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40oz

I hate being a dog owner

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Allow me to introduce you to Penny Lane. Penny is 11 years old, very healthy, very energetic, very affectionate, very smart, loves my wife and I unconditionally, is easily stimulated, and has crippling separation anxiety. Penny was adopted from a pound by my wife and mother-in-law long before I even met either of them. After we got married Penny became my dog and now she lives in our house with us. Penny had two previous owners, both of which returned her to the pound for being “too hyper.”


In general, Penny is fun to have around. She’s adorable, comforting when in a bad mood, does silly or clumsy things that are funny to watch, and sometimes when my wife and I are disagreeing about something, she will try to intervene and do something radical to take our attention off the subject at hand.


Penny, like most dogs, has a lot of energy that needs to be distributed towards something positive or she will find something negative to unleash it on. When we’re at home, she keeps her cool, but if we leave the house, she jumps around on the furniture, chews the stuffing out of her toys, digs in the trash, and throws barking fits at any noise she hears. I take her for 45 minute walks every morning at 5:30am and that seems to calm her down for the most part and she will nap for most of the day. But other things can still set her off that are out of my control.


Penny is not a dog that can be contained. Penny won’t stay in the back yard by herself. If we leave her alone she will bark and moan at the door until we let her in, and if there’s any indication that we have left the house, she will fervently search for any means of escape, a low wall she can vault over, a loose part of the fence she can squeeze through, any gate locks she can pop open, etc. Usually when I leave the house for work, she understands it’s routine and I just have to stand firm while she looks at me like I told her “I don’t love you anymore. It’s time we see other people” Often when I have to leave the house other times she will put up a fight. If at any point I hold the front door open, she will dart outside in between my legs and into the streets, following scents, shitting on my neighbors lawns, and chasing cats and squirrels. She doesn’t return when you call her name so it’s an hour long chase while she runs full sprint in any opposite direction from me knowing that I’m following her while she does any reckless thing she wants. We tried crate training her and within weeks she chewed the locks and bars to pieces and did some frighteningly life-threatening things to get out, so we had to abandon that.


Penny has an irrational fear of loud noises. Fireworks, thunder, strong winds, heavy things dropping, gunshots (not that this is a regular thing in my neighborhood – I know because my wife used to work nearby a firing range) Even when I’m playing Doom at home with the volume high, she gets a little disturbed. My wife and I work for 10 hours a day, and sometimes these things happen while we’re gone and there’s nothing we can do about it. And we pay for the consequences. Earlier this week, I checked the weather as I do every morning before I leave the house. The weather said light showers and overcast skies throughout the day.

Two hours after work, I started hearing thunder rumbling in the distance. Knowing this makes my dog upset, I spent the whole day distracted from my work about what the house would look like when I get home.


When I arrived I found the couch cushions on the floor, heavy scratches on my doors and door frames, chew marks on my windows sills, carpet shredded to pieces, and mouthfuls of foam chunked out of my second living room couch. (The previous one disposed of after being eviscerated by my dog during a fireworks show) It’s exhausting how much planning I have to do in advance to leave my house during conditions my dog is comfortable with. Sometimes I have to cancel plans with friends or request they hang out at my house instead, sometimes my wife and I can only do things in shifts so that one of us is at home. We can’t do anything spontaneous or go on long trips on weekdays, or leave the house more than a couple times a day. I’ve read and watched videos about separation anxiety and how to treat. What I’ve found are training techniques that take several hours a day, for weeks or months and usually only treat mild cases. More extreme cases often have to be treated with expensive medications, animal psychiatrists and specialized dog trainers.


I’ve been coping with my dogs anxiety for a long time and for the most part have learned to live with it. It’s pretty stifling to my independence in some ways, but I’m still pretty firm with my dog in such a way that I’m the alpha in the house. So I avoid putting the blame on her or my wife for adopting her before she even met me. The problem only arises when Penny is alone and suddenly all rules don’t matter anymore and she panics. But otherwise, she is very healthy, seemingly happy to be around, and has never hurt any living thing as far as I know.


