I apologise about the fact that this post has nothing to do with social anxiety.
We’ve had our new dog, Finn, for almost four months now, and while he is a lot more settled and better behaved now than when we first got him, it’s taken a lot of work and there have been a couple of scary moments. We soon realised that he wasn’t able to be left alone in the kitchen, as he is able to open the cupboards and get onto the kitchen counter. He sleeps in the upstairs hall and we have to barricade all the doors whenever he is left alone, due to an earlier incident. Thankfully, his separation anxiety has improved a lot, and he will usually just sleep, and not destroy anything, like he did with the kitchen when we first left him alone.
The earlier incident I’m talking about is that one day back in March, I came home from work to find the wrappers of about half a kilogram of chocolate all over the kitchen and living room floor, most of which was dark chocolate. He’s able to open any door with a pull-down handle, and was somehow also able to get into the high-up cupboard where all the chocolate is kept. I panicked and rushed him to the vets in tears, thinking that he’d probably die after having eaten that much chocolate. Thankfully, the vet was able to induce vomiting, and there was no long-term damage, but the vet said I was very lucky to catch him when I did. He has already ran up over £500 worth of vet bills (good thing I got a job when I did). He’s also been able to slip his harness and run off out the door and down our street, and also did the same thing when he got out of my car yesterday, next to a main road, despite his harness being tightened. Thankfully, I was able to grab his collar and hold him in place with my legs until he had calmed down to be lifted back into the car and have his harness adjusted. He obviously likes to keep my blood pressure high. My mum has owned dogs all her life but says she’s never had a dog that was a difficult to handle/ as challenging as this one. Despite this he will definitely be staying with us. As well as opening doors and cupboards, he’s also worked out how to open zip pockets to get treats/ a ball. He is far too clever for his own good.
His other behavioural issues have calmed down a bit. He’s stopped mouthing people as much and he’s stopped jumping up at us, though he does still jump up at strangers when out walking, which is rather embarrassing. Hopefully we can train him out of that as well. I’m worried that he may have been hit in the past, as he cowered once when my mum picked up a roll of bin liners, and another time when she picked up an umbrella. There was also one night when I was still sleeping on the sofa to try and get him settled in, when I was sleep deprived and getting increasingly angry with having to get up in the middle of the night to clean dog waste off the living room floor. I was sighing and stomping about the place, and he must’ve sensed that I was angry, but when I passed him, he cowered as if he thought I was going to hit him. I stroked him reassuringly after that. Obviously we don’t know what he’s been through in the past but it’s apparent that he hasn’t been treated well, and is also probably under-socialised with other dogs.
As I mentioned before, he’s a very affectionate dog and loves getting attention and curling up on our laps. Sometimes when I’m sitting on the floor, he’ll come over to me and put his head under the crook of my arm, wanting attention from me. Sometimes he will even bark at us if we’re looking at our phones, a laptop, or reading, rather than giving him attention. He is a massive attention hog but, despite his issues, he is lovely dog and I’ve grown quite attached to him. We’ve also nicknamed him “Duracell dog”. He could chase a ball for hours and it’s impossible to tire him out, but given the mix of breeds that he is, it’s hardly a surprise. It’s such a shame that Staffordshire Bull Terriers get such a bad reputation because from what I’ve seen, they’re a bunch of softies who love to curl up on their owners’ laps. (I loved reading this). According to an animal behaviourist at the rehoming centre, they’re also one of the most sensitive breeds. I think it is definitely down to the owner and it’s just unfortunate that the wrong kind of people want to own them because they see the dog as some kind of macho status symbol.
Anyway…mini-rant and off-topic post over. Here’s a wee dug: