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Hi everyone, this is my first post, so please don't come after me with pitchforks after you read this; trust me I can't feel more horrible than I already do.

I've been an animal lover all my life, have had family dogs since I was 5, and am still obsessed with them (I'll regularly make the hour-long drive just to visit them at my mom's house!). I feel like I've been waiting forever to be ready to get my own dog. I've volunteered at shelters, and homeless dogs are my BIGGEST soft spot. So much so that I have managed to shell out donation money in my most financially dire times.

Anyway, a couple of months ago I realized that a dog could really work for me now: I'm 24, live in a great California beach town in a house just a couple blocks from off-leash beaches and ample parks. Also, I now have a steady full-time job at a dog-friendly office. My landlord OKed a dog, my roommates ambivalently said alright, friends agreed they would be there to help me out if I ever left town, etc.

After a couple of months, (two days ago) I finally found an amazing 10-month-old poodle mix down by my family's home (an hour away from where I live). I wanted him immediately--even though I was looking for an older dog-- and carried him out in my arms beaming. The next day and night I was staying at my mom's house, and he played well with the other dogs and was being the wonderful dog he is. I did not have the slightest regret.

The next day I drove back home, and my anxiety built as I got into my town (Leo was being an angel in the car, by the way). By the time I took him to a park with my friend, I was having a full-blown panic attack. I spent the rest of the day crying and trying to talk it out with my mom and sister in between playing with and caring for him.

I've learned that Leo clung to me, and HARD. He doesn't want to leave more than an a few inches between us. He will follow me if I move three feet. He cries when I go to the bathroom and close the door for 13 seconds.

I decided I should leave him home for little short spurts since he was so attached. I left the first time for 45 minutes. He was in my bedroom with his bed, toys, and I left the door open to the big yard where there was water and grass to go on. He cried the whole time.

After coming home for an hour or so, I left again to go get some food for myself and additional things for him, this time for maybe and hour. Again, cried the whole time.

Luckily, neither time did he pee/poop inside or destroy anything.

Later, he started getting really skittish, like he was trying to protect me from any noise/reflection/etc. My roommates have been out of town so it has been just me and him in the house. My boyfriend then came over and he began freaking out.

We got him to stop barking and growling for the most part, but every time my boyfriend disappeared into another room and then reappeared, he freaked out again.

He did sleep well in his bed on the floor beside my bed; which I made him do to, again, avoid making him too attached to me.

Today I've had to leave him at home. I don't want to start bringing him to work yet because then we will have to work on his anxiety in the evenings when he would be a nuisance to my roommates with his barking. In an attempt to start crate training, I put him in his crate (which I left open and he enjoyed going in and out of all day yesterday) for about 3 hours while I went to work. He did not like it. Was still freaking out when I got home.

Took him for a walk, played with him.

Here is the thing that horrifies me; I feel like, while I am financially and physically equipped to care for a dog and put in the time he needs, I am feeling very emotionally unequipped now that I am dealing with it.

I am so distraught because I am such a responsible person normally and rarely do I just change my mind or feelings on a whim. It's not like I mind taking care of him; feeding, walking, etc. But I'm almost having a personal crisis about it. Maybe I need to work on some personal growth before I take on a dog.

I woke up physically sick this morning from the stress and am a wreck at work-- can't concentrate or anything. Unfortunately, now I'm in a position where the thought of giving him up makes me feel so SO SO SOOO sad, but the thought of keeping him makes me feel terrified and it just doesn't "feel right."

I know this is a decision only I can make. I know it hasn't even been 2 days, but the thing is that I was feeling stressed even before he showed any negative behavior.

I have cried at my office today several times, trying to hide behind my computer screen.

*Important note: He came from a no-kill shelter that invested a lot in him. If I did not keep him, ideally I would try to foster him until he found a forever home and if I couldn't do that, he would go back to a place where he is cared for.

I am just sick over this. Any input is much appreciated.

This is the hardest situation I've ever been in and I'm already SO upset with myself so please go easy on me.
 

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First, thanks for adopting!

The first few days are always hard. This little guy has been through a lot, and he's scared and not himself. Often it takes months for rescue dogs' true personalities to shine through, but things should settle down day by day as he gets used to his new situation.

