Too Much Dog for Me?

If you are wondering what is the right dog for you, this is the place to be. In this introductory forum we talk about topics such as breed vs. mix, size, age, grooming, breeders, shelters, rescues as well as requirements for exercise, space and care. No question is too silly here. This particular forum is for getting and giving helpful, nice advice. It is definitely not a forum for criticizing someone else's opinion, knowledge or advice. This forum is all about tail wagging and learning.

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Member Since
Barked: Thu Jan 3, '13 12:10am PST 
I adopted a rescue pup last year who's turning out to be much bigger and stronger than the foster mom had predicted. I guess we all guess at these things. Anyhow, despite having gone through training classes and doing lots of training homework, I'm still having behavioral issues like jumping on people and pulling on leash and stalking my cats.

As a last resort I contacted a new trainer who said he'd like to come evaluate me with the dog to make sure the dog isn't "too much dog for me" before I go to the expense of more training. I'm considering boarding for obedience training (expensive). I believe that this trainer really knows what he's doing. He has a very impressive background.

Here's what I'm wondering:

Can an experienced trainer really tell whether you're with the wrong dog in just a few minutes?

Should I take this person's advice and give the dog back to the rescue group (it's a no kill)?

Would getting a playmate make things better or worse?

Though I love this dog, deep down I feel like she'd be happier in a home without cats and possibly with other dogs she can play with. Right now, she has daily walks, a big backyard and play sessions with a neighbor's dog, but she's still a crazy puppy -- 10 months.

I'm not sure how to calm her down, get her to stop jumping on guests and make her ignore the cats. I also think my husband feels like I'm trying to take his dog away. I feel guilty since the dog was my idea to begin with, but I'm the one who can't seem to control her. She's 60 pounds now and growing -- a mixed breed that most people tell me looks like an Irish Wolfhound. Sorry, I'm not giving her name here since I'm wondering whether my dog trainer visits here and want to keep it more anonymous.

Thanks for any thoughts. This is my first dog as an adult. I had outside dogs on a farm as a kid, but this is totally different. I have two cats I love dearly and would never forgive myself if my puppy killed them. I can't figure out whether she just wants to play or if she really is hunting them. She seems more interested in them when they are playing together.

Please be honest. My problems are mainly the concern for cats, but also that walks are unpleasant and I'm afraid she's going to get away from me. It's also embarrassing I can't control her around people. She's just so loving and wants to play with everyone, but by jumping on them. Just to note -- she does know basic commands, but when she's distracted, forget "Come" or "Stay"!

Edited by author Thu Jan 3, '13 12:11am PST

Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
Barked: Thu Jan 3, '13 12:39am PST 
Generally, I'd avoid a trainer who will board-and-train. Not sure if that is one in the same trainer, but that generally is something I'd only recommend for working dog training, in some contexts.

I co-run a rescue and also have many years as a puppy coach. I am sorry that she's bigger than was predicted, but those things can only be best guesses.

Ten months old is too early to judge the "too much dog" thing. A ten month old puppy is too much for anyone in some contexts. Usually around fifteen or sixteen months, some dogs will take a u-turn and you can end up in that "too much" realm. What you are describing right now is a very happy if somewhat exuberant dog.

If you could pmail me your location, I can look into trainer resources for you. There are also books I can recommend. "Before and After You Get Your Puppy" by Ian Dunbar....that is worth it for you to read. Maybe you will see yourself in some mistakes. Maybe it will give you some ideas also.

Remember that trainers don't fix your problems. They are with you and your dog 2% of the time. They are not there amidst the nuances and subtleties. So it's really part about you addressing yourself. That book is a good start, and I'd be happy to help in any way I can.

Maybe you could describe better what "stalking your cats" means? That is the only thing of what you said that is potentially outside normal puppy behavior.

Got food? I- can be bought ya- know....
Barked: Thu Jan 3, '13 10:20am PST 
I'm a little concerned about the trainer you contacted…"too much dog…." ???

You mentioned classes… are you still going? What type of trainer and how is the homework going?
How much exercise? time alone? how much time training on a daily or weekly basis?

