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Struggling to maintain bond with my dog

(19 Posts)
Penguin27 Fri 10-Mar-17 08:44:28

Hi all... I'm feeling a little anxious about writing this as I'm worried that people are going to think I'm a cold-hearted bitch, but I just want some advice and don't really know who to talk to...

My large-breed dog is 18 months old, but still acts like a crazy puppy. We've been told that his breed don't usually mature until about 4yo so we've got a while to go with him yet!

He's trained to some extent, but not very obedient at times. He's very demanding and will sit there and whine at me while I'm doing something (like getting ready in the mornings) until I feed him - it's not like he's starving, he just always wants food!

I find myself getting very stressed out when he barks.... It's always really loud and sudden, it makes me jump and my immediate reaction is to scream/shout (I sometimes want to lash out but don't!) He does this a lot (about 5 times an hour in the evenings) and I just get more and more on edge.

He's a lovely dog, very affectionate and loving, but sometimes I feel that I don't want to be around him. Then I feel bad because it's not his fault and maybe I need to be a bit more patient with him...

Then I worry that I'll be as rubbish a parent as I am a dog owner confused

Could my slightly less than stable mental state be playing a part in this? I don't know what to do... I don't really have a question or anything, sorry for the ramble but just wanted to get it off my chest.

LilCamper Fri 10-Mar-17 11:06:53

Pre empt him. Give him attention before he pesters for it.

Bluebell9 Fri 10-Mar-17 11:11:23

If he is whining until you feed him, he's learnt that if he whines, he'll get food. I know it'll drive you mad, but don't feed him until he isn't whining at you. He will learn that whining at you doesn't have any benefit and will eventually stop doing it.

What is he barking at in the evenings?

There is a great FB page which might help too

LadyDawn Fri 10-Mar-17 11:43:17

With the food whining, you could try feeding your puppy at the same time every day. Dogs have fantastic biological clocks and will quickly learn when dinner time is. He will still tell you when it's dinner time but won't be whining for dinner at random times. Just carry on feeding your pup at those times, even if it is whined for, he is communicating and it's good to listen. Food is very important to a dog.
With the barking thing, is there a reason why he barks? Is he hearing noises? You could try ignoring him. But maybe the dog needs reassuring. If you show that what ever is making your dog bark does not bother you and you act positively, that may help. Also giving treats when he does not bark can help encourage good behaviour. There's no point yelling or raising your voice to a dog, it won't help, it would probably further upset them and make their behaviour worse. Definitely have more patience. Dogs are very simple really. Their lives revolve around you (give lots of love) and food (do not underestimate how important food is to them smile ) .

Wolfiefan Fri 10-Mar-17 11:47:39

He's trained to some extent.
There. That's your problem. You need to train this dog. It's an ongoing thing.

Penguin27 Fri 10-Mar-17 12:06:27

Thank you everyone for your comments and not judging me too harshly!

I'll definitely take on board your comments about set meal times and not giving in when he's pestering me for food.

I'm not entirely sure what he's barking at... we don't have curtains downstairs so it could be that he's seeing something in the garden or hearing noises. Shouting definitely doesn't help anything, it's my immediate knee-jerk reaction but I always feel terrible afterwards. I'll try giving him more treats and encouragement when he is being calm... and buy some curtains when I can afford to as well!

Penguin27 Fri 10-Mar-17 12:07:47

And thank you for the Facebook group recommendation bluebell, I'll definitely join that!

QuentinSummers Fri 10-Mar-17 12:09:49

I wonder if the reason he is barking is because of your reaction - he's playing and you bark back by screaming/shouting. Is he getting enough exercise?
Maybe when he barks you should put him in another room/send him away from you so he doesn't get a rewarding reaction from you.

LunaFortuna Fri 10-Mar-17 12:13:39

Hi there,

Don't worry, dogs can be v demanding at times especially at this age. How about making him work for his food - have you tried a kong with some treats/paste in? It can keep them busy for ages. I play a 'where's the biscuit' game with mine, I hide biscuits around the room and they have to find them.

Definitely set meal times though and keep working at the training, that will make a lot of difference. Good luck smile

FATEdestiny Fri 10-Mar-17 12:14:06

An acquaintance of mine bought a puppy the same time as me. The pups are 13-14 months old now. I am an experienced puppy/dog owner and took over a year to find the dog. Friend and her DH have never owned or lives with a dog. They bought on a whim.

