We’ve had our new dog for over a week now. Apparently he’s younger than we were originally told, and is in fact roughly 14 months old. He is a lovely and affectionate dog but he does have a few behavioural issues. He gets overexcited very easily and will throw himself at us, mouth us (which doesn’t sound that bad but he has very sharp teeth so even his mouthing can hurt and he’s already drawn blood from my mum’s hand by doing that), and jump up on the furniture. He’s really timid around other dogs and will sometimes snap at them out of fear (though I don’t think he’s ever made contact with another dog yet). He spilt my mum’s coffee all over her this morning and ate part of the lasagne that my sister made at school this afternoon.
The worst problem though, is his separation anxiety. I’ve had to sleep on the couch every single night since we brought him home because he can’t be left alone at nights. We briefly tried doing so the first night but he howled constantly, and it sounded as if he was trying to break the kitchen door down, so we quickly forgot about that idea. Even being in a different room to one of us seems to be difficult for him at the moment. I have to begin by sitting on the kitchen floor, next to his bed, and very gradually moving towards the sofa, to get him to stay there (I usually have to do this twice or more a night, and even then, that method doesn’t always work). I wake up multiple times a night to find him beside the sofa, checking to make sure that I’m still there. Even if I just go upstairs to the toilet, or to get dressed, he will usually have toileted on the living room carpet or destroyed something by the time I get back downstairs. He can also easily get up onto the kitchen counters (which we discovered on his first night here), so we’ve had to move absolutely everything and tape up the sockets. It’s a real shame because we have no idea what might have happened to him in the past to make him this anxious. He is absolutely terrified of dog crates so I’m wondering if he may have been locked in one for long periods of time in the past, as this would explain both issues, and could also explain why he’s so afraid of other dogs and anything new. I worry that we won’t be able to keep him if his separation anxiety is this severe as he unfortunately will need to be left alone sometimes. It is still early days but I’d feel really bad if he had to be rehomed again, as I have already grown attached to him, and I’ve already put a lot of effort into caring for him. Cleaning urine/ faeces off the living room carpet at 3am isn’t exactly the highlight of my day, nor is being repeatedly pestered by him to get up after I’ve had an awful night’s sleep (though it is perhaps good practice in the unlikely event I ever have kids, or indeed discouragement from doing so), though I don’t mind it as long as this doesn’t go on for a really long time. It would be nice to sleep in my own bed again and not wreck my neck and back on a sofa that’s older than I am.
On the plus side, he is a really affectionate dog (even if he is a bit of an attention hog), and he picks things up really quickly. I was able to teach him 3 new commands in as many nights, with each training session lasting only around 20 minutes. I know it’s going to take a lot of work but I’m hoping we can train him out the behaviours that we don’t like (such as barking at any noise in the street and at the TV, and throwing himself at us), and help him with his separation anxiety and fear around other dogs. I really, really don’t want us to have to take him back to the shelter, though I would if they feel that having a family who can be with him at all times would be better for him in the long-run. I will be really upset if that has to happen though.
I remember some of the abhorrent things my dad did to our last dog (such as hitting him, beating him with a leash or another object, rubbing the dog’s nose in his own urine if he urinated in the house, using a choke collar, throwing him in a body of water if the dog’s instincts had taken over and he’d rolled in something disgusting, and so on. I want to make sure that none of those things ever happen to our new dog, especially as he is a rescue dog. My dad has already swatted our new dog on the muzzle when he wouldn’t stop jumping up and wouldn’t calm down (which I shouted at my dad for). My dad seems to scare our new dog with his shouting as well. My dad is not a patient man when it comes to correcting a dog’s behavioural issues (or when it comes to most things, really). I really want to do the best I can for this dog and try to give him as good a life as possible. I realise that behavioural issues, though often annoying or concerning, are not due to the dog deliberately disobeying us or trying to make things difficult, but due to fear/ anxiety and excitement, and his previous experiences and conditioning. I hope things work out and that he can be with us for the rest of his life.