No Longer Sick But Still Tired

I was feeling really guilty about whining about Pearl in my last post and I was going to write a post about the things I love about Pearl. But I am still so frustrated with her that I am just not in a place to write a cutesy post about the way Pearl’s ears go back when she is sleepy and lifts her head to look at you or how she gets excited to learn new tricks or how cute she is when she curls up next to me and stick her nose under the crook of my knees on the rare occasion when she is relaxing.

I understand that none of my frustration is Pearl’s fault. And it is not about her allergies or her being sick or anything like that. It’s about what I thought I would be able to do with my dog that I am just not able to do with Pearl and may never be able to do. I want to be able to go on walks with my dog without her lunging, growling, and snapping at every dog that passes and half the people. I want to not live in fear of her actually biting or hurting someone. Today she about yanked my arm out, made me fall down a hill, and I ended up carrying her down my entire block because she was so out of control barking at the neighbor’s dog out in his yard. I want to be able to let her out in the yard without her jumping the fence. I want to be able to have guests over without crating her in my bedroom the entire time so they don’t get jumped on, scratched, and nipped to death. I want to be able to have puppy play dates with friends’ dogs and not have to say when friends have all bring their dogs to a BBQ that we left Pearl at home because she can’t handle it. I want to not have Pearl bark (and bark and bark) at every car door and every person, animal, or leaf that passes by our house. I want to be able to sleep past 5:30 a.m. just one day a week. I want to be able to add a second dog to our family.

I realize this is all about I want, I want, I want and I feel selfish, but Pearl is my first dog and I just feel in a slump with her that I can’t get out of. We have been working hard, training, trying to do the right thing but maybe I don’t know enough or can’t do enough. I feel like we are not making any progress despite my best efforts. I am writing about my experiences with Pearl here to keep an honest record of them, so it doesn’t seem right to write something happy and fun when I am feeling so discouraged, even though I recognize that I  am being unfair to Pearl. Better to vent my feelings here than let them affect my interactions with her. Because I do understand that this is not her fault. And I do love her. I love the way she smells. I love the way she looks at me during a training session with such intense focus. I love to watch her run whenever we get an opportunity to take her to a securely fenced area. I wish I knew how to make our current situation better. Maybe I have a bad attitude. Maybe I am a bad dog owner. I want to be happy, but I want Pearl to be happy too and sometimes I just feel like there is no way our lives will ever run smoothly. Am I a terrible person? Has anyone else ever felt like this? If so, how did you change your outlook, repair your relationship with your dog, and move things in a positive direction?

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About Pearl the Puppy

Pearl is just over 40 lbs of energy mixed with a pinch of crazy. We adopted her in March 2011 from a St. Louis rescue organization called Impact for Animals (now Pet Rescue Network). We are unsure about her age, but we are guessing she was born in Fall 2010. Her background is anybody's guess, but we are pretty sure that she has at least some sighthound in her. She's a whole lot of trouble but a whole lot of fun.

8 thoughts on “No Longer Sick But Still Tired

  1. It all takes time. I’ve had Song almost three years and only recently would she let me sit on the floor next to her. Before she’d rush to the other side of the room. Only now does she come over to me to have some fuss. Only now does she look at me for assurance. Most importantly only now does she not go ballistic when she sees a cat.

    Hang in there hun. Treasure every moment and then you will look back and wonder why you were so frustrated.

  2. Everyone has those days/weeks with their dog. The time when NOTHING works. Nothing. And you begin to question whether owning a dog is a stupid idea, or if the dog would be SO much better living with someone else with more experience. Especially if, like my dog, your dog is so much better behaved the moment her leash is in the trainer’s hands? That’s super frustrating to me. I’m a first time owner as well, but my guy is pretty laid back most of the time – and I’ve still had those times.
    Two blogs for you, that could help (though I don’t know enough about your dog to say anything for sure)
    First one, I’m pointing you to a specific post. Please, PLEASE don’t be offended by the title of the post, I just remembered it when you mentioned that you were worried about her biting someone. The lady basically says that you can be calmer and more confident while training if you don’t have to worry about the things your dog might do to people and other dogs, which overall improves the training-in-public session, since your emotions impact how the dog responds to you. the rest of her blog might be useful as well.
    Second one, though I’m not sure if fearful is a good term for your dog, is this: She has a lot of experience with dogs that have issues with interacting with people/dogs, and I know some dogs fear-reaction is to be aggressive. So Pearl might be barking and snapping in an attempt to scare them off before they try anything.

  3. Hi,

    So sorry to hear you’re having such a tough time and feel frustrated. The good side is how much you love Pearl and want to make everything work out.

    My Mum has had a few Dogs over the years, but still is learning, as we’re all very different.

    One thing she discovered relating to walking is to put me in a harness, she feels like she has way more control and I sure stopped pulling, not sure if you’ve tried this?

    Another recommendation would be to watch/listen/read the advice from Victoria Stilwell – have you tried this?

    Apologies if you’ve already tried these things, but we’re new to your blog.

    Good luck and keep going, big hugs,

    Your pal Snoopy 🙂

  4. You are not a bad dog owner. In fact, I think this post proves you are one of the best dog owners there are. Bad dog owners don’t care what their dogs want or how they behave, they don’g think of waking them to doggy play dates or other peoples’ barbques. You are a wonderfully caring dog owner and Pearl is so lucky she found a family who does their very best to help her.

    I have definitely felt like this. Sometimes I still do. There were countless days where I would come home after a walk with Shiva and hide straight to my bedroom so I could cry. There are still sometimes I feel like crying and there are still some times that I do. Dog ownership, when done right, can feel like the most frustrating thing in the whole world, especially when you have a dog as difficult as Pearl. Especially when you feel alone.

    You are not alone. Even the best dog trainers in the world – even Dr. Patricia McConnell – get frustrated at times when things just aren’t working. It’s okay.

    I wish I could help. I wish I could prove to you that it gets better. Because it does. It’s never easy or perfect, but it is better. And the relationship you have with Pearl will strengthen and be all the better because you had these problems. I like to think it’s the difficult dogs that are the most memorable.


  5. Oh, and the sleeping in thing? It totally happens. Now that Shiva is almost four (!!!) she has finally learned how to let us sleep in till eight (eight!!!!!!) on weekends. Pearl just needs to get a little older. Trust me. I never would have believed me two years ago either.

  6. Kristine is right – you are a great dog owner that cares about your dog 🙂 I cried many times when Cali was younger . . and she has always been pretty easy! Did you read Amy’s Train Your Dog Month Challenge post ( ? I think it’s interesting what she learned just by working with a private trainer (someone that understands the different dog behaviors) and sometimes it’s just nice to get a different opinion. I’m starting to think that Saydee is more “reactive” than “fearful” – but honestly, I don’t know how to help her, except by offering consistency and working with her 🙂

    Things will get better – she is special and lucky to have you!!

  7. You are not a terrible person and you definitely are not alone!
    You are putting a lot of thought and emotion into these issues and that means that you care.
    I don’t have any real training advice all I can offer is words of encouragement.
    Keep trying. It will all come together when you least expect it to.

  8. I don’t have anything really different to add, but I do feel your pain to certain extent. There are good days and there are not so good days. It’s the good days that make the not so good days seem more frustrating. Just when you start to get a glimmer of hope at times and you think it’s going to get “fixed,” something happens to remind you that you’re not there yet. And it’s frustrating. And demoralizing. But it does get better. It’s just hard to say how long it will take. If you didn’t care about your dog, then you wouldn’t be feeling like this. Hang in there!

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