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Old 12-29-2011, 11:15 PM
5 posts, read 71,203 times
Reputation: 23


I feel like I'm going to get a lot of judgment about this but I want your honest opinion. Please hear me out first.

I'm a 28-year-old woman who have always loved dogs. I've had several pet dogs growing up. The last one I had passed away due to illness when I was 20, and then I moved away for college shortly after. I have not had any dogs since, but I volunteered at the animal shelter when I was in college, and my boyfriend's roommates had dogs whom I loved.

I'd been thinking about getting a dog of my own for a couple of years now. I had not been able to in the past due to my living situation. I moved around a lot and was living in dorms and sharing apartments.

Two years ago, I moved to a new city. I found a decent job and was able to get my own place. When I was apartment hunting, I specifically looked for a place that was dog friendly because I wanted to have the option of adopting a dog. Six months ago, I finally found a place that I liked that was dog-friendly and had a private patio. I felt like I was finally able to settle down and perhaps get a dog of my own eventually.

A month ago, I stopped by my neighborhood animal shelter to fill out a volunteer application, and I saw a dog I really liked. Her name is Toffee. My landlord has stated that I can get a dog but the dog has to be under 30 pounds. I've always like big dogs like shepherds and labs. Toffee was a small-ish dog at 21 pounds, but I still thought she was adorable and very sweet and calm in the kennel. I left the shelter that day, but continued to think about her in the following weeks. I'd look on Petfinder to see if she was still at the shelter.

A week ago, I finally decided to take the plunge and adopt Toffee. I prepared my home for a dog (bought a crate, dog house, etc.) and took her home 3 days ago. My boyfriend and all my friends were so excited for me. They know I loved dogs and have wanted one for a long time.

Unfortunately, things have not gone well so far. A little more information: I live alone in a one bedroom apartment and am away for work 6-10 hours a day, 5 days a week. I'd wanted a dog that was quiet, low energy, and low maintenance and Toffee has turned out to be the opposite. She is constantly bouncing off the walls and tries to chew everything up. She has already destroyed a couple of pairs of my shoes and some furniture. I live in a small one bedroom apartment and don't have enough space to store everything away. I've try taking her for long walk/runs, but when she gets home she'll want to play again. I have not been able to leave my house for the last couple of days because I don't know what to do with her. If i leave her alone in the house, she will surely destroy my stuff and potty everywhere. I tried put her in a crate, but she will literally bark, scream, and claw at it non stop, trying to get out. I don't know what to do with her if I have to leave the house, and I also don't know what to do with her when I sleep. She has been chewing things up while I sleep. I'm gonna have to go back to work soon, and I don't know how this is going to work out.

I feel like I've made a mistake. I hadn't done my research on her breed (Terrier). I should've realized that generally, smaller, younger dogs are more active and loud. Toffee is 6 months to a year old, so she is really still a puppy. I've realized that Toffee is not a good fit for me. I believe I will do much better with an adult dog (at least 4 years old) and perhaps a slightly bigger dog that is a lower energy breed.

So what do I do now? I've been thinking about returning Toffee to the shelter for the last couple of days. The shelter I adopted her from is a low kill shelter. I think as long as they put her back up for adoption if I return her, she should have a good chance of getting adopted. She's young, compact, and everyone who's met her raved about how cute she is. I'm sure she has a much better chance of getting adopted than some of the bigger, older dogs I want. Is it wrong of me to return Toffee, and try to get an older dog instead? I would definitely wait and conduct my search slowly, to make sure I find a dog that's more likely to suit me and that I am really willing to commit to making it work with the older dog.

I feel like a horrible person and that the people at the shelter will hate me. Should I give Toffee more time? I know it's only been 3 days, but she simply does not seem to be a good match for me. I feel like it's better to return her to the shelter sooner than later, before she becomes more attached.

Sorry this post became a tl;dr but if you've made it down to here, I appreciate it. I really need some advice! Right now, I'm leaning towards returning her to the shelter tomorrow. I feel really awful about it and I know some of you will say things to make me feel worse about it, and that's find. I just want some constructive, objective advice/insight on the situation.

Thank you.
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Old 12-30-2011, 12:09 AM
Location: Mountains of middle TN
5,232 posts, read 13,261,342 times
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First of all, terriers in general are one of the most active breeds. Add your favorite - labs - into that list. Size means NOTHING when it comes to energy in dogs. Don't go looking for a pet based on that.

So the question is, now what? First of all, what is policy if you return Toffee? Some shelters have a policy that if an owner surrendered pet is returned that it's immediately euthanized. They consider them unadoptable at that point, even though it's absolutely ridiculous.

The next question is how much are you willing to do to make sure you and Toffee can work things out? Perhaps a doggie daycare while you work could help. Or place an ad for someone that has a couple well socialized dogs of their own that's a stay home mom or on line college student or something that's interested in making a few extra bucks a week that will doggie sit at their home. The added stimulation of other well behaved dogs and hours to run and play would be a huge help in getting that energy out.

