Sandy has me at the end of my rope-HELP!

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Sandy has me at the end of my rope-HELP!

Post by DianeLDL » Sun Jun 22, 2014 12:02 am

Hi all,

We still haven't resolved the problem of Sandy not letting us watch TV without going bezerk over any animal that shows up or barks during a commercial or even during a show. It has created a very tense situation when we are in the living room and trying to watch a show. Then, he runs and jumps at the TV and once we change the channel or turn it off, he walks around snorting and looking for a fight.

Well, today was no different at first. But, it seems I left a cleaning rag on the TV stand with cleaning stuff on it, meaning to go back later to continue to clean. Well, during one of his jumps, he saw and grabbed it in his mouth. Then, he decided it was a "prize" and he wanted to play with it.

I had been working on the "drop it" command which has worked in the past for other items, but this time, nothing, i tried to trade it with his favorite stuffed toy. No dice. I ran into the kitchen and got an nice piece of chicken. Nothing. Finally, grappling with him, I dont rmember what happened next, but suddenly he BIT ME! I have tooth marks and drew blood. I screamed. Which I guess added to his fury at me, and Sandy started attacking my feet trying to bite me and jumping on me. I was screaming at this point while OH was able to grab Sandy. By then, the dog had forgotten the rag, and I threw it in the garbage. All this time, OH was struggling with Sandy and getting scratched. So while he leashed the dog, I grabbed my stuff and ran into the Master suite and closed the door. I was able then to effectively cause a time out and wash and medicate my wound.

OH then put Sandy into his crate in the car and took him on an errand and to the park.

I was angry. Not only did he bite me after being with us for three years, he literally bit the hand that feeds him. OH called when on his way home, i put Sandy's food in his bowl and when they returned told OH to give it to him and any treats he would normally give when Sandy finishes his food.

In the meantime, I totally ignored the dog. I made food for OH and I and afterwards went back in the bedroom to watch TV. Actually OH joined me there. So, we left Sandy on his own in the living room on his bed while we enjoyed a quiet afternoon without having to change the channel or deal with the bezerk dog. I came out regularly to take the dog out. I carried my cane if I needed to defend myself from the dog. He got a subnormal treat from me after potty, not his usually yummy one. He got zero affection from me the rest of the afternoon and evening, even at bedtime, it was all matter of fact business.

The way, I am feeling, I have been wasting my time trying to train this stupid dog. If it weren't for OH, the dog would be at the shelter right now.

I know he was worked up to start with the TV thing which seems not to have changed in 3 1/2 years. I am sick of it.
What stupid dog thinks dogs, cats, horses, Geiko gecko, cartoon figures on TV are real! Only stupid dogs. :evil: :mrgreen:
I have tried treating him not to run and jump at the TV, but he just tears my pocket apart. It creates tension, cannot relax and watch TV. One minute he is lying on my or OH's lap half asleep and the next running and jumping like a maniac at the TV.

As a result, it has gotten to the point, where Sandy spends most of his time alone in the living room while OH and I watch our shows in the bedroom. If there is a show where we know an animal is on and can only be watched in the living room where we have the VCR and On Demand, we have brought his crate in, put him in it, covered the back and have the front looking at us. Watching the DVD of "Lone Survivor", I had to stand with him in the laundry room as he was reacting to the stupid goats! :roll:

So, when it gets to the point where we are tired of dealing with Sandy and the TV, we leave him alone and go in the bedroom where he is NOT allowed and watch what we want in peace and quiet.

He won't even let me talk on the phone. I was in the kitchen trying to talk with my mom on the phone and he is humping my leg or biting my shoes.

So, basically to me he is more of a pain and a nuisance than a good dog.

And at the parks, if there is another dog within 50 yards, he goes bezerk. Today, when OH took him out and to the park at is usually empty, there were three big dogs off leash (which on a military base is forbidden. OH had to hide Sandy behind the van in another area hoping he wouldn't see the dogs or the dogs wouldn't come to Sandy.

I give up. OH at least has some hope for the dog, but I have lost it. I am ready to throw the dog to the shelter. Now, I know why he was in the shelter most of his first year. I feel that Sandy is totally hopeless at this point. I cannot take it anymore. Maybe I expected miracles but after being on the forum and getting advice and reading all the books, I am at my wits end. I thought s dog would enrich our lives and make it more fun, but instead it is $*€£%%. (Fill in your own expeltive.) :mrgreen:

Yes, a lot has changed since we got him. OH can no longer run with the dog. It is too hot to walk him including the sidewalks and when we do, he is always trying to get the dogs barking in their yards. Maybe when we get back to Maine where we had better luck walking him on grassy paths and dirt roads, it might be better again.

Sandy just doesn't seem to get it. Like Jacksdad says, he learns something in one place but doesn't know it somewhere else. When we travel, maids are scared to death of him. He reacts so badly at rest stops we have to wear long sleeves so as not to get scratch like crazy every dog he sees. And the other dogs, just look at him as if they think he should be in the psychiatric ward. :roll:

Anyway, I know I am rambling. I am tired, angry, and hurt that my own dog would turn on me for a stupid rag! :cry:

I am beginning to really hate Sandy and at this point do not want anything to do with him. OH says we have him for the long haul, but I do not know how much more I can take. I really am beginning to understand why Victoria calls it "Me or the Dog".

Sandy, Chihuahua mix b. 12/20/09

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Re: Sandy has me at the end of my rope-HELP!

