We Love our little Lucy in a bug HUGE way. But...yes there is a "but." While she is, in my opinion, amongst the cutest dogs ever (I know all moms feel that way about their 'kids'), I have shared with you all on several occasions that we have struggled with her barking at passersby and her finicky behaviour around strangers and other dogs and toddler and children her size [major concern to me]. I don't actually believe she is a "danger" to anyone at all and don't believe she will bite. She's more of just a big mouth on a little dog that is scary sounding (especially to little ones), but you can never ever 100% trust a dog around children no matter the dog - ever. She's a "licker" who wants to lick your face which most people don't like happening to their babies either. So really she can't "win" because she gets scolded for barking at kids and gets pulled away for licking & jumping up on them too :-/
Much of her problem stems from the fact that she is, in fact, a rescue dog that we adopted from the animal rescue shelter and her story was that she was abandoned and was found running around all alone as a puppy in the cold of the Winter on Christmas Day. (I know!! So Sad!) We found her online on their web site and drove 3 hours to Yarmouth knowing that we would love to take her into our home. She was still a puppy! By that point it was nearing the end of February, so she would have spent 2 months at the shelter. The reality of animal shelters is that in many cases, it's impossible to socialize dogs the way you would like to and it's not like a dog day care or at a park, simply because, it's not realistic when you have many different types of dogs who, in some cases have been abused and often they are struggling to simply accommodate the number of animals.
So, it is easy to understand given that our Lucy, as cute as she is, spent 2 months at the shelter, and we're sure she was spending much of her time her little "cell" where we first greeted her all by herself with a row if dogs all in their own spaces. The vet estimated that she was about 5 months old at that point and while she was still a young little pup who needed to be house broken, it appeared that she had missed out on some very important months of socialization in her development. We also keep in mind that no one has any background on her life before she was rescued. Like, who abandons a puppy in the cold of Winter outside? TAKE THE ANIMAL TO THE SHELTER IF YOU DON'T WANT THEM! Gah!
This is another big component that doesn't happen often enough and being on maternity leave and anxious to get outside and walk with the baby, this little lady is going to be getting MUCH more in the exercise department which is always a good thing for dogs! But she is VERY difficult to control when you come across other walkers, runners, bikers and dogs. It's hard enough not having a stroller in tow.
She is an extremely affectionate and loving family dog, but despite our attempts, we have never been able to rehabilitate her reaction to people walking by (especially with dogs) and an incredibly embarrassing situation in public if we take her to an animal park.
You can't fault a dog for being a dog. You can only try to work with her to correct her bahaviour. We have made some progress and if I break her away from her "episodes" barking at the passersby and remove her from the situation, I can break her unstable mindset and have her submit , but I have never been able to prevent her from being set off in the first place.
Now that the baby is due to arrive, well technically TOMORROW (:-D), we've bought her a new anti-bark gimmick that we are now giving a try. It's a citronella bark collar made by Innotek and it is basically a little box on a collar that has a microphone and a little spray nozzle. It detects when she barks and sprays a citronella spray in front of her snout in response. It's basically the same lemon scented stuff that is used to keep the flies away and is not toxic. I swear as soon as I took the device out of the package, she knew something was up and started in on her cutsie poutie face. But I'm TOUGH, or at least I'm trying to be and something's got to give, so on it went because this mamma means business!
Well so far the thing has gone off 5 times and only two of those times was in response to her barking! I don't like that at all! We were very pleased with its effectiveness when it was responding to her actual barking. She was out on the front step and when someone was walking by with a dog, she started to dart toward them and bark only to be sprayed and she ran into the house to take cover! lol That is exactly what we want. But it has gone off 3 separate times for no apparent reason which I DON'T like because she shouldn't be getting the negative response randomly when she's not doing anything wrong. We paid $70 for this thing and the pet store told me that they would only accept a return if it was in a "re-sellable" condition. But that was when I was asking if I could take it back if it "didn't work with our dog" and not if it was defectively spraying her for no reason. There is an on-off switch and so I have it turned off during this quiet time of the day, but the problem is that you never know when someone is going to walk by to trigger her barking. It would be nice if the microphone had an adjustable sensitivity guage. I'm going to give it a bit more time to see if it still works to keep her quiet, but I really REALLY don't like that it sprays her when she's not doing anything wrong!
She has been all subdued and quiet ever since we put it on her which I "guess" is what the point is, but I also don't want her to just lay there like a doll either! For now I will have to be happy with that because I keep telling myself not to feel guilty over a little lemon spray and that she will get used to it, but jeeez talk about tugging at my heart strings. But I really have no choice. She simply cannot be going off like she does with a baby in the house. I can see it already and this mama is NOT going to be happy when the baby (or me) gets woken up by her random episodes!