Can you just be temperamentally incompatible with a dog?

(62 Posts)

We have had a rescue dog since September 2013. Did lots of research before we got her, took our time etc. Thought we had the right dog. Once we got her home she wasn't "the same dog" we had visited in the foster home. She was very difficult and made our lives hard and unpleasant.

Training has improved a lot of the actual problems, but I just don't like her, and I don't think I ever will. sad I am the one with primary responsibility for her, and the one at home most of the time. We live abraod where the school day is morning only, and have 3 young DC, so I will be home most of the day all the dog's life. She makes me enjoy my home less and makes me feel miserable the moment I walk up the drive.

I hate the way she jumps up and tries to walk under my feet every time I move about. I hate the fact that although she is not agressive at all with the DC she has no interest in or afinity with them - if they are ill or sad she doesn't do the doggie sympathy thing, instead she barks and tries to get between them and me, to stop me focussing on them and make me focus on her. I can now tell her to sit or put her outside - but she lacks the traits that make many dogs lovable IMO.

I enjoy walking her and don't mind feeding her (though I hate how she throws herself at the kitchen door at feeding time, and this is one we are not managing to stop). She has improved, behaviour wise, in the 5 months we've had her. But I don't like who she is sad The kids don't like her much because she doesn't seem to like them much - or rather she doesn't acknowledge they exist, adn they were so excited about getting a dog (the older 2 are 8 and 6 and old enough to interact sensibly with her, but she ignores them unless they are holding food or opening the front door...

Help! Has anyone been in this position and changed it. She's supposedly 2 years old, and certainly a young dog, I find myself thinking that she'll live the kids' whole childhoods and I will be a miserable git the whole time they are growing up becuase of my owen mistake in getting a dog, for all we thought about it for years before going for it and thought we had prepared. sad She is a mixed breed but somewhat cocker spaniel like, though finer boned. I walk her for an hour a day through forest, but she has selective hearing and when outside our property has no recall, so she is always on a lead. She responds to training well when everything is calm and quiet around her and she is in an enclosed place, but it goes out the window when there are distractions.

I wish every waking moment that we had never got a dog.

ender Wed 15-Jan-14 11:27:57

It sounds like you had zero support from rescue, if I was in your position I'd probably be struggling as well.
I've had my GSDx rescue for five months and was told that it'd take about six months for him to settle down, he was 8 months when i got him and had already been rehomed twice. His behaviour was similar to yours, following me everywhere etc. and it did get on my nerves but the rescue explained why he was doing it and gave helpful suggestions which worked. One thing that really helped a lot was letting him sleep in our bedroom, I'd always hated the thought of dogs in bedrooms but the rescue said it'd probably make him feel more secure and calm him down. He just comes in, gets on his bed and not a peep out of him till I get up in the morning, and mornings are much calmer, he used to be frantic after being away from me all night.
In the past week he's just started going into the utility room in the afternoon and sleeping with my other dog which is a real breakthrough.
I really think it would be worth getting a good behaviourist to help you.

She can't sleep in our room ender for all I totally see the logic, and see is insane in the morning, barking and flinging herself at the stair gate once activity starts upstairs, but won't go outside to pee or leave the stair gate when my husband leaves for work at 6.15am - the kids will no longer go downstairs without me, which is yet another way she has made life harder (the oldwer 2 used to be happy to get their own breakfasts at weekends and to go on ahead while I sorted the toddler and followed 5 or 10 mins later on week days).

Other people suggested she sleep in our room too, but it doesn't work with the house lay out (our room is an attic level mezzinine without a door nor any way to fit one - the stairs open into the middle of the room - and open slatted stairs). Our room is also our study/ office, and would be quite hard to make dog suitable (the kids are only allowed in there with us, not on their own). Esp given she has "accidents" and there is a computer with periferals and all the associated cabling, plus files etc. that really do not need to be soaked in dog pee... More importantly my toddler still wakes 2 or 3 times most nights, and I couldn't handle her coming with me, winding around my legs and probably tripping me on the stairs in my zombie middle of the night state as I go to him, and then barking and trying to squeeze between us and peeing on his floor when I re-settle him (which takes 15 minutes with no dog involved but I imagine he would be awake til morning with a dog barking and carrying on!). We don't let her upstairs at all, though we were going to, but the first day we had her she jumped straight onto my youngest's changing table and did a poo on it, and did it again on the floor in his room the same afternoon! Rather put us off her going upstairs!

