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My wife and I both had dogs growing up, but we had VASTLY different experiences, and now that we own a dog as a family, we're having some conflict trying to figure out what to expect from the dog. Our dog is an almost year-old standard poodle (lifelong dream of my wife's). Our living situation is a small house (1,000 sf) with a big yard (1 ac of grass before fencing the rear yard, now around 0.4ac fenced yard. We were going to move to a bigger house last spring, but when Covid hit we switched to fencing off a large yard instead for the time being. So we got a big ol' dog in a little house.
My dog history:
I grew up on farms and in the mountains. Our dogs were family pets, but they had a lot of autonomy. The one we had for 16 years (doberman mix) would bark to be let out, then she would run around until she wanted to come back in. These jaunts would be between 15 minutes and 2 days long. She'd always come back from the long ones stinking like carrion and we'd have to give her a bath. She was kind with kids, loyal, and overall well-behaved, and loved being outside running around on her own or with others. Because I grew up like that, I never dealt with cleaning up poop, leashing, walks, any of that. The dog was a friend that ran around with me when I was a kid.
Wife's dog history:
She grew up in a neighborhood without a fenced yard, and due to some poor decisions by her parents her dog lived largely on a lead in the yard (with access to shade, shelter, food, and water) She'd go out and play with the dog whenever she could. Her dog was leashed whenever it was walked, cleaned up after, etc. She had a lot of resentment on how the dog was treated by her parents when she knew better and wanted better for it, but she didn't have any power in the situation to make things better.
After many talks with my wife and her pointing me to some online sources, I've gotten on board with the concept of doing some good training, and the concepts of leashing, cleaning up after the dog, etc. I started off thinking it was all unnecessary, but she brought me around from my country views.
All that summarized, there are some behaviors our dog is demonstrating that I've never seen before and that stump me.
Our current dog cannot STAND to have any member of the family unaccounted for. If it's a kid outside it's mild anxiety and pacing. If it's an adult it's mild whining unless constantly comforted by the other adult. If it's both adults, we have to restrict his access to some parts of the house or he'll claw at the doors. He has ZERO chill. The only exception is when I'm upstairs working in my office. He can't get upstairs, but doesn't seem to mind me being "gone" very much. This behavior extends to him being in the yard. There has to be a human with him. As long as one of us are out there, he's giddy. But ANY barrier between the dog and us is unacceptable. If we have to leave the yard to wash out a dog bowl real quick, he almost goes into a panic. Even if we can stay where he can see us, if he can't GET to us (screen porch), high levels of anxiety. I'm pretty sure if we left him out there alone he'd just tear through the screen porch to get to us. Crating – we have the crate in our bedroom. He'll go right in at night, but if one of us doesn't come in within 5 minutes to go to bed, he starts whining. And crating during the day? Forget about it. We've had to do it a few times so we could work outside, and he will keep up CONSTANT loud barking – I think the record so far is 3 hours. We've tried treats and toys, but he ignores it all if HUMANS ARE MISSING.
We're reaching a point where it's really impacting our quality of life. My wife can't go out to garden unless I can come downstairs from my home office to sit with the dog so he doesn't freak out and potentially injure the kids (not from aggression, just from general galumphi-ness – he's quite large). I really love this dog, but I need him to get some chill if it's at all possible.
Have a dog that I can just let outside when he has to use the bathroom without me having to go out with him each time. Based on all my dogs growing up, this doesn't seem to be too outrageous, but maybe I'm wrong? I mean, I'd love it if he could just wander for a few hours content on his own, but it appears from what I'm reading online that my dogs were just weird-loner types that were chill without humans for small stretches. Get him content being crated occasionally during the day. Due to Covid, we haven't gone on any errands or trips where he's been left home yet, but that time is coming and I don't want the poor thing to panic-bark for 3-4 hours while we're away from the house.
Please be gentle – we love this dog and aren't going to "surrender him" or give him back to the breeder or anything like that – we just don't want to be miserable. It's too small a house with too small a kids to have him anxiety-ridden. I won't even get into the paper towel-eating obsession. Or the tendency to waddle around while pooping, then leap away from it as soon as he's done. I'll figure those out later.
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