Have you been giving him enough exercise? I would start there. Lack of exercise can be a gateway to anxiety - he needs to get that nervous energy out. He's a 10 month old poodle mix and is going to have energy to burn! Assuming he's up to it (i.e. wasn't neutered recently, no medical issues), I recommend making a point of tiring out the dog. Don't take him anywhere off leash yet (new rescues are serious flight risks, and you don't know his personality around strange dogs well enough), and don't take him running (too young), but I would walk him for at least 2 hours a day for now. And you can start training him, to burn mental energy. A tired dog might not have enough energy to freak out, plus it will help you bond with the little guy.

Other than that - google "crate games" for a great game to work on to help convince your pup that crate = awesome fun time. You can leave him with a kong stuffed with peanut butter and frozen.

Other people might be able to give more advice about separation anxiety. If it keeps up, you might consider medication or a Thundershirt. Has he been to a vet?
 

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I think it is too early to judge. You've had him for 2 days, as you said. He came from a shelter, which meant someone else gave him up, I'm sure. He is probably just worried.

I say stick with it. Stop being so nervous. You have to remember your anxiety rubs off onto him.

I can completely understand where you're coming from though, because I myself am a very nervous and anxious person. I currently am trying to get myself more relaxed and not so high strung so I can help my dogs out.

I have decided I am going to make a schedule. A complete minute-by-minute (really, hour by hour) schedule so I never feel lost.

You have taken on a new responsibility, and that is scary, but you can do this if you truly want to.

Like you said, only you can choose, but I think you can handle this.
 

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Give it a month.

I've been there in a way. Last year 2 days before Thanksgiving, the rescue delivered to me a "tasmanian devil dog" - a whirlwird of energy who howled all night, followed me everywhere (yes, trying to open the bathroom door even), went hysterical at the sight of other dogs (other than my own dog), major anxiety in the car, and was basically a little bit insane.

For the first week, I didn't sleep more than a half hour at a time because of her barking/whining/howling (in her crate), every time I tried to put a leash on her she nipped at me and went nuts etc. The rescue woman and I laugh about it now, but she was just a little worried I would hunt her down and slap her silly for giving me this dog (and I did consider it :) )

But.... after 1 month, things were noticeably better. After 2 months, I truly enjoyed her company. After 3 months, she was hardly any trouble at all. When she was adopted, she was a total love bug, had completed her CGC and additional obedience training and had made big progress (with more to go) on her issues with dogs and cars.

It was well worth it even to give the dog up to her permanent home. It would be even more worth it to produce a wonderful dog that was going to be my own.

try valerian root based calming tablets for the anxiety, provide lots of exercise, do training every day, google "crate games", and remember your dog is a teenager to top it all off.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
You are all so kind and helpful, and have definitely made me feel better. I think I am thinking twice about having a constant companion, as I am a very independent person. Also, since I am so young, I typically only live in one home for 2 years at the most, and will likely want to switch jobs in a couple of years (and possible cities) just for my career.

I DID think of this. But I have an issue of overthinking things, and friends with dogs would always tell me, "it's hard, but you figure it out!" So I thought I would just take the plunge and do it, as that has worked well for me many a time before (and especially since I can technically provide a healthy life for a dog).

I was going to give it until the end of this week to see if things get better, because then at that point I could give him back to the shelter without him being desperately attached me to me and letting him down again, making his anxiety worse.

Do you think, if I do my best to start training him, etc., that if I am still feeling overwhelmed and not right in a month, it would be okay to give him back then? Or is that even more mean?! Of course, I would hope by then I'd have figured it out, but if not?

I am partially avoiding bring him to work with me now because I don't want too many people to know I adopted him in case I have to send him back. My heart will break any time someone asks me about it, and already a bunch of people know, so it would be hard enough if I do decide that's the right decision.

I guess I am freaking out about giving up my self-centered, young lifestyle. Maybe I don't have to give up ALL that much, but I guess that's what I will figure out.

THANK YOU THANK YOU though! I will try Valerian and was already looking into a thunder shirt, although I've already spent almost $700 adopting him and purchasing crate/toys/pet deposit, etc., and since I am not going to get any of that back if I DO send him back (I would never ask for any of that as it was a shelter donation), I am trying to keep costs as low as possible for the next couple of weeks.

Any more input is wonderful. Seriously, you guys are just great.
 

