October 13th, 2005, 05:36 PM
In a month I will be moving in with my boyfriend and his dog, Astro. About the dog: Astro is a 7 year old cocker spaniel with behavioral problems. He still messes in the house (sometimes as often as three times a day!), he snaps and barks frequently. For me, he is a very unpredictable dog. About me: several years ago I was attacked badly by a German Shepherd, it was my grandfather’s dog and the dog knew me well. I turned my back to get him a bone and he pinned me against a counter, biting the small of my neck. Thankfully he was pulled off of me before he could find his way to important parts of my neck. Obviously this was a very traumatic experience for me and I have since developed disdain for dogs and intense fear of large dogs. When I met my boyfriend I tried to forge a bond with Astro. Especially since he is a mere 30 lbs. Things were progressing, I was even taking him on walks alone! However a few months ago, he snapped at me out of the blue (I was petting him together with my boyfriend and Astro caught the tip of my finger, broke the skin and caused bruising under my nail bed). Not a huge injury to someone who hasn’t been attacked once before but very psychologically damaging to me. Later that same night, Astro sought me out and began aggressively barking at me. I was frozen with fear and completely dependant on my boyfriend to control the dog. Because of this night, I am terrified of having to live with this dog every day. Terrified of having to deal with his messing the house and very terrified that he will try and hurt my cat. Could anyone offer any advice to me with trying to cope with this fear, some suggestions to try and get the dog to stop messing in the house (because he is moving to an entirely new location, I’ve been told there is hope to establish myself as an Alpha and teach him that his old habits of going in the house are not acceptable), and any advice on merging my sweet cat, Tela, into the household (Astro has lived with a cat and never tried to hurt him). Just for informational purposes, our new house is two floors so the dog will be gated and not allowed upstairs to create a “safe place” for the cat as well as for myself. Thanks!!
October 13th, 2005, 06:05 PM
I don't know what to tell you. Does your boyfriend acknowledge this serious issue/s with his dog. If you are really willing to put forth the effort then what I would suggest is group classes for you and the dog to begin to develop a relationship with him as well as private classes with a trainer who deals with aggression. This dog needs some serious training with you, your boyfriend, and the dog.
October 13th, 2005, 06:11 PM
Gosh.. the scenario is not a very good one. The dog Astro, knows he's got you because he senses your fear which is something that you can't mask. You can't be alpha if you are afraid of the dog... it doesn't work.. he'll sense it immediately. What does your boyfriend say about this whole situation? Does he understand or does he play down the fear? Have you thought about some type of counselling for yourself to be able to overcome the fear? You're in a very difficult spot right now and I hope you are able to work through it. :fingerscr
October 13th, 2005, 06:34 PM
Something that you can do for yourself is go to all the stores that carry dogs rescue or pups. I would go to these places and spend some time with these dogs, petting, holding, etc. It will help you to begin to bring your guard down.
October 13th, 2005, 06:42 PM
Thank you for your responses. My boyfriend is very aware of my feelings and he is extremely patient with me but he wants to see me work out my fears to help myself. He definitely recognizes the problems Astro has (you can't miss 'em) but Astro was taken in by my boyfriend after being turned away from 4 other homes for overly aggressive tendencies well over 5 years ago. We each love our animals like children. I don't hate the dog, I just don't trust him. I have contemplated seeing someone to work on my anxieties and fears with the dog issue but I'd like to see someone who understands this sort of situation specifically. I will speak with my boyfriend about a trainer...Astro can certainly use one! Also, StaceyB -Great suggestion to try and meet dogs. I recently went to a rescue shelter with a friend and spent a lot of time enjoying the company of a mild mannered cute pug. Small dog = small step but at least it was a step.
October 13th, 2005, 08:02 PM
I can certainly understand your fear of dogs especially if you weren't a dog person to start with. When I was young I was bitten by a Boston terrier. It did not leave with me with a fear as it did you. I was and still am a maniac for dogs and that is why I was bitten in the first place. I approached a dog that belonged to a neighbor and it bit me. Your attack was particularly vicious and it is normal to be afraid.
Dogs smell fear and will react to it. You are not going to be able to get along with you bf dog unless you can overcome your fear of all dogs.
I would suggest both you and your boyfriend take your dog to obedience classes. Make sure you find a good trainer and explain the situation beforehand. It might also be a good idea for you to become responsible for feeding. Make the dog sit and wait before being allowed to eat. You are also going to have to work on potty training. There should be no reason a dog of that age cannot wait to go outside unless of course there is a physical reason and if that is the case he should be examined by a vet.
October 13th, 2005, 08:32 PM
I am sorry to hear of the aggression with your boy friends cocker. I have a cocker spaniel as well that also has aggression issues that we are working on. Our dog was a rehome that apparently had no aggression issues, well guess what he does. As I am not a trainer and I dont want to give you any advice the could be detrimental I am going to direct you to a website for cockers there are several threads that deal with behavior issues. I hope maybe some of them may be useful.