My husband and I got a dog (Brutus) for our kids a couple of years ago so they could learn responsibility. He is wonderful and quite handsome. However, he is ruining our house.
He runs around all through the house knocking things over and jumping on the furniture. If someone comes to the door, he barks like crazy. If he sees something out the window (or for that matter, sometimes even when he doesn't see something) he goes crazy. He seems incapable of just lying down and being quiet.
When I ask the kids to help, they are always too busy with their friends, TV, video games or homework. My husband won't help, because he thinks it is the kids' job to take care of the dog - because we got the dog for them.
I have told the kids that if they don't start helping, I am going to give Brutus away. They cry and carry on and help out for a day or two, and then it is back to normal. And he doesn't want to go out in the bad weather either. Is there a pill or something I can give him to calm him down before he drives all of us crazy?
Dear Brutus' "Mom,"
You don't say how old your kids are, but Mom and Dad, however old they are, your kids have learned how to take care of a pet by watching you. I'll give you a minute here to think about that. ...
You and your husband (the "adults") have set the standard for "normal." Normal in your house appears to be Brutus out of control and no one doing anything about it except getting mad at Brutus, or the kids, or you or your husband. Seems to me there is a lot of mad feelings going on at your place!
You may think Brutus is driving you crazy when he is running around and doing all of the "bad" stuff he is doing. But in dog reality, Brutus is telling you in the only way he knows how that he has a ton of stored up energy he needs to burn off. You are obviously not getting his message. What you have is a failure to communicate.
But, all is not lost. You do have some options: 1) You can (and should) take him for walks every day, 2) You can (and should) get your kids to take him for walks every day, 3) You can hire someone to take him for a walk every day, 4) You can get help with training ... and then actually follow through on what you have learned or 5) you can let him continue to drive you (and himself) crazy.
Brutus needs to get outdoors and get some exercise. Brutus needs to learn some manners. Brutus needs structure. Brutus needs someone who cares for him enough to do what it takes to truly make him part of your family. Trading him in for a smaller dog is not the answer. Threatening to give him away is not the answer. And doing nothing is also not the answer. As a dog I can tell you that when humans say we don't want to go outside because of the weather, it means they don't want to go outside because of the weather.
If taking Brutus for a walk is difficult because he runs off, he needs to be on a leash. If he pulls on the leash, a haltie or gentle leader will stop that and they are available in a number of places around town.
If you need help with training (and frankly, from my position as a dog about town, all humans could use a little training), there are a number of great trainers in town - Canines Unlimited, Capital Kennel Club of Juneau and Gastineau Humane Society, to name a few. Join Grateful Dogs. They are a wonderful group of people and they have a wealth of information about dogs they would be happy to share. Get Brutus into Doggy Day Care.
Give Brutus a chance. Find a trainer and follow through and be consistent with what you learn. I guarantee that if you give Brutus the love, structure and training he needs, he will give you back more than you can imagine.
Good luck to all of you.
Ask Rex is a column coordinated by the Gastineau Humane Society. Send dog-related questions to "Ask Rex," Gastineau Humane Society, 7705 Glacier Highway, Juneau, AK 99801.