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Beginning to dislike my own dog

Discussion in 'Dog Chat' started by cbrookman, Nov 29, 2012.


  1. cbrookman

    cbrookman PetForums VIP

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    My flatcoat is 2 in February and has always been hard work in several different ways. He has a very sensitive digestion and I have to be careful what I feed him (special food, very few types of treats etc) plus to make things worse he is a scavenger on walks (only yesterday coming back to me with a mouth full of poo which led to an afternoon's bout of the squits). I have tried the treat exchange method where he is given a treat if he ignores stuff on the floor and comes to me instead but sometimes it is hard to catch him in the act of gobbling down sh*te :( He also suffers from separation anxiety issues and will chew if left uncrated. Every morning he is taken for an off lead run for a minimum of 50 minutes followed by his food and then left in the kitchen with my other dog whilst I am in and out doing things around the house. If I have to go out I will put him in his crate (at night uncrated). Trouble is he never seems settled or able to switch off to rest but constantly wants to follow me everywhere standing looking up at the kitchen door and seeming generally anxious, whining excitedly if I so much as approach the door or pick up keys. He barges through doors and has to be constantly reminded to wait so as not to dislocate my knee-caps. If I put him in the garden he will just stand by the back door or jump up at the windows to get back with me.
    I have been at home with him and my other dog every day since they were pups and they are used to being with me all day every day. In the evening they get another off lead run of around 20 minutes and then they are both ready to relax on a big fluffy rug in front of the TV.
    I feel disappointed that I am still relying on the crate and wonder what I am doing wrong and what I can do to get him to relax more. I often use a Kong Wobbler, peanut butter smeared kongs and other interactive toys for him but sometimes feel he is running my day rather than the other way round.:( Sorry to sound so negative but some days I wish I had just stuck with my first dog :confused: Do you think he is getting enough exercise or will more just raise his adrenaline levels even more??
     
  2. Phoolf

    Phoolf PetForums VIP

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    Have you tried enrolling in obedience classes or agility with him to build his confidence and also chill him out a bit more mentally? Physical exercise is one thing but learning new things and using his brain will wear him out a lot more. A dog with low confidence is likely to be more anxious about being left imo, if you build up his confidence with training and/or agility he will be much more settled. I think you also need to concentrate on finding his 'off' switch, it doesn't sound like you are over exercising him but he needs to learn to settle down and relax.
     
  3. sligy

    sligy PetForums Senior

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    I would try him with a bit more exercise, Hugo was a pain when i got him and the more i increased his walks the easier he bacame.
    If i take Hugo out for a short walk of about 40min in the morning he will look for things to do when he is home like digging up the carpet or chewing stuff,
    If i take him for a 1 and a half hour walk where i am constantly making him run and doing recall exercises and tug of war he comes home and sleeps.
    When he is awake he follows me round the house everywhere, and panics when i hoover or lift anything he is just a very nervous dog, but that eases as well when i walk him, because he seems to be able to relax a little.
    I also find he is better behaved when i am not to busy around the house, he tends not to like lots going on as it unsettles him.
    Food can also help, i forget what its called now but i fed him a really expensive dry food a few months back and he was just a nightmare, he seemed to be very highly strung. I have just started yesterday raw feeding as so many people on here recommend it and it makes alot of sense, but before that i was using BETA working dogs food as it seemed to not hype him up.
    I also go for a long walk in the evening anywhere between 6 and 11 at night, we cant really do a set time in the evening as the house is so hectic, but if i get to go earlier i take him to a park where there are lots of dogs running free, the interaction with other dogs deffo makes a huge difference in his behavior.

    Good luck trying to sort it out, im sure it will work out in the end :)
     
  4. Owned By A Yellow Lab

    Owned By A Yellow Lab PetForums VIP

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    I've never owned a Flatcoat but we walk with one and her owner several times a week. She is a VERY clever, energetic girl and always up to mischief. Is it possible your dog needs more mental stimulation...?

    I think you should look at some training classes and also play lots of games with your boy.

    The female Flattie that I know gets a good 2 hours of off lead exercise on most days and she doesn't seem tired at the end of it.

    Hopefully SLEEPING LION will see this thread - she has a beautiful Flattie and may be able to give you some more specific advice....:)
     
  5. Redice

    Redice PetForums Senior

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    Personally I would increase excercise by quite a bit and also do more things that will engage him mentally. I find my dogs are always more settled when they have had plenty to do and think about during the day and are physically tired too.
     
  6. ClaireandDaisy

    ClaireandDaisy PetForums VIP

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    Flatcoats are noted for being loons I`m afraid. And yours is a youngster. Why not loosen up and laugh at her battiness instead of expecting her to be sensible? I recommend you talk to other flatcoat owners and I`m sure you`ll find yours is pretty normal.
    I have one friend with a flatcoat who has found her dog is brilliant at tracking and another who is doing scentwork with hers. Why not think about this?
     
  7. Sled dog hotel

    Sled dog hotel PetForums VIP

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    Firstly might be worth increasing his exercise, it may make a difference so worth a try certainly to see if it does, maybe increase his morning one, then if it does use up more excess energy he may settle a bit better or it should help.

