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Annie is 5 yo, golden retriever. we adopted her about 18 months ago. her history is that she was abused by her first owners. the second owners paid for her to rescue her from the first, she was bred twice by the first owner, kept outside on concrete to have her puppies in the winter. she is blind in one eye. the second owners were going to breed her too, but decided to give her up to a home where she would just be a pet. we are that home. we had her spayed right away.<br><br>
she is a good dog, but nervous as heck. the nervousness is a vicious cycle. she does very annoying things such as walking right into your pathway, being exactly where you don't need a dog to be, causing you to have to tell her to move all the time; pooping on carpets. (we had our downstairs carpet completely taken out. which was a good thing, we had our existing oak floor refinished and it's awesome. she hasn't pooped there since. but the one section of the house that still has carpet, she continues to "hit" occasionally.) lately she has begun digging in the gardens again. this time it's happening right outside our front door. i've been letting her out and then waiting awhile to let her back in (we're in a semi rural area and she has shown that she does not run away). she will sneak food off the table if given half a chance. she will pick the garbage if there is something she thinks is tasty. she pushes her way out of doors. when i open the baby gate at the top of the steep stairs in the morning, she always has to be the first one through it.<br><br>
overall, she's a pretty good dog. she is completely trustworthy around the kids. everybody who knows her seems to like her.<br><br>
last year i took her to dog training class (positive reinforcement class, non punitive), she was fairly successful. her biggest issue was her anxiety. it was apparent to all of the instructors. they said that she has "a lot of skeletons in her closet." they said this is why she is pushing out the door -- an open door was her "escape route" probably in the past. the instructors said don't bother trying to teach her to wait until people go through the gate first -- just train all the people to let the dog go first.<br><br>
if you have any experience with this type of dog situation, what do you think? is there any hope for taming some of her bad habits (chiefly pooping on carpets, and digging in gardens), or are these nervous habits unsolvable just like the baby gate at the top of the stairs?<br><br>
do we need to give it more time for her to settle down? she is ours to keep, we won't be getting rid of her or anything. i'm just looking for ideas to improve our situation here. any help is greatly appreciated!!!
 

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I do believe there is hope...may not ever reach "perfect" dog, but may be able to help alleviate most or at least some of her fear and anxiety. Bach flower remedies can be very useful here.<br><br>
Check out Nicole Wilde's book Help for you Fearful Dog.<br><br>
I would also get a qualified behaviorist involved to asses the situation.
 

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I haven't met your dog, but I disagree with the trainer's suggestion to not teach her to wait by doors. I think for many nervous dogs training gives them more confidence, it lets them make the world more predictable.<br><br>
Are you doing a little training every day? That's something I would definitely do - find a reward that makes her happy, either a low-key chest rub, some kibble, a happy voice, or a favourite toy that is kept out of reach most of the time. I'd get her to sit for all kinds of things like her food, going out the doors, for no reason at all. The bumping into you and being in the way is probably related to her blindness, so I'm not sure if there's too much you can do about it. The normal advice would be to (gently) shuffle your feet in the dog's direction while using a "move" command, but I wouldn't suggest that because of her nervousness and you don't want to freak her out.<br><br>
Also, how much exercise is she getting? You mentioned just letting her outside which is why I'm asking. Some of the behaviours you're describing can be attributed to lack of exercise, both physical and mental, so I think giving her a regular workout will definitely help with the digging, and maybe even the pooping (exercise stimulates the bowels so it should help her go outside).
 

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Discussion Starter #4
she does go for a long walk with us off leash almost every single evening. i walk both kids around a big block. we're semi rural and she is free to just follow along. you're right, she does usually poop on the walks. it's more than a half mile.<br><br>
good ideas, thanks. i ordered the book on amazon. could not find it on our local library web site, that's the first time i haven't been able to find a book at the library. it's a $24 book. hope it helps!!<br><br>
i will try to do a little dog training every day. it's tough to find time for her with two little kids, one of whom is a baby. but i will try to do some sits and recalls at least. good ideas, thanks again!
 

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I too disagree with the whole "let the dog go out first". No no no!<br><br>
NILIF - Nothing in Life is Free.<br><br>
Make her earn her right (sit, stay, do a trick, whatever) to everything, food, open doors, outside, etc.<br><br>
For the pooping, maybe start as if she were a puppy. Crate her when you can't watch her, and keep an eye on her when you can. Maybe even leash her to you (might not be very possible with kids, just a suggestion).<br><br>
Rules are very very good for nervous/anxious dogs. If they learn that they CAN'T control so much in their environment, they relax a little.<br><br>
And valerian root is awesome! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/orngbiggrin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="orange big grin">
 
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