Monday, February 3, 2014

The Post No One Likes Writing

I have read a LOT of dog (and more specifically pittie) blogs since adopting Maggie in September 2012.  So, I know that it's perfectly normal for dogs, especially those who are still learning their manners and who are in "delicate" stages of reaching adulthood, to sometimes cause trouble or have a rough patch.

Welllll...we're there.  Mr. Nigel was temporarily suspended from daycare about three weeks ago.  He was chillin' with the other dogs, towards the end of the day, and a dog bumped into him and he went and started a fight.  Thank GOODNESS that he was the only one who had a nick in his ear and one other dog got scratched but jeez, I almost had a heart attack when the husband called to tell me.

Sigh.  They told us that he had been getting a little "cocky" at daycare.  He was sort of bullying other dogs and him and Maggie were being rotated into the playroom throughout the day because they were kind of ganging up on other playmates (my babies??!?!  I couldn't believe it).  Our trainer at daycare is awesome and he called my husband and basically said that it was only temporary, hopefully, and that once we brought Nigel back in for a lesson with Maggie and talked about what may be causing his weird aggression, he could be temperament tested again and come back to daycare.

I had so many emotions that day.  I was so happy that he didn't hurt any of the other dogs (him and Maggie have had a few scuffles and he's a strong dude).  I was so mad because I felt like we could be doing more to make sure that this hadn't happened (obviously not rational to think that I could have totally helped avoid it).  I was upset to think that maybe we were bad doggie parents or that Nigel was getting some kind of aggressive attitudes as he began to reach maturity.

The next step is to take him in for a lesson on Saturday and figure out what we can do to teach him that that behavior is totally unacceptable.  Then, we just have to go from there.  Hopefully we can find a way to show him what's right and what's wrong and be able to give him the experience of hanging with dogs.  And if not, we'll continue to love him to pieces and teach him what's right in every other part of his life.

Anyone else experienced anything similar?  What did you do after an event like this??


  1. Norman was once totally bomb proof with other dogs but like Nigel, he has gotten cockier over time and more wary and defensive to dominant dogs. I've had to really scale back on who he plays with and how, making sure he doesn't get too excited, doesn't play with too many dogs at once and doesn't play with dogs who might cop an attitude with him. I also almost never let him and Kaya play with other dogs at the same time. Kaya has always been feisty in play and got into a lot of fights at the dog park when she was younger. She'd never start it but she'd damn well finish it so I had to take responsibility for that. Not only do I make her follow the same rules as Norman but I got her into fetch and so that is easily her preferred activity over dog play which make life a whole lot easier. I now can't even remember when her last scuffle was.

    Ok so all that sounds pretty sucky but we still love our off leash activities and Norman usually finds one great buddy on every park outing...we just don't make a beeline for the cluster of raucous pups anymore.

    A couple ideas I have if your daycare can accommodate it. Can they limit Nigel's play with other dogs so that he doesn't get over-excited, like 5-10 minutes play, 10 minutes(or longer) chill out else where. Also, could they limit his play to just one other dog. It's the groups of dogs playing that causes issues a lot of the time. Can they keep a close eye on him to make sure he's playing appropriately and make him take a break if he's not so that he learns the difference. Last, can they take him to his own space when it's chill sounds like this incident might have been because he was tired and needed his own space.

    You are totally not alone in this. I consider Kaya and Norman to be good with most dogs but not in all situations and levels of excitement. I think it's something many dog owners go through if they have their dogs interact with other dogs:)

    1. Thanks so much for sharing, Rachel!! They did once take him to his own chill space when he got tired of being around all the other pups. We used to take them to daycare once a week because we thought it was really good for them to interact with other pups and get the exercise (which are both still true) but in order to be really good doggie parents, we may have to reassess and think about whether it truly is the BEST way for the pups to spend our long days at work or if there are other alternatives. I really appreciate the tips and your sharing your experiences!

  2. Oh Nigel... I hope it's just some teenage boy issues and nothing too serious. Good luck with your training!

  3. I've been meaning to stop back by and comment, as I'm ususally on my phone and hate trying to type like that.
    I'm glad you shared this because it actually helped me in some planning/decision making. I've always wanted to take Ray to daycare, but when he was a puppy he was just such an a$$ that I just didn't feel comfortable. Now I think he'd enjoy it but not to the extent that Julius does so for now only Julius goes. I'm now considering either taking them on opposite days or taking Ray to a different facility that I've heard good things about. I figure they get to play with each other quite enough at home.

    Interesting about Nigel, because Julius was starting to challenge Ray at home a bit more before I started him at daycare and now he has backed off of that some. I think these adolescents are just feeling their oats.