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HELP: 5 questions about my dog. How can i improve his behaviour??

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  • HELP: 5 questions about my dog. How can i improve his behaviour??

    Hi everyone,

    Recently my dad has been saying he wants to get rid of our dog, to put him up for sale. But i don’t want that to happen. the reason he wants to get rid of him is because he can be quite the piece of hard work sometimes.

    His name is Zac, hes a Parson Russell Terrier, 4 years old, and NOT desexed. We bought him hoping that we will be able to take him hunting but it wasnt the case, he wasn’t the dog for it. He came from a line of show dogs though his breed is generally used for hunting. Hes a very playful, energetic, loving dog, well loved by the family. During the day he’s home alone while we are at school and work.

    When we first got him he was 2. He was sent from Sydney to Melbourne. When he arrived at our house he was very timid and cautious, scared of everything and everyone. He grew up on a farm and now hes in the back yard of a house close to the city (he isnt allowed inside the house, unless the weathers bad, hes allowed on the tiled area)

    He does occasionally cause a few problems, and dad has had enough. i want to work with Zac and try improve him and to teach him whats bad and good so we can change his mind and prove to him Zac is an good dog. Heres 5 questions ive got:

    1. He urinates on our shoes and stuff. If he’s got the opportunity, he will go for it, take a leak on our shoes, and if the door is open to the garage he will take the chance and go in there for a leak. How do we stop him peeing on our stuff (preferably without desexing him)?

    2. He digs, a lot. We are coming to believe that its not possible to be able to keep a nice garden, even a nice backyard if you also have a dog. He’ll dig holes in the lawn, garden beds, near the fence and under the trees. How do we stop him digging?

    3. He is scared of everything. He has improved a lot since he first came but still gets scared from the wind, rain and even leaves blowing around. Are there ways to make him less scared?

    4. He gets really aggressive towards male dogs. He has been nipped on his balls before by a shitzu, i dont know if thats the reason but when ever a male dog sniffs Zac close to that area Zac quickly turns around and growls and even tries to attack sometimes, he shows teeth and the hair on his back stands straight up. Around bitches hes completely fine. Is there a way to get him to trust male dogs again?

    5. Zac hates swimming. I wish Zac could be that dog that goes for swims with us and jumps straight into the water and fetches a stick. Are there ways to get him to like to swim?

    Thank you, i hope to get some answers soon. If you need anymore information about him let me know )

  • #2
    A couple of questions. How much time do you spend everyday training and exercising him and spending quality time with him? When he grew up on the farm was he trained at all? Did his previous owners want to get rid of him for any reason? Do you know the temperament of his sire and dam? Do you leave him with any form of enrichment during the day? Does he have a warm safe kennel and can you contain him at all in a smaller area?

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    • #3
      Usually we give him a slice of cheese a day, or every second and i break it up and give it to him as a reward after i ask him to do a trick (sit, lie down, high five or shake), we take him for regular walks and i usually either sit down with him after school for a long rub and pat inside if its cold but if the weathers decent i go for a throw in the back yard. The previous owner couldn't take care of him anymore due to her health, no other reason. no, i dont know the temperament of his sire and dam. Hes got quite a few bones and toys in the back yard which he likes to occupy himself with, he usually lies down chewing on his bones or spend time sleeping in his kennel which is in a spot protected from the wind and rain.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by PRTerrier View Post
        Usually we give him a slice of cheese a day, or every second and i break it up and give it to him as a reward after i ask him to do a trick (sit, lie down, high five or shake), we take him for regular walks and i usually either sit down with him after school for a long rub and pat inside if its cold but if the weathers decent i go for a throw in the back yard. The previous owner couldn't take care of him anymore due to her health, no other reason. no, i dont know the temperament of his sire and dam. Hes got quite a few bones and toys in the back yard which he likes to occupy himself with, he usually lies down chewing on his bones or spend time sleeping in his kennel which is in a spot protected from the wind and rain.
        He is a young terrier so he probably needs some good solid structured training and twice daily exercise. I suspect maybe he isn't getting enough and gets bored and destructive and looking for attention. I find with my active working breed dogs when I lived in suburbia that I would need to take them for a good exercise before work, often up to an hour or more and the same after work. I also did obedience training, so teaching to heel etc. You need to remove the shoes so he cant pee on them and perhaps do some toilet training with him. It sounds like you are just going to have to spend more time working with him for the moment. If you have a local dog club you could take him along for some obedience classes and this may also help lessen his anxiety. I have a male dog that is fine with bitches but is not keen on entire male dogs and I just manage him and don't let them get in his face or stare at him. He has good obedience and recall so it is rarely an issue.

        In terms of the swimming perhaps start with paddling in shallow water first and see how he goes. I bought a flotation vest for one of my dogs and she soon took to the water. I would carry her in and she soon realised that she was quite safe in the vest and loved to swim in it!