To be clear, I don’t hate dogs. I even like Penny a lot, and I find dogs to be very fun, comforting, and entertaining to be around. But the experience of owning a dog has made me think of how unnatural it is to domesticate wild animals so that you can keep them in your home. Dogs are always kept on leashes, on chains, surrounded by fences and inside houses, and are breeding in these types of environments where they aren’t capable to fend for themselves in the wild. Of course, I can’t let her outside on her own because it’s unsafe and disruptive to the public and potentially dangerous to people and their pets. However, aside from food, love and guidance, running free in the wild seems to be the only other fucking thing Penny wants. It makes me feel more like a prison guard. And all I get out of it is the feeling of stockholm-syndrome-saturated-love, and some laughs.


No disrespect to people who own pets, especially if you or someone in your home is around often enough to keep them entertained and happy and well-fed. But I often see commercials about the overpopulation of dogs and cats that have been abandoned or otherwise abused and are pushing for more people to adopt them. To me, I feel like the domestication of these animals in the first place is the problem. The general public choosing to adopt animals as play things they cannot or choose not to effectively take care of is a cyclical problem that’s never going to go away, whether you adopt 1 or 100 animals. My situation, in fact, makes me pretty biased of course, but I believe the concept of owning and keeping an animal in your house as a part of your family is a very benign and archaic thing to do.


TL;DR – My dog at best is cute and silly, and at worst does tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage to my home. She overreacts to being left alone in the house while my wife and I do other things, sometimes destroying my property. I’m indifferent to repairing the damage, but it makes me reflect on the damage I and possibly others are doing to a dog by working 10 hours a day and wanting to leave the house to do other things while they wait patiently for their owner to come home and give them love and attention.

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I was guessing Husky until I scrolled down far enough to see the pic. Can you put it in the garage or a large cage while you're away? Gotta suck to come home to your house being torn up by the dog. Kinda agree with you on how living with animals seems unnatural but I guess if you have the time and resources for it. My cat recently died and I really really miss her but it sure has freed up some time and I'm not cleaning up vomit from the kitchen floor any more. I'm wanting to get a dog but I just can't bring myself to invest the time and work. Trying to relax these days.

 

Cool-lookin' dog and I love the name. I'll have Beatles stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

 

edit: oh look! I have a reputation now! Does this now mean I have a reputation to uphold? gawd, i don't have time for that.

Edited by bytor

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1 hour ago, 40oz said:

However, aside from food, love and guidance, running free in the wild seems to be the only other fucking thing Penny wants. It makes me feel more like a prison guard. And all I get out of it is the feeling of stockholm-syndrome-saturated-love, and some laughs.

That's one of the many reasons why I love cats and being a owner of (or being owned by) cats. They choose when (or rather if) to come indoors and when to give you love and affection. They are how I like my friends, family and boyfriends - low maintenance! :D

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I love dogs. I have a dog that's amazing. I do not recommend most people get a dog.

 

A majority of behavioral issues can be ironed out while the dog is a puppy via proper socialization and exposure. For example, when I got my puppy I had him meet a million other people, took him tons of different places, played lots of loud/weird noises, and generally did lots of handling with him (getting him to tolerate being held in any position, have him be ok with touching paws, mouth, etc). It's an ongoing process, even, but getting that legwork in while their young is crucial to the dog being generally calm and confident as they grow up. Because of how important I believe this is, I don't recommend adopting older dogs, and I don't even recommend getting a puppy (at the proper age, and from a reputable source, of course) unless you have serious time available to devote to training and whatnot.

 

I'm sure there's a million voices that could come out of the woodwork telling me how great their older/adopted dog is, but I'm inclined to believe that if you get a dog at that age with some built-in "problems", that you may only become aware of down the line, solving them is significantly more laborious than if you started from a puppy that you could install all the right software on while its brain was more plastic.

 

Some brief comments:

 

4 hours ago, 40oz said:

Penny, like most dogs, has a lot of energy that needs to be distributed towards something positive or she will find something negative to unleash it on...

