I’m so excited to finally share about our new dog! He is two and half years old and has a lot of personality. He’s seriously such a good dog and compliments our lifestyle so well. That’s not to say things have always been sunshine and roses though. Like any pet, it’s taken some time to get acquainted and get used to each other.
When he was brought home, he was so anxious and jumping on the bay window and the countertops, seriously, he can jump high! Anytime Sam left, even to go outside, he would pace back and forth. But can you imagine being in a kennel with other dogs, scared, and suddenly you’re in a new house with new people you don’t even know? All we know of him is that he was found by the police as a stray wandering the streets. We believe he’s had previous owners though because he generally knows his commands (sit, wait, and come). He even shows signs that he’s had prior lose leash training, but he still has a long way to go with that.
In the beginning, we worked on the “wait” command. Every time we opened the door to let him out or go for a walk, he always tried to barge through. It was very common to stand at the door for at least 15 minutes until he’d submit. This took quite a bit of patience on our end as he would not cooperate with us. We were told that it’s a respect thing and we had to show him who was boss. What we did was stand in front of him and any time he tried to go forward, we gently pushed him back to let him know he was not in charge. When he did obey, we would click the clicker, which has been very helpful. It has been little steps and little victories. Now he obeys immediately which has become so easy.
We welcomed him home as part of our family on February 16th, the day before my birthday. I remember being at work thinking, “I wonder if Sam plans to surprise me with a dog for my birthday.” It was a fleeting thought. At one point during my shift, he sends me a text and says “I’m going to clean the house” which I was happy to receive. Not long afterwards, he sends me another one, “I’m going to Animal Allies.” I smiled. He was going to find a dog.
I ask him to send photos and keep me updated. He sends me one of a pit bull and then a lab. When I saw that lab, I instantly thought “He’s the one!” but I didn’t want to say it because I told Sam a while back that he should pick out the dog when the time comes. He said when he saw the lab, he gave him “the look.” He still looked at the other available dogs, but Sam knew he was meant to come home with us. Upon adoption, the shelter presented an “action plan” for Eddie, previously named Riley. The gist of it was saying that he’s aggressive toward other dogs and they had not found one dog that he gets along with yet. They strongly recommended a muzzle while taking him on walks and said he would not be a candidate for the dog park or doggy day school for the time being. Sam immediately took him to Petsmart and spent some time with a trainer. She was very knowledgeable and helpful and we knew when we adopted him that he would require some work and we were prepared since we wanted to train him right.
We do have a crate for him and it wasn’t very difficult to get him trained, maybe about two-three weeks. I was honestly expecting the crate training to take much longer. We use it all the time, when we leave the house, when we go to bed, when we are doing a project and need him out of the way, he goes in the crate. The first couple days were pretty rough as he would continue to bark but eventually stopped after 10 min. In the evenings, he now will just go into his crate on his own when he feels tired. When he does that we give him a treat and tell him he’s a good boy. When we leave the house, it’s a little bit harder because he knows we’re leaving him. He’s a smart dog. When leaving the house he used to bark constantly but now will only bark a few times and then quiets down. Letting him out of his crate has also become a huge success. In the beginning he would always try to barge his way out and it usually took at least 10 minutes before he would wait for our command. But now we can open the crate door, tell him to “wait” and then say “ok, come on!” And then he comes out.
We don’t take him in the vehicle very often because he gets super anxious. I don’t know if it’s true anxiety or if he is overstimulated but he barks excessively. The only times he stops is when he takes a breath in. He also does not sit still so I had to purchase a doggy seat belt. It’s just a buckle that will loop around the seat belt and clasps onto the dogs harness, keeping the dog securely in the back seat. I researched as to how to get a dog to stop barking so much. What I found is that I need to remain calm and continue saying “quiet” and reward the dog immediately when he stops, even if it’s to take a breath in. Has anyone experienced this? Give me your best tips! I have a plan to take him for a short car ride to a trail, which is about a mile from our house. Just far enough that I can tolerate the constant barking.
For about a month Sam and I pretty much had the same work schedule. It was nice in some ways but that meant Eddie would be in his crate for about 10 hours and we felt so bad about it. I would take him for a walk before going to work to let some of his energy out and also walked him when I came home from work because I felt so guilty. On the topic of walking, he does very well. By that I mean, when he’s pulling, I stop and almost immediately, he will back up and wait for me to proceed. But that is constant. I have noticed significant progress as he’s not stopping as often. But it’s still not a smooth walk if you know what I mean.
The last thing is regarding the issue with aggressiveness. We have seen him come in contact with a few dogs and I’ve kept track of what his behaviors are. He will lunge forward and bark a lot. We have never let it get to a point where he attacks the other dog, but I really don’t think it would come to that. His hair does not stick up, his teeth are not barred, he is not growling. I think he just needs to learn how to socialize and how to use his manners with other dogs. That’s part of the reason I take him on walks too. I had read that walking your dog and exposing him to the smells of other dogs around and hearing the neighborhood dogs will be enough to socialize. I’ve seen teeny tiny baby steps. I’m really hoping that one day we can take him to the dog park and I think he would have so much fun but he has to first learn how to behave properly.
We do plan on getting him proper training but that has been put on hold for the time being. Part of it is financial reasons but the other part is for obvious reasons now. I wanted to wait a few months to announce him because we wanted to make sure that he would be a good fit for us. But enough time has past and we know that we know that he’s a keeper. Any of you have dogs? Give me your best suggestions on socializing and car rides.