I know you've probably talked this through MissMutt, but I'd like to add that your situation is a lot like mine from my own family.
Recently, I started looking at dog-crates on craigslist... I'm contemplating getting one in the near future... I'm always endorsing crate training, and I'm always pushing other people to get one for their dogs, and then I'm looking at my dog going, "You know what, I could do it... I could make him like crates..."
I've never gotten a dog crate because I've been petrified of how it would make him feel... He came from an animal-shelter, (like most of you know), and I just feel like crap thinking he'd be miserable being forced into one...
Anyway- My step-mother's Pug puppy loves
the crate they have; It's a big crate, probably for like a Golden Retriever; They got it for Spot when he was a puppy back five years ago- Spot learned to love it and would go in there willingly 24/7 or whenever you told him too- The Pug puppy is turning out to do the same thing... Not only do I think that's cute and sweet, but I'm still real big on the fact that dogs should be desensitized to crates before they're kenneled or boarded- I believe it makes the process for them
go so much more smoother...
Sooooo... I mention in passing that I'm -looking
- at some dog-crates and can find some for Donatello pretty cheap... My mother looks at me with the a curious and disgusted look on her face- "Why in the Hell do you want a dog-crate for him..."
I didn't even respond, I just kept browsing...
Whenever I decide to do something new or different with Donatello, she has to question me. It's like, wth? He's my
dog... Whenever I go somewhere and my family stays home, Donatello gets put in my bedroom. (His food, water, and toys are in there anyway.) He is not anyone else's responsibility, he's mine... But she will either question me, or give me this look like, "Why are you doing that?"
(She's questioned me like that as well.) I do it for more reasons then just one, too... Donatello doesn't care for my youngest sister, he doesn't trust her as far as he can throw her. But, he
is not to blame for that, she
is; Her reaction to him walking or running by has conditioned him to not like being close to her... I've gotten on her time and time again and it's done no good. By now, he is immune to her jumping out of his way, but the damage is already done... The other day she got in my face when I was sitting on the sofa and she started growling at me, Donatello didn't like it at all... He stood up beside me and growled at her back. I told her, "See, you shouldn't treat me like crap because Donatello doesn't like it."
Which is partially the truth.
So I keep him in my bedroom to just keep the possibility of anything bad happening slim to none. Because, if I came home and found he was out, or found that he nipped someone, I wouldn't in the least feel bad... "Well he was in my room to be left alone, you all were the idiots that went in there when I wasn't home!"
(I probably wouldn't call anyone an idiot, but I'd say the rest in a heartbeat.)
There have also been times when I've told my mother that I'm going to muzzle Donatello, she's just about all but jumped down my throat for it. "What are you going to do that for?"
and I'm forced to reply, "Well mother, he did snap at a girl before, and he's scared of what people might do to him... Until he gets over that I'm going to have to muzzle him."
She took it, but looked as if she wished she could say more.
See, she's never had a "fearful" dog before, she says she had one as a child, but how in the world does that count? She didn't train the dog, she lived with the dog and played with him, but the dog wasn't trained by her or anyone, it was just left alone and left to live like any other normal dog... Well, like Marge, Donatello isn't normal... He needs rules, he needs discipline, he needs me to guide him like his own mother would... So if that means muzzling him then so be it! He may not like having rules, but deep down in his subconscious, he feels better having them.
My mother also tried fighting me on the fact Donatello goes berserk around "Pit-Bulls". She told me, "He does not."
I said, "Excuse me? You don't walk Donatello. You don't accompany us on walks. You don't go the parks, or the dog parks with us, how do you know he doesn't?"
She just stuttered a little bit and then just walked off.
I know her, and my sisters both, think I'm too hard on Donatello. I make him exert self-control, and that's amounts to a lot of my commands over him... I make him wait for almost everything. I make him lay down where he's at until I call him over... I make him wait before jumping on the sofa, and I make him wait before running back to my room at night... They roll their eyes at me, or if I say something about what I'm doing or I plan to do, my mother scoffs at me.
I have though, been told by strangers
that I'm "too hard" on Donatello... I was talking with a group of people at the dog-park and we were discussing how our dogs behave at home. One woman described her dog as a "maniac", a "thief", a "hoodlum" and a dog with "ADD"... I was mad, sad, and shocked all at the same time; Knowing what I know, there's no excuse to just let a dog run rampant. But everyone else laughed at her description, chuckled and said, "He's just too adorable for anything else."
Excuse me? So if Hitler was adorable like a 6 week old puppy, the Holocaust would have been looked at as "cute"??
So I chimed in and started describing what I do with Donatello. How he gets one meal a day, (the jaws dropped there and continued to fall farther south the more I continued.) I make him go through his list of tricks/commands at least
once a day, I make him wait to jump on the sofa, I make him wait to come to me at the door so we can go out, I make him lay down on the sofa if he's not going to do anything "productive", (He tends to just pace around, not restless, but ever since I taught "touch", he touches everything
now, at least once, and when I'm busy watching a movie with my sister it's distracting because then he'll come to me and "touch" my leg, or my foot, then stand at me and stare at me for no apparent reason.) I continued on and these people started staring at me with looks of anger on their faces. "Geez, can't you just let the dog be a dog? Why the Hell does he need all those rules for? That's just confusing to a dog, he probably doesn't know if he's coming or going! And what's with making him *wait* all the time? That poor dog. What are you, a control freak?"
I replied, "Actually. I am. When it comes to things like animals, I am a "control-freak". If you don't control your dog, your dog winds up like that woman's and then you're always fighting with your dog to behave and be good for five minutes. No thanks... I need order and discipline in my life and from my animals as well."
I also explained that Donatello is extremely intelligent, and all my rules do not
confuse him, but keep him occupied, he doesn't struggle with anything and he rarely if ever forgets. Self-control is good for dog that has the potential to be hyper-active...
I hate having to explain myself to strangers, but I really hate having to do it with my family more... I'm going to explain to my mother soon about the benefits of a dog-crate and see how she reacts... She's never used a dog-crate before, and her dogs frequently messed up the house or chewed on things they weren't supposed to when we left... Donatello doesn't do that now, and that's not the reason I want a crate.
Oh and what you said:
I just keep telling myself I need to be her champion.. these people know nothing.. they shouldn't affect me.. I need to stay strong for her, if for no one else.
That's good, remember that, because I'm going to remember that for Donatello.