Honestly, thank you all so much for taking the time to reply
Hyacinth I tried to send you a personal note but it won't allow me to send due to your inbox being full (Full of thank yous no doubt!)
Reading through my thread today I can see I was definitely stressed and probably a little emotional and I appreciate the effort you have all made
Had a really, really good weekend with Gracie
LOTS of play, lots of cuddles and adventures
From the moment I got home on Friday evening things changed. It's kind of funny really, I thought I was being strict (too strict) but with a few small changes and additional rules, even after the weekend I can see a HUGE difference in her overall behaviour already.
Any sort mouthing, nipping or curious biting is being met with a stern reaction - a yell and a quick smack to the nose or more effectively being dragged outside and only let in again once she is calm and earns her way back in (sit, shake, roll over, whatever). If she tries it again she's straight back out there whereas recently we would usually have given her a chance to stop the incorrect behaviours before punishing her. How silly we now feel! We've also decided she's no longer allowed on the couch, something that will take a little while for her to get used to but as I said we can already notice a difference. Instead of walking inside and jumping up on the couch and all over us all the time, she will come inside... sniff the couch and look around at me for approval/disapproval. All of this seems to be helping with her general 'hanging out' with us. Instead of jumping up every few minutes for attention etc. she seems quite happy to lay on the floor and have a nap or chew on whatever toy smells the worst. I must admit, my nights of watching football into the early hours of the morning won't be the same without her sleeping on my chest but I'm sure we'll get to the point where I can invite her onto the couch for Everton games.
As for her feeding, I see a few people disagree and say I should leave her be, but I truly believe I should be able to walk in and take whatever I want from her. What if she's eating something dangerous? (Allah forbid, a toad!) I've been hand feeding her as suggested. Giving her a handful, holding the food bowl, hand feeding her more, putting the bowl down and sitting with her. I even got a pat in this morning while she chomped away. It seems to be working a treat
I do have a couple of further questions if I may...
While ignoring behaviours we want her to stop (pushing her toys onto us, attention seeking and so on) she is beginning to bark bark bark bark at me, At the moment I'm ignoring her entirely, folding my arms and looking away but she can carry on for quite a while before she gets the idea... am I doing the right thing by ignoring her? Or should I be reprimanding her immediately for this as well? I sort of thought we'd work on one or two things at a time, stop her from biting and jumping all over the couch and then work on the barking but she is a very smart animal and can surely handle numerous lessons?
At the dog park yesterday while drinking from the dog bowls - an older dog came up to the tap to try and either take the water bowl from her, or share the bowl. This lovely old dog was met with a growl, a snap and being chased away (a rottweiler cross no less!) by Gracie. Should I put an end to this or should I let the dogs work out their hierarchy for themselves? Neither seemed bothered after the fact and she is often put back in her place by other dogs at the dog park
I just worry because I saw her trying to guard the water bowl with her body, shielding it and looking at the other dogs from the corner of her eyes, seemingly waiting to snap - obviously not something I want to bring home
Again, thank you guys! I can see the change in her already!