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Austen 12-05-2018 08:00 PM

I need to start over somehow

Rico has been with me about a month and is going on 14 weeks old. So far, it's been a bit rocky. I'm feeling a little down because I feel like I've somehow disappointed him as his person.

We wake up early, eat and play a bit, and then it's a 12-14 hour day. I take him to work with me and we play at lunch. We eat and play after work. I'm always gentle with him, verbally and physically. My "yelling" is a firm "no" in a serious tone. I try to talk to him through the day, occasionally reach over to tease him with a rope or chew toy, tap my fingers so he'll play with them, that kind of thing (I have an L-shaped desk and he sits on top of it with his carrier and a pad. He can come out to lay down and go back in for a nap as he wishes). I try to have a mini-training session every time we play together and he really likes his treats.

But he doesn't just cower when I try to pet him (not all the time, just most times), he actually moves as far away from me as he can. It doesn't matter which part of his body I try to stroke. I'm trying to learn his body language and cancel my pet when he does it. He rarely approaches me but will cry if I'm too far away from him or move into a different area for just a moment. Sometimes after eating, playing, and the bathroom, he just cries and I have no idea what he wants. He seems withdrawn.

I'm just worried that he's depressed at this point and that I've let him down since I work long hours and we only play three or four times a day. That he neither likes nor is interested in me. How can I improve our relationship? How do I kindle that bond I always hear about between a dog and his human? I'm willing to start over and put in the work, I just don't know how.

krandall 12-05-2018 08:13 PM

I think you really need a local, positive based trainer to come in, look at the situation and help you. It may be that someone with eyes on the situation can make suggestions on how to improve the set-up (sounds like he spends an AWFUL lot of time in a very enclosed area for a young puppy) A good trainer will also be able to help you learn how to improve your relationship.

One thing you can do immediately that will definitely help is, for now, I wouldn't have him EVER eating out of a dish. Every single piece of food would come from my hands, while I talked very gently to him. I would NOT try to pet him while you are feeding him, at least at this point.

Melissa Brill 12-06-2018 12:01 AM

I think my desk is similar to yours - so I'm wondering if you could set up a small expen behind you so that he has a little more space and can move around a bit more? Or could you 'gate off' your desk area (when I was contemplating bringing Perry to work with me that's what I thought about doing) - so he can't get away under your desk? Of course then you have to worry about your chair and rolling over him, so the expen might work better for the moment, but it could give him more space to move around and you could throw a toy for him, etc. That would help with the size of the enclosed space he has. Is there a space in the office that you can let him run arond a little after his potty breaks?

I definitely agree with Karen's suggestion of getting a behaviourist or a trainer to observe the situation and advise you AND about hand-feeding. What happens if you put your hand in/ near his space (not reaching for him) - does he ever approach you or does he stay as far away as possible (what if you have a treat in your hand?)

The way you describe it sounds like how Perry acts around my husband - the things the behaviourist suggested for him though may not be feasible for someone who is the primary care-giver though (it involved a lot of ignoring him and throwing him treats and not touching him).

How is he at home - is he any different than at the office (Wondering if he's overwhelmed in the office but better in the quiet of home?)

I wouldn't feel guilty about your work schedule though - since you can bring him with you, it's not much different than someone who works at home - and in reality, at his age ,even if you were home with him he wouldn't have a lot of time running around the house unsupervised anyway since you need to keep him confined or tethered to you for potty training a lot of the time.

EvaE1izabeth 12-06-2018 12:16 AM

It’s so hard to read a new puppy and get to know all of his signals! I agree to get an outside perspective from a trainer. It sounds like you have realistic expectations and a good plan in place, and you are pretty perceptive. I bet a trainer will be able to help you make the tweaks you need. And if there is something more going on, a trainer will be able to tell you much more quickly and help you formulate a plan than trying to wait it out and guess on your own. I wasn’t planning on working with a trainer but our puppy has separation issues so I sought out help. I would have loved to really work with someone more regularly, but what worked out for us was a couple of sessions to get us on the right track. Even though it was expensive, in the context of all of the new puppy expenses it wasn’t that much more money, and it was really helpful.

katscleancutdogs 12-07-2018 11:39 PM

I would have a vet check him for pain tolerance. If only to rule it out. Iíve had shy withdrawn puppies that didnít trust me. But none of them have cried. And if heís crying when you leave it sounds like maybe he wants you there for comfort but it hurts to be touched.

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Austen 12-20-2018 08:26 PM

Hi all,

Wanted to circle back now that it's been about two weeks. Rico seems to be doing much better. I gave him the run of my office and while I'm battling toileting accidents, he seems more energetic and happy. The flip side is that he's far less chill about being in his crate or in his ex-pen because now he's used to freedom. He no longer cowers when I reach for him and will cry if he can't get to me. He's like a different dog. I really appreciate all your feedback. Thank you.

Marni 12-21-2018 09:31 AM

I saw this late but just wanted to say how sorry I am for your difficulties and how happy I am things have improved. Remember the puppy you have today is not the dog you will have in a year. Rico is such a wonderful asset.

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