Author Topic: Struggling - advice and understanding welcome!  (Read 652 times)

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Offline Kiki90

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Struggling - advice and understanding welcome!
« on: January 13, 2021, 11:01:25 PM »
Good evening all,

This is my first post here so please bear with me as it may be a little lengthy, if you can be bothered to read it and respond - I would so appreciate it.

My Husband and I have been looking to get a puppy for around 2 years, we have researched what breed would be best etc and finally settled on a golden cocker.

On the 23rd Dec we welcomed a 5 month puppy into our home - Watson. The couple who originally had him also took one of his sisters, they decided they couldn’t cope with him and they wanted to keep the female...

Let’s just say - the last few weeks have been a whirlwind.

I fully expected this to be hard word, but I didn’t realise how hard. There are times I really feel close to tears.

So let me start with the positives - Watson is now toilet trained I think , with no accidents for the last 3 days woohoo. He is great with other dogs, he wants to play and is a bit annoying probably for them but he’s friendly! He doesn’t show any resource guarding behaviour so far and he is very very good with my two children. He just loves cuddles and is quite a content little guy - sleeping and maybe even a little on the lazy side!

However, we have huge separation issues going on.

He has completely attached himself to my  Husband. My husband doesn’t even tend to be the one giving attention etc but for whatever reason
-
Watson cannot be without him.

If my Husband so much as moves an inch, the dog is straight up making sure he’s not
Leaving the room. If he does leave the room - oh boy. The howling. The whining. The barking. The scratching of doors and carpets. He goes CRAZY.

I could still be in the room with him - he still goes wild and will not settle. The neighbors actually complained 2 days ago and I’m so anxious about it now.

My husband is feeling very very overwhelmed.

He wants to go for a run etc but then I’m stuck home freaking out over the dog who is going crazy.

___

On a separate note - training. Firstly, he refused to walk half of the time. He will bark and whine and try and climb up our legs while we are out , refusing to walk. Even with treats he won’t budge.

He has no recall - I am trying my best but he does not come to his name. If I am making his dinner etc he will come when called but any other time he just has no focus.

Lastly. I have two cats and he will not leave them alone. He chases them around the room sort of bouncing side to side whining and then crying , he’s had a few scratches from them but he still won’t leave rmenerb alone.

____

Please, any advice is welcome. There are no training sessions as such open just now and the separation issue is really causing issues within the house.

Sorry if I sound negative , I adore him really I’m just at my wits end and it’s hard when husband is stressed and getting frustrated re the clinginess.

Photos attached!

https://ibb.co/j5jhc9h
https://ibb.co/hX2kQvD

Offline AndyB

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Re: Struggling - advice and understanding welcome!
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2021, 06:41:38 AM »
Watson is absolutely gorgeous.  Cockers are Velcro dogs and just want to be with you all the time.  I have to say I have never experienced this degree of devotion, yes, scratching at the door a little if I left the room without the dog and maybe a little crying.  It is absolutely normal for a cocker to jump up immediately their owner leaves the room.  The dog can be in the deepest sleep on the sofa, (if allowed), and you may get up to go the bathroom, or to the kitchen, the dog will immediately wake up and follow you.   If you have not experienced this degree of devotion before from a dog it can be a little overwhelming.  I wonder if Watson did not perhaps receive the same degree of attention from his previous owners, as they decided to keep the bitch, perhaps he felt pushed out and now he has you (or your husband), and does not want to let him out of his sight.  Who feeds and exercises Watson, is it your husband who mainly takes him for walks.  I can only suggest contacting a dog behaviourist.  You need to nip this behaviour in the bud as soon as possible.  My present dog, Maisie, is a rescue. She was a very anxious girl when I got her.  I have had her for seven months now and she is totally devoted to me and a beautiful girl.  Initially it was a trial at night.  When I put her in her crate she howled and barked and I had very little sleep for 3-4 months.  Some nights I would try to tough it out but on many occasions I was up at 1.30 or 2.00 am because I could not get to sleep.  Maisie is absolutely fine now, sleeps through most nights no problem.  She is an early riser though, and I am always up by 6.00 am, even at weekends.   I am retired and have no need to be up so early.  How is Watson at night, you do not mention that.  Does he sleep in a crate.  If he is sleeping through the night without sight of your husband then I think there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel.  I cannot comment on the cat issue as I have never had a cat with any of my dogs, but it is natural for a puppy to be inquisitive and to want to play with other animals in the house.

I'm sure someone with more experience of separation anxiety will come along to offer further advice.  Good luck.  Try and look at the positives, he is a beautiful dog and in time, with patience, he will make the most wonderful companion for you and all your family. 

Offline LucyJ

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Re: Struggling - advice and understanding welcome!
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2021, 09:40:34 AM »
That sounds really tough for all of you.

I haven't got any advice on the separation anxiety but there are lots of threads on this site that might be useful if you do a search.

Are you still in touch with the previous owners - so can you find out whether he had these behaviours with them too?  It would be helpful to know whether they are ongoing issues or are related to the changes he has been through recently. 

It doesn't sound like you have another dog, so it must have been a big shock for him being separated from his sister.  I know my 1 year old cocker (who is usually pretty confident) gets much more uncertain and timid when she doesn't have our other 2 dogs around.  We are just trying to give her very short periods of time alone and build up gradually.

Remember Watson is probably picking up on you and your husband's anxiety too.  Have you got a good enough relationship with your neighbours to explain the situation to them and ask for their support and patience?  Then you wouldn't need to worry about them any more!