Have you considered no-pull tools like a head collar?

Please take the offer to help you find a trainer…. it's not the dog, it's just a lack of knowledge/know how.


feed me
Barked: Thu Jan 3, '13 1:03pm PST 
What breed/mix is she? Ie, huskies, border collies, sighthounds are "too much dog" for my tastes.
It sounds like this guy thinks you have a high maintenance breed, and I think, from the cat stalking, it sounds like some kind of either hunting or herding dog?
Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
Barked: Thu Jan 3, '13 2:32pm PST 
Off her description, sounds like a terrier mix of some kind, given that some think the dog looks like part Irish Wolfhound. That mix is doubtful, but probably indicates terrier of some kind.

Member Since
Barked: Thu Jan 3, '13 3:57pm PST 
Thanks for all the replies.

My dog has strong hunting instincts, goes after squirrels, etc. What I mean by "stalking my cat" is that she's picked out the cat that seems to fear her and she will walk slowly behind him like when she's stalking a squirrel outside. My other cat defends the more fearful cat. It's something to watch indeed. I was encouraged by the rescuers and the vet telling me that once the dog takes a good beating from a cat, it won't go back. This has not been the case, however. I'm not sure... perhaps my cats are only just beating the dog with their paws and not using the claws. I've never seen blood. The more timid cat will also sometimes chose to fight the dog, but in general my dog chooses to pick on the more fearful cat.

About the trainer confusion -- I went to a group class that lasted for 6 weeks with a trainer my vet's office recommended. My dog was extremely distracted by the other dogs, so it was difficult. I haven't gone back for the advanced training because of this distraction. I would love to do agility training, but she's simply too distracted for that right now. She wants to play with the other dogs and jump on people and she won't stop pulling on leash in group situations. I did do obedience boarding for one week while on vacation and this trainer from the class managed to get my dog to stop running into me and knocking me down - which was very painful for both of us! However, she didn't help me much with the leash pulling.

I've talked with another trainer who does obedience boarding or in-home sessions with you, but he says that the boarding is more effective. The dog will live with the trainer in his house for two weeks. Since it is expensive, he wants to make sure I can maintain the behaviors he teaches before I spend the money, hence the "too much dog" comment. Honestly, most people think she's too much dog for me. She hasn't escaped due to strength, but I think she could get away from me if she were determined enough. And it's those sudden jerks on the leash that hurt the most! (i.e., when she's going after squirrels or sees another human or dog when walking)

Tiller, I'm unclear why you think boarding and training is not good. This trainer does have a background with working dogs, but has also focused on family pets for quite some time as well. I'm also unclear if you're saying that I have no hope of her calming down while still a puppy. The problem with waiting on the calming down is that I can't let her roam around my house unsupervised right now. The sooner she calms down, the more time she'll have to explore the house. Right now, she can roam freely outside and sometimes inside (limited), or on a leash inside. Otherwise, she's crated when I'm asleep or not at home or when I need to cook etc. I really want to get her out of the crate more, hence the urgency. Regarding trainers not fixing the problem, this trainer claims he can fix it and show me how to maintain. Do you not think that's possible? I'm not sure what pmail means since I'm new here, but I'll look into it. Or did you mean gmail?

Pepper, I think I answered most of your questions above, except how much exercise. She gets one to two walks daily, about 30 to 40 minutes each. She also gets about one playdate a week, but want to find another playmate so she can do more. She runs about the yard like a greyhound.... so fast! She doesn't spend much time alone at all except when I have to run errands. I work from home, but can't have her outside of the crate all day or I'd never get anything done. She won't let me work. She is only occupied by herself when she has a rawhide to chew on. She gets tired of toys quickly, unless they provide her with treat rewards. She's very food motivated! This is where I'm thinking that she needs another dog to play with. She came from a foster home with several dogs she could play with, and she misses them. She wants me to play with her constantly, and that's just not possible. I don't think it's too much to ask to have her occupy herself some of the time, but she chooses to fight with the cats when I'm not playing with her.