    If he has a sensitive digestion anyway, the scavenging and poo eating likely wont be helping, as he is also at risk by doing it of picking up parasites like coccidia and giardia and well as intestinal worms if the poops infected with them or even bacterial infections.

    As well as actual physical exercise though, mental exercise can wear them out just as much. If you just let him run and run for physical exercise when out? If so then it may be better to increase mental stimulation too, by calling him back periodically throughout the walk, and when you see him wander too far, and reward him and give him other things to do, like throw a ball a few times, doing some basic training when out on the walk, calling and running in the other direction so that he has to chase you, playing a tug game with him,
    hiding and calling him, and rewarding with games or treats when he finds you, and then after some interaction then send him off to run again after with go play. This should keep his focus more on you, give him some mental as physical stimulation while out, and probably make him less likely to seek out his own amusement with things like poop and scavenging. it will likely help too when you see him go to do something or chomp something to get him to leave it and come back to you for something far more rewarding. Maybe teaching him to recall to a whistle will help too, you start indoors, by walking around and for every blast on the whistle immediately treat, he should follow you around, then try it by standing by the back door when he is sniffing about in the garden, then finally from inside the house. Once he has got the comcept use it outside too, to call him back throughout the walk, you should find too, that if he goes for something when off lead, if may also interrupt him and get him to return to you for something he finds more rewarding instead. Make sure you use high value treats that he cant resist, cheese, chicken, hotdogs, sausages and anything liverbased usually are favourites.
    You may find that instead of just allowing him to run, it will solve several problems.

    The problems too with him not being settled indoors and when alone, may well have started because you have been always there an has constant access to you, so cant cope alone and becomes restless and anxious when your not or he cant follow or be with you., as when your not its too much of a contrast.
    If you close him in a room with a solid door, often they panic as its too isolating, it may be worth trying a dog control gate instead taller and more robust then a baby gate but fitted the same. Also leaving them with an old t-shirt or jumper you have worn on their beds can help as your smell re-assures them. Another good thing for anxious stressed dogs is often an adaptil plug in diffuser going, if you want to read more on those
    Adaptil helps dogs and puppys learn settle travel and in kennels
    I still use them with mine for fireworks and times of stress and have found it does take the ege off and makes a difference so maybe worth a go.
    I would also leave him still with Kongs, and other treat type toys and chews like antler chews as chewing is a destresser for dogs.

    Best way to get them to learn to cope and settle is while you are in, start leaving them for very short periods throughout the day as part of the routine.
    You need to leave them with no fuss, just give something an walk away, no goodbyes etc. At first you need to return before they start to get stressed of vocal, even if its literally for only a few minutes, let them out, but say and do nothing else and continue to totally ignore for another minute or so, then call them to you, get them to sit and reward then with attention and even a couple of treats.

    Usually doing a couple of 10/15 minute training sessions doing the basics a couple of times a ay mixed with a bit of play in the garden breaks up the day too and gives them some mental and physical stimulation. Best time to start making the routine wind down and self amusement sessions too is after some activity.

    With some changes to his daily routines, and on the walks you should hopefully find that you will see a difference and start to get on top of the problems you are having.
     
    #7 Sled dog hotel, Nov 29, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2012
    Howl likes this.
  8. terencesmum

    terencesmum PetForums VIP

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    Flatcoats are energetic, but physical exercise isn't the be all and end all of a happy Flattie. ;)

    Try doing something challenging with him, like obedience or you could even try and teach him some retrieves. Your dog will be much happier with a "job". They are dual purpose dogs after all.
    What does your breeder say? Are their lines more high maintenance?

    I'm no expert on seperation anxiety, but there are threads about this on here. Hope you figure something out.
     
  9. Pet Services Kent

    Pet Services Kent PetForums Senior

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    I would also recommend increasing both physical and mental exercise. To me 1hr and 10 minutes a day is not enough for a 2 year old dog of any variety, let alone a large, high energy breed.

    You could try working on the separation issues by building up time left gradually- from 30 seconds to five minutes to begin with- give him a kong as you leave the room and don't say anything to him when leaving or returning (I'm sure someone can give you better, clearer advice on this, but this is how we worked on Bailey's problems- now he just sleeps when I'm out).

    You could try games like hiding treats under cups all over the house and getting him to hunt for them, hide and seek with you hiding and him finding you, scattering his food in the garden is good too. (Again I'm sure someone else will suggest more)
     
  10. Julesky

    Julesky PetForums VIP

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    Just a note on the scavenging... i'm sure there's plenty of things you can look into but a lovely lady near me walks her gorgeous dalmation with a basket muzzle for this very reason...

    the dog is lovely and social and apart from the odd 'worried look' from other dog owners/general public she says it was the best thing for her and her dog- like yours the dog has sensitive stomach and eating crap has really caused her serious medical ailments- her dog was 8 and had undergone several ops etc.

    All in didn't seem to bother her dog, still played with mine and wandered around quite the thing... just a thought.

    Bruno eats ungulate poo on his walks but his recall is helping with this, that and he seems to have a pretty strong stomach.
     