I think now I have made the phone call I am resigned. I think maybe the problems started with the foster family who were too eager to get rid of her to a family with a nice cozy house and somebody home all day, and so were not up front and honest about ehr issues, even if they are "normal". Normal non rescue adult dogs don't act the way she does in my experience - and esp bearing in mind she is better now than when we got her by a long way, in terms of the all night barking, the out of control food stealing done at a run from people's plates out of her eye line with the person right there, and the frequency of toilet accidents, as well as no longer having the absolutely chronic uncontrollable liquid diarreah she had for her first 6 weeks - also not normal!

At the foster family she lived with 4 other dogs... I do wonder if that is a huge factor in why she is so needy with me - but obviously it would be beyond certifiably insane to get another dog to see if that helps!

I cried when I made the call and for hours after and totally wasted the precious bit of child free time I usually get on a Wed and Friday... and I haven't told the kids. But now I've made the call I don't want to draw things out, and as long as the charity's co-ordinator does sort out a foster family to take her as long as one becomes available then she is going.

TotallyBursar Wed 15-Jan-14 14:47:22

MrTumbles sad

It's a rock and a hard place. I hope now you have made the decision a weight will be lifted and the feeling of permanence, is this what I have to be dealing with now forever more, will give you the mental space to not find it a grinding relentless chore.

Personally I do believe you can not suit a certain temperament of dog, in the same way as people. I also feel that it is unfair on dogs to attempt to train them into being something they're not.
Yes, some of us are lucky enough to be in a situation that is conducive to taking a high needs dog and work, work and work some more at uncovering the dog underneath. But that relies on a couple of things 1) having the knowledge/experience or access to a support system that has it & the time to do so 2) that the dog underneath the anxiety behaviour is a dog that is a better fit.
Some dogs are routine driven or prone to anxiety, some are highly social & need more companionship, some are not fussed about people at all - there can be a huge variation in base personality that is not a pathology or needing correction as it's just who they are. It's not a situation of fault or blame, they are just being a dog. The problem comes when in order to fit into a certain household it is viewed as a problem because the two aren't suited. It's not a problem family or a problem dog.
One holds more responsibility than the other but that's not the responsibility of changing a square peg into a round one.
You did what you thought was correct on the advice of the people who should have known better. The dog has been let down, but so have you. The lack of ongoing support is not acceptable - rescuing dogs is a noble vocation but it doesn't stop once they leave, that duty of care multiplies to include the family, it doesn't reduce.

It's very hard sometimes to see past one's own situation when advising - you feel you can see the problem & the solution, that you would graft through the hard part and not 'give up' - it forgets to take so many things into account, that each family & dog are a unique unit even though the issues may be familiar, that people's skills strengths weakness & tolerance are different and often we see a smaller task (deal with dog, solution x) when the person in charge of change often sees a much bigger one (deal with dog - deal with dc, dh, solutions? Difficult) I've said plenty of times before about involving children, forgetting I know the dog but not the kids. I'm as guilty of this as anyone, but if I can do x anyone can, forgetting the bigger picture sometimes. Although of course the above is a bit of a generalisation.
The fact remains though that if a particular dog will thrive with a single experienced owner, no kids pets or working then a family of 5 can never be that, no matter how much they try.
It's important that the rescue take the responsibility for her seriously, take on board what you say and find her a more appropriate home - it's gutting she will be moved again & it's not ideal but if she hadn't been misplaced or they had supported you/there was better accessible support it may not have come to it. Unfortunately it is her that takes the brunt of it which is why rescues need knowledge not love to run well.
Long-term it is the best decision for both of you. Sometimes doing right by them is not hanging on for grim death hoping for something that might never come. It can be taking an honest but hard decision. So sorry you were in this position.

