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Henrietta

The Relationship With Your Dog/s

27 posts in this topic

I'd really like some thoughts and experiences from those of you who have had trouble bonding to a dog. How did the relationship grow?

I've had Mr Whippet who is five for about a year now. He was my grandma's boy but when she passed away he came to live with me. At the time I also had my old girl and my seven year old chi x who ended up living with my parents.

Since then my almost 14 year old Stafford passed away. Two weeks before she passed a kitten from the pound stole my heart. Completely unintentional, but she has been the perfect cat for me and for Locke. They get along so well and she has bonded to me in a way that my past family cats never did and I adore her.

Mr Whippet is the easiest dog I've ever owned. Polite, gentle, the easiest, cleanest coat, sweet tempered. Im quite sure he thinks I'm the bees knees, he is very devoted. He is lovely to take out in public after having my reactive girl. He is a bit shy but has improved so much from when he first came home. He loves going on walks and car trips. He is very soft natured so I've had to learn to act a bit differently than with previous dogs. I never have a reason to get frustrated with him, he doesn't annoy me. He is one of those really lovely, easy dogs.

Why can't I bond with him on the same level as previous dogs? I used to love dabbling in training with my dogs (they needed that outlet and I enjoyed it too) and have done training classes and would love at one stage to have a dog that's really into too and without the temperament issues. I did a little bit with Locke but I can't seem to figure out what makes him tick. I think that if I made the effort, we'd work it out and we'd maybe even improve our relationship but I need to be mindful of not putting on too much pressure. He is just so soft and it's something I'm not used to. I'm not exactly the world's best trainer either.

Any practical advice for someone who would like to improve their relationship with their dog?

It doesn't help that I've got the guilts because a cat stole my heart and I've always been a dog person. Locke's been around for longer as well.

I was really lucky with my old girl, she truly was one in a million. My little dog by comparison to Locke was a LOT of work, but I truly adored her warts and all ( even though we did have stages of tears and frustration).

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I am the same with my Kelpie X she is a lovely dog, very soft, craves attention and very obedient but my heart belongs to Jonah my Shar Pei

Edited by Canetoad

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Snook   

Your whippet sounds like an absolute darling. I must admit that I'm not sure how easily I'd bond to such a soft, gentle dog after having my boofhead staffy cross (although he's very soft natured but still a funny, crazy boofer). I think you might be on target with working on the training with him if you can figure out what makes him tick. I don't actually love dog training but I've had to do a hell of a lot of it from a behaviour modification perspective, as well as some obedience classes, and it really did strengthen our bond immeasurably. Perhaps you could either take him to a few obedience classes where you could get help with working out the best way to engage him, or even book a one on one session with a trainer so they can focus on just the two of you to get you started?

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I don't have much advice. But I do wonder if it might just be that you're looking to do things which are just too rough for his sensitive disposition?

Something that really helped Scottie and I bond was pet obedience classes. No pressure for him to actually do anything other than learn how to sit, stay and recall - and it turns out he knew how to sit. He's no good at stay, and 9/10 he'll recall :cry:

But it helped me get some idea of what made him tick - not food, will work for cuddles. He totally shut down if he's reprimanded in any way. He's also a goof ball - jackpots are big showy overacted "hoorays!" with lots of pats and a tummy rub.

We also do scent work which is very good for him as, besides being a goof ball, he's a soft, gentle and very sensitive soul. I was actually only chatting about scent work with some others from the class the other day and we were all saying that it's good for the dog because you have to put your trust in them 100%, they're the experts and you just have to let them take the lead. It's also just such an individual thing - there is no perfect search - one guy in my class is a complete pocket rocket, Scottie is slow and methodical, the class boxer likes to slobber on things and gets upset when he thinks other dogs are working more than he is.

Or maybe he's just begging for you to figure out that he's a hound and he's always secretly wanted to chase things. Maybe other whippet owners will give you some tips.

Good luck

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I just want to say that over the years I have had a number of different dogs and I have loved them all for different reasons. I think you are probably still grieving for your staffy and are looking for the whippet to be a replacement. Nothing will ever replace your staffy boy. That's just the way it is. Treasure his memory and the happy times you had together. Your whippet is a different dog with different qualities and you can love him for those. I have an old dog here who is very soft and undemanding and I love him because he is just so sweet. Every so often he shoves his head under my arm and I know he wants a cuddle. I love him for his softness.

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I got Ernie at 6 months after he'd failed to learn the finer points of being shown. He'd been a kennel dog and although he was shown kindness by the breeder, he was not being raised as a family pet.

I'd always had littlies as pups, he was the first semi old pup I've ever owned. Luckily, he's a Labrador and predisposed to trust and like people. But I did work really really hard on bonding with him - for both him and me. It was hard for me because while he's handsome now, he was fairly ugly and not that that roly poly tissue commercial - he was all head and elbows and honking great tail.

