Dog Days Of…Winter?

February 19, 2010

So the whole three dogs scenario is turning out to be pretty tough. Let me preface by saying that I am crazy about dogs, but I in no way know how to train them. Not only do I not know how, but I am not interested in learning. I don’t have the time, energy, or patience. I don’t think this makes me a terrible person; I think it makes me normal.

We were blessed that Cleo and Eddie are so well-behaved. Pretty much the only bad thing they do is chew the window sills, and Eddie has these random panic attacks that disturb our sleep from time to time, but overall they are very laid-back and sweet. We had a good life, a calm life. We had our routines.

Oliver has changed all that. We have learned the hard way that he has to spend the night in his crate, along with any time that we’re not home to supervise him. Of course this makes us feel guilty, but it is the only solution at this point. Any time we’re home we let him out, but that means we can’t relax. He needs constant monitoring and attention. Gone are the days that I can just lounge on the couch after a 12-hour work day; Oliver is up there with me, in my face and on top of me. Gone are the days of somewhat clean floors; Oliver tracks dirt wherever he goes.

We have had some good days. There were a few mornings that were SO good that I thought we were through the hardest part. I would let all three dogs out together and they would all do their business. I would feed them, and all three would eat. Eddie and Cleo would hop on the couch to doze, and Oliver would lie at my feet while I ate breakfast. Then I’d put him back in his crate and go to work.

Today, I’m about to lose hope. Since the dogs have been getting along so well lately, I put them all outside to play while I cleaned the house. They were out there for a couple of hours, and when I glanced out the window they looked so cute together. I was in the middle of mopping the floors–furniture moved, water everywhere – when I heard barks that didn’t sound right.

I ran outside to see Oliver and Cleo in a real fight. Thankfully I had already researched how to break up a dog fight without getting hurt, and was able to get them apart by pulling on their back legs. I got Oliver into the garage and promptly gave Cleo a bath with the hose. We were all muddy, and both dogs were bleeding from a few spots; nothing deep, but enough to alarm me. I cleaned the wounds with hydrogen peroxide as best as I could. I left Cleo and Eddie outside while I finished cleaning the house, then I let them in and shut them in my room with bones.

Oliver wasn’t as dirty, but he wouldn’t let me clean his bloody ear. I let him in the house, and for a little while, with them all separated, things were calm. Then Oliver peed on one of my nice coats, which was hanging from the back of a chair, right in front of my face. Needless to say, he’s back outside.

Many times have either David or I uttered the phrase, “We have to give him away.” But every time the other one says no. I can’t really blame him for all these problems. He’s just a huge, hormonal puppy with a bad leg who doesn’t know what to do with his energy. He’s adorable, and sweet if you give him a chance. I love him, but I don’t know what to do with him.

Posted in: personal

Comments on Dog Days Of…Winter?

  1. 1

    From Carrie:

    Hey I totally get how you’re feeling. We’ve had our fair share of pup problems too and definite moments of that dog has got to go. Over two years later it’s better but far from perfect. I know you have zero time/interest for it, but I highly recommend the classes at PetSmart. We did the 8 week training course for puppies and learned a lot of things that helped us deal with a few of her issues.

    The fighting thing could have just been a dominance issue and something they needed to work out. Is he food or toy aggressive at all? With you or your other dogs?

    As far as feeling guilty about crating Oliver, don’t – it’s really one of the best things for him. The crate will become his safe spot and his home in your home. We crate both our dogs when we’re gone at work and we crate them at night. I used to feel extremely guilty about doing it thinking that it was punishment, my opinion now is far from that. I know other pet lovers might not agree with crating but I think it’s been one of the best things we could have done for our dogs.

    I hope you all can get through this in one piece, he does seem like such a sweet dog and most of the time it does slowly get better. Good Luck!!

  2. 2

    From kapachino:

    Oliver has already gotten a lot better about going in his crate without a fight, so I think he’s starting to like it in there. That makes me feel better. Although I don’t know if I’m up for it, I think I’ll at least look into the classes at PetSmart. Thanks for the recommendation!

  3. 3

    From Stephany:

    I don’t have too much experience with dog training. With my dog Minnie, who died in 2008, my dad trained her. And he trained her GOOD. She did use her crate (we called it her “crib”) when she was a puppy mainly. As my first dog I ever had, I didn’t think much of it. When we left or during the night, that’s where she slept. And she was fine with it (all dogs are, I think). My dad worked hard with her (mostly spanking and probably not things a lot of dog trainers would agree with, lol) but she was the most well-behaved dog. We could take her anywhere without a leash, she didn’t bark too much, and she was just a GREAT dog.

    And with Dutch, the dog I have now, we “inherited” from my great-aunt. He was already house-trained and is a really well-behaved dog. So we definitely lucked out!

    So this comment doesn’t help you out at all so I’m sorry about that! But don’t feel too bad about crating your dog, it’s a natural thing, I think. I would probably think about doing some dog training? Maybe?