Post by Ari_RR » Sun Jun 22, 2014 4:56 am

Wow... :(
Sorry to hear. It's good to be an RN, isn't it? :wink:

I am sure experts will give some good feedback, Diane.

I would try to look at things from his perspective, keeping in mind that he is a dog not a 4-legged human, and the concepts of "biting the hand that feeds him" and "turning on you over a stupid rug" are probably beyond his grasp.

This was a reaction on his part to the situation. In particular - to you grappling with him, I think, while he was already overexcited and anxious.

Whether he is the right dog for you or not, or whether any dog is right for you considering your swinging between 2 locations every year and all the travel you do - I don't know.

Your hand probably hurts. And you are clearly disappointed. But I wouldn't elevate this to the level of him being somehow either stupid or ungrateful - he is just a small dog, perhaps with a couple of issues, in a world of huge things and creatures, reacting and acting as a small dog with a couple of issues would..... Including not understanding why you are ignoring him so much later after the event, which he probably has forgotten about a long time ago.

However you decide to move forward - I would try not to have any more wrestling matches with him, over rugs or anything...

Tomorrow will be a better day!

ETA - TV is overrated anyway :wink:
Last edited by Ari_RR on Sun Jun 22, 2014 8:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Sandy has me at the end of my rope-HELP!

Post by Maxy24 » Sun Jun 22, 2014 8:42 am

I'm sorry you aren't enjoying your dog, that's certainly not the relationship you want to have!

I agree, don't get into wrestling matches with a dog, if you hadn't gotten bit in that scenario I would have been surprised. To get things back from a dog who doesn't want to relinquish I do one of two things. Either make it rain treats by throwing a large handful on the floor near the dog or taking one of his own toys (preferably a somewhat long toy) and running around the house like a crazy person with it so the dog wants to come chase me and grab the toy I have. In your situation since he gets so over aroused (and already was) I would do the treat thing. Once you throw the treats step way back, treats might not work if you are close, he'll want to protect his thing from you more than he wants the treats. But if you're hanging back he might feel safer letting go of the object. As he's eating the treats you tossed resist the urge to go grab the object, instead throw a few more FAR from the dropped object and once he's eating those ones go quickly grab the stolen object, put it up high and toss the dog a few more treats. My dog was a chronic stealer of all the stuff, so this has been tested and it worked well for us.

I knew a basset hound that would always bark at animals on TV, even cartoons which I always thought was kind of impressive. I mean how can she even tell that's an animal? For her I simply body blocked her out of the room every time she barked, made her sit and wait, and then we'd come back in and try again. But she was large and lumbering so body blocking was fairly easy, and her reactions weren't as over the top as Sandy's seem to be. You could try crating him, having the cover on top but flipped open so he can see the TV and then covering the crate when he starts to react so he learns he loses his view of the animals when he barks.When he's quiet again you'd reopen the flap covering his view. However, Sandy may find these "time outs" very frustrating, making the situation worse. I do think she should be removed when she reacts, even if it's just to calm down, but I think she'll probably need more active counter conditioning to overcome her reactions.

If you're not wanting to train her at that time then she should not watch TV, so either have her out of the room or in the covered crate. When you do want to train her start with a picture of the animal on TV paused (if your TV has that ability). Play "look at that" (here's a brief synopsis of what the look at that game is, I don't personally start with random neutral objects though ) with the picture on TV. Once she knows to glance at the animal to get a treat, unpause the TV but have it on mute. Continue clicking (or saying yes) and treating for looking a the moving animal. Once the animals is off the tv stop clicking and treating. Next time an animal comes on start clicking and treating again. If at any point you see her starting to get over excited pause it again and work on the paused picture some more. When Sandy is good at watching the moving but silent pictures you can do it with the volume on.

I would have Sandy on leash during these sessions so if she does react you can immediately remove her without having to wrestle a leash on her or pick her up and get scratched or bitten. Wait until she calms down then try again but at an easier level (so maybe with the volume off again). Keep these sessions short. You'll have to give her a LOT of treats at first but eventually you'll be easier to cut back to a few per animal. Alternatively you could use something like a lickity stik ( ), I've never used one but if you're dog likes it it should work.

You should try to find a way to exercise him, small dogs are pretty easy to exercise indoors with a good game of tug. Feed him his meals out of toys to occupy him and work his mind a little.

Work on his dog reactivity the same way you do the TV reactivity, bringing out treats and feeding while he has to see the other dogs. Toss them on the ground or pop them in his mouth, whichever works better to keep him quiet and focused on your and/or the treats and not the other dog. I have a very dog aggressive/reactive dog so I understand you there, it's very frustrating. But with work he is getting so much better. He hasn't reacted on a walk in about 2 months. Yes I still pump him full of treats, but when we started he would ignore treats in favor of barking at the dog, so it's progress and I'm happy with it.

I hope you can start making some progress. Perhaps a professional trainer could help you feel like you have a plan and a direction. I also suggest finding some sort of activity you can do together at home. Even just trick training or teaching him to play hide and seek with you. Something to help you guys bond so you can find some joy in him.

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Re: Sandy has me at the end of my rope-HELP!

Post by gwd » Sun Jun 22, 2014 10:42 am

Diane, I'm sooooo sorry you got bit. I know that hurt, not only your hand but your feelings. In retrospect I'm sure you see that you were fighting a battle over a cleaning rag to no good end. Knowing sandy as you do, it was a fools errand to try and take it from him and could only end badly. The result was you being bit and damaging your already fragile relationship with your boy.

