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Old 04-22-2013, 10:59 AM
2 posts, read 4,443 times
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My beloved heart dog passed away last year and everyone told me that the best thing I could do to get over the heartbreak and depression was to immediately get another dog. I have now learned that this was possibly the worst advice I have ever gotten in my entire life. But I thought, hey, everyone is telling me the same thing, so surelythat must be what I should do. So I went out and adopted a rescue and he is not affectionate (unlike my previous dog), won't listen (unlike my previous dog), won't come when called (he doesn't have that eager to please thing like my old dog, it's like he doesn't trust me and wants to do his own thing). When I give him a command (he's in doggie classes btw) he looks at me and ignores me, unless I have a treat in hand. I want to ask whether this will all go away with time and training, or whether I should just take the dog back.I don't remember my old dog being this obstinate with me.I am so depressed this dog will never be like my other dog and I will never have a dog like him again. Maybe I should not even consider ever getting another dog.What a horrible scenario for me, what a horrible scenario for the dog.
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Old 04-22-2013, 11:24 AM
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
36,484 posts, read 43,738,878 times
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How long have you had the dog, how old is he, do you know anything about his past, is he anything similar (breed) like your old dog, how did you choose him, did you look for something different or similar, are you constantly comparing him to previous dog? Did you really grieve for old dog?

All these things determine how the two of you will get alone. If you are constantly comparing him and expecting him to be a clone of deceased dog you both are in for disappointment. Is it possible you stop thinking about your old dog and start to appreciate him for who he is? The poor dog will never measure up if he is constantly being compared to an impossible standard.
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Old 04-22-2013, 11:27 AM
Location: Texas
43,534 posts, read 52,626,787 times
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I think the "get another dog" advice is asinine.

You have to grieve.
You have to let that dog go until you won't always be comparing.
I am almost a year out from losing the best dog ever, and I am not ready yet.
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Old 04-22-2013, 11:31 AM
Location: zone 5
7,330 posts, read 13,226,567 times
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First of all, I'm so sorry for the loss of your dog. I'm also sorry for your rocky start with this one. Different people have different time frames for being ready to bring a new dog into their lives, and also each relationship with a dog is unique. Sometimes the bond comes immediately, sometimes it takes time to grow. How long have you had your dog? What did they tell you about the dog's background? If he's not affectionate, he may have trust issues that will take time. He most likely doesn't have any experience with love from humans. This doesn't mean he won't learn. The training will help him learn to respond to you more, and I think it's best if you finish it out. Try to accept him for what he is. He will never be the same as your old dog but with time you may find that you love him as much for his own unique self. Appreciate baby steps of him seeking attention from you, and know that you're opening up a whole new world to him, of love and companionship, that he's apparently never known before. Good luck to you both!
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Old 04-22-2013, 11:41 AM
Location: On the corner of Grey Street
6,071 posts, read 8,363,374 times
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I'm really sorry for your loss. It sounds like more than anything being wrong with your new dog, you just weren't ready for another dog. Everything he does that isn't like your old dog just reminds you of your loss and causes you to resent the new dog. I don't think you should give up on your new dog yet. I think with time and training you may come to appreciate the ways your new friend is different. Dogs are so astute and I wonder if the dog is picking up on some of your resentment and that's why he doesn't seem to trust you, want to obey you, or be affectionate with you. I think when you really open your heart to him, he will open his to you.
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Old 04-22-2013, 11:41 AM
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He's a spaniel mix, just like my old dog. 1 year old he is supposedly. My dog died in November. Had him 14 years. Have had new dog about 3 months.
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Old 04-22-2013, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by DCdweller View Post
He's a spaniel mix, just like my old dog. 1 year old he is supposedly. My dog died in November. Had him 14 years. Have had new dog about 3 months.