We periodically chat about puppy progress. It became increasingly obvious that she went through various stages:
- awww cute puppy
- shit, what have we done?
- We we can do this, we can train the dog
- Training is hard work and surely shouldn't take this long (pup about 6 months)
- Out pup is "bad" and "naughty". I think he's untrainable
- The children don't like the dog, he won't leave them alone. So w shut him in kitchen when the kids are home from school
- I don't like the dog very much. He's nasty.

So I've been trying to say the right thing through all of this. This last stage is where my friend is now. We chatted last week and she said only her DH tolerated the dog. She and the kids hate him.

It made me feel really sad for the dog. I couldn't get over that aww poor dog feeling to say anything useful to my friend. But on reflection when I got home, I wish I'd have suggested rehoming.

I suspect they want to rehome the dog. But don't want to feel like a failure. But the fact is, they are not likely to be able to bond with a dog they dislike so much. I wonder if she would benefit from knowing a third party (ie me) thinks rehoming would be the right thing to do. Or if I should just mind my own business.

Anyway - the reason for my post. OP, if you don't like the dog and struggling to be kind and gentle with your dog, the best answer might be to rehome the dog.

Patriciathestripper1 Fri 10-Mar-17 12:16:19

Get an anti bark collar, to help with the barking.
And get a routine going with him.
Feed Before he whimpers as feeding him when he whimpers is reinforcing his whimpering.
Make sure he gets plenty of excercise and tire him out.
Get lots of toys for him to play with too.
And teach him to sit, stay and go on his bed with treats so he is having fun whilst learning.

MrsJayy Fri 10-Mar-17 12:16:55

I agree feed him at set times so he is used to the routine he is like an actual toddler any attention is good attention so he will whinge whine and bark to get it, i know he is frustrating but try and not scream at him he thinks you are barking back we taught ours to speak so he barks on command and gets a treat keeps his mind occupied so when he barks outwith speaking we know he wants something needs something.

Nancy91 Fri 10-Mar-17 12:35:16

I find the best way to prevent the barking is to make sure the dog is knackered from exercise! If your dog is barking for attention just ignore him or turn your back / walk away, he will see that barking gets him the exact opposite of what he wants. Randomly give him treats and fuss when he is being nice and chilled out. Best of luck smile

SparklingRaspberry Fri 10-Mar-17 15:57:35

Please don't rely on anti bark collars. Put in the time and effort with training and you'll feel much better knowing it was YOU who trained him - plus you get a happier dog!! smile

You need to train your dog more. Training never stops. Dogs love to please.

Are you exercising him enough?

Definitely agree with getting him into a routine - he'll soon know what's next and what's coming. I usually walk, food, rest, playtime, sleep. Then repeat.

Penguin27 Fri 10-Mar-17 16:16:39

Again thank you, all. I do try to make sure he's exercised but he could probably do with more... I think he would happily walk all day long without getting tired!

Fate, I appreciate your honesty. I have thought about whether I'm the right person to give him what he needs sad I've spoken about it with DH but he doesn't want to rehome, he thinks we can manage with more training and encouraging the right behaviours. I definitely don't hate my dog (I say it sometimes but don't mean it!) and don't like the thought of him not being around.

Fwiw, I think you should speak to your friend as well.

Wolfiefan Fri 10-Mar-17 17:26:53

How much exercise does he get? Also brain games and training would help keep him occupied and tire him out. Big breeds can be exhausting!

Floralnomad Sat 11-Mar-17 16:13:14

If he's not sleeping in the evening , which he isn't if he's barking all the time give him something to do - scatter mats / frozen Kong etc . How much exercise does he get ( honestly) and what time of the day ? What is his daily routine , is he home alone for long periods ?

KoalaDownUnder Sat 11-Mar-17 18:21:10

If it helps at all, I got my dog at 18 months and she was an absolute pain in the neck initially. She is only now starting to calm down at nearly 4! I love her to the ends of the earth, though.

That said, the importance of exercise and training can't be overstated when they're young.

Sweetninja30 Sun 12-Mar-17 20:03:10

I also have a breed that apparently doesn't 'mature' until 4 years old or thereabouts. The best way to bond with your dog is to go to training classes. Depending on the breed you could go to traditional training classes (bronze good citizen is a good start), agility, field trials or even ringcraft. I recommend ringcraft as it teaches dogs to be calm around other dogs and there are lots of fabulous role model dogs around. Especially helpful if you have a bouncy breed.

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