Twinkle Twinkle, Little Bitch


This is a long-overdue post about my love/hate relationship with my dog.  Actually, it’s a sometimes-somewhat-tolerate/hate relationship.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might recall that about two years ago, we bought a very expensive, cute, fluffy li’l Malti-Poo pup.  Daisy had developed this inexplicable terror of dogs during her toddlerhood, and we thought that getting a dog might help her get over this phobia.  And it did, in fact, go a long way towards making her feel comfortable around all manner of dogs.  Also, I just really liked (still like) the idea of my kids growing up with a dog.  I think having a dog can be a valuable part of developing attachments, learning responsibility, and so forth.

So we got this little Malti-Poo.  For two years now, we’ve waited for her to turn into a good dog.  To calm down and chill out and behave. We took her to obedience training when she was a puppy, and she learned to follow commands as long as she was on a leash, but once the leash is removed, forget it.  Here is a list of her issues:

  • She’s a chronic barker.  She barks at every sound.  She does not discriminate between friend or foe.  She barks at everyone, us included.  If we’re talking to each other, she barks at us.  If anyone is bickering, she goes nuts.  When I take her outside to go potty, she charges out the door barking, lest anyone be walking or driving past the house.  We’ve done the whole shock collar thing, and it only slightly helps; she’s a little more judicious in her barking when she has the collar on, but take it off and she’s barking at everything.  It makes me crazy.
  • She still chews everything.  She spends a great deal of time baby-gated in the kitchen because of this.  When we let her run around the house, every minute thing has to be picked up or she will get ahold of it and destroy it.
  • She is very territorial.  She gets her food in her crate, and if anyone even looks at her when she has food in her crate, she growls and bares her teeth.  She’s nipped at the kids at various times over various things.  We’ve started letting her sleep in a little doggy bed in our room, thinking she might be happier, and therefore better behaved, if we made more of an effort to treat her as part of the family.  Well, now she’s become territorial about our room.  If the kids come into our room , say in the morning, she growls at them.

Honestly, I think maybe her only redeeming quality is that she’s house-trained.

I’m kind of at my wits’ end.  We’ve tried to make this work for two years now, and although I still like the idea of my kids having a dog to grow up with, I’m having serious, serious doubts about this particular dog being the right dog.  I’m not even sure what we would do with her if we decided to part company, though.  We would be compelled to disclose her issues, and who in their right mind would want a dog like that?

Thoughts and input welcomed.

 

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8 Comments on “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Bitch”

  1. Life After Grad School
    December 1, 2011 at 2:27 am #

    My thought is that your house it too high energy for what sounds like a skittish and insecure dog. In that case, it would be kinder to contact a rescue, disclose that she isn’t a good fit because she seems too nervous, and ask them to look for new homes for her. It might cost you a rehoming fee, but it is the responsible thing to do. Plus, you don’t want her behavior escalating and becoming a danger to the kids.

    The only other advice would be to contact a behaviorist to come to the house and assess why Twinkle acts the way she does. Maybe a behaviorist could offer tips to retrain her. Although that would be a HUGE effort for the entire family (because unless you’re all on board and participating, then it just won’t work).

    I hope it works out for you!

  2. starrlife
    December 1, 2011 at 1:22 pm #

    All I can say is call the Dog Whisperer Cesar Milan- he is a wonder and in California! He probably would put her on a tread mill every day or something 🙂 Food protective dogs have big issues is my understanding and I agree with the above if a behavior expert is tried and isn’t helpful. How is she around other dogs?

  3. Alyson
    December 1, 2011 at 1:42 pm #

    Um just the title alone made me burst out into an obnoxious laugh complete with a snort…
    I guess you have a lot to consider. How will the kids feel if you did find her another home? Are they particularly attached? We had considered getting a dog like her but was told our house was too busy with young kids. She may not be right for your family. I would look for a reputable rescue organization and talk with them

  4. Meriah
    December 1, 2011 at 2:03 pm #

    God, you crack me up!!!
    No advice for you with your dog except that if someone likes the look if your dog (and she looks pretty cute!) and if they are a dog lover, they will probably be like the “good girl” with the “bad boy” – “all he needs is me; I’ll change him”

  5. Stacey
    December 1, 2011 at 8:51 pm #

    Try a different trainer. Dogs are a pack animal and they will behave in the way that (a) their alpha dog expects and (b) their alpha dog allows. You are the alpha dog, so you need to retrain Twinkle to relearn her place in the hierarchy of your home. That said, my gut feeling is that she’s just very stressed out too much by the kid energy. Barking & chewing are behavioral responses and while a dog *can* learn new acceptable behaviors, it might not work if the stimulations don’t change. Twinkle would probably do better in a quieter, calmer home, maybe you could rehome her with some retired folks. Labs & golden retrievers are both supposed to be good breeds for children. My mom has an Australian shepherd (named Twinkle!) that is great with kids. Her Twinkle keeps the little kids out of the kitchen; she “herds” them away like they’re sheep.

  6. Melissa
    December 5, 2011 at 3:55 pm #

    I agree with the posts above. I volunteered at a shelter for years and you have a few options – 1) find a behaviorist/trainer to help retrain both the dog and the family to make the family situation work for the humans and the dog 2) find a rescue organization that will take Twinkle and work through her issues before finding her a new home or 3) find a reputable NO KILL shelter that will take her and retrain her and place her with a new home – either one with or without kids based on her temperment and issues. The protectiveness of the food and her “room” is definitely concerning with young children around. I think it is in her best interest to be honest with anyone you work with or “rehome” the dog with – they will find out anyway. Best of luck.

  7. Katie
    December 9, 2011 at 4:20 pm #

    Have you read any books on dog behavior? I see you’re an avid reader – it might help a great deal in working with her if you understand dogs better. I would recommend anything by Suzanne Clothier, Patricia MacDonald (http://www.theotherendoftheleash.com/), and/or Jean Donaldson.

    I’m not a Cesar fan at all – perhaps he has success but his methods can do far more harm than good when “regular” people try to apply them in day to day life. The authors above are all highly educated, highly experienced professionals who have many excellent books that are easy to understand, interesting to read and can provide you with information and ability to cope.

    I’m assuming you didn’t do much research on the front side. I don’t know that but generally a large busy family and a small mixed breed dog don’t go together — many of the small breed breeders I know don’t place small dogs in homes with very young children b/c of risk of injury, behavior etc. And while I have no problem with intentional mixes (I own 2 goldendoodles) I don’t know of many reputable malti-poo breeders out there. People doing all the proper health and behavior screenings on their breeding dogs to ensure they are producing the best pups possible. And you don’t mention a breeder return clause which leads me to believe the pup is either back yard bred or puppymill bred (all reputable breeders have contracts requiring their puppies be returned to them if the purchaser can’t keep them) and in both cases there isn’t much attention put on producing well tempered pups from good lines. It is hard to get people to understand how crucial it is to pick a breed and a breeder (or a rescue organization) that is truly ethical and stands behind their dogs. You’d be in much better shape if you had a breeder or rescue support system. So if in the end you do decide to rehome this pup and still want to add a dog to your family there may be more research on the front side to find a canine companion more suited to your home.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. A New Home For Twinkle | Life As I Know It - December 11, 2011

    […] think I knew in my heart when I wrote this recently what was inevitable.  It’s kind of like a bad relationship that you tolerate and […]

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