DianeLDL wrote:
He got a subnormal treat from me after potty, not his usually yummy one. He got zero affection from me the rest of the afternoon and evening, even at bedtime, it was all matter of fact business.
I understand you were fussy.......... but as you know, holding a grudge isn't a productive way to rebuild relationships with man or dog! He has no way of knowing the low quality treat is a result of him using his teeth on you.
DianeLDL wrote: The way, I am feeling, I have been wasting my time trying to train this stupid dog. If it weren't for OH, the dog would be at the shelter right now.
I can understand your feelings here......... but if you're considering this path, don't. I urge you to at least be responsible enough to take him to your own vet and have him euthanized. You know darn well that this is the eventual outcome if he's returned to the shelter. He's bitten and isn't a dog that can be placed with anyone else. If you neglect to tell them he's bitten, you risk the shelter adopting him to become someone else's problem and he could hurt someone or worse, a child. ..........and then their injury is on your shoulders. if you can't deal any longer, take ownership for that decision and don't pretend that taking him to the shelter isn't euthanization. At least avoid him the stress of the shelter time between drop off and the pink medicine.

I totally understand if this is your decision.......... he's been a challenge and you're not enjoying your relationship. I'm sorry it's not what you'd hoped.

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Re: Sandy has me at the end of my rope-HELP!

Post by DianeLDL » Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:11 pm

I guess I wasn't very clear about what happened and my feelings.

First of all, I do NOT trust Sandy anymore. i probably am not good at reading his behavior. I could understand if he had a toy or bone, something he cared about in his mouth, but it was a Swiffer dusting pad.

gwd, secondly, OH will not let me get rid of him at all. He says we mad a commitment to Sandy, and he will stick with it. Actually, he has told me that if I want Sandy to go, he would go with the dog and leave me. Thus, I quoted "Me or the Dog" the fact that OH consideres his commitment to the dog more important than his commtment to our marriage really sucks.

But, there have been many times in the backyard where I have dropped Sandy's leash and told him to go. Like an idiot, he just stands there.

Maybe I am taking things too personally with the dog as I feel he is doing it on purpose to hurt me. It was one thing to bite me, but another to run over to me as I was screaming and trying to clean my wound and have him continue to attack me by trying to biye my feet (good thing I had shoes on) and jumping up on me. What produced such anger towards me, cant be just because I took the cleaning pad from him. I could see it in his eyes as he came to attack me, after hqving bitten my hand.

Thirdly, I was in the bedroom and oeaving him alone to stay away from him. Not to punish him, but to PROTECT ME. I didn't want him cming after me again.

To tell you the truth, I have had hot and cold feelings towards the dog since OH chose him. I had no real say. And I had no idea what I was getting into. I know thqt happens when parents buy a kid a dog, and then they end up doing all the work. It has become WORK for me. I have to sit up to take him out, I have to pay lots of money (and although my husband has a decent retirement, I am on social security disability) for vet bills and other stuff. We wasted $200 for training for him.

I am tired of trying to train him, and it takes too much of my energy. In the beginning, OH was running with the dog once a day until he hurt his knee and now has severe sciatica problems. I use a cane abd walker and have my own physical problems. I am going crazy trying to make reservations for dog friendly places that dont want $100 deposits on top of daily fees.we used to just drive until ready to find a place to stay. Now, I have to plan everything is wearing on me.

My mom's dementia is worse and dad just yells and screams at us when we visit. The stress is taking its toll on me. The dog os the last thing that I exoected to hqve to spend a lot of time taking care of, training, etc. It was easier having a child. At least, a child learns and understands and isnt perpetually a two-year old. (At least, one would hope so.)

I thought that you get a dog, he learns what he is supposed to and that is that. We cannot even think of making him into a service dog. Ironically, after we got him, my husband's doctor at the VA said that OH would be eligible for a service dog. That would mean a dog already trained and ready to go. I told him let us get rid of Sandy and get on a list for a service dog, but he won't hear of it. He says that we have Sandy for LIFE. At this rate, I feel I will die long before the dog.

So, gwd, euthenasia is not an option for Sandy as long as OH is alive. Dogs are supposed to help lower blood pressure and help people live longer and healthier lives, but in this case, my life is being shortened and my BP is going up with the stress.

I guess that Sandy being my first and only pet, not just dog, I had no idea what I was getting into when we adopted him. If I had known then what I know now, I never would have taken him.

I have ADHD, and have to set reminders to take the dog out, to feed him. I am a quilter, who fir the first time in two years is finally working on a project. Sandy took so much of my time, I couldnt even think of working on anything. Now, after I write this, I will go into my sewing room, close the door, and have some alone time to do what I want to do. Not do what the dog wants.

Anyway, I am sorry if I didnt explain myself clearly last night. It was late and I was tired and still very upset.

Thanks for any suggestions. I have mentioned to OH to keep Sandy on leash when watching TV. At least, that will be one way to keeo him from going to the TV.

But, Sandy is with us for better or worse, and I need to deal with it, i do not trust him, though. I will need to be nore vigilant in keeping things put away so he won't get them in the first place.

Sandy, Chihuahua mix b. 12/20/09

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Re: Sandy has me at the end of my rope-HELP!

Post by WufWuf » Sun Jun 22, 2014 2:52 pm

I can't post much just now Diane but I just wanted to clarify something for you (and give you some ))))hugs(((().