Give it time, DC. Please try. We lost our 14 year old heart dog in late December, so I know your pain, believe me. We also lost our 13-year old girl in late October, which made matters worse. In between the losses we got Karma, 7 month old puppy. She is now a year old, and she is a fabulous girl, but she does have some baggage. She won't come even if I have a treat in my hand. She pulls away from me half the time, and the other half of the time I know she is aching to be with me. You're saying you hate your new dog. I'll bet he knows that.

I would say your new dog is picking up on your feelings and isn't quite into bonding yet. Do you walk him? I have found that a good walk in a peaceful setting can be a good bonding experience. I also suggest you have a look at an excellent book about the canine-human bond, "The Other End of the Leash" by Patricia McConnell. I'd put money on it helping you. Please try not to give up. The two of you just might surprise each other.
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Old 04-22-2013, 01:10 PM
Location: SC
2,967 posts, read 4,184,246 times
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I would find the dog a good new home. Take your time and really research your next dog to make sure it is a good match. You may have to visit with 100 dogs to find the right mix, or pick a purebreed that has all of the traits you desire, and find a good breeder who will provide you with what you need. It is always a gamble adopting an older dog, as far as bonding and bad habits go; a puppy will always be able to be molded into what you want.

There are lots of experienced dog people here who could offer advice as to what breed would be good for you, based on the great traits your last dog had. Just like people, some dogs have horrible temperaments, just like people you do not want to be around.
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Old 04-22-2013, 01:12 PM
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There are other emotional issues at play here, but as a trainer I want to point out that the majority of your complaints are about training issues. You say he won't come when called, ignores commands, and only listens when you have a treat. All of that can be turned around, but if you are currently in classes with a trainer who is not helping you with that, it might be time to seek out a better trainer. I can absolutely help you find the very best trainers in your area if you give me an idea of your general location. (Are you in D.C.? Which section?)

Let me give you a summary of how training should work. In the learning phase, treats (food) will be used to motivate, lure, and reward your dog. You're already seeing that food is a powerful motivator for your dog. This is a fabulous sign. Why would a dog want to learn to obey silly "commands" like Sit, Down, Stay, Come, Heel? The (humane) answer is: because there is a payoff. So use those those treats! After behaviors are mastered, there are specific methods of "weaning" off treats (though they should never be removed completely).

There are two important points I want to make about using treats to train:

1) If you do not master variable reinforcement (see #2), and you are reliant on "bribing" with treats for the rest of the dog's life THIS IS NOT THE END OF THE WORLD. People get entirely obsessed by this fantasy of a dog obeying his master's every command for no other reason than the dog's undying eagerness to please the owner. If you can achieve near perfect obedience through food bribes - hey at least you've got near perfect obedience! It is far better than refusing to use treats and ending up with a dog that is quite untrained. And certainly better than the traditional method of using fear to motivate.

2) If you put some effort into learning, you can master what is known as intermittent or variable reinforcement. Unpredictable rewards keep a dog trying, even when no explicit promise of food is offered (showing the dog a treat). This is the key to creating a "gambler dog". Think of a person at the slot machine. No actual money is waved in front of their face as an incentive to pull the lever again and again. But gamblers know from experience that the slots pay randomly and you never know when that next try will result in a jackpot! Using continuous reinforcement (treat every time for correct response) is without question the best way to teach a new behavior. However, once a dog has mastered a new skill, random reinforcement is the best way to maintain the behavior. This is where strategic schedules of food rewards along with what we call "life rewards" enter the picture. When you find a trainer who understands this stuff and can help you incorporate it into your relationship with your dog, you just might end up with a great pet.

I should add that I have never seen a dog respond well to a person that hates him. Changing your attitude will be necessary in order to change your dog's response to you. You'll have to truly start fresh. If you can't do that, it will never work.
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Old 04-22-2013, 01:20 PM
7,958 posts, read 9,699,120 times
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Originally Posted by TinaMcG View Post
I also suggest you have a look at an excellent book about the canine-human bond, "The Other End of the Leash" by Patricia McConnell.
One of the best books I have ever read. All dog owners should read it.

(Sorry, Tina, I can't rep you anymore right now!)
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