Am I the right owner to make my dog happy?!

by Margaret
(Philadelphia, PA)

my Daisy..

my Daisy..

Hi there,

My name is Margaret and I have an American Staffordshire Terrier named Daisy. She will be 3 this July. I really hope you can reply to this email because I have a question that I'm having a hard time getting answered.

I was wondering if I am the wrong owner for my dog based on my personality. I feel that even if I get properly trained that she will always be able to tell when I'm masking my emotions (sad, upset, or nervous when walking her on the leash).

She is a wonderful dog who I love with all my heart but she has 2 behavioral issues that scare me and if I ever let go of the leash (I never have but she is really strong) and then ran off and bit another dog I know she would get put down because of her breed.

She is leash aggressive and when I try to redirect her to get her away from the other dogs she has recently snipped at me. She never drew blood. This was about the 6th time this had happened so I got scared and she is actually back in upstate NY now.

Daisy moved with me down to Philadelphia in May. (I've owned her for about 2 years, rescued her when she was 1). And she adapted very well I thought except for the pulling on the leash which then turned into dog aggression. She just recently went back to NY on January 9th.

I tried a dog trainer over the summer and that didn't seem to benefit her or I. I know there are "doggie boot camps" that are quite pricey and I'm willing to do that, but do you think it will help or is Daisy just not the right dog for me??

My sister who has 3 dogs is a Ceasar follower and thinks that our personalities will never match (although she's a great companion and cuddler). She needs an Alpha in her life. I want to make sure she is happy because she does like other dogs.

At home now in NY she is best friends with our old chocolate lab and in Philly she got along well with my sister's 3 dogs. (Sometimes she got rough though).

Her other behavior issue which she drew blood on my mom a few times happens when she gets riled up outside and we can't calm her down. We can control it in the house but when she's free at certain times a switch goes off like and she just wants to play but she nips and hurts my mom.


Ok, I'm so sorry, I am just rambling here!! Please write back whenever you can. I really want to do what is best for Daisy even if that means surrendering her(which will kill me). But, I just want her to be happy. Thanks!

Sincerely,
Margaret

Gale's Reply:

Hi Margaret:

I really don't think your personality is the problem here. You don't say what type of training or trainer you worked with or for how long. But, suffice it to say that not all trainers/training programs are created equal. It's worth giving it another shot with a different trainer and/or training method.

If by "doggie boot camp" you're referring to a situation in which you send Daisy off to be trained at a boarding facility, I don't recommend this. YOU are the one who needs instruction.

You need to find a trainer who will work with you and build up your confidence in YOUR ability to train Daisy--not someone who merely wants to show off how well THEY can train Daisy. Your confidence has been shaken by Daisy's leash aggression. But I believe with the right trainer or behaviorist, you'll be able to turn this around for both you and Daisy (as well as the nipping/rough play behavior you mentioned).

Before you sign up with another trainer though, I highly recommend that you do some research regarding different types of trainers and training methods so that you can choose one that really does suit your personality.

Trying to follow a training method that you're not comfortable with and ultimately won't use is pointless. The Association of Pet Dog Trainers website has links to several articles that can help you in your search for the right trainer for you and Daisy.

In short, I don't believe you need to surrender Daisy. I think you just need a really good trainer and a willingness to stretch yourself a bit.

Good luck. Please let us know how things are going.

Comments for
Am I the right owner to make my dog happy?!

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Jan 29, 2012
Wrong? Au contraire...
by: Traci in Texas

I am so sorry your sister has planted this self-doubt in you.

There aren't any wrong personalities for a dog, unless you are an abusive Fur Mom.

I am litle. My dogs could easily over-power me. But it is not about power.

I am a submissive kinda person in Real Life. But it is not about my dogs needing "Lorded Over", it is about consistency and communication of expectations.

You sound like you have the right idea - obedience class is always a good choice when you're having a behavioural issue with your pup.
After 25 years of having Pibbles in my life, a year ago I adopted one that has been a tough little cookie -- she didn't respond to "the way" I've always interacted with my pooches. So, off to class we went, for an outside critique on why she and I just weren't clicking. I got a few adjustments, and we groove right along now... (And I only paid $100 for some very valuable insights over a series of 8 or so classes.)

Look around your home for some local trainers - I found mine by chatting with a friend who used this fancy styling salon for grooming. Conversation with the salon's staff pointed me to a successful and very-well-thought-of-in-the-doggie-world trainer. I found out where he next offered a training class, and followed him there...

Almost every Pit I've ever met has a HUGE Need embedded in them to please their owners... you just need to figure out what makes your pup Tick and how to get her to understand that you don't want her leash aggressiveness.

