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Our Hound Is Becoming Increasingly... Bossy/insecure


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Hi everyone,

 

Long time lurker, hello! My husband and I are having some issues with our hound Ellie that are progressively getting worse. Wondering if any of you have any thoughts before we enlist some professional help.

 

Ellie is 4.5, and we've had her for 1.5 years. Overall, she's great- very outgoing, loves people, has lots of pep in her step on walks but is nice and lazy when she's home. :) For context, we moved from a small condo into a three story house a year ago, and also had a baby 6 months ago. So I know she's had to go through some big changes, aside from the adoption itself.

 

I think I can summarize the problems as Ellie is getting more and more insistent on doing only what she wants to do. And she seems more insecure. Examples include:

 

-No longer getting up for walks with our dog walker(s) and growling/snapping. At first it was just certain walkers, but now she is refusing to get up for a walk for even her favorites walkers. If they get close to her while she's on her bed, she sometimes even growls or snaps. Treats aren't helping anymore (smart girl takes it and runs away or just refuses to get up for the treat since she knows it's a bribe). I've been home to observe the walkers with her, and it seemed to have started with one who just wasn't very good around dogs- he was nice, he just didn't know what he was doing. Same problem even if I'm at home with or without baby, and a walker comes by (I work from home sometimes but don't always have time to walk her in the day).

 

-She's getting harder for me even to walk her. I come home in the early evening before my husband. However, the second my husband comes home, she is jumping and all over him, whining and begging for a walk. When I try to get her to walk, it takes TONS of positive, high-pitched encouragement and treats for me to get her up.

 

-She's freezing up on walks now, which she's never done before. She is more obsessed with sniffing around than she used to be in our old neighborhood, so if I or my husband try to keep moving past the 1000th sniff, she's now just freezing up and seeming like she wants to keep going her way.

 

-She is so picky about her food- often she doesn't eat it all day. We're using KS lamb and rice. She also now takes mouthfuls of it to her crate, the back door entrance or even our son's nursery- usually only the first mouthful, then she'll eat the rest at her bowl. We never approach her when she eats and she's never shown food guarding before. Our son sometimes sits in his car seat in the kitchen with her and I as she eats but otherwise has never even come close to her bowl (or her bed in the living room).

 

Speaking of our kiddo, he's not mobile yet so he's never gone over to her, or her bed or her toys. Ellie shows interest in him by sniffing/licking and likes a lot of his toys, but she never walks on his playmats and leaves his toys alone. We always try and praise her profusely when she walks away or around his stuff. I watch the two of them closely and encourage her paying him some attention (I want her to be curious and not just ignore him) but also try and redirect if she's getting too enthusiastic in her licking. She has been very, very good at sticking to this boundaries around the baby.

 

-She hates getting her Frontline Plus. She will run away the second she detects it's out. I'm wondering if it hurts her when we apply and it's ruining her trust in us.

 

I will say that I suspect my husband's treatment of her may be contributing to this. He LOVES on her like she is the second coming. He doesn't really enforce commands with her (I make her wait/release at every door opening and before eating food, use "off" and turn my back anytime she jumps up, make her do "down" before getting a treat). He full body cuddles her (whereas I don't do this very much- I just think that's too close for comfort!) She clearly prefers him lol and yes maybe I am a little jealous. :)

 

Thank you for reading my wall of text, and any ideas you might have. Clearly we have room for improvements re: reinforcing rules and boundaries but hopefully there is something else we are missing that can help.

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So my answer ismlong too! ;)

 

First, a couple thoughts about food:

 

One, there's no law that says dogs *have* to eat twice a day. If she's only wanting to eat once a day, then you can give that a try and see how she does. You should increase that one feeding though to make up the nutrition from the meal she isn't getting.

 

Second, conventional feeding means you fix her meal, set it down and walk away. Leave the food down and available for a set amount of time - 10 minutes or so - then pick it up. Offer her the same food at the next feeding (or, if you can afford to throw the old food away, offer fresh). A healthy dog is NOT going to starve herself, so when shes hungry enough, she'll eat.