Sandy barks at the animals on the T.V because he is frightened by them. Even if it does not "look" like fear to you (classic running and hiding) screaming at and attacking behaviour is also on the spectrum of fear behaviour in many animals (ie NOT just dogs, think of birds mobbing an intruder).
DianeLDL wrote: What produced such anger towards me
He was most likely in "fight for his life" mode EVEN though this might sound silly to you as you know you didn't want to hurt him, he did not know this, if another dog grabbed him he would be in very real danger of being killed and this is the way he would react, he knows no different with humans (as he has a dog brain with dog programming).

))))hugs(((( I'm sorry this is so stressful for you, believe me I do understand, I will admit there where times in the past when I did not like Honey at all (and thought I would not be able to keep her), she was just so difficult and such hard work.
Operant conditioning rocks but classical conditioning rules

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Re: Sandy has me at the end of my rope-HELP!

Post by DianeLDL » Sun Jun 22, 2014 4:22 pm


Thanks for the hugs.

I kniw that Sandy has fear aggression towards other dogs when we take hin out to the park or in a walk. He is extremely reactive and acts as if he wants to attack the other dog. In a few cases, when he has slipped out of his collar, he adtually did attack the other dogs: a full grown husky, a standard poodle, and some other dog in the parking lot at PetCo. And when we first got him, he tied to attack a pitbull mix in puppy class if the trainer hadn't intervened who knows.

He barks if he even hears a dog outside in another yard, going by our door at the hotel, or even if ther is anither dog within 50 yards of him. If he can see or hear it, he goes bezerk and tries to get at it. He doesnt realize that these dogs could kill him in seconds.

When we were at our house in Maine where it is country, OH was taking him for a walk and he slipped out of his collar and ran to a female boxer in her yard. Well, she was so good (must have thought Sandy was one of her past puppies, since she just knocked Sandy to the ground. By then her owner and OH were there. And suddenly, Sandy showed real respct ro the boxer and didnt try any more shenanigans with her. She really made an impression. Actually, after this incident, when I would take him for walks by her house, he seemed to want to go there. But, I think it was in a good way.

Here in our city of Albuquerque and especially in our development, everyone it seems has one to four dogs mainly kept outside in th backyard, and one can tell when a dog is bing walked as every dog in the neighborhood is barking. Of course, Sandy has to chime in and won't stop until we open the front door (there is a security screen so he cannot get out) so he cwn make sure the dogs aren't coming to his yard or house.

Chis aee very territorial which when you say he is reacting to the animak on TV with fear aggression, makes a lot of sense. Perhaps, to him the TV is a window and he thinks the animals are in the house or trying to come in.

But, then again, he recognizes which commercials are going to have an animal in it even before we do. He hears the tune or sees something the keys him in on it. Then, we see the animal and wonder how he knew. In the US, they tried to pass a law to keep the sound of commercials the sqme as the shows on TV, but obviously it didn't pass. So, we have muted the TV, which also tells him something is going to happen, and I have even put on the TV Guide screeb, but there still is w tiny window showing what is going on the particular station.

And we had no idea how many commercials use animals: horses to sell cars, dogs to sell furniture, vacuums, cleaning supplies, female products, arthitis meds (those two usually show a woman or for arthitis a man who is walking a dog while they twlk about the product). Then, if we watch ID detective with a search for someone missing, of course, out come the police or cadaver dogs. As I mentioned, the movie "Lone Survivor" had goats in it. It was a very important part of the movie which so OH could watch, I had to take Sandy out into the laundy room. Even just a dog barking or a cat meow will st him off.

I have tried treating him to stay on our laps and not run, but instead, he found the treats and nearly tore my pocket as they all fell to the floor, jackpot style. I have tried holding him tightly not letting him run while he squirms. Bu then will go to the cupboard and treat him, but I dont think he associates those treats with the fact he didnt run to the TV. I have tried body blocking him by standing in front of the TV.

In hotel rooms, I have tied him with a leash to the chair or sofa where he is sleeping in order to not only keep him from
the TV, but to keep him from running to the door and barking. (Also, it is sometimes the only way OH can remove his shoes and socks without Sandy trying to chew them. We have a few holy socks out of those instances.)

Actually, in hotels, he thinks he owns the place and barks at any other dog he sees. Even the maintenace guy and maids are scared of him. Interestingly, he seems to know who likes animals and usually, he is great with a maid who has a cat or dog at home.

So, yes, I agree thqt the TV animals could be pqrt of his overall fear aggression. But, how do I stop it? How can we have a relaxing time with him with the TV on?

So, by the time he grabbed the cleaning wipe, he was already "prepared for a fight". His nostrils were flaring like a bull ready to attack (which happens nearly every time he sees an animal on TV). It is so hard to get him to eat his food, but he will pick up anything. OH was able to pry his mouth open once in order to get a stone out of his mouth. As soon as he let go, Sandy clamped down andnwould have bit him if his hand had still been there. I have had some success with the drop it and take it with a piece of chicken in exchange for pulling gum off the hotel carpet.

But, on this case, I guess the item was mor interesting and smelly than the usual. At first, I was chasing to get it (so he thought it was a game?). Then, I had OH help try to tackle him. I tried substituting his favorite toy by throwing it. Then, I ran to get a piece of chicken. I probably should have brought the whole container and threw all the chicken giving him a jackpot.

I had to leave the room to protect myself as he kept trying to get me and when I threw the cleaning pad away, OH wqs getting scratched trying to hold him.

