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Dog with multitude of problems

August 15th, 2005, 06:17 PM
We got a golden retriever named Hailey a week and a half ago as a rescue. We have a little info on her past, but not alot. We mostly know she was left to her own devices and allowed to do whatever because the owners didn't think it necessary to train her at all. She is two years old and spayed, and checked out by a vet who deemed her healthy.

She has separation anxiety for one. It's improved slightly, but so many people are telling me so many different things to do, I think I'm more confused than the poor dog. She whines and barks even if we leave the room she's in for two seconds, but she doesn't act like she's going to die like she did at first.. she seems quite distressed, but doesn't claw up our doors or wake the neighbors as much. But if we wait until she calms down to reenter the room, that'll be half past never because she keeps it up. We come back in even when she's still barking and whining, but ignore her and act casual until she lays down and gets quiet. She is tethered in the house, by the way. Not a whole lot she can do, but she gets be a part of the family activites without living in our laps. When we untether her, she goes bonkers and doesn't settle down. Tethering settles her down. A local shelter (Denver Dumb Friends League) advised the tethering.

If we walk out of the house however, she goes bananas. We've had to crate her, and I don't think I'm training her properly with it. When we come home after a few hours, she's lying there with a toy looking at me like, "Where were YOU?" We make no fuss, kick off our shoes, grab a drink, and casually open the door. She has a fit trying to jump on us and greet us like we'd left for a year, but she doesn't petted until she sits on command. Then we give her tons.

She's got some isolated aggression with our cats... she will growl and snap at them if she's got a treat or a bone and they come too close. I yell "NO!" everytime, tell her sternly that she cannot behave that way, and take her bone or treat away. She's doing it less, I think. Otherwise, she's fine with them. Ignores them most often, and they are happy to do the same. She occasionally wants to play chase. They do not. Hissing ensues. She stops and looks at them like aliens, then looks to me for an answer, I shrug and go back to what I'm doing. She lays down and forgets about it. *laughs*

She has fear aggression with other dogs. She tucks her tail between her legs and hides under my legs when another dog approaches. If they get persistent in trying to play, she growls. I yell "NO!" and she stops growling. I don't think she's had proper socialization.

She tried to push her boundaries with me one day and got fussy over having her tail brushed. I yelled "NO!" once more and glared at her, and said "Who do you think you're growling at, Miss Cujo? NO biting!" I glared at her some more, and then I finished brushing her without incident.

She is submissive, but I wonder if it's to a fault. She'll roll over and bare her belly, and it's not in the "I wanna belly rub!" sort of way. She also does like a cat sometimes when we're playing and lays on her back, all fours up and tries to kick at me when we're playing tug-o-war with one of her toys. Never had a dog do that before. I have no idea what it means.

She isn't 100% housetrained, or I don't know how to read the signals. She is sometimes overt, and sometimes very subtle. Until I see her circling and squatting. I admit, I need to schedule her feedings and waterings more properly. I am much better with food than water. Hence the pee spots on the carpet.

She does love people. Really, REALLY loves people. So much that she leaps on them with full force, at 60lbs, and when we take her to the dog park, she ignores the dogs and runs up to people. I'm almost embarrassed to take her. Well, actually, I AM embarrassed to take her and cringe when I see people coming into the park because she makes a beeline for them. All the while avoiding their dogs as much as possible. Her tail is wagging, and she's licking away at the poor person she's cornered.

She has no idea what "fetch" means, or what a ball or frisbee is. She walks along the perimeter of the water, but is scared to go in.

All in all, I'd say this girl has the confidence level of a puddle of water.

She's a food stealer. I caught her and she got a stern talking to, and she's been a little more wary of the tables and counters but sneaks what she can, when she can.

She licks us to death. When we sit down, she's right there, practically in our laps. Keeping her paws off us is impossible.

She runs in front of us, almost knocking us over and darts through doors.

That's about all my addled brain can remember at the moment. That's plenty though!

For the seperation anxiety, we've tried exercising her before we leave, giving her some turkey (because of the trytophan, a chemical that induces a state of relaxation or sleepiness), using a dog pheremone plug-in, Rescue Remedy... etc. I don't think it works on her, but maybe we just haven't given it enough time. You'd think all that stuff would lull an elephant to sleep.

Other than all this, she's a very sweet and smart dog. I hope she has the pontential that I think she does. If only I can weather all the frustration between me being such an amateur, and her growing up in an unhealthy way.

Any advice or thoughts are welcome.