        There are no real quick fixes, it really is about building a relationship with your dog and putting in the time especially if you haven't had him from early on. Sometimes neutering can help, sometimes not. I neutered my male at 2 years old and it did take the edge off is attitude to other males dogs but he continued to mark. I just had to train him where not to mark!

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        • #5
          Hey PRTerrier, just wanted to say that what you have listed there is pretty standard problems for most dog owners, your dog sounds normal so it is way too early to consider giving it up. Like Kalacreek has suggested, a working breed needs a lot of exercise which is something you can definitely do yourself as a student. Try your best to convince your dad into taking the dog to local dog clubs and training classes. Many local councils run affordable group classes. Good luck!
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          • #6
            Hi PRT, I am not sure if you have returned to the other forum, so I am pasting my reply from there.

            When does your dad say things like this? Is it out of annoyance over one of the 'problem' behaviours? Or after a cranky day at work?

            The good news is, you have an average normal dog who just needs a bit of help.

            You are in a tricky position because it is not your dog. However, some of these we can help you work on, and maybe they will be enough for your dad to keep the dog in the family which will give you more time to work on the rest of it.


            1. Talk to your parents about getting a shoe rack, to elevate the shoes out of his reach. It's likely he wasn't really toilet trained before coming to you, so he doesn't realise he is not meant to be peeing in the garage and thinks he is just "updating the news" so to speak.



            Otherwise, keep him out of the garage.He really doesn't need to be in there anyway. If you are going into the garage and he is following, pop him on a lead so when he starts sniffing to pee on something, you can walk him outside of the garage quickly. If he pees outside, that is good and praise him! If he decides to hold it, no big deal praise him for holding it and then keep him out of the garage that day. If you're not fast enough and he pees in the garage...big breath, take him out and clean up the mess.



            2. He is digging because he is an active and young terrier . Some things you can do are build a digging pit where he is allowed to dig (if your family would let you have this as a project). Also, before you go to school and when you get home from school - play a game with him! Start teaching him fetch, or tug. Something that can burn a bit of his energy off.

            Does he seem to like to chew? Play tug with a toy in the morning and let him "win it" just before you have to go. Then he has something to self-entertain with straight away while you are gone. Also, switch the toys around in the backyard, so it is not always the same old toys.


            If you have siblings, see if they would play with him as well.



            What do you feed him? If he likes kibble, you can get a kong wobbler or food dispensing ball from any old store. Put the kibble in this for his breakfast and you have a game for him to play in the morning while you're all gone! Then when you get home, you can play some games with him to get the rest of his jitters off.



            3. Being scared of lots of things is a hard one for everyone, where you must be patient and understanding that he doesn't want to be scared either. Does he have a kennel? Make sure it's super comfortable with lots of blankets so he has somewhere nice to hide. If the weather is playing up and he is on edge - this could be a good time to do something he likes, like playing fetch, butt scratches...whatever games you have concocted between the two of you, to help distract him and get some endorphins flowing.



            4. He could become fine around other dogs, but that would definitely require your family getting the guidance of a trainer or dog school. Do you think your dad would let you enroll into one? It says you're in Victoria, if you're in or around Melbourne there are very many you could go to and most only require an hour or two on the weekend. If you and your dad go together, together you could learn loads on not only helping with being other dogs but chances to ask all those big and small questions I've no doubt you have!



            Plus it will help build your dad's bond up with this terrier so he may be more understanding and help you in teaching this dog and they can give you much faster and more accurate advice than this forum can, because they are seeing the dog in person!



            5. I would not worry about the swimming, you have lots of other things to focus on right now Start him on the fetching part first and maybe later, if he really likes fetch, he might start fetching from shallow water. It's a bit cold right now to be swimming anyway, so work on that fetch!



            Written down that is a lot of things, so can seem a bit overwhelming and daunting - a bit like thinking about all the things "wrong" with the dog. But most of it with some time and patience can become routine.



            Here is the tldr version:

            Talk to your dad about enrolling into a weekend dog school to help teach you how to teach the dog *
            Give him breakfast in a food dispensing bowl if you can - or play a game with him in the morning before school!
            When you get home from school - play something high energy for Zac. Fetch, tug, the two of you running around the yard. Something FUN!
            If he is scared of something, take him away from the scared thing and give him some love - dogs really are just toddlers on four legs.
            No more going into the garage.
            There might be more you are thinking about after posting in the forum, and that is normal. But try not to focus on everything he does "wrong"! Focus on only a few things above and work on those for now, you can only work on one thing at a time. Remember your successes and try to have those more often.



            Remember that if your dad does rehome Zac, you have been trying your very best and every day you will know a little more. The best dog to start with is the one in front of you and doing every little bit you can to improve their life. That is always a work in progress as you get to know dogs better be kind to your dog and be kind to yourself!



            (* and if your dad takes you there, he can learn too!)

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