Other things to think of are the fact that you've not had her long at all and what was her previous situation. Most likely she was owned by someone that never taught her anything at all and dumped her in a shelter when she didn't magically figure it out on her own. So in a case like that you can't blame her for not knowing. You also can't blame her for having separation anxiety issues. She's just a baby and she's already been through a minimum of three 'homes', including the first, the shelter and yours. That's very stressful for any dog, but Toffee is only a baby.

It can take months for a dog to settle into a new family situation. Honestly, I think you need to give her more time and look into some other ideas for her during the day while you work. At night she needs to be crated. Buy raw beef bones with plenty meat on them from your grocery store. Freeze them and when she goes in the crate give her one. You'll want to start on your days off and after work. Put her and bone in. She will cry, bark, etc., anything that's helped her get herself out of that crate in the past. To this point, by allowing her freedom she hasn't earned, you've simply reinforced her bad behavior. In her brain if she cries and makes a big enough fuss you will reward her with the freedom she wants.

So, put her and frozen raw beef bone in the crate and close / lock the door. Go to another room. If she doesn't make a fuss right away, go ahead and open it, praise her, give her any other treats she really likes. The point is to change the way her brain is thinking. Make her see that staying quietly in the crate gets her the reward. At the same time you want the crate to be a good, pleasing place, thus the bone. Make it comfy for her - a bed or blanket if she doesn't chew them up.

If you put her in and she starts the barking and crying immediately, you're going to have to wait until it calms down. You're NOT going to be the favorite neighbor for a while. But over time it will work and she will see that it's not negotiable, but it's also a good place and she will be rewarded for proper behavior.

On a side note, make sure you exercise her A LOT before you even think of putting her in that crate. You want to wear her out - mind AND body - before putting her there. Terriers are wickedly smart breeds of dog. You can't just take her out and throw a tennis ball or go for a jog. You need to be doing basic obedience a couple times a day with her. Start five or ten minutes a day and slowly work up to longer sessions. Exhausting the brain of a terrier will tire it faster than a jog around the block.

Once you get that under control you can scale back the day care for her if you want. Go to keeping her home on Wednesdays. Then on Wednesday and Friday. Then add Monday, etc. Perhaps hire a dog walker on the days she's home instead.

Terriers actually can make wonderful apartment pets but it takes dedication on your part. But honestly, you're probably going to go through this with most shelter pets. In the majority of the country, you won't find perfectly housebroken and well behaved pets in shelters. It's usually the ones that were unlucky enough to wind up in the hands of horrible former owners that neglected the training aspect of pet ownership.

ETA: Along the lines of making the crate a good place, start putting the food dish IN the crate. At first, if she's afraid of it, near it, then near the entrance, then just inside, etc., until you've worked the food dish to the back. This will also help associate the crate with something good.
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Old 12-30-2011, 12:27 AM
Location: West Virginia
11,904 posts, read 28,956,168 times
Reputation: 7435
I got a Papillon after wanting one for Yrs! I wanted a Adult so she hopefully be house trained as being handicap I wasnt sure I could handle! You have to be Quick & I am slow LOL Needless to say I ended up with a High Energy Puppy LOL So I know how you Feel!! I even went as far as asking the breeder IF I could return her!! Her answer was NO! I dont take back dogs UGH!! A few weeks ago I had a lady that wanted her.... I didnt like what she was going to do with her so I told her NO! Puppies Can be trying LOL My girl is at least Crate Trained!

Comming from a shelter I am guessing no one has put any time into training her! So heres my Suggestions Start with CRATE Training her! Teach her to Love her crate! HOW!! Put in it her toys Get some you can put food inside & she will have to work at getting to the food! Put her in the Crate when your home.... & the toys in with her. At 1st do this for short times like 30 mins IGNORE her tantrums! Once she settles down with the toys or is calm wait 30 mins let her out TAKE her out to Potty Make a big fuss when you take her out of the crate On how good she is & When she potties outside! Then walk her play with her whatever LOL When you bring her back inside put her Back in the crate with toys & more food! 30 mins after she settled take her out After a few days of this you can expand the time she in the crate. When you get up to about an hour LEAVE her! Leave the Apt walk away from the door.... Then I sneek back so you can hear IF she back to being upset. IF alls quiet wait about 15 mins of her being quiet & return Loudly so she know your comming DONT greeat her other than says hello till she calm! Once calm take her outside to Potty & play then repeat. Leave her in the crate while you go shopping ... I left Katie for 2 -3 hrs after about a week of this. I also had neighbors & I ask them IF she barked while I was gone. Another thing I found with Katie & LadyBug a Radio or TV on low kept them company when I had to leave them alone.


Last edited by Katie1; 12-30-2011 at 12:41 AM..
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Old 12-30-2011, 12:39 AM
5 posts, read 71,203 times
Reputation: 23
Hi, thank you for the response. I appreciate all the suggestions.
Unfortunately, I don't know if Doggy Day Care is a feasible option as I work a late shift. Are there day care services that keep dogs from 6pm-3am? This late shift also makes it difficult for me to exercise the dog when I come home from work. I wouldn't feel safe taking the dog for a long run at 3am as a single woman.

