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Does anyone else with dogs with behavioral problems feel like giving up?

I think my guilt stems from feeling like I simply am not giving Heidi what she needs, but also not being willing to give up on her. Sometimes I even feel like I am making things worse when new behavioral issues arise. She has been through so many homes before me (3 that we know of), and with all her issues, I don't know if another person would work to persevere to work with her to become the amazing dog I know she is/can be. I guess I'm just having a little pity party because things have been so tough with her so far, and I know they wont improve for a long time if ever. She just gives me so much anxiety at times (already have a diagnosed anxiety disorder and depression) that I wonder if it's worth it. I don't think, "it's too hard" is a valid excuse to get rid of a pet, but I feel like she may be exasperating my mental health issues which I'm sure stresses her out as well. I don't even know what I would do if I ever were to give up on keeping her. Any kill-place is out, I feel guilty burdening already stretched-thin rescues, don't trust methods like Craigslist, and would feel like there's an empty space where she used to be. Ugh, I guess this is really just a vent for myself, so whatevz.
 

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A dog a supposed to de-stress you and enhance your life, not exacerbate your problems.
 

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I feel exactly the same way you do. I can't live with them; can't live without them; can't bare thinking of them going to other home(s) not knowing how they're doing. And I've got psychological problems that are exacerbated by them which in turn puts them on edge.

You've to take a time-out from time to time. Crate for a while and just breath. It's ok. I don't know your pups problems or what you've done to counter them, but I personally also think that doggie classes are a great way to bond with your pup, socialize him/her and mold a well-behaved dog. It's also a good place for you to unwind and have others help YOU and your pup with the problems. Makes you feel so not alone and you're in a setting where others will (hopefully) understand when your pup acts up.

You also have to realize that the pup you want/think she can be is different than what she is or even what she can become. And you've to come to terms with that. Management isn't easy. I always wonder why we love the dogs that are dangerous, the cats that scratch us or the birds that bite...but they do deserve a decent life. And you're providing that to a dog that others may not have put up with. So don't feel guilty. Your best is probably as good as it's gonna get for the pup...IMO

Hang in there love c: and whenever you need to vent, let us know, or PM me. Your post has mimicked how I often feel and I think I understand a little...
 

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It can be very trying with the rescues with behavioral issues. You are not alone.

Make sure you take care of yourself first, and you'll be much better equipped to handle Heidi. And never stop asking for help when you feel overwhelmed :)


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Sometimes we make it harder than it has to be. Sometimes we can step back and say, ok, what absolutely do we have to do? We have to manage a dog with issues so that the dog is not a liability. Do we have to work on every single issue all the time until it is fixed? Do we have to socialize the dog every single day? Do we have to practice obedience training every day and go to classes every week? Can we take a break?

Personally, I would not train or work with a dog, on its issues while feeling like you are feeling. I would take a break, give the dog a break, maybe for a whole month and just manage the environment so that the dog cannot be a danger to herself or others.

Sometimes a break in training, etc, is what is needed.

Sometimes switching from one style of leadership/training is what is needed when you are feeling the way you are feeling.

And sometimes, the kind thing to do, is to throw in the towel. Sometimes. Sometimes we release a dog from their demons. That is extreme for behavioral reasons. But some behavioral stuff is genetic, and is dangerous, and I don't think a dog that is terrified all the time is a very happy dog.

Sometimes it is good to use a calendar or daily plannar and write a few notes each day about the dog. Heidi had a good day. Heidi flipped out at the mail man. Heidi chased her tail for three hours non stop. At the end of the month you tabulate. Sometimes if you are seeing a lot more bad days than good days, it will tell you something.

Good luck with Hiedi. I have a Heidi too who isn't much of a challenge. But we hope for the best for you and your Heidi.
 

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Sometimes you have to sit back, stop the training, safely enjoy your dog and just breathe. It can and does wear you out mentally dealing with troubled dogs, even more so when there are multiple issues. How you feel does affect your dog, so it is even more important for you to de-stress so you will be calm and clear-headed handling Heidi.
 

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To save you and her some more stress, try to find an affordable dog trainer, or behavioral animal trainer. That might help A LOT. I have a 2 year old male who i bought from a BYB when he was just a puppy. He was fine until 9 months old... that is when he became aggressive, his FIGHT or FLIGHT over powers him. so i found a trainer when he was 10 months old, and he tried to attack the trainer... after that day, we got back on track.. there was PLENTY of times where he snapped at ME, i would correct him, and he would try with all of his might to bite me. i have MANY times, just fell to my knees CRYING, wondering WHAT AM I DOING? WHY AM I DOING THIS? I CANT DO THIS... while i cry, he would be on opposite side of room, or yard... i would constantly ask myself if i am doing the right thing with keeping him and training.. but it paid off, he still has his moments, but its NOTHING like he was at 9-10 months old. At times i just felt like driving to the shelter and giving up, but when i looked at him, i just couldnt. and im glad i didnt <3

Stay strong, try training. Sometimes finding a new home is the right thing to do. <3
 

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You cant go into it with the attitude that its gonna take forever, thats a setup for it to take forever at best.
 

