What can I do to get to a point where I like my dog? - Mothering Forums

What can I do to get to a point where I like my dog?

Super Pickle's Avatar Super Pickle (TS)
02:24 PM Liked: 36
#1 of 21
07-21-2011 | Posts: 1,680
Joined: Apr 2002

I hope someone can help me cultivate some fondness for my dog. I know most people who come to this forum are probably ardent animal lovers, and might not understand how I can not love my dog, but I don't feel anything for him and would like to do better.


We decided to get a dog a few years ago because my oldest son seemed to really love animals and he always spent lots and lots of time with my in-laws' dogs when we were visiting.  We thought, "This boy should have a dog!" 


However, when I went to the shelters and the adoption days, they would not let me adopt because I said I wanted an outside dog. When I was growing up in a small Southern town, all the dogs were outdoor dogs. Almost everyone in our neighborhood had the chain link fences around the backyard with the hand-made wooden doghouses, so to me that was normal.


So I started to try to wrap my mind around having an animal in the house.  Eventually I got to where I was comfortable with the idea of an indoor/outdoor dog, and we came up with a plan for what areas would be off-limits to the dog and what areas he could have access to.


The dog we ended up getting was headed for the pound. A family we knew had decided that they couldn't take care of him anymore and they had been looking for someone to take him in, but hadn't found anyone. We decided to take him because A.) He was the age and breed we'd been told were best for kids, B.) We wanted to keep him from going to the pound, and C.) We felt sorry for the family's kids, who had raised this dog from puppyhood and were going to miss him.


So, we've had him for 3 1/2 years, and I just don't feel any sort of attachment to this dog.  I enjoy walking him--it's my only exercise.  He has calmed down a TON since we got him --  he had NO training and NO manners when he came to us, and he has gotten sooooo much more manageable. He's not a bad dog. But he does not inspire warm cuddly feelings in me. There's no bond.  I get disgusted when he has eye boogers, I hate the dog hair that gets everywhere, and I fantasize about leaving the barking collar on him 24-7, but of course I can't because that would give him sores. I only use it if he has to go outside when neighbors might be sleeping.


I understand now that we got him for the wrong reasons, and that we should have listened to the shelter people who discouraged me from getting a dog. But we have him now, so I want to make my life more bearable. How can I get to a point where I feel positive feelings for him?  BTW my oldest son does pet him and give him affection, and he is also in charge of feeding and watering him, but I have to do everything else--walk him, pick up his poop, etc. I even had to get up at 2 in the morning and go downstairs to calm him down during a thunderstorm even though my husband was awake watching TV downstairs and I am 7 months pregnant.  



greenmagick's Avatar greenmagick
08:38 AM Liked: 22
#2 of 21
07-22-2011 | Posts: 2,416
Joined: Jun 2006

I appreciate that you are at least trying...many dogs do not even get that so thank you.  


I wonder though if part of the reason you are not bonding is it seems like he is not really integrated into your family and home?  I dont know, I am a total dog lover so for me, ending the day snuggled on the couch with them, stroking their velvety ears, feeling the love the have for me...well, that is my idea of heaven.  Is he with the family most of the day?


Bark collars I dont like, why does he need one?


Have you tried doing any fun training classes with him?  THat can help build a wonderful bond (make sure the classes are PR based!).  Clicker training is a lot of fun and the kids can help as well.  When you clicker train you really learn how each other works and get a close bond.  Agility, rally-o, etc are all also fun things to do with the dog.


What breed is he?

Super Pickle's Avatar Super Pickle (TS)
09:59 AM Liked: 36
#3 of 21
07-22-2011 | Posts: 1,680
Joined: Apr 2002

Thanks, greenmagic. I like the idea of taking a training class. What does PR  based mean?


He is a 90 pound lab and has a lot of energy. Generally I walk him for about an hour in the morning so that he is tired and will lie around in the family room for a few hours.  When he gets hyper again in the late afternoon I put him outside in the backyard to run some of his energy off (not in this heat wave, but normally). I like the idea of sitting petting a dog, but ours is so big and rough that it is not pleasant to me. If you stop petting him for a second he "pets" you to remind you to resume and it hurts! Yesterday my 2 1/2 yo daughter was petting him, and she got distracted for a second, so he pawed her and accidentally scratched her all across the chest so that she had marks and was crying pretty hard. I was so furious I put him outside even though it is extremely hot and I had not been letting him out except to pee all week. 


