Puppy Obedience Classes Gone Wrong???
Hello everyone. We have a mostly German Shepherd mix pup, almost 6 months old. We got him from rescue at 12 weeks old, named him Bradley, and were very impressed because he was super easy to house train (learned that in a week), affectionate, easy to crate train, and just a general goof ball. We had a little trouble with his diet when we first got him, having to change his food 2 or 3 times because of diarrhea problems and being under weight. His weight is now good, but we are having behavioural/training issues and just don't know what to do...I'm sorry this will be a long post but we really do need the help!!
We started puppy obedience classes with Bradley because we want to socialize him more with other dogs, as well as work on his leash training.
The trainer will not allow me to use a Halti Head Harness, saying it is cruel to the dog and causes neck and shoulder issues as he ages. I don't think this is true, especially considering the vet recommended the Halti and walking him with it does give me more control.
During the first obedience class the trainer had us "growl" making an "eh-eh" noise loudly and giving the leash a tug anytime they started pulling. I was doing this but my boy wasn't listening and continued to pull on the leash. The trainer took over and he did the same to her, so she did "eh-eh" very loudly and dragged him back to her using the leash. It seemed very cruel to me. Since she will not allow the Halti in her classes, he was dragged back by his flat collar around his neck. And by dragged, I'm talking dragged about 5 feet on his side on the ground. I was not impressed but did not want to cause a scene so waited until after class to talk to her. She justified what she did and I decided to keep trying the "eh-eh" and doing a small tug when he pulls while walking, nothing like what she did.
Only one problem, he pulls and I go "eh-eh" and give a small tug and he turns around and growls at me. In fact, did bite me after one growl. This is the first time aggression has ever shown to anyone!!! I'm not sure if I should keep trying the way the trainer said, or go back to using the Halti??? She is the only trainer within an hour drive, and Bradley gets very very car sick so I don't want to do the hour drive with him.
We specifically chose him because he was the more laid back of the two left in the litter. Both were described by the foster family as "couch potatoes" but the female was a little more high strung. We chose our boy because even though he was laid back, he still wanted to play.
He was pulling on leash, actually causing injury to us both so we started using a Halti after the vet recommended it. We have watched videos and read books and feel like we are doing everything right, but that it is not working. We have wanted a dog for a long while but waited until recently simply because we were living in an apartment without a yard, and are now in a house with a decent sized yard. We also both have jobs that allow us to financially afford to care for a dog.
He is crate trained as well as house trained, and is really loving and affectionate. But here is the problem...
HE HAS SO MUCH ENERGY!!!!!
When we were looking for a dog, I wanted an adult (1-2 years) medium sized dog not of the herding or terrier group. I know how much energy they have and did not think that was suitable to us. My boyfriend, who has never had a dog before, wanted a shepherd type puppy. I agreed when I met our pup because of his laid back nature. I take him for 2 or 3 45minute walks a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. My boyfriend, although originally promising to walk the dog daily, does not. I am lucky if he takes the dog for an hour walk or run twice a week. Says he does not have the energy after working all day, and while I do understand where he is coming from I still think that he should be walking the dog.
We want the dog to be out with us in the house, and have tried having him attached to us by leash and it simply does not work. He jumps and climbs and pulls and chases the cats so it is almost impossible to have him out of his crate with us. Actually, when my boyfriend is home he will sit at his feet happily playing with a toy or chewing his teething bone. When it is just me home, because I am the one who does all the housecleaning, I dont have the option to have him sit at my feet. I try to bring him with me by leash for my chores, but like I said he jumps and climbs and pulls.
My boyfriend does not believe in doggy daycare or having a dog walker come over.
I have talked to my boyfriend about the problems, because I feel as though he is not doing his share. I also feel like we got duped or something by the rescue agency and foster family. He was so laid back and calm when we were there, yet had a small playful side.
So, when do you say as a person "Enough is Enough". When do you admit defeat, admit the dog is not suitable and try to find it a new home? Obedience training isnt working, and seems to be making things worse. The vet won't neuter him for another 3 weeks because of his age. I dont want to just tie him up outside in the back yard, that seems cruel. But so does leaving him in his crate all day so I can get the housework done.
I just, don't really know what to do anymore. It is hard. I do regret bringing him into the house just because I feel like we are not fulfilling his needs. The foster family was actually a very lazy family. They opened the back door, let the dogs out and that was it. I think they classified him as a couch potato because he was always the first one wanting back in.
He is very smart. He knows, sit, down, wait, is house trained and crate trained. We are currently working on leave it. So I know he can do it.
