Growing up, Charlie would be in his crate most of the time and though he was taken for walks twice a day, they were barely long enough to let him socialize with strangers and other dogs. I adopted him when he was 2 years old, so I knew there was still room to improve his behavior but my dog training skills weren’t sufficient. Consequently, our walks are filled everyday with bad behavior, particularly aggressive barking at other dogs. He has never attacked a dog on a walk, but it’s always a possibility. Taking him to the dog park is simply not an option, as he becomes very nervous and anxious in the presence of so many dogs at once.
I already had a dog of my own, a Chihuahua mix named Jemy, living in our 3 bedroom apartment. We shared the apartment with 2 of my college friends, but while Charlie grew to unconditionally love Jemy, he grew to dislike my roommates (not a good situation for myself or for them). His world became so tiny, knowing only my immediate family and Jemy. This meant he knew no one else and barked at every stranger and every single dog he saw walking on the street. Our walks would get frustrating and hard to manage. Eventually, he got used to seeing strangers, but he never got used to dogs.
Ownership of Charlie went back and forth between my sister, my parents and myself. My parents were the worst choice, as they gave up on him. They never took him out on walks, would keep him in his crate most of the day, and at one point let him live in his own feces. At that point, I was so glad to take care of him. I was more firm with my discipline but it still wasn’t enough to reverse his anti-social tendencies.
After all the back-and-forth ownership of Charlie, I finally just have him to focus on. I just moved into a new apartment with 3 roommates more willing to live with a troubled dog, and I luckily share the room only with Charlie. He’s a very intelligent dog, fast with learning new tricks and commands. So my ultimate goal is to socialize him so that he is comfortable around other dogs and strangers who want to approach him and possibly pet him.
I intend this blog to be both a log of my progress with Charlie and as a testament to other dog owners who think their dogs are hopelessly untrainable. There are certain moments with him where I wonder why I don’t just give up on him. But the moments where he shows small hints of progress are more powerful and are the ones that keep me in this. I want him to be a good dog, and I’ll keep trying until that happens.