The barking collar is not negotiable....This dog has a loud, deep bark, which he used to use to boss us around ( "Let me in ! Let me out! I want dinner!" etc.) , command attention, alert us to every passer-by, etc. It was constant and it was driving me insane.  The collar has really cut down on the barking. Usually I only put it on him if he goes outside to pee in the early morning or late at night (his bark carries throughout the neighborhood), but if he starts barking in the house I will put it on him to stop the noise. Since I started using it, he has gone from barking incessantly to barking once in a while.  I basically came to the point where I said if we don't do something about the barking, we were not keeping him. 


Anyway, thank you for responding. I will look into taking a training class. I go to other people's houses and see dogs that are calm and just kind of "there" and I want to pet those dogs. It feels like all I ever do with my own dog is manage him.  I appreciate the suggestions!

kythe's Avatar kythe
04:58 PM Liked: 581
#4 of 21
07-22-2011 | Posts: 601
Joined: Dec 2007

I think "PR" = positive reinforcement.


I've had my dog for only 2 months now and we are still in the process of getting used to each other.  This is the first dog I've had since childhood, my parents kept dogs outdoors only, so I have no experience house training a dog.


I picked our 60 lb mutt from the Humane Society because they said he was good with kids and cats, and he is.  But he is needy, and I developed hard feelings at first over his unmanageable behavior.  He chews up things a lot, so I put him outside.  He digs under the back fence (one time knocked it straight down), so I chained him up.  He barks endlessly on the chain, so I got a barking collar.  Then he chewed through the chain and escaped anyway, so I just gave up and signed him up for dog training courses.


I really don't like the idea of bark collars or chains, and I no longer use either.  I did get desparate and tried them out though. :(  But in dog training classes, we've worked on root issues such as separation anxiety, teaching him to understand our expectations regarding appropriate house and leash behavior, and learning to be "in charge" rather than allowing him to push us around.  Our trainer knows so many positive reinforcement techniques for specific situations that I wouldn't have thought of. 


It's slow going, but I can already see a difference in his behavior.  It's hard to like a dog you see as hyper and demanding, but through appropriate training these behaviors can be modified.  Training has also forced me to spend a lot of time with my dog.  What started as a desparate "make this dog behave" turned into a positive time I look forward to as this dog is gradually feels more like a true companion.


We are taking our dog training class through Petsmart, though I hear Petco has a similar type course.  Both discourage the use of choke collars, chains, and anti-bark devices.  They concentrate on positive reinforcement such as time, attention, and treats to reward dogs for good behavior, rather than punishment for bad behavior.  I find this shift in attitude has contributed to my fond feelings and growing attachment to our dog.  It's hard to dislike a dog when you are looking for reasons to reward him.

greenmagick's Avatar greenmagick
06:15 PM Liked: 22
#5 of 21
07-22-2011 | Posts: 2,416
Joined: Jun 2006

PR is positive reinforcement, yes.


The bark collar...its not that I think you should let him bark...but usually dogs bark for attention or to occupy themselves because they are bored.  There are other ways to train not to bark.  


It sounds like he needs more actual interaction.  The walk is good...but he probably actually needs mental stimulation too.  Clicker training is great for this.  Putting him out in the yard doesnt "count" unless someone is out there playing with him, fetch, tug, what have you.  

K1329's Avatar K1329
09:07 PM Liked: 41
#6 of 21
07-22-2011 | Posts: 564
Joined: Apr 2009
I've struggled with this myself. My dogs were my kids & beloved fur-babies before I had children, but, now that I have young kids, I find I don't feel as bonded with my pets.
After giving the issue some thought, I've concluded that at this life stage, I am close enough to overwhelmed that they have become a "to do" list for me. I haven't come up with a solution, but, I do take solace in the fact that the dogs get tons if love and affection from my kids - they play with them nonstop & usually sleep with one of my kids.
Sometimes I think we only have so much to give, and, unfortunately, it's often the pets who come last! I'll be checking back for more responses, too - good luck!
amcal's Avatar amcal
12:48 AM Liked: 59
#7 of 21
07-24-2011 | Posts: 4,649
Joined: Jan 2003
We have a lab and I feel the exact same way about her. I really, really don't like her. She is incredibly intrusive. No one likes to give her attention because the second you do, she trying to climb up on you, nudging and pawing at you for more and more. and, it hurts! She barks too. She will go out side to pee but, that's it. If you try to put her outside, she will freak out and bark incessantly until she gets back in. She steals food off the counter and is just generally a poorly mannered dog. We have done several rounds of training including clicker and while she can sit and come, the really annoying behaviors didn't change.

I've given up. I know I will never like this dog. I will care for her until the day she dies but, I will never be bonded to her. I used to feel sad about that but, there is no guarantee that every dog will be a good match. It's the chance you take when you get a dog. This dog isn't a good match but, what can you do? learn to tolerate him I guess?

