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My Missy is a 6-month-old Mini Schnauzer-Shih Tzu mix and I am retired and home with her ALL the time except for errands and short times gone, visiting, etc. I think the most I've ever left her alone is about 3 hours. She's been very easy to train since I've had her from 8 weeks old. I've taught her to NEVER bark when someone comes to the door or when she sees someone or another dog outside the patio doors... the street is visible so she can sit there and see a lot. And neighbors have said they've never heard her bark when I'm gone. I'm very proud of her for that. BUT, my problem is that she seems to think it is MY duty to keep her entertained all the time. Yep...she has her walks...but it's very difficult when a neighbor is walking a dog at the same time. Missy gets SO excited that I have to pick her up. The leashes will get all tangled up trying to greet each other. But...I digress. I don't know if I'm spoiling her by stopping what I'm doing and playing with her or if I need to do that a lot less.
When I'm busy with something, she will come and sit by me....give a little "ruff" to get my attention...and just look at me with pitiful eyes to come play with her. I've been learning to say "NO Missy...go play"...and she will go play with one of her toys, go sit and look out the sliding doors (she loves doing that), or just go lay down and take a nap. MY problem is feeling guilty. Some dogs HAVE to stay by themselves for long periods because their "parents" work....I'm here with Missy all the time. So should I feel guilty, is she manipulating me, should I spend that much time with her....and so on? I think I can honestly say that about maybe 65% of my time is spent talking to her, playing with her, entertaining her, and so on....even when I'm doing chores.

So....my question is, am I feeling guilty for no reason and my girl is trying to 'use me'. I hope this isn't a silly question, but from the time I get that soft little "ruff" by my bed at 5:30 am and all through the day off and on...I get that soft little "ruff" seeking my attention (she doesn't bark loud....I've taught her not to because I live in an apartment and have neighbors). Am I right in telling her "NO...go play" and allow her to entertain herself.

We also have a play time with a neighbor's dog about once a week...so I don't think I can say she's neglected in any way. I guess it is ME and feeling guilty that is bothering me. Again...sorry if this sounds like a silly question. But, how long do most of you spend "entertaining" your puppy? I guess that is the real question. How much of my day do I need to spend giving her almost ALL my time? Again, thanks.
 

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The guilt, that's a weakness your dog recognizes and exploits. The word "exploits" kind of implies that she's consciously manipulating you, but a doggy brain really doesn't work like that. They are, instinctively, masters at reading human body language and facial expression, and they learn quickly, and so she has learned how to push your buttons so to speak, and she's been rewarded for it over and over.

It's in the nature of dogs to always be with the family, and never be separated. If I could, I'd have my pup with me 24/7, not necessarily entertaining him the entire time, but I'd love to have him along whereever I go. As it is, we spend 2 to 3 hours a day walking and another hour or so playing, and half the day on Saturday when we're lucky.

At 6 months, she's still very young. she'll probably mellow a bit as she matures and stop demanding so much of your attention. It'll be enough for her just being in the same room with you. Meanwhile, you're the boss and she respects that, so sure, it's well within your authority to ask her to entertain herself when you need her to. I promise, she's not suffering during that time, not even a little bit.
 

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We are really focused on your dog right? Trying to be sensitive so let us start that you have created a healthy bond, but feeling guilty is a selfish feeling. You are actually over-indulging and feeling guilty is a way to rationalize your behavior.

Your post is a wonderful read, so why feel guilty? You and your dog are bestest friends, but she needs guidance, structure, & you to create a disciplined dynamic. I have a 11 year old lhaso and boy oh boy she knows how to work me. When she is about to cross a line, I firmly ask, "Tedi are you a good girl" and she comes over lays down and chills.

