Feeling Overwhelmed

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runlip
Posts:24
Joined:Wed Dec 22, 2010 7:48 pm
Feeling Overwhelmed

Post by runlip » Wed Jan 12, 2011 10:10 am

I've written before about my dog Duke. He is not very friendly to strangers especially in the house. It is fear based because he is a sweetheart of a dog when he gets to know you...... Also I should mention when we go on vacation I bring him to a women who watches him in her house. She will watch up to 3 dogs. She doesn't have a problem with him. She says he is very sociable. She had her grand child over and he was great with him..... I think it's me. He is very attached to me and maybe protective. He makes me nervous when people are around. I wonder if I should find him another home.
Last night I had to bring my son's friend over for a little bit till his Mom got home from a meeting. I had the dog with my daughter in her bedroom with a marrow bone. He barked like crazy when he heard us come in and when my son's friend mom came in. He doesn't like to be separated from me... we have a snow day today and my daughter wants to have a couple of the neighbors over. I don't think I can handle it. I can't seem to find a way that works for us. I don't know what to do.

ladybug1802
Posts:1991
Joined:Mon Sep 06, 2010 3:39 am
Location:Surrey

Re: Feeling Overwhelmed

Post by ladybug1802 » Wed Jan 12, 2011 10:20 am

Hi...first of all...deep breaths!!

Now....you only posted a few days ago, so have you tried anything suggested or done anything differently so far? It will take a decent length of time of trying something else to find what works.

But most importantly.,...you NEED to stay calm around him. If you are nervous, there is no doubt he will pick up on it, which will be making him think "oh mum's worried, what is there to be worried aboput, right, there MUSt be something scary here, where is it"!

Now my dog is also worse at my house with just me.....which is why he goes in his crate until the people are in and he can see all is OK. Now when he has another dog there, or is at someone else's house with other dogs, he is a lot better with people coming in. He will bark, with the other dogs, but no lunging as far as I can see.

It is pretty normal for a dog to bark when people come in....but you dont say what he does once people are in. You seem to be more bothered by the barking - is this correct? You say he was in your daughters room with her and a bone when the people came in and he barked....normal. But what did he do when the poeople had come in. Did he eventually stop barking and calm down?

I have started reading Patriica McConnell's booklet 'Cautious Canines' and it is brilliant...the things she describes and sets out to deal with sound exactly like my dog - and yours by the sounds of it. The next thing I am going to try, when my parents or people he knows come over, is to, when the door gets knocked on and he arks, get his favourite squeaky toy (or in your case whatever your dog absolutely adores) and play with him. Get all excited and play with him so he will eventually (a long way down the road and with other aspects to this counter conditioning) start to associate the knock on the door, and eventually visitors, with being happy. So if you shut him in your daughters room with her, why not get her to play with him with a toy he absolutely adores? Or if food is what really motivates him give him tasty treats of chicken or liver? Mind you, bear in mind that if he is stressed he wont take treats. Dylan wont take treats when the door goes.

If you want to have people over, just take deep breaths, shut him away or get a crate and have people over. In the crate he will most likely bark and bark anbd then eventually settle down and just watch. Leave him in there with a nice kong to occupy him.

What is bothering you the most?

runlip
Posts:24
Joined:Wed Dec 22, 2010 7:48 pm

Re: Feeling Overwhelmed

Post by runlip » Wed Jan 12, 2011 10:52 am

ladybug
Thanks for posting. I know it has only been a few days since I posted but I really having been feeling like this for 1 1/2 years. In the past when people come he barks like crazy. I try to get him to sit and calm while I open the door he is on a leash. I put a sign on the door (dog in training please be patient while I get him to calm and please ignore the dog). I find it very difficult to greet visitors and manage the dog. That's why I like the idea of crating him. I have put him outside while visitors come in. He barks like crazy.. when I let him in I treat him and give him commands. I guess what bothers me the most is that I can not relax. He may jump on them and any false move will end in a growl or snap. I can not go about my business when the kids have friends over because I have to keep him with me. If I can get him to go in a crate while I'm going about my business that may help. I guess that should be my first step. I guess I don't know where to begin. When I was reading about stess. I was wondering if them barking in a crate is stressful for them. I knew owning a dog came with a lot of resposibility and time I guess I wasn't prepared for this much. My mom says I have changed a little and that makes me upset.