Super Pickle's Avatar Super Pickle (TS)
12:53 PM Liked: 36
#8 of 21
07-24-2011 | Posts: 1,680
Joined: Apr 2002

Thanks everyone for the advice and commiseration. Amca, your dog sounds a lot like mine. If i leave the downstairs I have to put him in the laundry room because the minute I am out of earshot he will be jumping up on the counters trying to find something to eat.  I am not quite ready to give up because I guess I have this idea that you get out of dog ownership what you put into it, and since getting rid of the dog is not an option, I'd rather like him than spend the next 10 years annoyed.   

Katie T's Avatar Katie T
10:17 AM Liked: 25
#9 of 21
07-25-2011 | Posts: 2,485
Joined: Nov 2008

I commend you for all your efforts. It is hard when you don't have a bond but I think all your hard work will pay off and in time you will love your dog. My dog was having separation anxiety and while google searching I found this site. It was full of amazing information and I went onto teach him other things like how to heal and walk on a leash properly. In 1 city block he was a totally different dog on a leash. 


One thing the site says is no tug of war, I saw it mentioned in a previous comment on here. But when you have some time check it out. It is easy to navigate and pretty thorough. 



kittywitty's Avatar kittywitty
11:43 AM Liked: 399
#10 of 21
07-25-2011 | Posts: 13,061
Joined: Jul 2005
I feel a little ashamed to say I can join the club. I have a lab/bc mix. We've had her 5 years and I can't stand her most times. The kids barely interact with her, she barks incessantly, she sheds horribly, and she's pushy. The first 2 years of her life ( even after training and puppy classes and tons of exercise) running away. She would get out of her leash any way possible or run out the door if it was even cracked to walk outside. I was pregnant and tired having to hunt the dog down hours every day over miles and calm my children that she wouldn't die. I love animals. Cats, dogs. My cats are bonded with me, but the dog I just have a grudge against now. She does still run off, too, if given a chance, but she's out of shape. She just runs and herds stuff like her border collie side. Then she'll come home hours later if I don't catch her.
greenmagick's Avatar greenmagick
03:53 PM Liked: 22
#11 of 21
07-25-2011 | Posts: 2,416
Joined: Jun 2006

The no tug of war thing is silly.  It is a great bonding game.  For a long time many people thought it would cause the dog to think its dominate or that they can fight you for things...and its just not true. There are however rules for tug of war....dog must stop the game when its over..dog must drop when asked and if dog gets to amped up game ends.  It is one of the best games for teaching impulse control and can really help a dog bond to its owner.  

medmom7's Avatar medmom7
10:37 AM Liked: 12
#12 of 21
08-05-2011 | Posts: 69
Joined: Nov 2008

I am in the same boat. We have a chocolate lab that we adopted from the Humane Society two years ago because my husband and DD1 wanted to get a dog. From the get-go, I stated that I did not think it was a good idea for us to get a dog, that it would add unnecessary stress to our busy life. Well, turns out I was right! I did agree to let them get the dog. He was/is very grateful to be adopted and showed that initially by being super defensive and almost bit a few people who came to our house. My DH thought that meant that we would have to put him to sleep but of course, it was I who came to his defense, saying no way would we ever do that, he was our family now and that meant standing by him through thick and thin.


But the dog has driven me crazy from the get go. He is large, our house is small and he is CONSTANTLY barking, always in the way, and the house is always covered in dog hair. He is really a fantastic dog, objectively I know that. He is great with our daughter, he is a wonderful guard dog (he stopped trying to bite our friends), he is very loyal. But I have absolutely no fondness for him. Mainly he just drives me crazy. Now that we have DD2 it has gotten really bad, there are some days when he will not stop barking and I feel like I absolutely hate him. I really dislike these feelings of hatred, they are not fair to the dog.


I guess I need to bite the bullet and work with a dog trainer. (Not at the top of my list of things to do with a FT job and a newborn.) And maybe get one of those citronella bark collars.