Sorry this isn't very helpful, hopefully someone will help soon with some more useful ideas

Offline Kiki90

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Re: Struggling - advice and understanding welcome!
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2021, 10:08:02 AM »
Firstly, thank you both so much for taking time to reply - I was having a bit of a moment last night that’s for sure and you have been so kind and understanding. I posted a similar question regarding separation on a Facebook group and it wasn’t taken well - people assumed I didn’t want the dog near me and planned on leaving him in the house for days on end when really I just want to shower in peace and also have a dog who is happy and confident.

I do wonder if the change in housing has at least elevated the anxiety level for him. I was given contact details of previous owners and have heard nothing from them... if I am being honest I get the feeling little Watson was not very well cared for there in terms of training. It was as if he had never been toilet trained or outside before and he had no basic commands. Luckily he is coming on very well considering his lack of attention span , haha.

When he first came into the house that day, it was my husband who fed him. I really think from that moment that it was decided ‘that’s my human and I will follow him everywhere!’ Lol. I feed him pretty much 95% of the time and we tend to walk him together, but he still only wants my husband.

Even when we manage to get him out walking - he is very reluctant! If I walk ahead with him on his leash, he will now and whine until my husband is near by.

He is sleeping in our room at the moment in a bed - which is at the far end of the room. He does however, decide to get out of the bed and lie on the floor on my husbands side. We have ordered a crate - is it too late to start training him! I will certainly need to take it slow as he is just such an anxious wee thing when left or without my husband.

I actually find it a bit amusing that he senses any movement from my husband and will dart over to him to follow him around, although I did end up tripping over him last week and ended up sporting  a large bruised and swollen ankle  :lol2:

We don’t have any other dogs - just the 2 cats who really have no interest in him despite Watson’s very persistent attempts at playing!!

I have written to 2 local behaviourists - I have actually struggled to find many here in the Scottish Highlands? If anyone has any contacts or recommendations it would be great to hear. Unfortunately with the tight lockdown due to Covid I will need to do any training or advice etc via video.

Thanks again both - when things are feeling a bit overwhelming I just try think of all the lovely positive behaviours he shows. He is incredibly loving.

Offline bizzylizzy

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Re: Struggling - advice and understanding welcome!
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2021, 10:31:11 AM »
Hi and welcome. What a handsome lad Watson is, as Investigators of Everything, the name is perfect for a cocker!  :luv:
Sorry to hear about the separation anxiety, I can imagine it must be very stressful for all of you. I don‘t really have any concrete advice but second everything that Lucy3 has said, I‘ve heard it said that its not a good idea to have two sibling from the same litter and I suspect that the issues that poor Watson is having probably does stem from that so I‘d imagine the priority is helping build his confidence. I‘m wondering if the attachment to your husband is perhaps precisely BECAUSE he doesn‘t pay Watson too much attention, you describe him as being a little on the lazy side (sounds very much like my boy) so I wonder if he sometimes feels a bit overwhelmed and looks to your hubby as a quiet support? - I might be completely off track, it was just a thought....
There are quite a lot of threads on here about separation anxiety and I think I would try  exercises starting from scratch and leaving him for very short periods while you go into another room, wait for a moment when he‘s quiet and then go back and praise. Perhaps you could try and get Watson to associate  your husband leaving the room as something positive by offering him something to do that he enjoys, - you can start teaching him to use his nose to search for hidden treats or toys. If he’s working mentally rather than just having a wild game, he’ll be concentrating on the job in hand which not only offers distraction but will also help his confidence.
I don‘t think its unusual that they latch on to one person until they‘ve found their feet but as his confidence grows he‘ll settle down. Ensure that he gets enough rest and has a safe place to retreat If you sense he‘s getting worried or wound up.
Finally, the hardest but most important thing is to try and stay as calm and confident as possible, - even though you’re probably feeling a bit helpless at times, (we‘ve ALL  been there I can assure you! ;) ) As far as Watson is concerned, you‘re the one he has to look up to feel safe and secure and if he senses you‘re floundering, he‘ll worry so be kindly firm and above all consistent in all your interactions with him.
I‘m sure someone will be along soon who has had more experience and can give you more concrete tips.
Best of luck! Keep us posted!

Offline LucyJ

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Re: Struggling - advice and understanding welcome!
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2021, 01:35:31 PM »
Bless you, hang on in there and things will get better.  As Bizzylizzy says we have all felt helpless at times!  You obviously want to do the best by him and that is a fantastic starting point.

I was going to ask whether you had a crate for him.  I'd never used one with previous dogs, but we tried it with Pepper and it has been great.  The plan was only to use it while she was small, but she loves it so much we've got 2 now, one upstairs and one downstairs!  I wouldn't shut him in it to begin with though, just leave the door open and give him treats in there so he comes to see it as his safe space rather than something that stops him doing what he needs to.

Other than that, just keep being consistent and patient, but go easy on yourself if you get frustrated - its totally understandable! 

Offline ejp

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Re: Struggling - advice and understanding welcome!
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2021, 10:44:25 PM »
Oh my, he is a bit of a heartbreaker  :luv: Welcome, to you and the exuberant Watson!
Cockers are a breed like no other, adorable, loving and funny little characters, but they can be really hard work, so you are not the first to feel overwhelmed, we have all been there.  Get used to them wanting to be stuck to you at all times, they are quite content to be near you at all times, even in the bathroom  :005:
Structure and routine worked for us, and for our current dog, we got a crate on the advice of her foster mum.  It works so well for us, Daisy has been here about 6 years now and the crate is still in use, it's her den. 
Separation anxiety has not been an issue for us, but if you think about it he has gone from his litter, to his human family, and is now with a new human family.  It's a lot in a short doggy life, he will take time to settle and gain confidence.  Recall, well, I am rubbish at training so will leave that to people who know much better than me! 
Meantime, don't worry so much it will work out, he is still young and a lot of this is just normal, the cats will sort him, I am sure!  As LucyJ said, consistency and patience will help.