Dog training help, anyone?

I have a few good photos we took recently, of the boys at the lake. I shared them on Instagram, FB, and Foursquare, but I thought it would be nice to show them here as an opening to this post, which is basically a cry for help.

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So now that I’ve got your attention, let me introduce my boys, the ones of the canine type. This is Charley (I call him Charlie. In fact, I call him Charlucho):


Charlie is a very well behaved, although sometimes grumpy and very stubborn, 9 year old Cairn Terrier, who has been with Mike since he was a puppy.

This is Max (name on birth certificate is Maximilian):


Max is a temperamental 5 year old Silky Terrier, I adopted two years ago from a family who had him since he was a puppy.

We are having issues with Max…. again. Remember this time, when he bit Mike? Yeah, I didn’t have photo-space on the blog then, so I didn’t post a photo of what poor Mike looked like after the fact, but here it is now:


Nine stitches later, Mike was still not willing to get rid of Max, even though to this day the scar is still giving him problems. The thing with Max, -well the main thing, he has several things- is that he has dual personality. And not in a sweet and sweeter personalities, nope, it’s more like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

During the day Max is all cute and loving, eager to be with us, demanding attention and on top of us, if he can. If we take a nap, he cuddles right next to us, and when you call him he comes all waggly tail and wide eyed. He loves going out for walks, loves treats, and loves to play with balls after meals. He loves attention and when he is not the center of attention, he let’s us know, just walking right up to us wanting to be picked up like a baby.  He’s happiest when he’s with us, part of whatever activity we are doing, and is very sad when we go away and leave him at home.

At night it’s a completely different story. He gets into this trance, aggressive/possessive trance. We now hide his toys, because if he gets a hold of a one of those squeaky teddy bears or ice cream cones, he goes crazy, really nuts. He hides under the bed, or a chair or table and growls at anyone that comes close. We ignore him and don’t go near him when he’s like that. But other times he’s in that mood without any presence of a toy. He can be laying on the floor, on his bed, or on our bed, and we come by minding our own business, on your way in or out of the room and he charges at us (well, mainly me) with loud barking and a fury that is really frightening. I stop on the spot, frightened, startled, and upset. He charges over, in all his madness, and stops when he gets close to me. But by them I’m furious and want nothing to do with him.

That’s how Mike got bit by Max. We were all laying in bed, Charlie and I were fast asleep. Max, I guess was sleeping too, when Mike reached over to grab him. Max turned around in a furry and bit him. We tend to stay away when he’s like that, but that time Mike got too close and Max got him.

This weekend Max was in his “mood” EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. I was afraid of entering the bedroom when he was already in there and I was coming in from the kitchen. Or when I needed to get up from the bed to go to the bathroom and had to walk by him. He charged at me, as if he was going to attack me EVERY SINGLE TIME. The last straw was Saturday night, around 3:30 am, when I got up to go to the bathroom because I could not hold it anymore. I crept out of the bed, not by the side, because that’s were he was laying, but from the bottom of the bed. I tiptoed into the bathroom and closed the door. When I came out, as I stepped closer to the bed and was about to crawl back on it, he came full trot at me, barking like a mad dog. I lost my balance and grabbed on to the bed, finding Mike’s foot by accident and waking him up. Mike grabbed Max, and I asked him to put him outside the room and close the door. If he wanted to be a monster, he would have to do it alone, at least for the rest of that night.

It’s been really hard for me lately to get back to sleep once I’m woken up in the middle of night. And that night hearing Max whimper at the other side of the door and shake his dog collar and tags out there to get some attention, didn’t help one bit. Needless to say, I didn’t get much quality sleep this past weekend, and arrived at my tipping point with Max.

I can’t and won’t live scared in my own home. I will not live with a monster. Life is too short for that crap. And lack of sleep does nothing for my mood, just ask Mike. So we have gotten to an ultimatum state: or Max becomes a better dog, or he has to go. Mike, of course, thinks I’m exaggerating. But you just scroll up and see that photo again, and tell me what you think. If you’re thinking I’m going to wait until Max does that to me to do something about him, you got another thing coming!

So here is my cry for help: Have you heard of Max’s syndrome (Mike is convinced there’s something psychologically wrong with Max)? If so, is there a way to treat him? Have you used any training methods that have proven effective?

I am on the search for training methods and starting next weekend Max has one month to get his act together, if not he will be up for adoption, and hopefully there will be another family who can tame him. I’m inclined to crate him at nights, but then we have Charlie, and Mike thinks it’s not fair to crate one and not the other, but also not fair to Charlie to crate him when he has done nothing wrong. So, you see, Mike and I are not on the same page with this, which has proven fodder for discussions this past weekend.

Help! If you know what to do, please share. I don’t want to give Max up, I love him, he’s my dog, and my responsibility. But I either help him become a better dog, or it just won’t work, because I will not live in fear in my own house. I refuse to be afraid at home.


4 responses to “Dog training help, anyone?

  1. Ok, I am not a dog expert but I know someone who can maybe help you.
    He is German as well and he and his wife are living in SoCal since some years and he is a dog trainer. Mind you, he is an excellent dog trainer.
    Perhaps he can help you and tell you what’s wrong and what you can do.
    Here is their Blog:
    And he is on Facebook too, his name is Herbert Jordan.
    If you comment on the Blog I am sure his wife will get in touch and you can talk to him.

  2. I recommend you find a trainer in your area that specializes in aggressive dogs. Part of it is that he is making the rules, so even though you think he is changing from day to night, it is really that he has figured out how to control the house. Having a trainer come to your house regularly and give you all exercises to do to work on the behavior is really the only solution I would choose myself. Any books or videos or whatever, in my opinion, are not good enough for aggression issues.

    Here is the crux of it, I think: Dogs just have to know where they stand. They don’t care if its at the top of the pack or the bottom, they just have to know and be enforced. I crate one dog and not the other and it is fine. Fairness with dogs is about care and affection, not daily habits or routines. You can’t feel guilty for being the master of the dog.

    I wish I knew a trainer in your area. Check with your vet and do some internet research. I think that working with someone in your home is your best bet. I am sorry you have to deal with this– I would not be okay with not being able to walk around my own house at night, either.

    • Thank you Lesley! It’s very useful to know you crate one dog and not the other and that it works fine. I do feel guilty, but you are right, I need to set boundaries and give each dog what they need in terms of discipline… I know knowing where they belong in the pack brings security for everyone involved.
      I did call a trainer, who came to my home, when I first adopted Max. We just need to be consistent with the training, and have all on board with it regardless of where Max is spending the night (my place or Mike’s), and that’s proven to be tough for us.

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