Another note from two previous instances. When I have fallen and landed on the ground and screamed while crying, Sqndy has jumped on me. The first timme, he seemed to be protecting me, but after that, the next couple of times, he attacked me while I was on the ground crying and screaming, so, my screaming instead of getting him away seems to be making the situation worse. That is why I have been feeling that he hates me. Why attack someone who feeds him and cares for him and is on the floor in pain?

Also, i have read that chis seem to prefer one person over another. I am beginning to think that Sandy likes OH better than me. I tried kissing OH once while Sandy was in his lap, and Sandy growled and snapped at me. So, now, I am beginning to think this is part of a larger situation.

Anyway, I have given several more examples for everyone to digest and let me know what I can do. As I mentioned, I no longer trust Sandy. I am at my wits end with him. I have begun to spend more time hiding from him in my sewing room or bedroom than around him.

Thanks for all the comments so far,
Sandy, Chihuahua mix b. 12/20/09

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Re: Sandy has me at the end of my rope-HELP!

Post by Mila_7 » Sun Jun 22, 2014 7:59 pm

Diane, first of all, I have never been in the situation nor at the level of stress due to it that you are now, so I can say that I sympathize, but I do not have any personal experiences to related.
It sounds like you are very fed up trying to teach this dog anything, so I would highly recommend involving an experienced positive reinforcement trainer to help you. It WILL cost you some money but to restore a good deal of peace in your home- would it not be worth it? For the reactions your dog is showing, it would always be a good idea to involve a reputable trainer, but in your case, with all of your frustration and anger towards the dog, I feel that you will not be able to train the dog- even if you have the SKILLS, I think your frustration and lack of bond with this dog will get in the way. For successful training, you need not only the KNOWLEGE of how to train but the patience, the empathy for the dog, which I do not think you have (no offense!).
Your dog is not stupid, mad, bad, et cetera- he is dog, with some issues, I know this isn't what you expected, and I am so very sorry, but I truly hope you will commit to some training (with a trainer) because believe it or not- your dog is scared, he is a dog, he has POTENTIAL, he does not hate you he is just SCARED and has may insecurities.
You also say that you have tried to get him to run away by dropping the leash. Do NOT do this. I don't care how much you hate the dog, that is UNFAIR. If you have truly given up on the dog, don't do that, he could have serious issues living on his dog or be caught by the wrong people who do horrible things to him... do you want to be responsible for that? I know you are at the end of your rope BUT I am quite certain you don't want that. Truly, euthanizing is the only option if you want to get rid of this dog. Your husband says he will not, which shows he has commitment, but he should also be considering your feelings. That is why I so highly suggest to talk with him about getting the help of a qualified, positive reinforcement trainer who will be able to look at your situation with a new perspective and professional knowledge. Taking your dog to a shelter, and certainly letting him off the leash to run away, is not, not NOT a humane or safe way to go.
Also: regarding the running over to you and biting at your feet while you are screaming thing: that sounds very much stress related to me. He was ALREADY very upset, fearful and stressed (from the earlier rag incident) and now there is screaming and he does not know what to do, does not know how to react- jumping and nipping can often relieve stress in a dog who is very unsure of what to do. I would not take that personally, I seriously, highly, very ginormously doubt he was doing that out of "anger" to you.
Truly, the behaviors you are describing are able to be modified, through positive training, that is why I suggest with so much passion that you should involve a qualified trainer. I KNOW you are so upset, frustrated, and stressed, and that could truly help you.... Believe it or not, your dog's case is not unique, there have been ones like him before and his behavior could be improved!
I truly hope for the best for you, your husband, and Sandy. Many thoughts to you!

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Re: Sandy has me at the end of my rope-HELP!

Post by DianeLDL » Sun Jun 22, 2014 9:30 pm


Thank you for your thoughts. I found this forum over a year ago for many of the same problems. We fixed his eating issues, and were able to get him to walk with a loose lead. I will not walk him without a harness that my husband thinks in not necessary because the dog doesn't like it. And we have tried numerous ones. The dog wont even wear a jacket. He juwt tries to shake everything off.

We tried two trainers, one at PetCo, which was a bog mistake as he definitely was NOT positive. The second was a woman to came to our house, stating she was positive, but her "rules" of making the dog eat after we do and not giving treats definitely was NOT positive.

I found this forum and we were making progress. I read the recommended books, I tried the conditional and operant training methods, tried clicker training, etc. The worked for a while, but my husband didn't think it was good to give Sandy treats on walks as Sandy would keep looking at him for a treat. Obviously, he wasn't following the instructions. I showed him how it worked. So, we ended u getting lazy and gave up. The clicker sits in the bag. Rarely are the chicken treats taken on walks. Everything fell through.

My husband was a dog handler in the military and grew up with dogs on the farm and ranch so these dogs didn't need to be trained by him. Either they were military trained or had the run of the farm or ranch. This is his first chihuahua and is so different.

I hate taking the dog for walks in Albuquerque as it is hot, on sidewalks and dogs barking at every house. We will be in Maine the end of July during which time, I will try again to go back to the conditioning and treats during walks in the countryside.

As to a positive trainer, I have yet to find one in either Albuquerque or Maine. That is why we turned to this forum. Note that my husband has nothing to do with the forum. He takes what I say and adapts it to what he wants.