I promised myself I'd teach him a new trick or command as soon as he got the previous one. So I spent lots of time, playing and sitting with him to figure out what to teach him. I think spending time training your dog builds a level of bonding between you and them. I really do. So we did that. He learned a lot, poor boy, in that first couple of months. I'd also spend a lot of time just talking to him - I know the neighbours thought I was crazy asking Ernie whether I should have tea or chai; what the girls were up to and commenting on the telly. Used his name in every conversation. Every time I passed him, I'd give him a stroke - even when he was just following me room to room.

It's hard, and it so depends on your dog's nature and your own. Some days he was a complete moron - still is, come to think of it - and I cannot say it was instant love. More like, 'why the hell did I get this goofy Ill mannered beast? But he did bond with me and anyone will tell you now that I adore the hell out of him now.

Edited by Stressmagnet

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The one thing I've learnt is that they are ALL different and I can make or break the relationship. I had a real love-hate relationship with one of my cats until I sat down and evaluated why. When I change my behaviour, he changed his and I just love him with all my heart now. Different to how I love my other cats but just as fiercely. The dogs are the same. Having an Em daughter that is WILDLY confident and incredibly driven at the same time has been quite the eye opener! Everything I do with my dogs, in terms of high level competition, is geared towards finding the JOY which is ultimately about relationship building - whether it's my soft Dally who will give up on me, my Springer who will go to the ends of the earth to work with me or her daughter who is a gem but too much dog for a lot of people. I do a number of Susan Garrett courses (Puppy Peaks, Recallers) and it has taken my training and relationship with my dogs to a whole new level. But what you put in you get out and every dog requires different inputs and a different emphasis in training.

Edited by The Spotted Devil

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JulesP   

Henrietta you don't have to bond with this dog. You inherited him. He sounds like a nice dog to have around. The lack of bond doesn't seem to be causing any issues for him. Stop feeling guilty about it.

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Henrietta you don't have to bond with this dog. You inherited him. He sounds like a nice dog to have around. The lack of bond doesn't seem to be causing any issues for him. Stop feeling guilty about it.

Yes, Jules has a very good point. If the dog is happy and you are happy then that is fine. I was more thinking if you feel frustrated by the dog.

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dee lee   

I think sometimes the work you put into a difficult dog creates not just a bond but a sort of codependency. The intensity of the relationship can be overwhelming. I've gone from a highly difficult dog to an easy dog & while I found it a relief & immediately bonded with my new dog, it did take me a while to adjust. The dogs had wildly different approaches & needs.

Perhaps you are expecting too much? I know my easy dog is just happy to coexist with me (as long as she can be near me & get pats!), she's so relaxed & sweet & well, just there! My old dog required much more work on all fronts and her energy dominated the house (she was a staffy x).

I can see how you could miss that & feel something is missing. :)

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I agree with the others - you don't have to feel like you're "bonded", if you both enjoy each other's company - that's enough.

Training - I had to learn a whole new way with my dog - she loves food - great, but will also "seek reinforcement from the environment" ie quite happy to nick off and do her own thing. If I used any kind of reprimand or a slip chain - she'd shut down, lose interest, nick off or lie down and refuse to move. Made recall training zero fun. We weren't much good at sit stay until I started training it with her dinner as reward. She didn't do a doggy smile for me until she was maybe 18 months old.

The key thing to training is to find out what your dog likes to work for and when he's most excited about being with you. With most dogs - it's often when you first get home. With my dog it's when I'm preparing her dinner or vegemite on toast (I don't know why that's so special). She also gets really excited by fly hunting with the fly swat. So I can swat stuff and she gets super excited. She wants the fly swat but I know she will just chew it up into bits. She also gets excited by my swatting stuff with a rolled up newspaper - it's ok if she chews that up into bits.

Whippets love chasing things - so one of those fluffy toys on a string - with maybe a bit of a fibreglass pole to get it out from your body would work? And then you can use that as a reward or play break between training sessions.

And then most training sessions - when we're learning something new - I keep really short - I count out five treats/rewards and when they're gone - the session is done. It's important (but does my brain in) to end the session when the dog still wants more. You want to end the session when the dog is still looking forward to more training - not bored with the idea. The people who do TV drama have a good handle on this effect. So when you get the training gear out for the next session the dog is thrilled about the idea.

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Snook, he is such a lovely boy. Just so different to what I'm used to but that's not a bad thing at all. I think I could certainly try some training avenues and see how that goes. More to get to know him better.

Scottsmum, I think I am used to dogs that are a bit more outgoing so like a rough game. I've definitely had to change the way I play and interact with Locke. I'm much quieter and calmer. If I can find what makes him tick I'd understand him more. I don't want to be doing stuff he dislikes or makes him uncomfortable for my own enjoyment.