  4. 4

    From Megan:

    Oh, Kat. I’m so sorry that this has been such a hard transition. I’m no expert, but I did notice that Bono calmed down A LOT when we started exercising him like crazy. I think you’re right– that they just have a lot of energy that they don’t know where to direct. The peeing thing, I think, is a submissive behavior. He knows that you’re upset, and it’s his way of showing your dominance. Strange, but true, I think. I would try to get him to a dog park for lots of exercise, take him for twice-daily walks, and maybe look into a doggie daycare sort of environment for him. Check out Waggin’ Tails in Katy. Elizabeth (Kline) works there and could probably give you some good advice about it.

    Hang in there! And if it doesn’t get better, you probably really should look into other options. Right now, with your growing little Gumball, you really don’t need more stress.

    Also, I love you!

  5. 5

    From kapachino:

    First of all, I love you too!

    Secondly, we definitely can’t afford doggie day care. I do want to start exercising Oliver more, but he literally doesn’t put ANY pressure on his bad leg. I worry that I’ll be making it worse. I also don’t want to take him to the dog park until he gets neutered. But I think I’ll at least start with daily walks. Hopefully David can help me out here, although I think it’ll be up to me.

  6. 6

    From Lauren:

    Hey lady… this totally sucks. I’ve had three dogs in my lifetime and the best behaved was the one we got as a puppy. We did not take her to training, we SENT her to training, because we knew she would grow up huge and we wanted to make sure she learned her lessons well. I remember being terrified when we went to visit her and she how she was doing because the trainer was very rough with her, but he was clearly defined as the “alpha” and she did what he said. She did not retain tricks other than sit (stay, lay down, and come were lost) but she never jumped, she didn’t pull on her leash, and she stopped when we told her to stop. I don’t know how much this dude costs but I would seriously suggest considering it since you don’t have time to train him yourself.

    As far as crating… we only crated the first dog when she was young and got rid of the crate because we thought it was ugly once we realized we could trust her. From then on, she always slept under an end table that was about the same size as her crate. Meaning… she LIKED her crate! The only reason she didn’t wanna get in it was because she knew it meant no more “hang out time”.

  7. 7

    From Kyla Roma:

    If I can give you any advice it would be to make sure you’re walking him enough, if he has enough energy to get into a dog fight that’s cause enough, but being crated for more than 4 hours a day means you absolutely have to walk him for a minimum of 30 – 40 mins a day.

    As awesome as the crate is, it makes them all kinds of pent up and without enough exercise it will drive their bad behaviour around the bend. You’ve just got to cancel it out- I listen to podcasts, but whenever our guys are acting out more exercise always makes things better, even when they were little.

    We never put our dogs through obedience training, like you we’re extremely busy so we committed to big walks every day and (as silly as it sounds) watching The Dog Whisperer. Watching the show is a great way to see an experienced handler, and to learn how to read dog body language so you can help to see what’s going on with your mini-pack.

    These transitions are extremely hard, and you are amazing for keeping working on this! Bringing any dog into a new house is tough. Crating is awesome, and especially being new to your house will help your new guy feel safe and protected. You guys will get through it, just work on the walks and don’t give up =)

  8. 8

    From Nora:

    Aw, I’m sorry to read about all of this for you, for your sanity, for the dogs.

    When my dog gets testy, it’s cause he wants to be walked, played with or gets territorial. Hopefully there won’t be another fight because perhaps the dogs figured out who is the alpha male (it happened between my parents dog and my dog not too long ago. terrifying but they don’t fight anymore). I understand the back leg situation is tough though. Maybe the vet has some suggestions as to how to help?

    Sending you good thoughts from afar!

  9. 9

    From Sara:

    They should have a dog version of Nanny 911, where someone can come help train the dogs in just a couple days and that’s that.

    I don’t really have any experience with dogs, I was only 7 when our family got our dog, then after she passed away we took in my grandmother’s dog who had some weird behavior issues. I noticed that being stern helped decrease the behavior issues.

    The other comment-ers seem to know a lot more about pent-up energy so maybe that will do the trick. Maybe check out some training tips for situations like this on youtube too? Or even a tape/cd to listen to while driving?

  10. 10

    From MelissaOK:

    Oh, I’m so sorry to hear about this. I know that you know that we’ve had our own dog troubles most recently. I think the comments about them needing more exercise is probably a good one, but I also know what it’s like to work 12 hour days and just needing/wanting to relax!!!

    I hope you guys work everything out… Do you have an appointment yet to have him neutered?

  11. 11

    From Julienne:

    I’m with Kyla – watching The Dog Whisperer has given me a ton of insight with our dog! He was so overwhelming when we first brought him home I wanted to send him back, but the boy wouldn’t let me and now here we are 8 months later and I have the most loyal, loving little buddy and I CANNOT fathom life without him. It will get better, and I’m with the exercising comment too. Henry can be a bear to deal with if he doesn’t get his daily walk or run! Even just mental stimulation helps if he can’t be that active – teach him tricks etc.

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