I don't have any solutions but am definitely with everyone who has this problem and appreciate the support and suggestions.

starrlamia's Avatar starrlamia
10:15 PM Liked: 69
#13 of 21
08-11-2011 | Posts: 533
Joined: Dec 2010

Originally Posted by kittywitty View Post

I feel a little ashamed to say I can join the club. I have a lab/bc mix. We've had her 5 years and I can't stand her most times. The kids barely interact with her, she barks incessantly, she sheds horribly, and she's pushy. The first 2 years of her life ( even after training and puppy classes and tons of exercise) running away. She would get out of her leash any way possible or run out the door if it was even cracked to walk outside. I was pregnant and tired having to hunt the dog down hours every day over miles and calm my children that she wouldn't die. I love animals. Cats, dogs. My cats are bonded with me, but the dog I just have a grudge against now. She does still run off, too, if given a chance, but she's out of shape. She just runs and herds stuff like her border collie side. Then she'll come home hours later if I don't catch her.

it sounds like she is bored, up her exercise and mental stimulation. BCs need a job and they can be really neurotic if they are not offered one, they need to run off the energy and use their brain to be a good dog. And please find a way to contain your dog, there is no reason that your dog should be in a position to escape your home. Keep her leashed outside if she can get out and stay outside with her, crate train her so you can put her up when you open your door. It is dangerous for your dog and a nuisance to the people who live around you.


Tjej's Avatar Tjej
05:07 PM Liked: 75
#14 of 21
08-14-2011 | Posts: 1,563
Joined: Jan 2009

There are also those birdhouse-looking things that make an unpleasant sound for dogs when they bark.  We have one of those for the backyard which has helped with some bad habits out there.


With our lab mix, a good bike ride every day helps.  When they have a lot of energy they just don't behave as well.  I have heard that you can have your lab groomed as well, so you have less hair in the house.  I occassionally consider this, but am currently too cheap to do it.  We do brush some, but it does end up forgotten too often.


I actually love our dogs, but my DH doesn't.  It's hard. 



MommyDOK's Avatar MommyDOK
08:29 PM Liked: 10
#15 of 21
08-23-2011 | Posts: 1,243
Joined: Jan 2003

Wow, I really feel for you.  I grew up w/ a WONDERFUL dog. We took the dog everywhere.   I always have loved dogs...I even talked my parents into some kind of dog magazine that I read for hours and hours.  THen, as adults, dh and I had a dog that was our first child.  Wow, we loved that dog so much it hurts.   Fast forward to our current dog.  I really can't stand her.  I got her from a shelter and I told the shelter I was willing to give a dog 30 minutes a day exercise---no more.  And we don't have a fenced yard.   Furthermore, I told the shelter the last thing I wanted was a dog that would run when the front door was cracked.  Every dog I've ever had stayed close to us.  I never had to have my dog on a leash in the front yard.  Would you lie to a dog shelter??  Would anyone mislead a dog shelter? 

Well guess what??  We have a dog that runs as soon as the door is cracked and she needs a good hour+ of exercise.  She is great with the kids (my baby could pull food out of her mouth and she doesn't even snarl), but she barks constantly and is generally very annoying.  Plus she likes to chew on things on the floor so we have to crate her whenever we're not watching her.  On top of that, she peed on my living room rug and I did not notice (rug is tan) so now we have to get the hardwood fixed bc it's severely damaged. 

So I would tell you don't give up on dogs completely!!  If I had never had my childhood experiences w/ dogs, I would give up, but some dogs are truly amazing.  I think if I were pregnant and had little ones, it would be very hard for me to "give" to one thing more---esp if I weren't crazy about it.  Hang in there!!  I understand what you're going through. 

09:26 AM Liked: 5875
#16 of 21
08-24-2011 | Posts: 4,031
Joined: Jul 2011

Ha!  I can relate, we have three dogs and a cat.  I dislike cats due the puffiness of my face after any amount of interaction.  Though we have one dog the girls love and I can't stand.  One dog the whole family loves and she loves us all back A LOT!  And one dog who is all mine, doesn't like kids, but seems to love our youngest.  She's calm and he loves calm. 


Though the one that totally fits with all of us did not fit with me until the day I fell in the back yard and hurt my back.  She decided it was appropriate to stand over me and howl until someone came out.  I had never even heard her bark before.  Can you say we had a moment.  I think I fell in love with her that day since then she's been my sidekick.  Though I'd like a shower without her watching.  Kind of creepy. 


You should try talking to your dog.  I do it all the time, I talk to them and they follow me around.  I clean their faces since that grosses me out and I chase them with the vacuum now and then... makes me laugh.  Well till one of them ate part of the vacuum... that's what I get.  As far as the cat goes, he knows to stay away.  I just can't do it.  More interaction from you that isn't about just their care will make it easier for you to like your dog. 

foreverinbluejeans's Avatar foreverinbluejeans
02:15 PM Liked: 47
#17 of 21
09-10-2011 | Posts: 1,500
Joined: Jun 2004

We have had several dogs and I have fostered about 20 dogs. There have been only 2 I have really liked. With those 2 it was love at first sight. One dog I got as a puppy and she was a beautiful white half lab half golden retriever. She was the most beautiful dog you have ever seen. I got her after my first beloved dog died of cancer. The beautiful dog had a lot of issues and after 4 years of trying I just couldn't do it any more. She loved laying around and being brushed. I found her a home with a disabled woman that wanted a golden retriever and was so excited to get my dog. Sometimes the best thing to do is to rehome a dog.