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First, I understand what you are worrying about regarding so much change in your lifestyle. But it isn't so much taking away from it as just making it different.
Sure, I need to plan ahead a bit more to have a night out with friends, but on the other hand, I often join friends with our dogs for outdoor activities like hiking, take the dog(s) out of town, even go to dog-friendly bars! It isn't the end of the world if you choose to board him for the rare out-of-town trip either (esp. if you can get him past some of the anxieties which aren't uncommon during the settling-in phase after a shelter adoption).

If you plan ahead, especially if your dog is not one of the "blacklisted" breeds that are hard to rent with, you can move with them without too much trouble.

The more training the dog has, the better off the dog is whether he ends up being returned to the shelter or stays with you. Start training right away. It will help you build a bond with the dog, it will make your daily life easier and IF it doesn't work out, it will make him more adoptable.

Seriously, give it at LEAST 1 month. Dogs from a shelter typically take at least 1 month and often 3-4 months to really settle in. Once he's more settled and trained, life becomes so much easier.

Take my dog as an example. I don't go out much on the weeknights, but if I want to, I just come home and walk him, give him dinner and some attention and head back out for a few hours. He is totally fine with that since it isn't more than once per week. On a weekend, we might do a really long walk in the park (like 2 hours) in the afternoon so he's really tired and then I might go play tennis and have dinner with a friend or whatever. He comes with me to friends' houses since he's well behaved and dog-friendly. He used to come with me to the horse barn when I rode. I can (if I want) take him basically anywhere that allows dogs.
 

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But.... after 1 month, things were noticeably better. After 2 months, I truly enjoyed her company. After 3 months, she was hardly any trouble at all.
This has given me hope! Totally not my thread, but having brought in an 8 month old rescue as a permanent member of our family only 3 weeks ago.. this has been such a relief to read.

Thank you! :)
 

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This has given me hope! Totally not my thread, but having brought in an 8 month old rescue as a permanent member of our family only 3 weeks ago.. this has been such a relief to read.

Thank you! :)
read the thread "Luna the foster pit bull" and I can PM you for even more detail if you want.
 

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I haven't had this experience related to a dog, but I wanted to say that I've been there. When I got my second rabbit, she was hyperactive and destructive and I completely regretted adopting her. The first few days I freaked out and even approached her previous owner about giving her back. Now, I love her dearly and I can't imagine not having her in my life. She fits in extremely well and is no longer hyperactive or destructive.

It's normal to have second thoughts - just give it time. It takes a while for a new animal to settle into your home and it will take you a while to become attached to him. Any big life change is tough, even if it's something you wanted (just ask people with new babies!), but once you've had time to adjust you'll be feeling less frantic about it even if you do decide that having a dog isn't a good decision for you right now. By then, you'll have helped this dog learn to live in a home and he will be able to find a new fantastic family.
 

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Have you considered that this really isn't about the dog? You clearly have an anxiety disorder and you really need treatment for it. It's normal to feel overwhelmed after you get a new dog, a panic attack is way over the top. Anxiety disorders are real medical issues requiring real medical help. I'm not bashing you (I don't even own a pitchfork!), I feel the same way about this that I do about diabetes because mental health issues are health issues and need treatment.

Do what you will with the dog, it's entirely irrelevant to what's going on with you. That is where you need help.
 

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I think your reaction was TOTALLY normal and nothing to worry about, and I hope you stick with it! I am going through something very similar. I just adopted a very large 9-month-old puppy who is generally sweet and mellow, but has his issues (particularly around other dogs) and is just a big handful for me to manage alone. He's definitely re-ordering my life in some great ways and some hard ways! And my roommate is very nice and well-meaning but is probably undermining a lot of my training (lets the dog out of his crate when he's crying, etc) while he's home with the dog during the day while I'm at work.

I am very committed to figuring this out, and I know we'll be fine - but that's only because I'm REALLY determined to be fine. I've been reading tons of shelter and (positive reinforcement) trainer websites and have gotten some of the books that seem to be widely recommended: "The Other End of the Leash", "Culture Clash", Karen Pryor's clicker training books, etc. I also just finished "Katz on Dogs" and loved it - it's really down-to-earth and reassuring that every person and dog is different, and you'll make mistakes and it will be OK.

I hope you'll give it time and keep us posted!
 

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Stick through it and give it awhile. I was thinking the same thing when I got Bentley. For a different reason but I stuck through it and now we are very close. I think he may be a heart dog,even. Maybe not my heart dog but soul dog. I could NEVER give him up and can't even believe I thought about it when I got him. Bentley has some problems but I will work with him and that will just in the end deeper our bond(if it is possible).


