Reverting from Training - Pug Stubbornness/Protest?
Holly is doing well and has been adjusting greatly in the 6 weeks we've had her! We've completed the 2nd of 6 weeks of training and she seems to be doing well with that too! I just had a quick couple things I'm a little concerned about and wanted to ask opinions:
We were making great progress with our walks, Holly generally would plant herself solid and would not go for a walk. Most of the time, we would have to pick her up and carry her a short distance, put her down and try again, eventually she would walk and all would be fine. We started training and treats in combination with clicker really started getting walking less of a chore. As I've posted before, because of my wife's schedule, her morning and midday walk usually end up being my responsibility. I was out of the state Sunday morning through late Tuesday night and my mother in law came up to help watch the dog while my wife worked. As far as I've been told, Holly was well behaved while I was gone, but she was off of her "normal" routine. Since I've been back, she has refused to eat (finally ate late last night after we added a very little bit of some low sodium, fat free beef gravy into her food) and she's been refusing to go for walks, will not take treats that she loves and she genuinely seems to have an aversion to me and wants not much to do with me. Overall, she seems fine so we don't believe she's sick (there's nothing else to indicate that she is), but she seems to have reverted back completely and refuses to do things we've made great progress with.
Is this something that's common with pugs? I know I've read a lot that they can be stubborn and that they'll learn to go with the easier path if given the option. Generally when my wife is home, she gets to sleep in and she doesn't get put into her crate. So I'm wondering if she's protesting because she didn't have as many "rules" while I was out of town. I'm also thinking that she doesn't like me as much (based on her history). I can come and go throughout the house and only sometimes will she follow me. However, she could be in a deep sleep and the second my wife moves to even adjust, Holly wakes up and wants to follow my wife anywhere she goes. I can't imagine her not eating or taking treats as I've read that pugs are almost obsessive about foods, but she refused to eat all day yesterday and wouldn't eat this morning and refused her treats.
I'm assuming this will take time, but it tests my patience and has made me late for work because of her refusal to walk. It also raises my anxiety and I get concerned because she goes long stretches without eliminating at times. She hasn't pooped since yesterday around 10am, however, she hasn't eaten much in that time frame either. In our 6 weeks together, it is apparent that she's house trained in that she won't eliminate in the house (we had 2 accidents in the first 2 days), but she never really indicates that she needs to go, she just usually does on one of her walks.
Any info/suggestions/advice is greatly appreciated as always! Thank you!
Especially dogs with a more troubled history tend to bond very strongly with one person, and takes a long time to 'expand' their social circle beyond that. Part of the issue is that you left. This erases a bit of the trust and routine built up.
Don't get discouraged. These things take a lot of time, a lot of effort, and a lot more persistence before it's better. You'll find that after a setback, if you just go back to basics, they tend to progress faster than the first time around, and before you know it, you're back where you started.
It will get better again.
She picks up on your frustration as well, which is not helping matters. Try to take a deep breath, and to be calm and happy towards her.
I agree with what Nina said. The refusal to eat is a concern. It is possible that your absence has disrupted her to the point of not eating, but she could also be unwell, so do keep an eye on that side of things (I'm sure you are). As she appears to be more bonded to your wife at this point, I would have thought absence of your wife would have more of an effect. Does she have a troubled history with men? If she does, then it may take her quite a while to trust you and you will need to be aware of that and not push her too hard.
If she needs routine then perhaps the whole family should devise, and stick to, a routine that can be followed reasonably closely whether or not you are home.
Good luck with this.
As for pugs being stubborn, that is not entirely fair, in my view. They are not as intelligent as some of the other breeds and they are not a biddable breed, so they won't go out of their way trying this thing and that thing until they please you. However they are acutely tuned in to the emotions of their humans and they absolutely do not want their humans sad, frustrated or angry. If they pick up on that they will not generally try to do something to make it better. Rather they will opt for not making it worse and will stop doing anything. You can see this most often when you start getting frustrated during a training session and the pug just sits down and yawns. Looks rude and stubborn to us, but in reality it is the pug saying "I don't know what to do. Please help me." It is therefore hugely useful to teach a really easy thing (like "sit") and keep practising it from time to time, even when it is completely mastered. When you face the reluctant pug you then ask for the "sit" and go over the top with praise and a lovely treat, for the behaviour. Then you end the session, on a high note, and go back to what it was you were trying to achieve at a later date.
Does she have a troubled history with men? If she does, then it may take her quite a while to trust you and you will need to be aware of that and not push her too hard.
The long story short version is that when we adopted her, we were told she came from a house of 47 pets (about half cats, half dogs) and the man who owned her was terminally ill and was surrendering the animals because he could no longer care for them. So we thought she would bond to me more. In a weird round about way, we found out that Holly was originally owned by an elderly woman who had 3 other dogs, but she had to go into assisted living and had to give up her animals and somehow all of her dogs ended up with this man. So we're not quite sure how long she was in the 2nd house with the 47 pets, but we've also learned some unsavory things about the male owner (arrest record and such) so I'm not sure how well she was cared for. She was in good shape when we got her, so I don't imagine she was in that house long, but I'm sure she sees males as a bad thing compared to female. She gets a little jumpy with loud, sudden noises. Also, when I'm trying to get her to come to me for a treat or other things, she cowers.
She did redeem herself at lunch. The beginning of the walk was a struggle (she also loves car rides, so it's always difficult to make it past our cars when we go outside). We finally did our full route on our walk and she pottied. When we got back she did eat a smaller portion of her food and eventually took some treats from me. I don't think it will take too long to get back into routine, but she's definitely making it known that she's not happy about something!