Since where we live in Albuquerque is hot and not conducive to walking dogs, my husband takes him to a park for about 10 minutes to do his business. I tried doing games with the dog such as "drop it and take it" with the ball, play tug with a blanket, throw a stuffed bone. I bought the Tornado and Kong. He won't do the Tornado by himself, so I have to sit there and show him where the treats and kibble are. He cannot seem to do it alone. The only thing he will eat in the Kong is peanut butter. Anything else, I have to take out for him. So, it gets very time consuming. I could spend a whole day trying to keep the dog happy and training. Even though we are both retired, we do have other interests and doctor appointments and hobbies like my quilting that gets put on hold when all our time is taken up with the dog.

Then, we do a lot of traveling. So, Sandy spends days in the crate and nights in hotels. And dealing with dogs at rest stops. Either we are visiting my parents in the San Francisco Bay area or from August through October at our house in Maine. We drive there in July and return in November. So, it makes it difficult to be consistent. I have frozen his chicken treats for use on the road.

He is NEVER off leash. He has NO RECALL. so, even taking him into the yard, he is on leash. In Albuquerque, although the yard is enclosed he can fit through the gate. In Maine, nothing is enclosed. So,as not to confuse him, he is always on leash no matter where we are. So, he is always with with my husband or myself when he goes out. Being small, he doesn't need a lot of walks, so we figure taking him to the park two or three times a day is fine. In Maine, it is easier to take a half hour walk once a day. My husband is 70 and I am nearly 63 and we both have disabilities.

Definitely, I lack patience. If Sandy doesn't potty when I expect him to, it frustrates me, especially when he gets that stubborn thing and sits down like a stubborn mule and wont budge. My husband has more patience and understanding of the dog.

I have learned that I have to put things away that the dog might take. In hotel rooms, we have had the maids into vacuum under the sofas and dressers and beds as the dog has found cream cheese packages, bobby pins, doughnut holes, gummy bears, gum, crumbs of all kinds, etc.

Sandy just did not turn out to be the dog I thought he would be. He was a year old when we got him from the shelter and we assume he had been returned there twice. I never would have chosen him. My husband liked his athleticism and didn't show fear of my cane or walker. I had wanted a dog that could be trained from an early age, not one with a dubious history.
As I had mentioned before, I had hoped to get a dog that was social, could go to an outdoor cafe and sit quietly and obediently at my feet. Came when called. Stayed when told to stay. But, no, that is not what we got.

He has been with us for over three and half years now. I thought it would be better by now. In other words, with time and him getting older. But, I am realizing I was wrong. It has become stagnant. I thought that once I trained him then that would be it. I didn't think training would be a lifetime process.

And considering that chis live a long time and our ages, he will probably outlive us. He really needed a young family with the energy to deal with him and all his issues.

But, we are stuck with him. I will try once again the training I learned here when we get back to Maine. We will be leaving in a little over two weeks, so now I have all the reservations and preparations to make.

We will have to make the best of the situation we have. Once in Maine, I will go back over previous notes from the forum and begin all over again.

Hopefully, this time it will stick with the dog and he wont forget. I would hate to have to start over again every year.
I never knew that so much work would be involved in training and training and training. It seems endless. I thought once a dog learned something, it stuck. But, obviously I was wrong.

Thanks for your suggestions. I guess I just have to accept that we have a dog that doesn't retain anything he has learned. I just would like to do more with the life I have remaining than spend it all just training and training the dog. I want to plan a trip to Israel next year to visit our son and granddaughters. But, what to do with the dog, I do not know. I think my husband will have to stay home with the dog. We know no one who could take him, and in a kennel he would need to be segregated as unsociable and pay for private walks since he does not play well with others.

If you hear of a Positive training in Albuquerque, New Mexico or in Bangor, Maine, let me know. There are none on Victoria's website.

Sandy, Chihuahua mix b. 12/20/09

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Re: Sandy has me at the end of my rope-HELP!

Post by Nettle » Mon Jun 23, 2014 3:56 am

Diane, take my sympathy as read - I can only type so much and today is a pain day for me too.

Now then - humans can empathise - dogs can't. Open your empathy box and see that the following is how your dog saw the interaction:

Understand that you frightened your dog witless. He is already scared because he knows the risk of animals coming through the TV screen at him, knows the deadly music that precedes this, knows that only his barking and charging at them keeps them in the screen until they go away. Then he gets hold of something and you attack him. Remember that anything in a dog's mouth belongs to the dog. It's not for us to judge whether the item should or shouldn't be valuable to the dog - it is in the mouth so it is valuable. Then you attacked him. Consider your relative sizes a moment.

All he can do to protect himself in that moment of pure terror when his protector attacks him - is bite.

Then you throw a beserker. You roll on the floor making loud savage noises. He needs to send you away before you kill him. His world has imploded.

He does not know that you have done all you have done for him, does not know that you are taking all this on a personal level when it isn't personal at all. All he knows is that he is all alone in the world once more and people are attacking him once more. You have a fabulous intellect to think with - he is only a dog. Not just a dog, but a dog with an unknown history which clearly has involved a lot of fear and abuse in his eyes.

You cannot train away fear - you can only give security. You cannot make any sentient being what it isn't: you can only accept what he is. You can't make him into the dog of your dreams and wishes. He can only be himself. He does not know the pressures you are under. At the moment, the dog is the one area of your life that you think you can change for the better by getting rid of him. You can't get rid of your ill health, your parents, your travelling schedule, your other life pressures, but despite the threat to your relationship, you have centred all your stress on getting rid of the dog. Which means stop kidding yourself - he can only be euthanased. If you decide that, I do not criticise, but you are aware of the potential fallout within your marriage, and honestly it is easier to work with the dog.

