HELP: Need to work on bonding with my dog.

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sourced from: https://www.reddit.com/r/Dogtraining/comments/hzt5t1/help_need_to_work_on_bonding_with_my_dog/

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Without completely chastising me for being a horrible pet owner, I’d like some solid ideas and advice.

Last winter, my husband and I adopted a beautiful, sweet, innocent puppy. We had been talking about getting a dog for months and we were so excited when we finally got him that he could do absolutely no wrong. Fast forward a few months and he was chewing up everything, knocking plants off of our TV stand, he couldn’t walk on a leash without almost dragging us down the road whenever he saw a squirrel (he’s pure muscle), he would howl as loud as he could whenever we would put him in his crate to leave somewhere or go to bed for the night, and he would ring bells to go outside every 5 mins (not even kidding), but then just sit outside with no intention of doing anything and he’d howl and bark whenever we left him out there alone and went back inside.

Needless to say, we were very easily frustrated by him. And on top of it all, my sister ended up moving in with us a month after we got him, and her little shit of a chihuahua would attack him all the time for no reason. We also had to manage introducing her cat to our two cats, which was hell in and of itself… AND we had a 6 month old baby (now a 1 year old). Times were chaotic, the house was a mess all the time, and I will be the first to admit that I lost my temper more than once.

Now, our dog is definitely the type of dog to cower when he gets yelled at (don’t they all?), but if I got frustrated with him and told him to “go downstairs”, he’d lay down or run the opposite direction, furthering my frustration. And he’s still like that when it comes to getting in trouble. To be completely honest, I have smacked him a couple times, and I have grabbed his collar and dragged him down the stairs to his crate in times of sheer stress and frustration, and I am not proud to admit it. My husband has done the same. Just to clarify, these times were pretty rare, and he never yelped or felt lasting pain, so not necessarily abuse level…

We had a big talk about 2-3 months ago about stepping back and really trying to work on how we treat the dog because he doesn’t deserve any of that sort of treatment, and we definitely need to work on gaining back his trust. I am all for positive reinforcement, and I need to work on my patience, for sure. At the same time, I swear he lives to push boundaries. For example, he is not allowed in bedrooms because our daughter is allergic to the dander from the animals. He will come up to the door, take two steps in the room and lay down, so he’s halfway in the room and halfway out. This is a consistent thing in lots of areas… his boundary pushing, that is. So with that being said…

1) Any advice on how to gain back trust and sort of “re-bond” with the dog?

2) Any helpful training tips or advice? It can be really hard to deal with him and our daughter at the same time because they are both so needy. When my husband is working, it’s just me at home, so I want to be able to give them both the proper amount of attention without sacrificing my sanity. Any tips are highly appreciated.

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