Bond with my - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 4 Old 02-21-2011, 03:45 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2010
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Bond with my

Exactly one year ago...I got to foster a beautiful service dog puppy. He was an "English Cream" Golden Retriever, he was almost white in color. His name was Owen. We bonded over time...he followed me wherever I went, and always responded to the commands I gave him the first try. He was always dying with excitement when I opened his crate when I got home from school. It was like we understood eachother...but then one day it all just stopped. I wish I could go back in time and change it...

I had a large project due for English class. I had a giant posterboard that I covered with construction paper and glued all my essays and timelines, etc to. I spent hours decorating it and making it look pretty! Then Owen came in, thinking it was his new toy, and ripped up part of it. I told him "No! Bad dog!" and it took me another hour to repair it. I got up to use the bathroom...and when I came back, Owen had completely destroyed my report. It was 9:00 at night, and I was really really upset. It took me so long to perfect it, and he destroyed it. And...I regret doing this so much, but I hit him. I cried and I smacked him and kicked him once. It wasn't enough to injure him, but he never looked at me the same way again. He lowered his head and walked out of the room.

He became disobedient, and he never followed me anywhere anymore. In fact it got hard to take him on walks. He would pull and drag me around. When we took him into stores (he was a service dog, he was allowed in!) he would sniff at all the merchandise, pick up food items, etc. At home I used to roughhouse with him, but instead of him playful biting he would clamp down on my hand and not let go...He gave me quite a few scars. He also started to jump up on people and sometimes mount them. And this was NOT good service dog behavior.

And honestly, it really really sucked when we came home and he would get so excited to see my brother and then when he looked at me, his tail would stop wagging and droop. I tried to get him to forgive me for doing that to him...I would take him to the beach alone and just talk to him and stroke him. He is now friendly to me and obeys me (sometimes), but its not the same. I miss him. It bothers me when he follows around my brother and my mom. I never thought he was a very intellegent dog but I guess I underestimated him. I wish I could earn Owen's trust back...

kudos if you read the whole thing. Any tips? I miss my boy so much.

xxEmilyxx is offline  
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post #2 of 4 Old 02-21-2011, 03:51 PM
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Watertown, MN
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When you punished him it probably wasn't quick enough to be associated with him doing anything "wrong". So he saw your punishment as you basically flying off the handle like a beta dog. Now you're kissing up to him trying to get him to like you again.... the behavior of a non-alpha. You're showing him that he's the boss because YOU are currying favor with HIM.

How to fix this? Accept that the past is in the past and you cannot change your previous behavior. Then be the boss. Be a fair, confident leader who doesn't fly off the handle or beg for good behavior. Tell him to do something and expect him to do it. If he doesn't reprimand him. No hitting or kicking. But stop kissing his butt metaphorically. Dogs don't respect that and they do NOT understand that type of behavior from a human perspective.
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post #3 of 4 Old 02-21-2011, 08:07 PM
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Arizona
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Punishments do not work :) and like stated above the dog no way associated your physical punishment with destroying school work, rather you turned into a scary person who the dog can no longer trust. I would look into Positive Reinforcement training and counter conditioning, but it will be best to do CC with someone else in the house who he does trust.
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post #4 of 4 Old 02-22-2011, 09:13 AM
Join Date: Dec 2008
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ok this may sound weird but sit with him and talk to him.
if you need to - think of it as meditation of sorts. doesn't matter if your eyes are opened or closed but i often find closed helps me focus better. and then say in your head (or out loud if you prefer) what happened. not in human, detailed terms, but in simple dog terms such as - picture your project in your head, and associate it with the thought "not yours" (saying to him not his). picture him chewing it and how it made you feel. then picture him and how much you love him - picture him following you, wagging his tail at you, etc. and remember how that makes YOU feel and imagine him feeling it too. you may need to do this a few different times, but do it whenever/however you need to feel like he's "listening". i caution you to stay away from the anger emotion - how he made you mad and how you reacted - because that is one that is easy for animals to confuse.

you can also end with giving him a hug, a kiss, and a treat if you like. also know that when you are sitting on the floor he may try to get in your space - that's fine. it just shows he's not sure what you are doing and wants to be close to you. most importantly stay relaxed and focused - it's not an instant magic fix, it's one that takes belief that he can understand you, and that you can help him trust you again.

good luck and let us know how it goes! :)

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