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There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but it takes a little while to get to it. I read some of your other posts - you haven't had Heidi very long at all - I think you might be pushing too hard, on both of you, and maybe expecting too much too soon. What are the issues that are upsetting you? Some of the stories are great, like your jogging and the off-leash experience: those are wonderful!
 

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You didn't list the behavioral problems Heidi has but if you are the 4th household she's been in lack of trust is probably the biggest issue with her. She has to trust you first, bond with you second and after that work on the issues she has left. It is a time consuming process that can be very frustrating and requires a great deal of patience. I do not think you are in the right state of mind to achieve this. Not knowing the issues she has makes it hard to advise you what do with her if you feel you cannot handle her.
 

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Does anyone else with dogs with behavioral problems feel like giving up?
Yes... Often.

My oldest female brings a lot of stress into my life, and she's not an enjoyable type dog. She is very very unstable mentally. I can't play with her out in the sun or she'll freak out.... I can't bring her to the beach, or play on the dock at the lake.... or the typical Sprinkler play time most dogs enjoy here in FL. She's no longer able to be around most other dogs. I can't take her to training to have fun or to show how truly talented and up she is in OB. Can't take her out during the day to play fetch. She doesn't cuddle, she doesn't settle down at all.... so forget having her laying next to you while you watch TV or any companionship. She's in her own world. She starts fights with our other female (who adores her!) and drives our male crazy. She doesn't ever just lay down and relax. She consistently runs around my house barking, hackles up, and crawling close to the ground petrified.... over nothing. She likes to "forget" (real or pretend.. no idea) what I told her 2 seconds before and will do things again and again.... like a tiny puppy would. Clueless is what comes to mind when I think of Zira.

Basically.... I can't enjoy dog ownership with her. She likes doing her own things, and all the fun stuff we could be doing.. we can't because of her "issues". I've had many trainers work with us, I've worked with her millions of times, I've had vets check over her. She's just mentally insane... literally. I feel bad, because she's often left out. Everything we do with her outside has to be during dusk and at night. She was a dog we rescued and were going to rehome... but decided that we couldn't trust anyone else with her health and mental issues. And there are many many days I just want to sit and cry and give up. But, then she still has so many happy moments, where she is just so bubbly and happy and full of life.... I just can't.

I feel it was fate for us to have her. Not many other would have gone through all of this and still have her around.
 

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Only last week was the first time I could actually cuddle my dog, wrap my arms around him and just hold him, and not have him cower or pull away. Last week was the first time he reciprocated the affection. He rolled into me and stuck his icey cold nose under my chin and then under my arm. He'll have been with me for 5 months this Tuesday.

It takes time. So forget about time. Forget about goals. Learn to stop. Learn to breathe. Dont worry about giving up. Dont worry if they will be capable. Just sit there with them. Let them have their say too. They come around, even if it takes you years to get there. Even then, they may never be 100% and it is up to you to be happy with that.

LO
 

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i have a timid puppy, i still see her as a gift and a training challenge, i would never give her up even tho i could get a "great" puppy that would take less effort and end up "better". sounds all hippy but each dog will teach you something and if all our dogs were the same you would never expand as a trainer, i think.
 

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Sometimes it doesn't work out. And it's awful because of course we want it to work out. No good person wants to give up a dog. But sometimes good people have to.

If you simply do NOT have the resources to care for a dog who has issues, I don't believe there is any shame at all in asking a rescue organization to help you. Sometimes they can help in ways that don't require giving up the dog! Other times they can help find a home that is better suited to that dog's needs.

I have anxiety and depression issues as well. I also have fibromyalgia and CFS (yay). I'm really fortunate in that my dogs help me with my disabilities. I like to joke that I REQUIRE three therapy dogs and three therapy cats to function in the world, lol. My love for my pups gets me to move around even when it hurts. If it wasn't for them, some days, I wouldn't get out of bed. They reward me for exercising in a tangible and immediate way rather than that abstract idea that it is good for me, which doesn't motivate me when the pain is significant.

I have owned two dogs in my life who had severe issues. One of them I had to rehome. I must have cried for three weeks straight over that, but I believe I did the right thing for him. The other dog I worked with and we managed to accommodate one another over time. She was always very, very timid -- not my favorite kind of dog at all. But she tried mightily to manage her anxiety and I came to see her as a very brave dog. It took a long time, but eventually she got so she would greet visitors to our home with a grave paw shake. What a huge accomplishment for her! She lived with us for 12 years and had a good life and I miss her.

Don't make yourself sick. Ask for help. Don't give up easily, but if you have to rehome a dog, don't beat yourself up, just do right by the dog and know that sometimes it takes more than one try for any creature to find the right home.
 

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There are some truly kind people in this forum. Warms my heart to read the reassuring advice y'all give.

I hope today is a better day for you, HeidiB. Just chiming again with a reminder that our feelings are always temporary, and most days talking it out and doing a little reframing of the issues can work wonders to lift our spirits :)

And, as is so often the case, I really like Selzer's advice. Keep the journal, and hopefully it will highlight the positive days, and be a reminder that you're probably not in a hopeless situation :)


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