Sarsaparilla - I don't think I've ever viewed Locke as a replacement for anyone. It was a different set of circumstances as to how he came to be with me. Gracie only passed away two months ago, and he came last September. She did have a terminal illness though and

I was pretty focused on her during that time.

Stressy - you are right. Maybe it's time that is needed. I'm going to use your tip about the talking all the time to him. Although I do already talk, I don't usually subject him to the daily domestic dilemmas. I'm sure he'd love it.

One thing I do know is that he doesn't frustrate me and I don't dislike him at all. I quite enjoy his company. I just don't have that same or similar level of bond with him. Perhaps I never will. But I would agree that I doubt it's effecting him.

Dee Lee, I think I understand where you are coming from. Whilst her issues were not severe, I invested a lot of time in Abby. Even as a family dog she is quite demanding in comparison, but I also felt she was a great family dog, just higher in energy needs.

Thanks everyone. Certainly food for thought. I'd certainly like to try and improve that bond, but if it doesn't happen I know everything will be ok regardless.

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Snook   

Whatever happens, I'm sure you'll have a great life together. You sound like a wonderful owner who wants him to be happy and is willing to put extra effort in to try and build a stronger bond. :)

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Dogsfevr   

Sounds like a very normal Whippet doing very normal Whippet things.

Personally i think "bonded" is an over rated turn .

Whippets are couch potatoes that just enjoy human company ,there quiet,clean,calm & lovely to live with .

There not needy just like simplicity ,there just like Greyhounds sensitive & feel heartbroken if they have done wrong ,they read human emotions better than many breeds .

Just love to feel part of the household without the hussle bussle of the world,running is normally there thing & then happy to switch of & watch the world go by on the couch

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raineth   

Henrietta you don't have to bond with this dog. You inherited him. He sounds like a nice dog to have around. The lack of bond doesn't seem to be causing any issues for him. Stop feeling guilty about it.

These are exactly my thoughts too :)

OP, Just enjoy your relationship with him for what it is.

If you still want to do something more, then I'd suggest playing with him in whatever way he likes to play.

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Why can't I bond with him on the same level as previous dogs?

Maybe sighthounds just don't rock your boat. Maybe you like a more in your face dog???

Not every breed suits everyone.

At his age, Mr Whippet would be a cinch to rehome via Whippet rescue. If you don't feel a bond, it is something you could look into. I figure there is no shame whatsoever in rehoming a dog into a family where he WILL be the bees knees. :)

Whippets tend to need the "what's in it for me" box ticked. They may like to please but they won't turn themselves inside out to do it like some breeds and some really don't see the point in training.

Maybe you should try a Whippet specific sport like lure coursing with him?

Edited by Haredown Whippets

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Guest Clover   
Guest Clover

Henrietta you don't have to bond with this dog. You inherited him. He sounds like a nice dog to have around. The lack of bond doesn't seem to be causing any issues for him. Stop feeling guilty about it.

:thumbsup: This. People are big into putting human feelings into life with dogs, as long as he is happy and cared for and you are happy to provide care for him and have him live with you then I don't see a problem.

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Thanks for the practical training tips Mrs RB. I think I posted while you were posting before. I get the idea of keeping it short and sweet. When he likes a game it's wonderful, but it feels like such a small window of opportunity that I honestly just like to relish the game. A toy he likes one day, he may not like so much the next. He does keep me on my toes lol.

I did speak to someone in who was hoping to get lure coursing up and running and Townsville so I'll have to check in with them again.

It's not like I need to do training with my dogs and I haven't been competitive with previous dogs. My old girl had cruciate ligament surgery at 2 years old which ruled her out for many things but we did rally o and tricks. Abby was lovely to train and enjoyed it, but we both found group classes stressful due to reactivity issues and my nerves, so we just did things for fun at home, quiet places or at my friend's - tricks, agility etc.

I love to do things with my dogs and would love to carry on in the future but it's only a side interest. My dogs have always been companions first and family. So I'd be content to never do anything with Locke but would be happy to explore.

And yes, it is a guilt thing as well. He is such a lovely dog, my flat mate is quite bonded to him compared to previous dogs (whom he certainly didn't dislike!) It's just the way it is I guess. I'm probably not a sight hound person like you say HW.

I have questioned if it effects Locke otherwise I guess i wouldn't be asking. Rehoming would be a really tough decision. I've never rehomed a pet in my care (well except for Abby but even that's different because she is still in the family and I know everyone is happy with the arrangement). I'm not sure I could do it or if it's even necessary. That's not to say that I don't agree with rehoming in certain circumstances. But it may not be the right answer for us. It's a very personal thing I suppose. I would feel I wasn't personally living up to my commitments, another person may feel differently.

He is a wonderful boy who is a pleasure to live with, no doubt about it. I am a bit wistful sometimes about why I feel this way, but as long as it's not detrimental to him it should be ok.

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