 

It sounds like she has bonded with you husband more than with you. You said he gives her a lot of affection, and in your list of things you give her it's all rules - so just from that, I would say you and your DH need to meet somewhere in the middle: you *both* need to provide boundaries and rules, and you both need to give her affection and attention that's just for fun.

 

If full body cuddles aren't your thing, try a daily brushing session, or just sit with her and pet her gently. Sometimes even being in the same room doing something quiet can help with bonding.

 

As far as midday walking goes, she may not really need one, and so she's getting cranky about getting woken up from her midday nap! Particularly with strangers. Unless shes having accidents in the house, or can't hold it overnight, I would stop them and see if she's more eager for longer walks early and later.

 

It also sounds to me like she's beginning to guard her space/bed. Not uncommon for this to develop as the dog becomes settled in and is relaxed in their new home. But it does mean you will need to monitor her and the baby VERY VERY VERY carefully as he becomes mobile. He should never be allowed to crawl around her on her bed - that's her space. She may get over this or she may not, but you don't want any accidents.

 

On walks there's a time for walking and a time for pottying. Once shes potties and you're going on for exercise, keep her moving and don't allow too many stops for sniffing. OR let her sniff and go wherever she wants. Sniffing and using their noses can be just as tiring as a ling walk. Boring for humans, but good for dogs.

 

Treats can solve a lot of issues. But they have to be really worth it! Something she will respond to every time, whatever that is - roasted chicken or lunch meat or hotdogs or cheese or whatever is the YUMMIST THING IN THE WORLD for her. While you're bribing her, teach her a command to go with the behavior you want so you will eventually be able to phase out the treats.

 

If you continue to have problems, ask your vet or adoption group for a referral to a certified veterinary behaviorist who is experienced using positive reinforcement only training with greyhounds. This person can be right there and observe your interactions - something we cant do over the innerwebs!

Chris - Mom to: Lilly, Felicity (DeLand), and Andi (Braska Pandora)

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Angels: Libby (Everlast), Dorie (Dog Gone Holly), Dude (TNJ VooDoo), Copper (Kid's Copper), Cash (GSI Payncash), Toni (LPH Cry Baby), Whiskey (KT's Phys Ed), Atom

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Hi. The first thing I would say is that everyone in the house has to be on the same page, as far as management of the dog is concerned. That's important for everyone who handles the dog. Some people mistake an excited or overexcited dog for a happy dog. Excitement causes stress, and regular excitement compounds the stress and can easily become overwhelming. If advice here doesn't help, the next step would be professional - vet checks, and a face-to-face interview with a Positive Reinforcement type trainer and/or behaviourist. Cheers. :)

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She wants and needs a leader in order to feel secure. You have the right idea with not letting her get away with jumping on you etc and making her wait for treats until YOU want etc. With many dogs for them to be at their best they need to be living under a NILIF(nothing in life is free) concept most of the time. They also actually have to be trained how to control and behave themselves properly. Sounds to me like she does not respect your husband and as such feels like she needs to assume the leadership role, because a dog has to have a leader, and if they don't see one they'll often take up the position themselves. Checkout www.leerburg.com

They have thousands of free articles and videos on dog issues and they are professionals who will honestly answer your questions for free. You can also purchase Michael Ellis dvd's there and he is one of the best and his videos are very good at helping dog owners get and stay on the right track with their dogs. Rest assured there is absolutely nothing wrong with your sweet girl! She is just behaving like she has recently learned to do and you can change it to the better if you want to. Let me caution you against many pet trainers like you find at big box chains etc. They may mean well but most do not have the skill set of a really good trainer like the real pros. You can easily learn what you need and fix this yourself but it will take a little time albeit it is extremely rewarding to do so. Its just a matter of educating yourself on how to handle the dog properly. Leerburg can point you in the right direction if you ask them. And they also have a forum you can talk with others on training issues as well.

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