Anyone who has met my dog will agree, he is a spaz!!! He’s got some major anxiety issues, and it seems to be getting worse!

We got Duke about a year and a half ago. I was recently separated, and was really freaked out being home alone. I borrowed the neighbors’ dog for a weekend, and felt much safer… I decided I needed to get a dog. The kids had always wanted one anyway! The only hesitation I had, was that my daughter is allergic. I told her I wanted her to get retested, but she said, “Mom, I’m on enough allergy medicine, I’ll be fine!” So, I began my search…

I have always liked black labs, I grew up with Samoyeds, I thought a Beagle might be a good choice… Growing up showing dogs, I had some definite opinions on what I did NOT want (Schnauzer, Dachsund, Poodle, and a few more). I looked online at the local shelters. There were some beautiful labs, a gorgeous Coon Hound, a Boxer, so many choices! I was doing daycare from my home at the time. We took a field trip to the local shelter to meet the Coon Hound. She was beautiful! The kids seemed to like her. She needed a little work on the leash, but I was up for the challenge! That night, I did a little research on Coon Hounds, as that was one breed I knew very little about. I discovered they tend to be runners. Not a good match with a home daycare where kids will be in and out all day… The search continued. As I called around, I realized that I didn’t have the $300 or so get the dog spayed/neutered, shots, etc. I narrowed my search to only dogs that had shots and were fixed. My Mom got involved, and found Duke on Craigslist. I never thought to check there!

Duke was a hound/lab mix who lived in Hayward. They had gotten him to be a hunting dog, but discovered he was afraid of loud noises (especially gun shots). I e-mailed back and forth for about a week with the current owner. He needed a family where he could just be lazy… Perfect for us! We met halfway, and Duke was ours! He had really bad dandruff, and was very skinny. I think he must have had a lot of competition with other dogs for food. He was a bit aggressive when he was eating, but otherwise, was a total sweetheart! We switched him to a better food, and his dandruff quickly went away, and he put on some weight.

Luckily, my awesome neighbors used to foster dogs, so they gave me lots of great advice on socializing him. Duke and their dogs quickly became friends! Sometimes, I got a little nervous because they played so rough, but they assured me it was normal play for dogs. As long as they weren’t nervous, I wasn’t going to be. He also had Rusty, my Mom’s dog, to play with. I thought this was enough socialization for him. He was spoiled, in my opinion, and that was good enough for me!

We noticed Duke’s anxiety early on, he’d chew things up when we were playing outside if he wasn’t out with us. He’d spread the garbage all over the place… He really liked being in his kennel, so I started putting him in there if I was gone, and chaining him up outside if we were out playing. When I was gone for longer periods of time, I put him in the laundry room, so he’d have more space. He’d sit and WHINE – ALL THE TIME! He’d bark – a lot… I live in a townhome, the neighbors don’t exactly appreciate having to listen to him bark whenever I wasn’t home. I got him a bark collar. He quickly learned just how much he could whine and whimper before it would zap. Sometimes, he would even just bark through it… Ugh!! When I went back to work last September, and the neighbor with his friends (dogs) moved, his anxiety increased! I considered trying to find a family who is home all the time for him. He was part of our family though, and I couldn’t do that to the kids. I need to find a way to help him…

In the past couple months, he has not only gotten more anxious, but he has also started showing aggression towards other dogs. He still plays just fine with Rusty, but twice in the past month, he has snapped at other dogs. It makes me nervous! One dog he snapped at was another neighbors’ dog that walks past our deck every day, sometimes several times. Whenever Duke sees him, he freaks out, barking like there’s no tomorrow. It doesn’t seem to bother him that his collar is zapping the crap out of him! The second time, was yesterday. We were walking down the little road by the river, minding our own business. All the sudden, I see this beautiful Samoyed running down the side of the road, with its owner following in a car (really, how lazy do you have to be?). Since I grew up showing Samoyeds, I was excited, and wanted to pet the dog, but was nervous how Duke would respond, especially since he was on the leash, and the other dog was not. I tightened up the leash, and when the other dog ran over to say hi, Duke must have thought it was going to attack. He lunged with teeth baring… Freaked me out!

I started reading some articles… It appears I may have inadvertently trained this response. One article I read said that: “Dog to dog aggression is most often inadvertently trained in by owners. When an owner sees another dog and tightens the leash, the owner’s tension is often relayed to their dog. The dog growls, the owner tightens the leash more and maybe yells at the dog. Over time, the dog becomes conditioned to get tense, as he makes the association between other dogs approaching and his owner’s anxiety. So now the dog wants the other dog to stay away, and one of the ways he tries to accomplish this is by growling and barking.” (http://www.paw-rescue.org/PAW/PETTIPS/DogTip_SocializationAdultDog.php)

The articles I read also talked about the importance of continuing to socialize your dog. If the dog doesn’t see other dogs for a while, then other dogs might make him nervous… I have considered getting another dog, so he doesn’t get so lonely, but I need to wait a while on that one… I also heard that Chippewa has a new dog park. I’d LOVE to take him there, but I’m nervous about how he might react… I think I’m going to start by taking him, but walking him around on-leash outside the fence to see how he responds to the other dogs. I don’t know if getting a muzzle is a good idea, I would feel so bad for him (and I’m afraid that it might make him feel more anxious)! I’d really like to be able to take him to run and play frisbee!! For sure, I am going to get better at taking him for regular walks so he gets better about being on the leash again, and gets used to other people and dogs… I’d appreciate any advice on introducing him to the dog park, and on what to expect…

He looks embarrassed, but really, he likes it!! 😉

Despite him being a spaz, and having anxiety issues, he is still our Dukie. We love him, and only want the best for him. Heck, we even dress him up from time to time!


One thought on “Duke

  1. jsjola1012 says:

    I did take Duke to the dog park today. He LOVED being off leash!! He didn’t take off running like he does when I attempt it around here. He went a little ways ahead, and then stopped to wait for us to catch up… a couple times he ran down into the long grass. He found a wet area that he ran through a few times,while chasing Red-winged Blackbirds (who said he wouldn’t be a good bird dog?).

    There was only one other dog there, which was on the other side, so he didn’t even see it. This was probably a good thing, because they left as we were getting settled in the van, and he went ballistic when he saw the other dog. The socialization will come… I’m just glad he got a chance to get out and explore a bit in a safe environment where he could be off the leash!

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