I would love to take him to a dog park, but there is not one near me. In actuality the closest fenced in dog park is a 2 hour drive away. There is a large field that is considered the only off leash park in my area. Since my boy isn't good with recall yet we have not been there more than a few times. When we were there, there was no other dogs so a bit of a bummer that way. I do try and do training with him everyday, even if it is just after our walks. He knows sit (both at home and in public), lay, and wait. If you ask him to wait he will wiggle his bum and take 2-3 steps back, kinda proud of that one!! He knows he has to sit before getting his food and can't start eating until I say ok. And he knows to not enter or exit the house before I do. So he is very much trainable.
My boyfriend really needs to step up the plate on exercising the dog. When I talked to him about it last night he said "I exercise him...I took him for a 2 hour run on Monday". He promised to take him on another run today but that didn't happen. I think part of it is that he is soooo well behaved when my boyfriend is home. He will be out hanging with us, calm, respectful, etc. Its easy to play tug or fetch (haven't quite mastered fetch yet) in those states. When the boyfriend is not home and I have him out of his crate (attached to me by leash), that is when he is jumping and climbing and pulling.
I haven't thrown in the towel, but I would be lying if I said I haven't thought about it...
It was suggested to me that I may need to teach Bradley how to relax because some dogs just don't know how to. It makes sense, especially because he is so go-go-go all the time.
So...to give you an idea of a typical day...
I wake up at 4am and take Bradley on a 30-40 minute walk, come home and feed him, shower get dressed, make my lunch and head to work. So I leave the house around 530. My boyfriend gets up at 730, has a coffee, take the dog into the back yard for a pee (and we always hope a poop), showers and leaves for work at 830. I get home around 215 and Bradley is bouncing in his crate desperate to go out and I am more than happy too. So I take him for another 30-40 minute walk. Then we come home we work on training exercises for another 15-20 minutes. Now, in the past week I have noticed that Bradley has started pooping in his crate during the day and he has never done this before. So now I have to clean the crate before we do our training exercises, which is difficult since I cant let him loose in the house. After training exercises are done (I'm talking things like SIT, LAY, WAIT, etc) I put him in his crate and feed him while I check emails and phone messages. Then I have been having him attached to me by his leash while I do some household cleaning (dishes, laundry, etc) but I get fed up after an half hour or so because he is constantly jumping onto things, grabbing things from me, or, and this is new, trying to mount and hump me. So back into the crate he goes, where he barks non stop until my boyfriend gets home. Then he is a sweet loving dog who is happy to lay by your feet, play tug, etc. And in all honestly I cry a little because he is so well behaved and I feel like a monster for having to keep putting him in his crate, even though it is plenty big enough and has a few toys and a water dish. Around 8 or 830 I take him on his final 30-40 minute walk of the day, he comes home and we do some more training exercises, play with toys a bit and off to bed.
Other days my boyfriend and I both wake up at 730, I take him out for a quick pee and poop, feed him and make my boyfriend lunch before he goes to work, then I eat breakfast. After that and checking emails we go for an hour to hour and a half walk, trying to take a new route and I let him explore and sniff, he gets to interact with others and is generally pooped out when we get home, so he chooses to go into his crate and sleep. As soon as he realizes I'm not sitting there watching him sleep he freaks out. Eve though he has peed and pooped on our walk, I take him out into the yard, let him do his thing and try to have him attached to me during housework but again it doesn't work because he jumps and grabs everything. So again I listen to non stop barking while he is in his crate. And as soon as I open the crate door to bring him out he starts biting and scratching me. Today, for example, I took him outside to pee and poop and put him in the crate while I did some laundry. I went to take him out of the crate to play tug (he loves tug) and as soon as I opened the crate door he jumped at me and started biting my arms and hands. So I get him back in the crate and shut the door, firmly telling him NO and I wait for him to calm down before trying to take him out again. As I am waiting, sitting maybe 5 feet away, he stands on top of his blanket and pisses. I have no idea why. So again I open the crate door, he starts biting me, I get him secured with the leash and start cleaning up the crate mess. He calms, I take him out back and decide we should do our training exercise out there. We come back in and I put him into the crate so I can shower and start getting ready for work. And, even though he has just peed outside, he stands on the fresh blanket and pees again. And I know once I leave for work, my boyfriend will be home in 2 hours and will have him out of the crate all evening and he will be a wonderfully behaved dog.
Now, my boyfriend does understand what I go through when he is at work and I am home, because I videotaped the day once and sent it to him to watch the worse parts. I felt bad after the fact because my boyfriend was absolutely sick to his stomach to see the dog biting me and being so bad. We just don't know what to do so that the dog understands I am dominant and he is not...
Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated!!