Kallsi, I wish I knew her breed. I've heard lots of opinions. The rescue group described her as a lab/schnauzer mix, but the vet disagreed completely and said he thought she looked like a german wirehaired pointer. Several breeders we've seen at classes and the dog park have said she looks like an Irish Wolfhound, though I'd be surprised that there were many Irish Wolfhounds running around the state where she originated in the shelter, Mississippi. Who knows... maybe an accident at a breeding place? I've seen pics of Irish Wolfhounds online and she looks just like them, though obviously she can't be purebred or she'd be much bigger than she is at 10 months. Some people describe her as a miniature Irish Wolfhound.

My husband, who is much bigger than me and better able to control the dog, thinks I need to be more patient. However, I'm thinking this dog is going to be exuberant for at least two more years. The cats and I can't take that much puppy for so long. I had originally intended to get an older dog, but the dog I wanted was taken by someone else. We made a rush decision with this dog, literally the rescue group let us take her home after just meeting us for five minutes, no kidding! They kept telling us she could always return her if it didn't work out. She's a sweet, beautiful dog, but I'm worried that we went too much on looks and perhaps should have gone with a purebred rescue so we could have known more what to expect in terms of size and temperament. I just want this dog to be happy, and I don't want to be stressed. My vet loves this dog and told me "we did good," but I'm not convinced yet! I want to give her a good home, but I also want to keep my sanity and keep my cats safe.

Any thoughts on group classes versus in home sessions versus obedience boarding? I know I have to work with the dog too, but the approaches I've been trying from the class only work when there's a treat involved. I can't seem to get her past that food motivation to just performing the behaviors because I ask her to. She looks at my hands to see if I have a treat. If I have a treat she'll heel perfectly, if not, screw me. This is part of what upsets me so much when she pulls on the leash. She knows exactly how to heel but doesn't want to do it unless she can be rewarded with food, not just praise.

We don't doodle!
Barked: Thu Jan 3, '13 4:26pm PST 
Sounds fairly normal to me. I've raised labs for over 40 years, my reputation is that I have really laid back labs, yet I would never, ever let one under 14 - 16 months roam around my house unless I am right there watching. If I am busy with something else, they are crated or outside. I think that is pretty normal with most larger breed puppies. I love my dogs, BUT I love my house and my sanity as well, BOL!
As for the treat training, why not use the treats until she does grow up and mature??? Lets face it, they work, and she responds. I don't see a real problem with that.
As for the distraction in a class, IMO, that is the main reason in attending a training class in the first place. Your dog needs to learn to respond to you DURING DISTACTING TIMES, and the best way to teach that is while she IS being distracted. If you only train her under perfect, calm, quiet conditions she WON'T listen when there are distractions present. A good trainer will teach you how to get her to listen WITH the distractions.
I also agree with Tiller re boarding/training. First of all, in way too many cases you have NO CONTROL over training methods, in fact you usually don't even know what methods the trainer may be using on your dog. They can tell you what you want to hear...humane, positive training, etc., but they may be using shock collars and collar jerks, etc. You would never know until it was too late. Also, without you being actively involved in the training, again, IMO, the dog rarely will respond to you in the same way it does with the person who trained it. I have seen way, way too many "trained" dogs who return to their owners either totally broken in spirit OR totally ignoring any response to your commands while they will obey the trainer without a moment's hesitation.
It sounds to me like this dog is bored silly and really could use some serious exercise. A tired dog is a good dog. Perhaps even some time in a good, active daycare would wear her out enough so that you would have a more settle dog in the evenings.
Quincy is five months old. I am old now, and if he didn't spend his day playing in our daycare I couldn't stand him when I get home from work, tired out and wanting to just relax. On the days he's been in daycare he is perfectly content to lie in his dog bed, chewing on his favorite toy. If he hasn't been to daycare, or out playing with me on the weekends, he is into EVERYTHING, including my cats. When he's tired, he leaves them alone completely.
This is getting too long, but hopefully, will give you some help?
Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
Barked: Thu Jan 3, '13 4:28pm PST 
She can calm down smile Only so much at this age, but certainly a lot more from what you are saying regarding her behavior. There is the bouncey happy dappy puppy behavior, which you can manage, and the bratty behavior, which you can stop wink

The problem with board-and-train for pet owners as usually the environment, the owner, the dynamics of the home and the dog himself are what all gel together to make for these responses from your pup. What you are doing wrong, you will still be doing wrong. There are things we do wrong and the trainer says "stop that! and we listen, but there are so many subtleties that we don't think to mention, and the trainer does not have occasion to see. So problems can then crop up again. Just as examples.

