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How to learn to love your dog?(20 Posts)
Or maybe I mean "how to learn to love being a dog owner?"
DC had begged for years for a dog, we always lived in rented before now so couldn't but DH and I had grown up with dogs and remembered it to be rewarding, so we were keen.
We got a puppy earlier in the year from what we believed was a respectable breeder (but from further research I believe is a 'legal puppy farm'). Within two days we realised she had a problem (ectopic ureters) which was stressful and meant that she couldn't fully integrate into family life because she was constantly wet.
She has responded well to surgery which has been mostly effective.
We both changed jobs which meant we couldn't be home during the day (unplanned but necessary) and now pay for daily alternating long and short walks with other dogs which pup enjoys.
She is a bright and affectionate puppy, now 9 months old, but the problem is that I loathe having the dog. It's not her fault, she's loving and bonkers, but I can't enjoy it.
My anxiety is through the roof, which started through cleanliness issues around the puppy's incontinence and have continued. We keep her confined to the kitchen area mostly because we got into that habit when pre surgery and never got out of it. We try at times but she goes bonkers and gets bitey and destructive. So still trying little by little.
I don't know why I'm posting or what in looking for, but how do we deal with having a dog when we don't enjoy it? I fantasise about rehoming her, as I think it's likely better for her in the long run, but mostly worry about impact on DC.
For the dog lovers among you I fully appreciate how awful this all sounds, we didn't (still don't) take pet ownership lightly and I know what I'm saying probably sounds ridiculous, but it's causing us a lot of stress and unhappiness.
It took a while for me to start to enjoy and love my puppy rather than just feeling responsible for him. I would say that during the puppy and teenage stages I just endured it.
I think the turning point was towards 10 months to 1 year of age when he calmed down and there was much less anxiety and stress and more fun.
I would say you are still in the thick of it regarding age and behaviour which makes it hard. Hang in there as it does get better.
It took me over 20 yrs to persuade my dh to have a dog and I loved everything about him instantly so I can’t really put myself in your position however if your pup is now able to go into the rest of the house I think I’d just let her have a few hours of being mental and get it over with . If you only let her out of the kitchen for a few minutes and she goes nuts so you put her back it’s just going to happen each time as she’s never getting used to being out IYSWIM . Just stick the dc somewhere safe like upstairs behind a gate and let her run amok for a bit . You may feel differently about her if she is better integrated into the family and cuddled up with you on the sofa in the evening .
Firstly, give yourself a break... puppies are bloody hard work without health problems and incontinence, it’s totally fine to find it tough.
I’d also say, dogs aren’t a constant source of enjoyment, yes overall I enjoy having a dog - but it’s like enjoying having children, some days are shit quite frankly, lol.
And tbh, yes I’d just let her in the rest of the house and wait out the over excitement. Puppy proof the living room, let her in and sit watching tv till she gets bored... it might take a while, but eventually she will just go, ok, this isn’t that much fun actually.
I find doing interactive activities with DDog always makes me feel a bit closer to him.
At one point it was training classes (which I actually really enjoyed) but it could also be something like agility or flyball for instance. They're also a fun alternative to a walk - I think we all have days where yet another trip to the park is unappealing.
You can't keep a 10 month old puppy confined to one room for most of its life! You already leave her most of the day and overnight and then when you're home, you want her stuck in one room all the time? No. She needs to be part of the family and come and spend time with you! Sorry if that sounds a bit harsh but why get a dog that you don't spend time with?
Ours is allowed run of the house, and as a result he's not desperate to get into other rooms or barking at doors. I spent quality time with him everyday, be it grooming, training, playing tug or fetch, or just cuddling him on the sofa while he sleeps.
Like a PP I loved mine from the minute we got him home. He's a fabulous addition to our lives and although some days he drives me bonkers I know I'd never be without him.
Work with your pup and spend time with them - dogs love pleasing their owners and want to spend time with them so you need to do that. If she's bitey and excited - focus her mind on something else. Has she been to classes or done formal training? I go to weekly class with mine but I also teach him tricks from YouTube - Kikopup is a fab source for that.
Everything adaline has said.
You've had a rough start with the dog and from the sound of it you only got her because your DCs wanted her. A dog impacts on the whole family and should be a part of the family. All the family should want the dog and parents will always end up being the ones who get all the work.
You need to start approaching her differently.
Instead of seeing her as a puppy that needs to be contained and looked after, start seeing her as a potential companion animal. Go to classes with, train her, teach her things. Maybe she's bonkers because you're not putting enough effort in doing things with her and spending time with her. But yes, that apart puppies are bonkers, it's part of their charm.
My dog sits with me, she's with me now and we're about to go out for our second walk. She has the run of the house, even sleeping on my bed if she wants. I just cannot imagine her being in another room all day. She's be utterly miserable and lonely. Dogs need company it's not fair to keep them confined to one room.
Get the dog out of the kitchen, spend time with her, train her. Or yes, rehome her.
I don't love my dog, I assumed I would, but 4 years in I have realised I probably never will. I care for the dog and wish them well. I find taking them out stressful rather than enjoyable (other members of the family enjoy this more) and I also find having the dog around with guests stressful. It is okay but still often low level irritating when it is just family. However the DC adore the dog and I would therefore never rehome the dog. The dog has free range downstairs during the day and I am usually around with them. I am not sure that you need to feel love towards your dog but you do have to make sure they are properly exercised which will help with them being calm, I would consider doggy day care, this can really help tire them out and gives them the opportunity to socialise with other dogs without you having to get involved.