ladybug1802
Posts:1991
Joined:Mon Sep 06, 2010 3:39 am
Location:Surrey

Re: Feeling Overwhelmed

Post by ladybug1802 » Wed Jan 12, 2011 11:07 am

First of all....give up on having him on leash and with you when you greet visitors. I tried that with Dylan initially and without a doubt it made the whole situation worse. I ended up with a braking dog at the end of a leash lunging towards my guests! And the worst thing with the leash is that when the dog is behaving in this way, you have no choice but to tighten the leash and keep him back, and this tension transfers down the leash to the dog, reinforcing his belief that there really must be something to fear here.

Also, if you admit your are far from calm to begin with, the dog will feel this down the leash even before the guests are bought into the picture. That is one thing I learnt quite fase.....even if the leash is loose but you have a tight grip on it, the dog will feel this tension.

So ditch that idea. He obviously finds it stressful, so having him right in the midst of the situation he finds stressful will not help. Either keep him shut in a room for eithe rthe whole duration of the guests visit, or for at least say, half hour or so, to give guiests the chance to settle and the dog to calm down. But I really do feel a crate would be the best way to go in my opinion, and going from my experience as to how it has helped me and my dog. BUT you wilkl need to give him time to get used to his crate and train him in it and make it cosy and safe...you cant just shut him in it straight away and expect him to be OK with it. If you can get him to see it as his den and safe place, somewhere he can go of his own accord to sleep and feelk secure, then it will be ideal.

What happened when the guests had been in and he was in your daughters bedroom......hoiw long did it take for the barking to stop? How long did you leave it before letting him out?
runlip wrote:I guess what bothers me the most is that I can not relax. He may jump on them and any false move will end in a growl or snap. .
This is why you need to keep him away from visitors initially. Keep him away until he has calmed down. IUf the guests are there for the evening, keep him in a separate room...let him bark, and wait for him to calm down. Leave him with some toys and a frozen kong or a meaty bone to keep him busy. Then when he has calmed down, THEN you can let him in....but you MUST make sure the guests ignore him totally. I would say for now dont even get them to toss treats...he can go and sniff them to make sure they are ok but they have to ignore him and definitely do not make eye contact with him. Then before any of your guests gets up to go to the bathroom or leave the house, calmly take Duke out into a seperate room again. At the moment you NEED to avoid any situations where he feels he has to react. I know that may seem like avoiding the issue, and I suppose it is for now, but you have to get his stress levels down and let him start to slowly see he CVAN be around people aithout them trying to stroke him or without them being a threat. And there is NO rush at all. That is very important. I think you are maybe exposing him to more than he can handly right now which is why he is getting no better. That is why he growls or snaps. ]

Oh and what happens when he does growl or snap at someone? How do you/they react?

I really recommend looking at the Patricia McConnell 'Cautious Canines' booklet....and also the 'Cliick to Calm' book. I have both and they are brilliant!

Oh and if your dog is barking in a crate...yes he may be a little stressed sure. But noit nearly as stressedas if you have him on a leash, are stressed yourself, and are making him confront the one thing he is fearful of. And in his crate you wiull probably find he calms down a=himself after a while and chews on his bone or kong.

runlip
Posts:24
Joined:Wed Dec 22, 2010 7:48 pm

Re: Feeling Overwhelmed

Post by runlip » Wed Jan 12, 2011 11:39 am

When my son came in they went directly to the basement. He was barking then I went up to the room (my daughter was there the whole time)sat with him to get him interested in the marrow bone. I left he was quiet. When the doorbell rang and my friend came to pickup her son he was barking the entire time (she was there maybe 5 mins). I went back upstairs didn't let him dart out but when he did leave the room he went running through the house looking to see it anybody was still here.this all transpired over 45 mins.