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  11. Wiz201

    Wiz201 PetForums VIP

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    Try agility classes or fun obedience classes. Dogs can run for ages, so don't rely on physical exercise to tire her out. I've had experience of flatcoats and they need much more mental stimulation than other retriever breeds.
     
  12. terencesmum

    terencesmum PetForums VIP

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    Just being nosey, as I am currently collecting data about Flatcoats: Where did you get your dog from and is he KC registered? Feel free to PM. :)

    If you think I am being cheeky, you can also tell me f***off. :blush:
     
  13. Dork Dog

    Dork Dog PetForums Newbie

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    I have had flatcoats for over 20 years and currently have 5 ranging in age from 8 down to litter siblings of 18 months - none of them are hyperactive and will happily spend most of the day holding down the floor or sofa - even the youngsters! However, when a walk or other activity on the cards then it is all systems go and they will take as much exercise as I care to give them.

    Not all Flatcoats are hyperactive and they don't need more exercise than other breeds but they do need more mental stimulation. They are also prefer human company to being shut in a crate or another room - that said they should settle when required to.

    Poop eating is a serious flaw that most flatcoats seem to be born with! Train a good "leave it" command for when you are out and about, it should help. At home the only real answer is to scoop immediately the dog performs.

    Have you spoken to your breeder? They should be a mine of help and support. Alternatively look on the Flatcoated Retriever Society website for your area rep - they will be more than happy to advise.

    Flatcoated Retriever Society - Area Representatives
     
  14. MollySmith

    MollySmith PetForums VIP

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    I do feel so much sympathy for you - we were exhausted by Molly. She's so bright and it's knackering trying to wear her out!

    We play tuggies with her. I make her wait until I release her with the word 'play'. Then she has to drop and wait again. It makes her use her brain and gives her some productive time with me or my OH.

    I recommend what people here have suggested such as off lead walks for training. I am also working hard on target training so that I can eventually get her to go to bed (says I optimistically). You could use a baby gate to separate her but allow her to see you.

    Is there anything you can put from her diet into a kong and freeze? Or a buster cube? In the summer I always feed Molly's meals (she's on dry food) from a cube.
     
  15. Pointermum

    Pointermum PetForums VIP

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    I've met a couple of Dalmatians that had basket muzzles on due to their savaging (which nearly killed one of them ), you could try that but be careful in woodland areas as it could get caught.

    I would increase the exercise, you don't say what you are feeding him ? I guess this is a tricky area for you :(
     
  16. cbrookman

    cbrookman PetForums VIP

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    Sorry Claireand Daisy but I find it hard to see the funny side of having my kitchen table and conservatory shelves chewed, especially after I have sanded, wood filled and varnished them repeatedly:001_unsure:
    Thanks everyone for great advice and contacts.
    I will try and wear the little b*gger out more. He is a born retriever and I have the tennis elbow in both arms to prove it :eek: I have always thought he would be brilliant at Flyball but there is nowhere near me that does it. Agility is a definite possibility though;) He is from working stock and would have made an excellent gun dog.
    Pointermum: he is fed on Working hprs Fish & Potato with Allergy-X, and this and also Fish4Dogs stops his awful runs and gas.
    Dork Dog: Thanks for the advice and contact. With regard the coprophagy, it is only things like cat/fox poo, not his or other dog's poo (thankfully).
    Got a lot to read and work on now, Thanks everyone:D
     
  17. Sled dog hotel

    Sled dog hotel PetForums VIP

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    One of those ball launchers may be a good isea, im useless at throwing but with one of those they go a long way and helps the stress on the joints too.
     
  18. Pointermum

    Pointermum PetForums VIP

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    I find these Cool Kong with Rope much easier to throw, even over a ball thrower as they still jar my elbow. They go really far thanks to the weight of the Kong :D Just don't throw them miles off into long grass when the dogs not looking :rolleyes: as there expensive to lose :(
     
  19. terencesmum

    terencesmum PetForums VIP

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    One thing I would say: You can throw the ball 100 times and it is highly likely your dog will still not be that tired from him. There is no need to switch on the brain when you are chucking the ball.
    In all honesty, I think you would be better off teaching a retrieve and adding things in to make it harder and harder as you go along. If it is true what you say, and he would have made an excellent gundog, he will appreciate the mental exercise.
    Alternatively, you could just throw the ball 1000 times and make your dog fitter rather than more tired.
    Just saying. ;)
     
  20. Sled dog hotel

    Sled dog hotel PetForums VIP

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    Thats a good point, I often use ball throwing as a training fun exercise, getting them to sit and wait before throwing the ball, then release them with find it, then once picked up encourage them to retrieve and bring it back, then to drop on command and then begin the whole exercise again with the sit wait whilst its thrown, it also means as well as physically chasing it, he also has to concentrate and wait for commands and follow them when told too so they use their brain. Its a good exercise as it also teaches impulse control, and your using the sit/wait/find it/retrieve/ and drop commands on a regular basis too but in a fun way. I usually teach a solid command on all the various bits and then put them altogether.

    ETA its also a good exercise to stop nutters who jump up and try to grab the ball too.
     
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