We’ve worked with two certified trainers to overcome our dog’s anxiety/PTSD and we are out of ideas. I need to understand Dog phycology.

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We’ve worked with two certified trainers to overcome our dog’s anxiety/PTSD and we are out of ideas. I need to understand Dog phycology.

This is about our beloved rescue. He appears to be a boarder-collie/cattle dog cross who was heavily abused in his first few months of life… Ive tried everything over the last 2 years and recently we had a major regression. Im sorry for the wall of text, but this is a complex issue that needs a lot of background info. Im trying to organize things into a coherent read… but its difficult.

Watson came to us 80% crate trained. He loves his crate and that is his favorite place to cower. His crate is in the laundry room right next to his brother’s crate and there is an exterior door from there. This is going to be important.

(Our home situation)

Mr Watson lives with me (30M) and my wife (30F), our three cats, and his older brother from another mother dog, Sherlock. They both came with those names and are both rescues. We have 5 acres and horses. Sherlock is a bit…. Aggressive and Watson backs down quick. They get along very well most all of the time. Watson does OK with me, but I am tall, loud, and Watson finds me to be intimidating. We do ok until my wife leaves the house, at which point, Watson is terrified of me.

(Watson upon arrival and with my wife)

Watson came to us at about 6 months old and was obviously fixed VERY early. He was scared of everything…. Including his own farts, cars and car rides, horses, doorways, refused to pee in the terrifying snow, campfires, and obvious things like washer and dryer, vacuum cleaners, loud noises, ect…. And all tall men with deep voices. He trusted my wife, and she got him desensitized to cars, he came to love car rides. He learned to give the horses a healthy amount of space, but wasn’t turning himself inside out around them anymore.

We learned early on that Watson thrives on routines.

(Me and Watson, and some of our big issues)

Me and Watson had far bigger issues, especially when my wife wasn’t home. Scared Watson has fear piddles, wouldn’t come when I called AT ALL, and on real bad days he’d express his own anal glands. (And if I tried to bath him…. Oh boy that would go so badly) My wife and I work dramatically different schedules. She fed him breakfast, let him outside, then put him in his crate. I would get up a few hours after she had left, let Watson out, and everything would go bad. He would just pee all over the inside of his box, and refuse to leave. He would go as far back in his crate as he could. We tried me putting a leash on him to get him out, but same thing. So my wife started putting his leash on before she left and putting him in his box. This started out pretty good! However, it…. got worse with time. I have no idea why. I tried walking him, and he was terrified, so I put him on his cable tie for some time… then thought it would be safe to let him in….. Which led to some altercations in doorways when he would panic, dart for an open door to get back into the house, while actively peeing. I… Didn’t let this happen. After maybe two or three of these altercations it became nearly impossible for me to get him out of his box when my wife wasn’t home.

(Sidebar about how this has made me feel)

I cannot explain with text how heartbreaking all of this is for me. He is supposed to my wifes dog, which is fine, but this sweet dog treats me (And other men, but mostly me) like Im the biggest threat in his life, and its really upsetting! All I want is for him to be loving to my wife and to leave me alone… he doesn’t have to love me, I don’t care, but I want to be able to co-exist.

(The time my wife left for a week)

We ran drills for a week leading up to this trip. We would practice Watson coming in and out the laundry room door. I took him out almost exclusively. We were doing BETTER. Wife left for a few days and things went badly quick. If I got him outside he would refuse to use the bathroom, just hunting for my wife. He wakes me up at 3am with crying and wining, so I try to get him outside. He got past me, ran to my wife’s side of the bed, emptied his bladder completely onto the carpet when he saw that she wasn’t there…. And then booked it back into his crate. I carried the crate to a horse stall and left him there for the rest of the night. We ended up having my wife’s cousin come spend the next three days at the house just to manage Watson.

I cannot stress this enough, as soon as my wife’s female cousin arrived, Watson was FINE. These days If wife isn’t going to make it home at a reasonable time? We have the 11 year old neighbor girl come over to let him out when I am at home. The other option? Scoop up some dog food, place his bowl outside of the laundry room door, leave the door open and open his crate. Hopefully he peed?? Its EXHAUSTING!

(The last few weeks and a change in his behavior)

Now, due to Covid, I am not working. My wife works from home. We decided to try working on a routine that would allow me to let him out when she isn’t home. My idea:

-After feeding breakfast, put Watson in his box for two hours

-Wife lets Watson outside through the laundry room door (Like I would do, to keep him from peeing in the house)

-Bring him back into the laundry room through the same door.

-Let him back in through the interior door into the house, with the human opening the door from the interior of the house (Not from inside the laundry room)

The issue with this plan is that Watson has turned into a manic panic boy. Now he is displaying his mental issues with my wife. He wants to be outside constantly, and if he gets a chance he will hide in a car and refuse to leave the car. He will run to the neighbor’s house and refuse to come home. My wife is heartbroken. Watson is behaving… worse and more upset.

Im at my whits end. I thought we were making progress (Not so much with me, but who cares) but we seem to be dredging his trama back to the surface. I don’t understand his…. Dog phycology? I don’t know where to go from here.

Im open to most any questions and suggestions. Thank you for reading. I have always gotten the very best answers from Reddit compared to any other source. This cute love bug is counting on you!

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