I also agree with the Anxiety thing,though.
 

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A few things:

1. You're right - having a dog can change your life a lot. It's a lot harder to just pack up and disappear for a few days, because somebody needs to walk and feed your puppy. On the other hand, having a dog can change your life a lot - in amazing ways. When I am lonely or sad or crying or angry or upset, Melonie is there to curl up next to me and make me feel a little bit better. I've literally used her as a sleep aid - there's something about curling up around her that just relaxes me and helps my brain stop racing. When I'm happy or excited, she's there to play with and be cheerful with. She even makes me healthier physically - I started running and hiking last summer because I wanted to find an activity that would give her more exercise and let us spend time together outside. She loved it, I loved it, and a new love for outdoor activity grew from that for me. So, yeah, there are some sacrifices, but the gains are more than worth it.

2. Having anxiety about those changes and responsibilities in your life is totally normal, especially when the dog is acting up. If you scroll back a page or two on the General Forum page here, you can see my post about my new dog Jameson, and the fact that I melted into a completely anxious, crying mess yesterday after a horrible experience trying to get him harnessed and leashed up to go out for a walk. It's also stressing me out because I want to take a day trip this Sunday, but I feel like I can't because he has issues with slipping his collar/harness and I don't know that I can trust my dad to walk him for me like I do with my other dog. I've definitely considered giving him back - except he just showed up one day and followed me home, so I have nobody to give him back to, except the pound where they'll probably end up putting him to sleep because with his fear issues he's far from easily adoptable. So, yes, anxiety.
On the other hand, I've known for years that I do tend towards a higher level of anxiety, and it's something that I've sought (and found) help for. I agree with those above that if you haven't previously sought help for anxiety, you may want to look into that. However, I should also say that, as I said above, I find that my pets are a great source of comfort and can actually help me control my anxiety (when they're not the ones causing it!).

3. Shelter dogs are quirky, and they absolutely take time to settle in. Mel definitely had a lot of issues and quirks when we first brought her home. It took three months before she would even touch a toy. Now, two and a half years later, you'd never know that the dog leaning up against you demanding snuggles is the same dog who would shy away from strangers and growl at my (very unimposing) mother. It just takes time sometimes. It's a lesson I'm reminding myself of now with Jameson - it's been about two weeks with him, and we're making very, very slow progress - now he at least will come towards us voluntarily without us having food in our hands, and he and Melonie have started to play together. He even hangs out with us in the living room sometimes instead of hiding in his crate. It could be weeks or even months though before he stops shying away from us when we try to touch him and stops getting that horrible, fearful look on his face whenever we approach him. Patience - not my best strength, but I'm working on it.

I agree that you should give your new guy more than a week. I think you'll probably find that you'll get used to him and he'll get used to you and you'll find a new rhythm to your lives that enhances life for both of you. It's good that he's attached to you! Mel was like that - attached to us right away, but wanted nothing to do with anybody else. Once she felt safe and secure with us, she slowly started to open up to others. Now she's a total cuddle whore. If you really can't handle him it's okay to let the shelter find another home for him, but don't give up so easily.
 

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I just adopted my first dog Pete almost 3 months ago. He had the same separation anxiety at the beginning and I almost took him back because it was NOT something I had been prepared for when adopting him I didn't even know separation anxiety was a real thing, I just thought it was a dog being bratty. He's still clingy and has some kinks but for the most part Pete has been wonderful. It has been and continues to be a lot of work but honestly the bigger the problem the bigger the payoff when you overcome it. Give yourself a little time, don't make the decision out of fear. Start training with him and then if you do decide its 'not right' you can feel good about having made him more adoptable for his forever home. Like you said if it becomes clear this wont work in the long run you can become a foster home for him instead.

Having Pete has certainly revealed some of my own neuroses so I view it like we're in recovery together. Maybe you can develop a similar partnership with your own recovery sponsor. Seeing Pete overcome obstacle after obstacle and turn into a happy, well-rounded dog is inspiration for me!
 