 

...My wife and I work for 10 hours a day

 

100%, yes. This is very breed dependent. But there is an absolute night and day difference between the quality of behavior when a dog is well-exercised and exhausted vs. sitting on a whole day of pent up energy. High-energy dogs require more attention and exercise than an average working family can provide. If you're unable to fit a good hour or so of vigorous activity into your schedule (not just walking, I'm talking running / fetch / etc) every day, then maybe it's worth dropping the dog off at "dog daycare" places, or hiring someone to stop by during the day.

 

 

4 hours ago, 40oz said:

but I’m still pretty firm with my dog in such a way that I’m the alpha in the house.

 

YMMV, but in general this does not work, and the whole "alpha" shtick is completely the wrong way to think about dog training.

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Dogs just seem like a good way to get a whole load of problems out of nowhere.

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My girlfriend is desperate for a dog, however does not want to get one if both of us are still working as she doesn't want to leave a dog at home all day on its own.

 

Which is fair enough, I'm more of a cat person myself anyway.

 

This is Jessica, in her "feed me now! scum fragment" pose...

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4 hours ago, Liberation said:

My girlfriend is desperate for a dog, however does not want to get one if both of us are still working as she doesn't want to leave a dog at home all day on its own.

 

Which is fair enough, I'm more of a cat person myself anyway.

 

This is Jessica, in her "feed me now! scum fragment" pose...

lol. This is Missy Moo in her "I don't care if you're trying to sort your CDs, I'll sit where I want" pose...

 

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Damn I love Doom Cats. keep them coming but I have immense sympathy for the OP. Any animal with an anxiety issue can be a challenge to work through.

 

I have a 5 year old cat who still refuses to be picked up and carried around. She is a great lap-sitting cat though. That's one of her best hobbies. It's just not her nature to be "picked up with 2 hands" and she was not handled properly as a kitten. A chaotic household can result in constant prevalent fear which is not good for a domesticated animal. She was adopted and there isn't a lot to do but love her and appreciate the animal for what it is, while limiting the potential damage whenever possible. Sometimes the animal likes useless garbage like cardboard boxes to hide in or tear apart, something like a pile of scrap newspaper/junk mail can provide 30 minutes of entertainment...

 

edit: also it helps to hide / confiscate their toys once in a while. when you return them or insist on a play date with your pet when you come from work, for about 15 minutes the animal treats the old toy like it is brand new, then it goes back to ignoring it, lol. That's why it helps to clean up the materials and toys after the animal has play-time.

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I adopted young border collie last November. He has many of the same problems you describe related to separation anxiety and a near constant need of attention and affection. He's getting better and I've slowly started leaving him for longer periods of time, but I'll still come home to chewed up belongings and trash (daughter's pads from the trash...) Love the guy to death but his dependence is obnoxious when you sometimes want to be left alone. Here's what I've been doing...

 

  • Love of toys - I've spent hundreds of dollars on chew toys of various types/sizes. Kong toys stuffed with treats, ropes, nylon bones, stuffed bones, rawhides... I am constantly putting new toys into a couple specific buckets in the house. Every time I see him go into a bucket for a toy, I've praised him and told him immediately how good he is. He drags them out and scatters them all over, but I'd much rather have chewed up toys than my tools.
  • Get a Kennel! - I was originally very hesitant to get a kennel for him since I thought it might seem cruel. Every time I leave, I give him a Kong stuffed with treats and tell him to go to his kennel. I make sure he knows kennel is a good thing and praise him, I don't want kennel to be a punishment. He gives me some sad eyes, but he stays in his kennel all day until I get back from work to let him out to potty and play. The kennel was a life saver.
  • Ignore - I try to ignore all his bad behavior like jumping chewing or his constant need for attention. I cross my arms and turn away until he leaves. I ignore him for the first few minutes any time I return home. Coming home is not a reward for him, I walk past him, put my stuff away, walk past him again completely ignoring him. Only after several minutes do I acknowledge him and reward him with praise if he's sitting and calm.
  • Practice Alone Time - This one sucks, but I try to leave for periods of time with him unattended. I would put my shoes on but not leave (I didn't want him to associate shoes with leaving) then I might walk out of the house, completely ignoring him, get the mail for 2 minutes then return, once again ignoring him (returning home is not a reason for a reward.) When I went to pick my daughter up from a dance, I left him alone for ~15 minutes and came home. Last week we went out for dinner for about an hour and the only issue was him taking some things out of the trash. I'm trying to build up to long periods of time without any behaviors.

