I am at the end of my rope...
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Thread: I am at the end of my rope...

  1. #1
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    I am at the end of my rope...

    Apologies for the long post.

    I am at the end of my rope..

    July 15th, 2017 I drove over two a half hours to rescue a blue nose pitbull puppy from a less than pleasant situation. She came from a backyard breeder with little knowledge on dogs. She was covered in fleas, underweight and advertised as a “fighting/guard and breeding” dog. She was four months old and had never been walked on a leash, worn a collar or (from our best guesses) ever been in a house. I was hesitant on keeping her since I already have a 5 y/o pitbull/yellow lab of my own (Butter) but my boyfriend fell in love. He named her Misty. Within weeks the two were inseparable.

    At the end of August my boyfriend found out he was going to be relocating to Sweden for work for the next nine months. He found out five days before he had to leave.. I knew being a college student, working 30 hours a week and having two dogs would be a challenge. But I’ve done it for three years with no problems with my older dog. And the puppy was making progress. Or so I thought.

    The day before my boyfriend left, our two dogs got into a fight. It happened so quick we aren’t sure what started it but since then the dogs have to be separated. It’s October now and I am at the end of my rope. I am walking the dogs four times each a day- eight walks total. I live in an apartment so I don’t have the luxury of a yard. The puppy eats/destroys everything. My security deposit is long gone. She jumps on counters and has no regard for personal space. She takes off on the leash (goes from a walk to full blown run that nearly rips my arm out of the socket). She demand barks when she is in her crate and she also bolts anytime the door opens. We jokingly called her the “abomination” but now (in my opinion) she is just the dog from hell.

    I’ve done some serious thinking and I do not know what to do. This is the first dog my boyfriend has ever had and he literally calls sometimes just to facetime with her. However, I am exhausted. I am tired of having everything I own and love chewed up, I am tired of being yanked around like a ragdoll on walks, I am tired to having to decide which dog deserves “more of my time” because they cannot get along. I am tired of not being able to sit down eat dinner without being screamed/barked at for thirty minutes. I am tired of ordering food and having to tackle the dog to keep her from running away. My boyfriend insists she is just a puppy and will grow out of it. She’s seven months old and I am not so sure.

    My question to everybody is less of “is she worth keeping,” and more of “do you have any advice?” I do not believe in owners dumping/returning dogs because when you adopt a dog, I personally view it as having another child. You can’t just “be done with them.” At the same time, I am not sure how much I can take.

    I am at the end of my rope.

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  3. #2
    Senior Member Lillith's Avatar
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    Re: I am at the end of my rope...

    As for the poor behavior and manners issues (counter surfing, bolting, leash pulling) those are very common young dog issues and can all be fixed with time and training.

    As for the dog aggression (DA) that may be something you have to deal with for the rest of your dog's life. Pit bulls are known for DA issues because of poor breeding practices, and a dog that was from a backyard breeder and advertised as a "fighting/guard dog" is most likely going to have DA issues genetically, and it can't really be fixed with training. It is a lifetime of management. Best scenario, your pit will never like other dogs, but can be trained to at least ignore them and focus on you. You have to seriously think about your situation and decide if that's something you want to deal with, and if you can keep up with that strict level of management. I don't think there is any shame in realizing that a dog's behavior issues, especially aggression, are beyond your skills to manage, especially when you're under so much stress and trying to get through college.

    Here are some tips for the meantime:

    1. Pick up your apartment. Keep things the pup can't have out of her reach. Make sure she has plenty of appropriate chew toys, and praise her for using them. She should be supervised 100% of the time, and when you can't, crate her.

    2. Keep food off the counters. Take away her reason for jumping up there. I would suggest watching Zak George's YouTube videos on counter surfing, there's some good information there.

    3. Zak George's or Kikopup's videos for training loose leash walking. Those explain it best. It takes time and patience, but it can be done.

    4. If you're going to order food, put her in her crate so she can't bolt. You may need to take some time to actually train her that bolting is a no-no. I trained my dog not to door rush by first placing my hand on the doorknob. He would get ready to bolt, and then I would take my hand off. I waited for him to relax a bit, then tried again. I got to the point where I could open the door a bit, then he would try to bolt again, so the door closed. I kept on increasing the difficulty of the exercise by increments, from door open just a crack to door wide open, and the dog would not move. Only when I gave him the cue could he go out. You can also do that same exercise, but backwards, with you on the outside and the dog inside.