August 15th, 2005, 07:26 PM
If you look at the picture you will notice three goldens. The dogs on the ends are rescues. The one in the middle is Belle. She passed away in October at 13 years old.
On September 10, 2001 I adopted Chloe (the one on the left). She was estimated by my vet to be 10 months old. She had been found wandering in a park and kept by someone for a week. I then adopted her. When I brought her home she was very skinny, had a crooked tail and a broken tooth. She had obviously endured neglect and probably abuse. She had tons of energy and followed me everywhere. She had absolutely no training and no manners. She jumped on people, furniture, counters, doors, you name it. Little did I know what I was going to go through for the next year or so.
At first it wasn't too bad. About two weeks after adopting her I had her spayed. She spent the night at the vets and came back more fearful than before.
She began to destroy anything she could get a hold of in the house while I was at work. I tried crate training her. It was disastrous. She would go to the bathroom in the crate and then step in it. She would be covered when we came home. My kids are older and were great. I would take the dog out and bathe her. They would clean the crate. This went on for a few days and we realized it was futile. I tried to introduce her to the crate slowly, offering her a food in the crate etc... There was no way she was going near it. I tried leaving the house for a few seconds, not making a big deal about departures, homecomings, walking aroudn with my car keys. Nothing worked. I decided to confine her to the kitchen. That didn't work well either. On Christmas day we visited my mother. I left her in the kitchen and she pooped on the floor and walked in it all day. There was a trail around the kitchen table where she must have paced all day. The white floor was brown. Again my kids helped me clean up everything. I never thought I would give up but after that day I told my kids that this was her last chance. I didn't mean it of course. Jokingly I told Chloe that if she didn't smarten up she was going to the SPCA. I say that to my dogs whenever they get into trouble. I don't know if she undertstood but the next day we went out again for a few hours. I cleaned up everything that was in her reach and took all decorations off tables etc.. and closed all the doors in the house. She had access to the kitchen, dining room and living room. More importantly she was with my older dog. We came home that evening to a clean house. We were thrilled.
A few days later I had to leave her in a kennel for three days. It was a family trip that had been planned for months. I was sick with worry knowing that I had to leave her and worse yet in a kennel. I could not leave her with friends as I did my other dog because of what she might do to their home. When I picked her up she was exhausted and had visibly lost weight. She was also very hoarse and had probably barked for three days straight. When I got her in the car she immediately laid down at my feet and went to sleep.
That was a changing weekend for her. She became calmer and no longer barked when we left the house.
These two things changed her. I read everything I could about separation anxiety, found all kinds of web sites with suggestions. I tried everything including medicating her with Clomicalm. Her anxiety was severe.
She is now almost 5 years old. While it wasn't easy she has turned into a great companion. She still has issues, hates it when we leave but looks to my other dog for security. She also has some aggression problems and last year bit my nephews girlfriend. There is something about teenage girls that she doesn't like. A teenage girl in a dog park approached her one day and she showed aggression. She is very aggressive when someone comes to the house and barks and jumps at the door. Once they enter the house she is so excited to see them. She is also very sweet and will do anything to please. At first she would run when we opened the door but when she realized that I didn't want her to do that she stopped. Her re-call is now 100% and when loose outside stays by our side. She is clean in the house most of the time but will occasionally poop when her routine is messed up. She will also pee on occasion. I believe this is from fear of being left alone. These occasions are becoming less frequent.
We have gone through a lot with her including 6 remote controls, two cordless telephones and my keyboard from my computer, not to mention thousands of newspaper, paper towels and knick knacks, a few cds and dvd's.
She is still very nervous and I honestly don't think she will live a long life because of her anxieties but I know she is happy and that is what is important.
Sorry for the long post. It feels good writing it all down. One day I think I will write a book about our experiences. :D
Good luck with Hailey. You will need patience. Thankfully you can leave her in the crate when you are not at home. This is the best thing for her. I would suggest you go out and buy her a Kong. It is a rubber toy that can be filled with peanut butter or cheez whiz. If you freeze it she will spend hours trying to get the pb out.
Feel free to e-mail me for more information if you wish.

Again sorry for the long post

August 15th, 2005, 08:20 PM
Pleeeease, don't hestiate to call us for help. We are in Boulder and happy to talk you through some of this stuff. If you feel like scheduling a session that would probably help even more, but even talking can do a lot.
Please check out our web site so you can decide if you like what we have to say about things.
We would really love to help her and you get on a better track.

Lucky Rescue
August 15th, 2005, 08:28 PM
It sounds like you're doing the right things. This is a dog who has had no rules or structure, and that's made her anxious and nervous since she never knows what's coming up.

A strict schedule may help her calm down.

she will growl and snap at them if she's got a treat or a bone and they come too close. I yell "NO!" everytime, tell her sternly that she cannot behave that way, and take her bone or treat away.

It's unreasonable to expect a dog to share a bone with the cats. This is a very high value item, and it's instinct for her to warn other animals away. I would not take her bone away for growling at them - that's nature. She may associate the scolding and removal of the bone with the cats and that may make her hate them.

When my dog has a bone, I just make sure the cats can't get near her.

August 15th, 2005, 08:33 PM
opps, forgot our phone number...303-444-7780.

August 15th, 2005, 10:55 PM
Thank you, Coppperbelle for your story. Makes me feel more hopeful, and no offense, but grateful as well that mine is not that bad. She does not go in her crate. Unless I'm dumb and let her have water after she's been out for her morning potty break. :rolleyes:

Lucky Rescue, you have a point there. I was taught, er.. told, that it was best to let them know that they were not to behave that way with the cats. But I do see what you mean. Only problem is, she also did it today with her hair brush. And she doesn't even like the hair brush very much. So, she appears possessive with all the things she believes to be her belongings, not only the bones and food. So I don't know what to make of it.

Tenderfoot, thank you for your offer! I have searched the site somewhat thoroughly before I joined (as I noticed many questions similar to my own around here) and I liked many of your posts, and agreed with many of your views. I ordered the DVDs from your website earlier, but I'd love to call and maybe even set up a training session too. Whatever it takes. Your approach may be exactly what she needs. Heaven knows some of the more "orthodox" ones (treat training, clicker training, etc.) are not going so hot. It's late now, but I will call tomorrow. I hope late morning is okay. I will leave a message and call back number otherwise. Again, thank you.


Lucky Rescue
August 15th, 2005, 11:02 PM
that it was best to let them know that they were not to behave that way with the cats. But I do see what you mean. Only problem is, she also did it today with her hair brush. And she doesn't even like the hair brush very much.

That's different. Food is the basis of survival, and the instinct to survive is the strongest we all have.

Yes, you're right to teach the dog she cannot be aggressive with the cats or chase them for no reason. Her food is quite another matter. My dog loves my cats and tolerates nearly anything from them, except them going near her food. They have learned to never approach her when she's eating, although I can take anything away from her.