I understand you didn't want him, but he couldn't choose his owner or lifestyle either. Every time you made the effort to understand him and work with him through us, you got a good result. He cannot help any of your health issues, he can't help your life issues. It probably seems as if you are always dancing to someone else's tune, and I sympathise. But if you break all this down and stop being offended, stop taking it all personally, realise you left a petrified dog with no other options, you will I hope get the whole sorry business into proportion.

Where to go from here? Wipe the slate clean. Work with us. Work (yes, again) with him. The deal with dogs is that you DO have to continue training all their lives. That's all dogs. They aren't computers where you punch in a program and press 'go'. Even nice easy dogs like mine have their training reinforced every day and their lives arranged for maximum kindness. That is a big part of why they are easy.

Don't kid yourself that children are easier :wink: dogs don't get into debt, don't take drugs, don't divorce and move back home, don't take up with strange special interest groups. You always know where you are with dogs - they can only be dogs.

Ask Sandy's forgiveness, and forgive yourself too. This is a hiccup, not the end of the world. If it is the shock that sets you back on the right road, then it was worth while. Get the incident into proportion and turn your negative thoughts to positive ones. As a lesson in communication, you listened to it far better than you would have listened to any forum, book or individual trainer. All we have done here is provide the translation from what you thought happened to what really happened.
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Re: Sandy has me at the end of my rope-HELP!

Post by ScarletSci » Mon Jun 23, 2014 6:33 am

Diane, I'm sorry that this happened, and that you're so upset by it all. For what it's worth, although it's hard to read, and it must be very hard to admit that at times, you hate your dog - I do commend you for being open about how you feel here. It can't be easy, knowing how we all feel about dogs, to admit to how you're feeling now.

What Nettle said about accepting a dog for who he is, rather than an ideal image in your head, is spot on. That's similar to having kids I imagine... you love them for who they are, and while you work to instill the right values and principles in them, you certainly can't predict who they will be. The truth is that you don't know what Sandy went through before you got him, and it might have shaped a lot of this behaviour you find so difficult. But from his point of view, and from an outsiders view looking in, it makes perfect sense to act the way he does. Imagine a child who was abused up until they were 18, then given a nice home - you wouldn't expect them to immediately become the most well-balanced, trusting, reliable person in the world would you? Think of Sandy as that hypothetical child. He needs endless patience, lots of love, therapy, and to be shown that not everything in the world is bad.

Training is a lifelong thing, but it gets easier as time goes on, particularly when it's consistent. You also have to really accept what Nettle said about how Sandy didn't choose this life either, hes doing the best he can with what he has got. When you were a nurse, you would have had periodic training updates wouldn't you? You don't finish school then retain everything you've ever learned, memory is fluid and changable, and needs to be reinforced. Even big brained humans are very falliable in this regard. It's going to be even slower and harder for you because you travel so much - again, something Sandy didn't choose, and something even the most well-balanced and good natured dog would find very difficult to adjust to. Each time, it's going to set him back. Dogs value security and routine... something he doesn't get much of when you are rarely in the same place for longer than four months. Account for that.

When I take my dog on a car trip for a nice day out to the beach or the woods or something, I often ponder the amount of trust that animal places on you then. They don't know where you're going, you can't tell them what the plans are, how long you'll be gone, that you'll be there with them all the way. They just have to trust you. Can you imagine being in that position? Then you wind up somewhere strange and unfamiliar, and most dogs are still so great at being there, in the moment, trusting you, even when in a strange place they don't know, and they don't know how long you're going to be there for, or if you're ever going "home" again.

I can promise that Sandy doesn't hate you, isn't ungrateful, isn't spiteful. Dogs don't work that way, and you wouldn't have made the progress you have already if he did. This is the first time he's bitten you in the three and a half years you've had him, isn't it? And I'm sure you see now, with the above explanations, why it made complete sense that he did then. It hurts, of course, but you do have to step back and not take it so personally. Think of the times you've lashed out at someone verbally because you've been upset, angry, or afraid - that's exactly what he did. Forgive him for that, and forgive yourself for provoking it. You can move forward from this.

Although I'm sure he doesn't hate you, I'm sure he can also pick up on your feelings and your frustration with him. Dogs are incredibly attuned to our moods and our facial expressions. He may not understand why, but it'll all contribute to his feelings of insecurity and damage your bond with him.

If I were in your shoes now, I would take a break from him for a few days. Let your husband do all the work with him, and process your hurt and your disappointment. Then I'd be gearing up for a fresh start. Start focusing on what he can do well. Go back to clicker training, and instead of working on the big goals like counter conditioning, start doing some fun things with him you can do in the house, like trick training, or 101 things to do with a box. Since he's so good at finding things in hotel rooms, use that! Play hide and seek with him, get him fetching certain toys, teach him which toy is which. Something where you can see progress, can enjoy spending time with him, and start building a new relationship with him. It'll also help keep his energy focused in a healthy way, especially while he isn't going for walks much.

What do you think? Please keep us updated, and sending ((((hugs))))

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Re: Sandy has me at the end of my rope-HELP!

Post by minkee » Mon Jun 23, 2014 7:04 am

Everyone has given you some brilliant advice here, Diane - I hope you are recovering well from the mental shock this has sprung on you! and has no doubt been building for some time.