SnakeyMcBadass Wed 15-Jan-14 14:53:37

YY Bursar. Everything you said with knobs on. I blunder through with my high needs dog, but I'd be lying if I said I always enjoy owning him. Today, he raaaaahed at my friend's friendly lab who was sniffing his butt hello. No harm done, except he has once again learned that raaaahing gets the other dog to leave. The pup is a sociable, friendly little chap and some days I walk them separately just so that I can enjoy walking a dog without incident <kicks kerb, trips over own lip>

ender Wed 15-Jan-14 15:28:33

Brilliant post Bursar.
OP - so sorry for you and dog sad

LadyTurmoil Wed 15-Jan-14 15:40:03

Definitely a brilliant post, Bursar. I remember when you first posted, Mr Tumbles and I was very enthusiastic about adopting a rescue dog. I am really sorry if that led you to do something that's causing you distress now.

I think the rescue has been very unfair with you. I fostered a dog recently and I had a couple of wobbles (because I'm not hugely experienced) and they were always available via FB or phone to chat which reassured me.

It sounds like you will have to hassle the rescue to get your dog moved, they probably won't be proactive about helping you, just as they weren't proactive in giving you help before.

But don't be downhearted about this experience. Things don't always work out as we'd wish, as it does sound like a case of incompatibility which the rescue/fosters/homecheck should have picked up on.

If I am completely honest, I would be the same as you, I would know that I haven't got the experience, time, willingness to invest so much time and energy in training a dog, compromising my family time without knowing for certain that if it was going to turn out ok. I think you are doing the right thing, and understand that it's a very difficult situation for you. But you will feel a great relief and you shouldn't feel too bad about it.

I really feel for you, OP, but I think you are doing the right thing for all of you.
I also think the rescue needs a kick up the backside tbh because there's no point getting a dog adopted into a "safe home" only for everyone in that home to be miserable and for the dog to end up back in rescue again.
Do keep on at them, stressing that the situation is getting worse for all of you. Did you sign a contract with them? In ours, it specifically says that they have a duty to take the dog back if necessary. Insist on the next available foster place. I realise that they want to save dogs by bringing them over from Greece (I think it's Greece?), but what good does it do if eg your dog ends up in a German Tierheim? In fact, in our contract it specifically says that we are not allowed to pass our dog on to anyone else at all - if we cannot care for her, we HAVE to give her back to the rescue (also does not have its own Tierheim but only Pflegestellen).

The sooner it happens, the better for all of you.

In the mean time, maybe try and think of her time with you as also a kind of Pflegestelle because you've done lots of good with her, and this is part of her journey to her proper forever home?

34DD Wed 15-Jan-14 21:11:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AwesomeMrsFox Wed 15-Jan-14 22:50:47

I totally feel for you MrTumble. We had a similar situation. I really tried everything but could not bond with the dog at all. Even the one to one behaviourist that came in completely 'got' the situation and actually told me not to feel bad if we did rehome her. I tried for almost 2 years and it never really got better. The dog was not spiteful but I hated being downstairs due to the constant stress. Eventually a friend approached us as she actually wanted a 'challenging' dog. We did a trial weekend and although I felt bad in pangs, the relief when the dog left was enormous. I do not regret the decision at all, the dog was not right for us and was probably unhappy too. It did have a happy ending all round and as PP have said I'm sure your dog will found a right home.

We have had dogs before and eventually another since and really all dogs are different, you might just get the odd one who does not work for you. Don't let it put you off dog ownership for life and please don't beat yourself up about it - you tried your best.

Thank you everyone, will post more later but thank you for the support.

Sorcha1966 Thu 16-Jan-14 15:31:21

I really feel for you OP. d I agree with the last few posters, you have done your very best and been let down by the rescue centre. You cannot live with a dog which makes you all miserable... thats no life for you or the dog. I hope she is found another, more suitable home soon.

BullyMom111071 Thu 16-Jan-14 21:36:25

OMG I would have to return her to the rescue. If it is a reputable rescue they will have her back in a heartbeat. A dog is meant to enrich your life and give you joy. If you all feel miserable I really wouldn't carry on. Some things are just not meant to be. They will find the perfect match for her.

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