I am really a cat person. My grandson is allergic to cats. I never thought I would like a Chihuahua. I thought they were mean little yippy dogs. I was at the animal shelter and saw this little Chi and it was love at first sight. I hit the jackpot with the friendliest Chi in the world. He is the hit of the apartment complex. He likes all animals and all people. He is like all the best things of having a baby without all the worst things. He loves being on my lap and I carry him around in a sling but I can leave him home alone, he sleeps through the night, and he doesn't cry.


If a dog is not making you happy it is okay to rehome him. There are lab rescue organizations that will put him in a foster home until they find him a home. Often the foster home will give him some training. There may be a family that would be a perfect fit for him. If you think you might want another dog you could foster a dog for a rescue organization and if you liked it you could adopt. If you didn't like the dog you wouldn't be expected to keep it.

ChristyMarie's Avatar ChristyMarie
10:32 AM Liked: 107
#18 of 21
09-11-2011 | Posts: 2,210
Joined: May 2006

A tired, socialized dog = a well behaved dog.


A bored dog with excess energy = annoying dog.


It sounds like he needs some training, exercise and attention.  If your household is not able to provide those things it might be best to rehome.

Aeress's Avatar Aeress
07:15 AM Liked: 46
#19 of 21
09-12-2011 | Posts: 6,397
Joined: Jan 2005

Finding ways to keep the dog occupied, will help a lot. We have many different kong toys. These work well for our male dog. Our female loves training and learning tricks. Finding what works for your dog to keep it happy, content and entertained, will take some trial and error.


I am pretty bonded with my dogs, but I still have days when my dogs drive me nuts. I think it is normal to have days when you just don't have the extra energy to play with your dog. Trying to find simple things that the dog enjoys, might help you bond. I love playing tug of war with my female, she gets so happy, her tail goes in circles. My male likes to play fetch. We did clicker training with the female, but the male is treat reward based. lol


If you have a TJMaxx in your area, see if they have some unique toys for the dogs.We have a toy that they have to push with their nose to get the treat, and they love it. It really makes them work.



FaithHopeLove29's Avatar FaithHopeLove29
11:38 AM Liked: 14
#20 of 21
09-19-2011 | Posts: 156
Joined: May 2011

I frequently find myself frustrated with my dogs... and generally, it's because they haven't had a) enough exercise b) enough "fun" such as training or c) enough interaction. Busy days get the best of me. DH has promised to start exercising the dogs (Can't do on my own, because one is too energetic for me, and is also too high-strung to leave behind when I walk the other one) and i try to train them or play with them a little every day. If you haven't put the dog through a basic training class, you really should try it - We did one at a big-box-store (PetSmart, I think) and just learning some commands (and some "tricks" if your dog is a quick learner) gives us something to do every day that asserts DH and I are "top dog" and gets the dogs brains working. Not super expensive, not a huge time commitment, and definitely worth it. Training sessions at home are usually less than 5 minutes long, so they're not too bad to fit in even on busy days.


We struggled with the barking too - have you considered the ultrasonic "nuisance" method of stopping the barking? They make things you can buy, or DH found an app for his Droid that plays a sound we use to startle the dog from barking, and then offer treats and use "Hush" as our command. DH convinced me to use the bark collar for a while - not a big fan for us, and it didn't work properly anyways for our dog.


Also - are you using chew toys? I use Kongs stuffed with peanut butter or bananas and frozen, antlers or marrow bones, things our dogs can chew on for awhile. We only give them these treats with a command of "place", when they go to their bed in the room, and they'll sit for a pretty long while even with company there, or I'm working at home, or while DH and I eat supper. They're occupied and the chewing is good for their teeth with the antlers or marrow bones, so it works out pretty well. In fact, our younger dog gets pretty active with his chew toys, and he's quite clearly pretending it's "getting away from him" as he drops and chases it and stuff (of course, he's supposed to be in his "place" but it's so stinkin' cute!)


Rambling over - sorry I got so long winded. I get frustrated with my two and have tried a bunch of stuff is all I really wanted to say. Good luck with your dog! :-)



07:18 AM Liked: 16
#21 of 21
10-11-2011 | Posts: 111
Joined: Oct 2011


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