 

What I am still working on...

 

  • New Trash Cans - I need to replace all my trash cans with new types that have lids. When the trash is sealed, he can't dig.
  • Shock Collar - It sounds cruel, but there are many bad habits of his I simply can't break using positive reinforcement. I need to punish him every time he starts digging or jumps on the couch. If I can immediately catch him and give him a shock, It should prevent his bad behavior.
  • Agility Training - Now that it's warm again in MN, I need to sign him up for some classes and get him more exercise to challenge him.
  • Seal the litter box somehow so he stops eating cat shit like it's a goddamn buffet.

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Miki (border collie -- had to put her to sleep at 15 last year) was like this sometimes. I'd often find she'd gotten into the trash. She had some serious separation anxiety issues due to being abandoned multiple times as a puppy; we got her when she was just six months old. We've got some chewed up furniture and destroyed toys because of her, but she was ultimately well-behaved. The number one most important thing you can do for your dog is WALK HER. Dogs need walks -- they need to be outside. They also need jobs. Miki's job was to sit at the window and watch traffic and pedestrians go by. it kept her busy. If Penny has something to do all day -- for example, sit in a cage as Scuba Steve suggests -- I guarantee you'll see some changes.

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not sure I'd classify 10 hours in a cage as "something to do," but yes, I'd highly recommend crate training as a first line of defense against destructive behavior in your absence. And like scuba said, make it positive. Get a decently sized crate so they can move around, and have crate-specific toys or food puzzles, or kongs, or whatever.

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We tried it shortly after we first moved in. Maybe the large plastic ones are the way to go, but we had a $149.00 metal wireframe one. She would chew at the bars, bend them out of place, pop the locks open, even flip the cage upside down from the inside. I have a video of her breaking out of it, and what she does to escape is pretty terrifying. We had to trash the thing because if she continued squeezing herself through small spaces like that, she could get impaled by the broken parts.

 

She's awfully smart. She likes toys, particularly soft animal shaped ones that squeek, but she doesn't stay entertained by them for very long. She solves kong toys pretty quickly, and she despises being tricked. (ex. Telling her to follow you into a room and then shutting the door behind her when she enters first)

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A good alternative to buying a dog is applying for walking dogs in your closest dog shelter.

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I love dogs, grew up with several, and really wish I had one, but I know I don't have the time and commitment to properly take care of one. Sucks, cause they're great company.

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I got a new puppy recently, have owned dogs my whole life. Her name is poppy and she's a black laberdoodle. I also have a female cat named felix, which is also black (I didn't plan for this, just the way things have lined up). The situation with your dog is a tough or impossible one to change for the most part, because of her age (on the training end of it).

 

As for chewing furniture, I advise getting antichew spray, do you (also make sure you know how to) clip your dogs nails? this will help with claw marks and when they jump (if she does). if you don't know how to do it  then I advise not doing it yourself and taking her to a vet perhaps. I would be carefull with kenals with her anxiety issues, as it's possipble she could her herself trying to get out. If you have to, get her a dog house with a Tie-Out Cable for when you need to leave. Though before warned, make sure she has a good colloer she can't get out of and no choke collar, as she can accedentally kill her self with choke collar and chew or slip out of a non-fitting normal nylon collar. Do not get a chain as she will figure out how to break it, even log chains can be broken by a smart dog (they do barrel rolls until the chain snaps from the tension).

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Dogs and other pets are notorious for unwanted responsibilities just like kids then again it's also the matter of fact that you made your bed and you have to lay on it due to the very decision of having a pet in the first place.

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My 2 dogs would get into a fight with each other since the other one's always jealous when I tend to give my attention to the other dog. I just get my stick, make a noise with it and they would stop and would avoid eye contact with me.

 

Taking care of a dog really requires patience since it's like you're dealing with a baby.  

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