Nothing you are saying is a big issue....I know they SOUND like big issues, and in fact ARE big issues, but in terms of what puppies can do and be, these are things that are in the realm of sort of basic.

For you, you need in home training. That would be better. The trainer gets to see the layout, behavior and dynamic. Your puppy is "treat savvy," which is a problem some people have. Others don't see it as a problem laugh out loud Obviously you do, and that's ok because I do, too....too many moments when I won't have a treat wink

These are behaviors that can be easily dealt with. Breathe. You are exasperated enough to where it's clear the pup has your number. If she's got terrier in her, which she might, they are aces at figuring out who they need to mind and who they get to play around with.

Pmail = click on a user's page and beneath the lead picture, you will see an envelope icon. Click on that, and you can message that person without having to exchange personal info. If you'd like to use that to email me your location, I can look into trainers in your area who would be up your alley.

If she is a GWP mix....can you tell me her color....yes, they are a lot but highly trainable.

In terms of the stalking, you need to stop it but don't be too considered. Prey drive can be split into phases....stalk/chase/kill. If she's just doing the stalking, you are on the baby end of that scale. Chase drive can be some cause for concern, and of course pouncing even more so. What I say, particularly in that she may have some terrier or GWP in her, is this is bully drive. She likes intimidating your cat. She needs better structure and to become more of a pleaser. These are things that are easily remedied.

Edited by author Thu Jan 3, '13 4:29pm PST


Waiting for- Treats
Barked: Thu Jan 3, '13 6:47pm PST 
Hmm trying to figure out how to add photos. She's black and white, mostly black. I'll explore the galleries. OK, I added a page for my dog:


I have more photos, but could only see a place to add one. The photo is a few months old. She's bigger now.

Thanks for telling me to breathe. I think I need to hear that. I've had cats for a long time, but still new to dogs I suppose.

On the cats, she has chased and jumped at them as well. I was more worried about the stalking because it seemed sneaky.

Quincy, good point about the group classes!

Edited by author Thu Jan 3, '13 6:54pm PST


The Biggest Wag

Barked: Thu Jan 3, '13 8:45pm PST 
Ok, here goes. My friends may well disagree with me, and I totally respect them, but from my personal POV this is something I needed to say...

I would recommend you go right now and get a Gentle Leader collar for Stella. They're available online or at any big chain pet supply store. I'm only recommending that brand because I have extensive experience with it -- ie. I cannot recommend any other kind of headcollar or device.

I'm posting this as my dog Rain because she wears one. She's incredibly strong for her size and was such the puller on walks. She'd do fine for walking itself, but once she saw something interesting, - a cat running past, a person who might (!) be willing to pet her (!), - forget about it, she just wouldn't quit.

I want to recommend it for you because it will give you immediate relief of your problems with pulling, yanking, lunging, everything during her walks. Walking Stella will become so much more of a pleasure and you will probably find yourself giving her longer and more frequent walks. I think it might do a world of good for your relationship with her.

I know headcollars have their detractors, but the GL works great for me and Rain. And as regards this particular collar being humane, ...I learned about them while working at Best Friends sanctuary in Utah, an organization well known for their high humane standards. (www.bestfriends.org). There, we used GL's on many of the dogs who tended to pull on leash, or otherwise needed additional control on walks.

ETA: I think the cost of a GL is less than $20. So worth it for having peaceful, stress-free walks with the dog!

ETA2: OMD Stella is so cute. She could be Rain's salt and pepper cousin. Rain is also super food motivated. Breed-wise, we believe Rain is Scottish Terrier x Basset Hound.

Edited by author Thu Jan 3, '13 8:54pm PST

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