I have never experienced anything quite like Tootsie. Saying she wants to play all the time, while true, misses the point. It’s not about playing so much as having my attention.
Adjusting has been a challenge. She tap-dances on my last nerve–a lot. A failure to communicate is often the problem. Working with the trainer has made a big difference. We understand each other much better.
Tootsie responds to a long and growing list of commands. She loves to learn and I learned more effective ways to teach her. Once she learns a command, I don’t even have to say anything for most. She anticipates what I want from various clues and cues.
At nearly 18-months old, Tootsie tips the scale at just over eleven pounds. On her hind legs, her paws reach my knees. She’s really smart, making her a lot of fun but more than a little fearful.
When it’s just us in the house or fenced-in backyard, she’s fine. She might bark at passersby from inside, but the world outside the front door mostly terrifies her. With few exceptions, anyone coming to the front door freaks her out.
If I don’t kennel her first, I pick her up when a stranger comes into the house and can barely handle her. She s hard to hold and quite likely to pee all over me. That’s right. Visitors literally scare the pee out of her.
Taking her anywhere–including for walks–triggers her anxiety. Forcing her to go on long walks didn’t help. I figured she’d get used to the neighborhood and settle down. Instead, she got worse.
When I ask if she wants to go for a walk now, she runs to the front door for yes or to her kennel for no. I honor her wishes. We only walk far enough for her to do her business then turn around and come home. Ending the forced walks has made a noticeable difference. Tootsie is clearly happier and less stressed.
The trainer says Tootsie is conflicted. She wants to play with folks we encounter on walks or visitors to the house, but can’t get past her fear. Doesn’t help that she’s not well-socialized (I don’t get out much). It could be a late-adolescence phase she’ll outgrow. Or maybe that’s just the way she is.
In my ignorant opinion, her mixed heritage is to blame. Her inner Chihuahua and inner dachshund don’t always get along. The dachshund wants to explore the world and play with everyone. The Chihuahua prefers the safety and comfort of home.
Most family dogs are spoiled at least a little. A recent informal poll of friends on Facebook suggests Tootsie is among a small percentage with owners one might describe as puppy-whupped. Oh, well. It is what it is.
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