So as it is, if I have to start crating her while I'm at work from ~6pm-3am and she doesn't stop the barking... that will not sit will with the neighbors since they all go to bed around 10-11pm. After I get home from work, I also won't be able to walk her at 3am. I may have to continue to crate while I sleep from 4am-noon. Basically the dog will be in the crate most of her life. I don't see how that's going to work out.

I'm going to be honest with myself and everyone here - I bit off more than I can chew. I know if I REALLY wanted this to work, I can possibly make it work. But will I be happy? This has turned out to be more time and resources than I'd expected, and I want to be selfish and say I'm not ready to do it. I want to be happy and healthy as well, and not stressed out all the time from sleep deprivation, dealing with angry neighbors, spending more money than I can afford on training classes, and cleaning up and replacing trashed belongings.

The dogs I've had in the past were all strays or from the shelter... and I don't recall them ever being so high maintenance. They were all bigger dogs. I've had a Shepherd mix, a Terrier/Retriever mix, and a Retriever mix. I'd take them for a walk once a day after school maybe 5 times a week, cleaned up their poop in the yard everyday, and hung out with them inside the house where they were happy to just sit by my feet while I read or watch TV and get belly rubs. They required attention, but not this much.

I must have underestimated the fact that I had much more free time and energy when I was younger, and that my mom and brother were also there to tend to the dogs. We also lived in a bigger house. I'm now a single woman working full time, living in a one bedroom apartment.

The shelter I adopted Toffee from has a 21 day trial period. I am free to return her any time within 21 days. If I decide that I can't make the commitment to give Toffee all the attention she needs and return her to the shelter, should I even consider getting an older dog that might suit my lifestyle better?

Trust me, I don't feel good about this. I feel like a selfish commitmentphobe because I can't commit to taking care of this one. But is it really possible that I just got the wrong dog? I was hoping for an experience with calmer dogs who would relax by my side instead of sprinting around the room like they're dodging bullets. The older, calmer dogs I've had in the past always made me feel happy and at peace. So far, Toffee has mostly made me feel stress because she can't sit still and is constantly searching for the next item to tear apart.

Last edited by ccheng82x; 12-30-2011 at 12:51 AM..
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Old 12-30-2011, 12:45 AM
Location: West Virginia
11,904 posts, read 28,956,168 times
Reputation: 7435
Return her & Get A CAT! NOT being mean but with your hours Neighbors wont complain they will be calling the Police! Add to that the Not feeling safe to walk her at 3am & I Cant blame you! Well A cat will be better fit into your present life style!
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Old 12-30-2011, 01:29 AM
12,535 posts, read 23,774,789 times
Reputation: 17852
I suggest that OP return Toffee. No matter how high or low maintenance a dog is, for the dog to be alone in an apartment for so many hours on an ordinary day is just not fair, calm or not. And do return her to the shelter where you got her- they won't hate you or anything. Just make clear that you didn't give enough thought to your lifestyle/hours home and that she'd be a fine pet for a different household.
If you give her to another shelter or someone because you feel guilty, they *will* hate you. That's why they have such a return policy, for everyone's benefit. Maybe a dog for you in the future in a different living situation or time situation. thank you for adopting.
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Old 12-30-2011, 01:47 AM
Location: The Cascade Foothills
10,953 posts, read 8,121,696 times
Reputation: 6445
I agree with the poster who suggested getting a cat for companionship. They tolerate being left alone much better than a dog does, especially a puppy. Not that you don't have to give a cat attention, you do (I have sixteen of them, so I know ) but they're much more forgiving if you have to be away ten hours a day.

As much as I hate the idea of Toffee going back to the shelter, I'm inclined to think it may be the kindest thing....unless you want to spend a little time trying to re-home her yourself, maybe to a family with kids.

As much as you are away from home, I'm not so sure getting an older dog would be wise at this time, either - unless you are able to get two mature dogs, maybe a sibling pair who have always been together and who will be company for each other when you're away, but that may not be particularly practical either and may not be something your landlord would even allow.

Your heart was in the right place in wanting to share your life and home with a dog, especially one from a shelter, but the timing may just not be right at this time. Good luck.
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Old 12-30-2011, 03:01 AM
Location: Anchorage
741 posts, read 1,378,175 times
Reputation: 660
Originally Posted by Katie1 View Post
Return her & Get A CAT! NOT being mean but with your hours Neighbors wont complain they will be calling the Police! Add to that the Not feeling safe to walk her at 3am & I Cant blame you! Well A cat will be better fit into your present life style!
I agree! A cat should be much better for your situation
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Old 12-30-2011, 04:12 AM
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
36,354 posts, read 40,177,077 times
Reputation: 46626
I don't think a dog will fit in your life right now. I think you should look for a bonded PAIR of CATS. Believe me there are plenty of them around. They will be older, love each other and be more content staying home alone.

Return Toffee to the shelter and give her a chance with the right family. Ask the shelter to find you a pair of bonded cats and everyone will be happy. Try it---you'll like it.
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Old 12-30-2011, 04:15 AM
Location: GLAMA
16,584 posts, read 31,964,159 times
Reputation: 16749
Alone 9 hours a day is torture for a Terrier, especially a pup.
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