No guilt here, you have a wonderful companion.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you very much for the great advice AND lesson here. It didn't occur to me that feeling guilty was a selfish feeling on my part...but you're right. You confirmed what I was thinking....she NEEDS to know how to entertain herself and not demand my time ANY time she wants to. She does get plenty of it and I'm not going to give in to those "pitiful puppy eyes" all the time and let her know she can have my time when I can give it. Yes...she is a wonderful companion and I realize now it's my responsibility to let her know her boundaries and mine. Thanks again...it's made me feel a lot better about making her go play on her own. So....guilt be gone! :-D
 

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You get a "ruff," and I get full-on barking. Pepper does the same thing. He and I are together almost 24/7 (I work from home), and he only wants me to pay attention to him. He's fully capable of playing by himself, but he always wants me to be focused on him, even if he's focused on something else.

I usually get up from wherever I am and just ignore him. If I stay where I am, he'll bark up a "pay attention to me" storm.

He also will make a noise if I've slept longer that he thinks I should - just to wake me up. Then, I'm up and he gets back in his little bed and comes downstairs an hour later (getting his beauty sleep?).
 

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There's nothing wrong with "I'm busy right now, go play." You're giving her tons of attention and love, so yeah, she can deal. I'd get her some fun, interactive toys that will really work her brain, like a puzzle toy or a kong you can stuff and freeze. That will keep her occupied and happy and give you time to do what you need to do.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I had to laugh when you said you get full-on barking from Pepper. Like you, I also work at home and Missy will just sit by my chair sometimes....give me a tiny "burff" to let me know she's there and wanting my attention...I look down and get those sad doe eyes (poor little thing!) and SO many times I have to say "go get your toys"....and she'll creep away with that long sad-faced look just meant to make me feel guilty....it works! But I'm learning to make her play on her own many times. I can't always stop what I'm doing if I have a deadline. And...Missy will also sit by my bed like your Pepper and here comes that "burff" to let me know she wants ME to get up. Then after she eats she will go back to bed leaving me WIDE awake!! They sure to know how to play us don't they?? HA, HA!! But I'm learning. Thanks for letting me know I'm not alone with this.
 

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My Missy has so many toys that I have to put some of them away and bring them out later so they look new to her. I've got 3 Kongs I freeze...but sometimes I worry she'll get too much to eat so I'll give her less at her next meal. I've checked out some of the interactive toys and some of them cost "an arm and a leg". I'm on a very tight budget as many are right now and some of these neat toys are out of my price range. I've made some homemade ones like cutting holes in a plastic peanut container and putting her food in it. It works for a while....but then she's back to me wanting attention. I think maybe she's just a bit spoiled having me around all the time. I have to stand my ground and not give in to her so much. Most of this is MY fault and not hers....she'll play me as long as I give in to her. My, my!!! :-D
 

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There's nothing wrong with "I'm busy right now, go play." You're giving her tons of attention and love, so yeah, she can deal. I'd get her some fun, interactive toys that will really work her brain, like a puzzle toy or a kong you can stuff and freeze. That will keep her occupied and happy and give you time to do what you need to do.
This ^ ............. ^ ............... ^

I too am home 24/7 except for weekly shopping or a short trip to a relatives and such ... but to three dogs. I used to feel guilty also, as I get that " ruff " from Leeo mostly ... if I adhered to his every want ... i would never get anything accomplished. I had to learn the " Tough Love " thing a little. :)
 

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OHHH.....the "tough love" thing. Great!!! I really never thought of that. Here I did it with my kids and am now letting my pup get away with this. Shame on me! :-o :-D So, Missy....here comes the tough love!
 

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I don't think I ever "entertain" my dogs just because they want to be entertained. Sure, we go to the park, or work on obedience, or play fetch.....but those are things that I enjoy as much as they do.....and if you don't like doing those kinds of things, why have a dog in the first place right?

That being said, Samson will sometimes come up and nudge my hand with his nose, or plop his head on my leg as I'm sitting at my computer. I just pet him and talk to him for a little while, but I don't completely drop what I'm doing.

Now when they ring the potty bell hanging from the back doorknob....that's when I DO drop what I'm doing.
 

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Tucker often brings a rawhide over, so I can hold it steady while he goes at it. If I don't want to, I usually toss it over to Scout. Funny thing, Scout has never (to my knowlege) held a rawhide for Tucker to gnaw on.

If I have food at the time, I take it as an offer to "trade up," which hasn't worked yet, but he keeps trying.
 
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