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I have had a sort of buyers remorse with every pet I've added, some worse than others. A sort of sick feeling of "Oh crap, what have I done, there's no going back, this is going to cost a fortune....". But they all settle in after I would say about a month, and eventually I get to a point where I can't imagine life without them. Only once did I add one that didn't work out, a stray I found, that was my third dog at the time. A sweet terrier mix, but she was a really bad fit with our herding dogs and cats, so when it still didn't feel right after about four months I found a good home for her. I agree with everyone else, give it more time, at least a month if not two.
 

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When we got our 8 week old puppy from the shelter I definitely had a lot of "Oh crap what have I done??" feelings. It took about three months until we really had a routine down, but now he's 8 months old and having him just isn't such a big deal anymore. A few things that helped were having structured time with him, like going to classes and play groups and park visits, so it wasn't coming home from work and thinking "WHAT DO I DO WITH THIS DOG??" it was Monday we go to outside play group, Tuesday we go to class, Wednesday we go to puppy group, Thursday we go to the park etc... Then he was usually beat after his activity and would pass out at home, giving me time to get things done like "cook dinner." Instead of focusing on all the hard bits, look into a training class and try planning fun activities together. It will get easier.
 

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Hi! I really hope you give it some more time before you think about giving him up. It was very hard for me too, when i brought my then 8 week old puppy home and the realization of getting a dog sank in. There was a lot of crying and some depression (ok a lot) involved but now she is 1 yr i cant believe the growing that we have both done in the past 8 months. Im so glad i stuck with her and i cant imagine her not in my life. This forum has been such a big help because the dread you feel the first few weeks really make you feel like a horrible person, but people were so kind in sharing their own stories that you cant help but work through it and try and raise the best lil dog that you can. It will be hard at first but not great comes easy. Stay on the forums for advice and encouragement you will get through the first phase.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Hi everyone,

Thanks again so much for all of your responses.

Here's an update about 48 hours after I started this thread.

As for my personal anxiety problems, I used to have an anxiety disorder years ago and have almost completely overcome it. Actually, this might sound crazy, but I've been getting really terrible PMS for the past couple of months; my hormones have been super imbalanced, and it severely amplify stress into panic and discontentment into depression. Hence, my total freak out on Monday. I'm very committed to my health and am working on things both on my own and with medical professionals when needed: exercise, nutrition, acupuncture, meditation, and positive thinking are all part of my life! Actually, if you asked anyone who knows me, they would tell you I am a very laid back, even-tempered, content person.

But thank you for the concern because it definitely is MY problem, and not Leo's.

An update on Leo:
I am feeling a LOT better and have decided to give it at least a week or two. Today is his second day of me bringing him in to work (I am starting with half days so we can still work on his separation anxiety). Everybody here LOVES him, though he does have a slight barking issue sometimes when people go in and out, which has raised a couple of eyebrows. Still, I've told everyone that I may just end up fostering him, and like three people have said (maybe halfheartedly) that they want him.

Anyways, I'm feeling good that I can either end up keeping him, or if I don't I bet I can find an incredible family for him if the shelter lets me and doesn't make me bring him back to them only.

He also barks at my roommates and anyone in our home for that matter, but I'm sure we could work on it. Otherwise, he is pretty perfect everywhere else we go; he can go off leash at the beach, park, and is totally fine with other dogs and lots of people around.

In the meantime, I will continue training him and working with him on his current issues. After feeling guiltier than ever for a day or two, I am getting over it and looking at it as that I'm only doing something good for him anyway: giving him a loving, healthy home and great life for the time being, and he will never have to go back to a shelter-- not on my watch, at least.

Thank you everyone!
 

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when i first adopted Buddy he was very needy, hated leashes but couldnt be trusted off lead, didnt want to come into the house (we lived in an airstream trailer at the time) he wasnt a 'bad' dog & it was nothing i couldnt handle experience wise, but it was the change in routine & the 'change' & grief ffrom losing Izze i think that was most hard for me & i also had that 'adopters remorse'.

i also say give it a month, or so. not i cant imagine life without Buddy :)
 

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Definitely give it a bit more time. Both Leo and you are going through a huge change and you are probably both feeling pretty anxious about it! It's always really stressful when a change of circumstance happens like that which hugely affects every party. The worst part is Leo can't exactly tell you how he is feeling - so don't take it personally if he gets skittish or start barking at random things. Change affects dogs, too, and it certainly seems like it has affected you a lot. Definitely give it at least a month - I think you will come around to feeling like you can take care of him and you wouldn't have it any other way. That has certainly been my experience, anyway.
 
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