I love my dog to bits but I found the puppy stage really tough. She's 3 now and an absolute delight, calm, loving and lazy! I never thought I'd love her as much as I do.
Thanks all for taking the time to respond.
I agree we need to give the dog the run of downstairs at least, she can be quite destructive but I put that down to boredom, so a bit of a miserable cycle for her.
She does get fuss from us, we walk her morning and evening and she gets her midday social walks Monday to Friday.
Didn't expect DC to look after dog at all, but are very hot and cold on wanting to spend time with her / do anything with her.
I do like the idea of snuggling on the sofa. That's the rose tinted glasses life I imagined with a dog ;)
I think to love your dog you need to spend time with them, get to know their personality and be tactile with them. Mine is just over a year old, we got her last November. Right now she’s asleep next to me, her head is on my foot and occasionally I give her a stroke or tummy tickle. When I interact with her, especially when I stroke her or when she comes to me for affection I feel rush of love for her. Walking her in her favourite places and seeing her light up as she enjoys the great outdoors and playing with her also help to strengthen the bond.
I think you need to get your dog out of the kitchen and integrate her into your family life. Puppies are hard work, much as I love her mine can be a total pita at times, but it does get easier as they get older and start to calm down.
And some good ideas about doing something with the dog like classes or what not. We are incredibly time poor which is another reason why I feel so irritated by the dog, just takes up the precious time we do have, but doesn't get enough from us at all.
Writing this makes me realise that I do care for her, but not sure I can care for her the way she deserves.
Work at bonding with her and you will get to snuggle on the sofa.
A dog in the family will required a lot of your time if it's to be happy and content.
If you really feel you don't have the time to give her perhaps a dog isn't for you. They are a huge commitment and certainly aren't for everyone.
I love my dog. I've had since she was a tiny puppy and she's now 7 years old. I wouldn't be without her but there are times that I think how much easier my life would be without her. Everything has to be planned around her and I'm happy to do that but it is a tie.
I live on my own but I can image with a family how difficult that must be. I think you've either got to really want a dog as part of the family or you're going to have a dog that's going to be alone a lot of the time.
@pigsDOfly thank you. I think we'll have to do some work and thinking about how to improve things.
She's just started her first season, too. Anyone have any tips on surviving the mess? She will get spayed but vet recommended she have a couple of seasons to give her bladder a chance to grow properly after her surgery.
Have you done any training with her at all? Can she do the basics like sit, paw, lie down and stay?
You need to train her to make her a good family dog. Ours is with us all the time and we use it to train him. So he has to sit and stay while we eat, sit for his meals etc - we train him simple commands like off, down, leave - all the time. Training isn't something that just happens in puppy class - you need to train them constantly.
Get some good sofa and chair covers and puppy proof your rooms. In the evening take her out for a good long walk then let her into the lounge with a good solid chew. She will probably chew it up then fall asleep.
Yes a well trained dog is very rewarding but it is a life's time work and it takes hard work.
With my dog I can talk to her and she understand what I want from her because the words I say have been repeated so often and followed up by the relevant actions that she knows whats I'm saying and seems able to pick out the relevant words.
And likewise she'll do things so that I understand what she wants and she knows I'll respond the way she wants.
Watch the way a farmer works a sheep dog, or people doing agility with a dog, that doesn't just happen it takes hard work from both sides and it's a very close bond.
Okay, your dog probably isn't going to have that level of training but you can still get huge pleasure from training her to a decent standard.
Make time for her, get involved with her and you'll start to enjoy her. With dogs you really get out what you put in.
I would really recommend going to training classes - it's about teaching you as much as teaching the dog, and it's great for bonding as well.
Ours loves going each week - he's learned loads (and so have we!) and our bond is a lot stronger for it. They're well worth the investment and we're planning to weekly pretty much until he's at least two, and then switching to agility or flyball once his joints are formed properly.
He's a beagle so at the moment we do tons of scent work and retrieving with him - he loves it and it tires him out!
I cannot imagine locking my dog in the kitchen when I am at home. What is the point of having a dog if you are going to do that? Do her a favour and find her a new home whilst she is still young.
I love my dog (so much so that thinking about him now, while I’m at work, is making me cry. What an idiot. ) I don’t always love being a dog owner though. It’s relentless and it makes me stressed and anxious and I’m always worrying about him - what’s he doing? Is he happy? Is he annoying someone? The times when I REALLY love him are when I feel like we’re connected - if we have a good training session, when he chooses to come to me, when he cuddles with me on the sofa. You haven’t had that, you’ve just had all the difficult, hard stuff! No wonder you aren’t enjoying it.
One thing our trainer suggested that I resisted for AGES as one more thing that was just too much is hand feeding - I dont do it with all of his food, but I spend literally about 10 minutes getting him to practice commands in exchange for some of his dinner, and I think it’s really helped our bond.
I also found the mess hard to deal with at first, but as time goes on I find I mind it less (I’m not sure if this is a positive, or what it says about my standard of housekeeping ) - I suppose in the same way I’m not very keen on random grubby small children, but a grubby child that I love is fine, I wouldn’t be thrilled with a random filthy dog, but MY filthy dog is tolerable - maybe you’ll gradually feel less stressed about it if you can feel generally more positive about the dog?