    Also, you can teach the dog a good "wait" when you have deliveries. The dog has to wait at a spot while you go to the door and receive your food or whatever. When the door is closed and you have your things, the dog gets a big treat!

    5. Pits are notorious for the cuddliness with humans. Personal space is not something they understand, lol. You can teach them to give you space by getting up and leaving every time they burst your bubble. The 'bubble' is different for each person, but mine was always when the dog stood on my shoulders and licked my face. Yuck. I would get up and leave. Dog learned that pretty much everything snuggling was okay, but please leave owner's face alone.

    6. The demand barking is something you simply have to ignore. My dog barked at us for two weeks after we got him every time we sat to eat. We absolutely, completely ignored him. He did not exist when he was demand barking. Not even a glance in his direction. Not a word to him. It was just awful, but we got through it. One day he just looked at us as we sat to eat, and went and laid down. Such a relief. He was about your dog's age, too! It will get worse before it gets better, and remember that any attention is good attention to a demand barking dog.

  4. #3
    Senior Member PatriciafromCO's Avatar
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    Re: I am at the end of my rope...

    just going by what you wrote and giving it 100% accuracy. Why would you think a bred (fighting line) dog would grow up to get along with another dog? In the livestock guardian dogs I hear that some fighting lines in one breed were imported to the US bred and sold for Livestock guardians. These off springs caused a lot of blood shed to humans, livestock, and livestock dogs and they were put down for the danger and still today people have to be careful to stay away from those types of imported lines.

    If what you say is true trying to train out what has been bred in, and not having an environment set up that you can provide for safety to yourself and your other dogs. You have to use common sense.

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  6. #4
    Member Amatae's Avatar
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    Re: I am at the end of my rope...

    I don't have much advice as I'm still a novice. But I'm dealing with my own little pit of terror right now.

    I will say that everything I have at this point is up and not reachable to the puppy even if he jumps. They're like toddlers at this stage and they discover the world with their mouths as they don't have hands. To them, everything is a toy (look at it from their point of view, they've only been here 7 months and they aren't of the same species - they don't actually understand why we wear shoes when they don't, it must be a toy etc). EVERYTHING must be up and out of reach until they are old enough and taught a firm "leave it". I started working at 10 weeks with a "leave it" command (lots of praise after) and just now at 5 months is he starting to 'get it' but not all the time.

    One important bit of info I learned: Keep the leash fairly short - no retractable leashes. That gives her way way way too much space to get up to arm ripping speed.

    And one last thing: It WILL get better. Don't lose hope! I know there are nights when I get super frustrated (ie I changed my bedsheets 3 times in an hour because he had a urinary tract infection and peed on the bed) but be consistent. It's just like raising a child. Right now it's super tough. I've thrown away good shoes, lost sleep, bought a new bed, and have gone through so many sheets/blankets.... but it's now starting to come together. Just keep at it and you'll have that well behaved adult dog that you're dreaming of.

    Also, right now you will spend a lot of time with the puppy (training, walking, cleaning etc). It's just like a new baby and an older sibling. The baby is new and needs lots of attention. That WILL change as he gets older. Training him is practice practice practice. Once the practice solidifies commands there will be more free time for your other puppy.

    You can do this! You clearly have a good heart as you equate adopting a puppy to adopting a child. Just keep at it. You're stronger than your exhaustion/stress is telling you right now. You're a good dog mom! Just keep at it and you'll get there!

  7. #5
    Senior Member Kathyy's Avatar
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    Re: I am at the end of my rope...

    You need some management techniques.

    I was able to fit a dog door away from the front door plus I have a hall door. Dogs know to go into the hall if somebody is at the door. I also keep slip leads near the door, maybe that would easier for you than dog herding while somebody is waiting outside.