And get that notion that you aren't suitable to be a Pibble Momma out of your head. I'll bet you a quarter that it turns out to be a communication failure! :)

Jan 29, 2012
Daisy American Staffordshire Terrier
by: Otto

Hello Margaret, I also have an American Staffordshire Terrier named Bosco, he just turned four. I couldn't be happier! But I have had dogs my whole life, however this is my first bully breed. With the right owner, proper training & become their pack leader they are the sweetest, most gentle, loyal breed. Anyone can be the right owner but you need to believe it, believe in yourself, forget about what has happened in the past because today is a new day & you are the pack leader! I see you said your sister is a Cesar Millan fan, I suggest you become one as well. It sounds to me that the dog doesn't need a trainer as much as she needs you, you to become her pack leader. Now don't get me wrong of course training is very important even more so with these larger stronger breeds. But all the training in the world is not going to make her trust & respect you. Daisy needs to know you are in charge & that's it! To be honest I don't think the problem is with Daisy, it's you, she feels your fears, she is feeding on what you think might or could happen before it even does. So STOP! The great news is you can change, but you need to believe it. She needs to trust you & understand that no matter what you are in control of any situation. When she does something you disagree with, let her know it, follow through until she summits to you. Now that doesn't mean to hit her, please people don't hit your dogs it will only make it worse! Also when they do something wrong don't put them in a cage or anything that would just confuse them even more. She is not a kid time outs don't work. lol Confront her, stand your ground, stand over her, look at her without a word until she becomes relax & summits. Don't get mad or nervous, stay calm & relax at all times. Then just walk away without saying a word. She will test you but never give up, I guarantee with work & following through it will work. Also with others like your mom, try Cesar's rules No Touch, No Talk, No Eye Contact until she summits & is in a relaxed state of mind. Oh & watch Cesar they don't call him the Dog Whisperer for nothing. =) And for all those who read this PLEASE stop judging dogs by their breeds! There is no such thing as a bad dog just bad owners. Instead of blaming the dogs maybe you should look at the other end of the leash! Good luck Margaret remember today is a new day & you are the pack leader!!! =)


Jan 29, 2012
There's more than one way to train a dog
by: Gale

Hi Margaret:

It's Gale. As it seems that Otto and your sister share an admiration for Cesar Milan's methods and it was your sister's comment about needing to be the Alpha that contributed to you questioning whether you could make Daisy happy, I feel the need to step in and say something.

While many people have followed Cesar and used his methods successfully, it is not the only way to train a dog nor is it the only way to build a bond of trust and respect. If you happen to be one of those people who tried 'Cesar's Way' and found it didn't work for you or you didn't feel you could pull it off, it's important to know there are other very excellent options out there.

Victoria Stillwell (who also has a popular cable show called 'It's Me or the Dog'), Jean Donaldson, Ian Dunbar, Karen Pryor, Patricia McConnell and many others offer viable alternatives that may be a better fit for you and Daisy.

My position is that you need to find a trainer with a philosophy that is right for you--not your sister or anyone else. So, I would direct you back to the link I gave in the above article to the Association of Pet Dog Trainers website. Do your research first, then decide!






Jan 29, 2012
Couldn't agree more with every word Gale said.
by: ggmihcele

PLEASE, for the sake of you and your Daisy, forget about extreme or expensive attempts to remedy your issues, and take time out to EDUCATE YOURSELF! I am an experienced RN and 3yr owner of an adopted pit bull, now 6 y.o., 90lbs male with 'issues'..I'm about 115lb. I love him so much, and he deserved (deserves, as its ongoing) for me to invest the time that ultimately saved us both, for he has taught me to see life in a better way. Sometimes (most of the time), being a nurse is extremely stressful and illness and injury are depressing.. Don't feel discouraged, act. Dont listen to other people, especially if they are negative! Seek information instead. But its also very important not to believe everything you read! Trust me, I always read eroneous medical advice on popular websites. Look for the science, avoid the ego. You will know when something speaks to you as right, only try to learn something from every source you encounter, even if its what NOT to do. This was a great place to begin a new journey of successes, and support from a community of sympaticos. Read EVERYTHING you can find. The answers are there! Best wishes.

Jan 31, 2012
thank you
by: Margaret

Hi everyone! I just wanted to say thank you for all of the positive comments! I really appreciate it!!

Mar 12, 2012
margret
by: Anonymous

i think you are the right owner for your dog if she is happy then you are doing tour job i hope people don't say your a bad owner for your dog because your not you are a good dog owner you are really good owner it seem like your dog is happy so good like with your dog


from infinity ellis

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