So a quick recap – the girls and I are now living with an Aidan and have hit a bump in the road. My nervous nelly, Analaigh, has been noticeably unsettled and after a few warning growls I knew it was time to speak to a professional. After getting a recommendation from a local pittie rescue, Harley’s Haven, run by a former co-worker I emailed a behaviorist and said this about my girl and our situation:
I have two pitbulls which were rescued in 2010. My older dog, Analaigh, is a shy and nervous dog. She get startled by loud or sudden noises, still exhibits separation anxiety, and is just generally a quieter and shyer dog. I recently moved into a living situation where we are now living with a toddler. Since we moved Analaigh has become noticeably more nervous. She finds it difficult to relax if we are all in a room together and will pace constantly and the constant noises are obviously upsetting her. Recently she has started exhibiting concerning behaviors such as absolute refusal to go into her crate and she growling when the toddler rushes too fast in her direction. We live in the basement and I think that the daily noises coming from upstairs while she is kept in her crate while I am at work have added to her separation anxiety and is why she resists crating. Although, spending more time going over our training and basic commands this week has helped me lure her in with a command and treat.
I was hoping you may be able to evaluate her and/or our situation to help me help her better. I want to make sure we are all comfortable in our home and I’m just not sure how to do that best for Analaigh. Luckily our living area is in the basement so there is a “safe” place for her to go if and when she feels uncomfortable but I am hoping to help her be able to relax more in our home.
After some emailing and phone calls (which Analaigh overheard last week
) we set up a plan of a 6-8 week behavior class. This week was week #1: The Evaluation. As I sat on the couch answering questions and cautiously watching Analaigh sniff our 6 foot radius while silently praying she didn’t do something to make it look as though I had raised a beast, John (our behaviorist’s name) took his notes and made his assessment. As you can read above, my impression of Analaigh is that she is a very sweet, shy, nervous, and increasingly fearful dog.
I. WAS. WRONG.
The professional opinion regarding Analaigh’s personality is that she is a confident, sometimes pushy, dog. Sparing you too many details – packs are made up of dogs of multiple ranks (higher to lower). Your higher ranking dogs are smart, thoughtful, inquisitive, and confident. They are who lower ranking dogs look to for guidance and direction. Analaigh is a higher ranking dog and as such, in the presence of our 19 month old toddler, is confused about who and what he is and how this impacts her. As the highest ranking component of our household it is my responsibility to give her this information and this is where I have been falling short. Every growl is the warning she is giving me and us that as the animal in a confusing situation she will do what dogs do unless instructed otherwise. On the other end of the spectrum is our dear Rosiebear who neither looks at or perks up when Analaigh gives her warning indicating that Rose is a lower ranking dog who trusts Analaigh to take care of and handle everything so she can continue on continuing on licking Aidan’s earlobe or being petted by him.
I was floored…completely floored. John says he doesn’t see Analaigh as a nervous, worried, or fearful dog at all and I will spend the next few weeks learning how to be better equipped to provide Analaigh with the structure and direction she’s been looking for.
I am so excited to start and in the few training sessions I’ve run at home with Analaigh in the presence of Aidan this week, I can tell that Analaigh is too.
I am looking forward to sharing our journey with you.