When he does growl/snap I get flustered say No duke. lead him away and appologize like crazy.

(haven't figured out how to use quotes)

runlip
Posts:24
Joined:Wed Dec 22, 2010 7:48 pm

Re: Feeling Overwhelmed

Post by runlip » Wed Jan 12, 2011 11:45 am

ladybug
another question I have for you. My dog always has to be near me. If I sit on the couch and my husband on the chair he sits with me. I let him sit with me when I'm at the computer and he falls asleep. Do you think I need to get him not so attached to me. He will rest with somebody else if I am not sitting but prefers me. Is this normal?

ladybug1802
Posts:1991
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Location:Surrey

Re: Feeling Overwhelmed

Post by ladybug1802 » Wed Jan 12, 2011 11:53 am

See I wonder if he was in a crate and could see people coming in (maybe put it in the corner of the living room for example, so it is far enough away so he doesnt feel threatened, but can still see people), he may relax faster. Maybe when he is in a separate room and can HEAR people coming in but cant SEE he gets more stressed?

Hopefully other people will come along too who can give some more advice.

All I can say is from what worked with my dog, and I got a lot of great advice on here which helped immensely. He would also be the same....in fact I do continuous 'training' with him where I ring the wireless doorbell from inside, he runs into his crate, I shut it and click and treat through the bars...then gradually go out and open the front door. I did go to the door to the hall, and if he was quiet I clicked and went back and treated him, then did a bit further, then a bit further, then to the door. He barks when he hears me open the door a bit, but then if i dont say anything he is quiet...sometimes I pretend to speak to someone, and often use another voice so it souds like someone else is there (I must look a total nut if one of my neighbours walks past!!) and he barks a LOT more. Then when I go back in I sit down, and he might still bark a bit even tho he can see its me, I think because he has got a bit in that 'zone' and may not be sure if anyone else is in the hall. Then he quietens, and I let him out when he is calm....but he will then run into the hall and checkl there is nobody there!

You indicate that when Duke has needed to growl or snap, it has been when someone makes amovement? Do you ask the guests to ignore Duke or do they try to greet him?

As for whether it is normal for him to be with you all the time....yes I think so. I am by no means an expert, but it just sounds like he has a better bond with you than your husband. My dog likes to be with me most of the time to be honest. It took him probably about 10 months or so to stop following me from room to room every time I got up...now he will at least stay on his bed if he is sleeping and i go into the kitchen, but he will open an eye and watch me. He likes to be with me a lot, he is VBERY affectionate and will come over for cuddles, and when I am at my parents if he isnt asking my dad for cuddles (Dad is a soft touch whern it comes to stroking Dylan!) he will be near me! Some people would argue dogs shouldnt be so needy, but I dont think anyone on here is quite of that view.

Hopefully someone else will give their view soon!

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Noobs
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Re: Feeling Overwhelmed

Post by Noobs » Wed Jan 12, 2011 12:15 pm

You may need to work on your dog's confidence before you try this, but here is an old post of Emmabeth's detailing how to make yourself less interesting to your dog in order to get him used to not needing to be near you all the time. viewtopic.php?f=4&t=7071&p=47758#p47758

You really need to back off and let your dog's stress level go down first before you try to train him to accept guests. Ladybug got really good advice in the past, do a search for her posts so you can get some details.

ladybug1802
Posts:1991
Joined:Mon Sep 06, 2010 3:39 am
Location:Surrey

Re: Feeling Overwhelmed

Post by ladybug1802 » Wed Jan 12, 2011 12:21 pm

And before I got the advise and tried things different to how I had been (and how I had been adviced by trainers who I would never ever ever touch again!) I was in a similar place to you now. I was really stressed about it and worried and upset. But now, to me, its not a big deal and I more want to keep working on Dylan's insecurities for HIM, rather than for ME. I have read so many books and they are fascinating. You learn so much when you have a dog with issues and now, I really wouldnt change it for the world! Would it be easier if he let people stroke him when we are out and let people come in the house with no issues? Of course! But would I have learnt as much about dog behaviour, body language etc and now approach other dogs differently? No way!

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