    Lots of devices designed to help with pulling. Perhaps a front clip harness would help? Once outside her walks are training mode. Reward for the good prevent the bad best you can. I spend a lot of time walking back and forth with new dogs rather than going anywhere, maybe do that with the potty walks. So agree about the short leash. Today Bucky was walking so nicely on about 3' and when I gave him the full 8' he forgot I existed and kept lunging to get to the next sniffy place. He's a bitty thing and cannot pull me over so it's mostly the poor manners that's a problem here, you need to stay safe!

    Since she's apparently going to be dog aggressive muzzle train her. Perhaps after she's accepted the muzzle you can walk the dogs at the same time. The muzzle should clue people in that she isn't going to be nice so keep away! Look up Muzzle Up for how tos, muzzle training is a good thing for most dogs.

    My little stinker responded brilliantly to Karen Overall's Relaxation Protocol. Complete program, videos and how tos are online. It's a 15 lesson down stay program designed to teach dogs to calm down. Now Bucky cannot be calm when an actual person is at my door but he's better and can actually stay on his mat if I walk out of sight to the front door, knock on it, open the door and pretend to have a conversation. As a side effect he knows he's a good dog if he's on his mat and goes there on his own now.

  8. #6
    Senior Member Spicy1_VV's Avatar
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    By having a Pit or Pits in a multi dog household you accepted the risk of dog aggression, seperation, ect.

    As for the other behaviors, most of them sound like typical issues that can be trained for. She's probably at a bit of a stage right now and you have to think with your boyfriend gone the dog notices he's missing too. Dogs can go through the tough times as they grow and learn their world and phases when they forget all training it feels like. But you have to remain prudent. How much basic obedience does she have? What commands does she normally respond to. You need to teach her to stay down from counters, for her to go to a crate or spot to sit when you need to open the door (this is where sit and stay come in handy), work on impulse control but make it fun and with a reward at the end whether that's food or a tug toy - whatever motivates her, training command to focus on you and loose lead walk will save your arm but it can take a lot of time for some dogs (especially strong dogs accustomed to jerking and pulling).

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    Re: I am at the end of my rope...

    Quote Originally Posted by Summertimexo View Post
    My boyfriend insists she is just a puppy and will grow out of it. She’s seven months old and I am not so sure.

    My question to everybody is less of “is she worth keeping,” and more of “do you have any advice?” I do not believe in owners dumping/returning dogs because when you adopt a dog, I personally view it as having another child. You can’t just “be done with them.” At the same time, I am not sure how much I can take.
    I don't have a lot of experience and therefore not a lot of advice beyond what you've already been given. I did want to comment that at 7 months, Misty is in/entering the time that many dog owners find to be the absolute worst: adolescence. She may grow out of a lot of her current behaviors with time and training; your BF is right about one thing, she is definitely still a puppy. Unfortunately adolescence can last well past the 1 year stage (though I've been told many people see some improvement at that point).

    The other thing I wanted to say, if you pursue a lot of the above mentioned things and the situation is getting worse or remains unmanageable...you do have to do what is best for the dog and for your other dog. If you don't have the time for her needs, *my opinion* is that in the long run, it is best to find someone who CAN take the time/do the work so that hopefully she can become a well-adjusted adult dog. That is being responsible too and is in her best interest.

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    Re: I am at the end of my rope...

    The best advice I got from my trainer when I first adopted my pitbull, was walk the dogs together. At first it needed two people. I would walk my aggressive dog, behind my brothers dog, who's pretty timid and avoids everything. I'd keep them at a small distance so that they couldn't get into a fight. Eventually, they grew to know each other better and started to get friendlier. Now I'm able to walk them both side by side without any problems. They can coexist together now without a problem. I know this is a problem for you at the moment, as there is only one of you. But get them doing stuff together. Eventually one will become dominant, and the other will obey. It takes time.

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    I just have one thing ro add to all the good advice.

    When your boyfriend return sit him down for a serious talk to discuss dog rules for both dogs. Make sure to keep it straightforward and make sure everyone in the household, including the dogs, obey the rules.

    If you both don't agree on rules you run a serious risk of the new dog completely taking over the household which would be bad for everyone.

  12. #10
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    Re: I am at the end of my rope...

    Old thread, but I wonder what happened!

  13. #11
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    Me too... I only saw the original date after I posted.

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