I just wanted to very quickly pull out one bit, to give some perspective re: clicker training on walks
didn't think it was good to give Sandy treats on walks as Sandy would keep looking at him for a treat.
I would LOVE to get this sort of response from my dog! If Breeze would focus on me like that on our walks I would be SO, SO happy! So maybe revisit this in your new plan - an attentive focused dog isn't wreaking havoc, isn't running off, isn't desperately searching for the next animal that's going to come his way. He can always be taught to ease off on the focus later, but it's a lot nicer to have to teach our dogs to disengage than to desperately try for their attention and not get it! It sounds like Sandy could be a real natural at clicker training, based on this.

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Re: Sandy has me at the end of my rope-HELP!

Post by ClareMarsh » Mon Jun 23, 2014 7:26 am


I'm really sorry to read this, I'm sorry for all of you, you, Sandy and your husband, it's not what any of you would have chosen for yourselves. I think Nettle said it all on Sandy's POV and you have expressed how you feel, I hope when you have recovered a little you'll be able to separate your emotional response from how you THINK Sandy is feeling and why he behaves as he does. Also rest assured that there are several dogs, if not many dogs, on this forum that would have done exactly as Sandy did, if not worse, if they were in that same situation. He's not a bad dog.

However the thing that bothers me is that although I understand your husband doesn't want to let Sandy down, and I hope that his ultimatum was in the heat of the moment when everyone's emotions are running high, I would hope that he also understands that you are scared enough of Sandy that you are confining yourself to another room. That even though you know much of what needs to be done it feels so overwhelming and hopeless that you can't see another way forward other than to get rid of Sandy. That whilst getting rid of Sandy (and I am with the others the humane thing to do if you were to get rid of him would be to send him to the bridge under your care) may not be an option neither is carrying on exactly as you are.

He needs to step up and understand that a management system and training approach needs to be put in place that you are comfortable with and he needs to buy into it and stick to it. He can't refuse to take out treats with him to continue to desensitise Sandy to all the things he fears outdoors, because the implications of not moving forwards with helping Sandy overcome him fears are an increased risk of you getting hurt.

So, I obviously don't know anything about your relationship at all but, if it were me I'd be having a discussion with my husband about how we move forward given that you are "giving" in terms of keeping Sandy, I'd be asking him to "give" in terms of committing to a training approach. I think this would go a long way for me in terms of how I felt about the whole thing. Because right now, if I were you I'd feel more betrayed by my husband for not acknowledging my fear of Sandy than by Sandy for biting me.

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Re: Sandy has me at the end of my rope-HELP!

Post by ScarletSci » Mon Jun 23, 2014 7:56 am

DianeLDL wrote: Another note from two previous instances. When I have fallen and landed on the ground and screamed while crying, Sqndy has jumped on me. The first timme, he seemed to be protecting me, but after that, the next couple of times, he attacked me while I was on the ground crying and screaming, so, my screaming instead of getting him away seems to be making the situation worse. That is why I have been feeling that he hates me. Why attack someone who feeds him and cares for him and is on the floor in pain?

Also, i have read that chis seem to prefer one person over another. I am beginning to think that Sandy likes OH better than me. I tried kissing OH once while Sandy was in his lap, and Sandy growled and snapped at me. So, now, I am beginning to think this is part of a larger situation.
Just to add, that Sandy wouldn't have known necessarily that you were in pain. All he knew was that you were making terrifying noises, and he did what comes naturally to him. You know how animals are very good at hiding the fact that they are in pain? That's largely because predators are very good at spotting weakness, and noises like the ones you were making would attract predators, as well as trigger Sandy's own prey drive. To him, it's terrifying, and dangerous. A dog can't understand that humans go to help each other when they hear screams, they don't have the same kind of social structure that we do.

As for him liking your OH more than you, it's possible. Dogs do tend to have a favourite, and you've already said that your OH is more patient with him, and less likely to get frustrated with him. So Sandy might find it easier to have a bond with him. But even if that's the case, that doesn't mean you can't also have a great relationship and a strong bond with him. To my dog, I'm her favourite person in the world.. but she also has a good relationship with my dad, followed by my mum, and is happy being looked after by them while I'm not here.

She would also react in the situation you describe. If I hug my dad, she barks at us, and jumps up. Lots and lots of dogs do it, hugging and kisses tends to provoke a reaction, and not always a good one. They don't seem to understand it. While he was in your OH's lap, and you went to kiss your OH, your face was right in his personal space. Risky with any dog, but especially with a fear reactive dog like Sandy. You're better off in the future calling him away for a treat or a quick game of tug before going to your OH. Don't risk getting your face that close again. Lifelong dog owners have experience to know these things, and I'm careful even with my soppy spaniels, because they're dogs. They can bite, and are more likely to under certain circumstances. You always have to have that in the back of your mind, no matter how 'good' your dog might be in general.


Re: Sandy has me at the end of my rope-HELP!

Post by CarolineLovesDogs » Mon Jun 23, 2014 12:28 pm

Hey Diane, I'm so sorry to hear what you're going through:( In Albuquerque though, Dani Weinberg is a big positive reinforcement trainer (clicker trainer) she's certified through Karen Pryor Academy which means she is required to only practice the most modern positive reinforcement training. So could you look into her maybe?
Also please go to the Pet Professional Guild website. I looked up those areas and found some trainers who might match your needs, but I think it would be best if you researched them yourself (as there were quite a few). The Pet Professional Guild is committed to force free training methods and philosophies (but whatever trainer you would choose, obviously research the trainer just to make sure you would like to work with them). Good luck!
One Pet Professional Guild member in Albuquerque I found that seems great is this one I have heard many great things about Cricket Mara!
I am thinking of you and hoping you get some relief and harmony in your home!!

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