
I would love to hear your thoughts about living with a dog that you tolerate but don’t love, per say. I have three dogs, one whom I can say I love like a child, one who I work with and like but have less of a bond with than the first, and a third who I work with but really never bonded with. I give affection to dog 3 and the dog is given equal treatment to the other 2 in terms of activities, food, toys, sleeping arrangements, etc., but I just don’t feel that same heart-twisting love for dog 3 that I do for dog 1. Dog 3 has a unique personality/behavior quirks that don’t really sync with my personality, but they also make the dog very unattractive as a rehome candidate (not that we would consider doing that – dog 3 is safe and has a good life here). Do you think dog 3 cares about not being my “heart dog” or is that purely a human construction and I need to get over it?