At some point, every overwhelmed dog owner has probably asked this question. Maybe your dog’s behavior is out of control some or there’s some change in your home situation (moving, baby on the way, break up/divorce, etc). Whatever the scenario, you find yourself asking whether you can continue having a dog in your home.
I’ve tried everything!
When we adopted our first dog, a husky mix named Denver, we had no idea what to expect. The first week he was home, he had kennel cough so he was very lethargic. Once he recovered, he was high energy and high anxiety. This translated to howling for hours if we left him alone, chewed up shoes, and restlessly pacing at all times.
This is common behavior for rescued dogs. They are in a new, unfamiliar environment and it takes a little while for them to acclimate and behave like they normally would.
We tried “everything” to help Denver with his anxiety. When we left, we would give him with a Kong filled with peanut butter and banana to keep him distracted. This worked but because of his sensitive stomach, it led to diarrhea.
We put him in a Thundershirt, we bought a harness and then a martingale collar, but nothing seemed to help him calm down. Exasperated, we turned to crate training. We had no idea the proper way to crate train, so we would drag him to the crate and lock the door. As you can guess, this made him hate the crate. One time, he was able to grab a blanket that was next to the crate and shred it.
Next, we tried group obedience classes (like those classes offered by those chain pet stores). It was a disaster before it even began. For one, Denver was absolutely terrified of car rides which made sense given his background. He was abandoned in Tennessee and then transferred to Chicago with a truckload of other terrified dogs. By the time we arrived to class, Denver would be so keyed up it didn’t matter what was going on around us.
After the disastrous obedience classes, we were at our wit’s end. Maybe we weren’t cut out to have a husky mix as our first dog. We asked ourselves, should we return Denver? What would happen to a dog that had been abandoned twice in two years?
We realized that the answer to that question was going to be bad for him. We owed it to Denver to stick it out. We owed it to him to help him learn to live with people.
So, we hired a trainer that was highly recommended.
Would you believe that the trainer helped Denver in one session?
It was incredible.
Basically overnight Denver went from a catastrophe to a beloved member of our family.
I think the moral of this situation is owning a dog isn’t easy. And sometimes it can be really hard.
We owe it to these pups who have been abandoned to do what is necessary to help them.