As a busy family, we don’t have the time to dedicate to a new puppy. He’s a Cane Corso, which is a large breed, so being an inside dog is not an option. He stays in a fenced backyard with our other two. For the past few weeks, the puppy has been A LOT to handle. He tears up everything in the yard, and he barks all night long. I know he’s driving our neighbors crazy.
I’ve continually told her to spend more time with him, getting him out of the fence so he can run around and burn off energy, but she doesn’t have enough time to dedicate to him either. I’ve tried to reinforce that he is her responsibility by making her do most of the daily tasks.
I’ve mentioned several times that we need to find him a new home, but my daughter gets emotionally upset and distressed when I bring it up. I try not to come down on her too hard because we’ve dealt with severe depression issues for many years now and I try not to “set it off.”
What do I do? Please help…this puppy is making me crazy! — Not Feeling Puppy Love
If your daughter “knows she should have” asked you first before bringing a puppy home but did so anyway without checking on you and there were no repercussions for her because you are trying not to “set it off,” what she learns is that it doesn’t matter what she “should” do because she can get away with whatever she wants. This doesn’t do you OR her—-or the rest of your family or the poor puppy in this situation—-any favors. By trying to avoid upsetting your daughter and disrupting whatever carefully-held equilibrium your family enjoys, I’m not sure you succeed at any of the goals you have. I’m not sure you’ve even avoided upsetting your daughter.
Surely, your daughter can’t feel great about neglecting a puppy who needs a lot of attention. I would imagine the stress level in your home has soared. You’re unhappy, your neighbors are unhappy, and the puppy is likely pretty unhappy. None of this will be addressed as long as you keep the puppy and avoid setting boundaries with your daughter.
Obviously, the first thing you need to do is re-home the dog. The second priority is getting some help for your daughter’s depression so that she is better positioned to deal with the realities of life that, at 17, she will soon be facing as a young adult. YOU may be willing to walk on eggshells around her to avoid getting her “emotionally upset,” but the rest of the world isn’t going to do that. And if she doesn’t have practice dealing with her full range of human emotions at home, where she is loved unconditionally and is safe and protected, how is she going to manage when she’s out in the world? What you’re doing by trying to avoid upsetting her is setting her up to collapse at the first signs of stress. You can do better by her.
If your daughter is not already getting treatment for her depression, then that’s the first step. If she already gets treatment, then talk to her doctor about adjusting the treatment with a goal of better regulating emotions. That might mean starting or increasing talk therapy, starting or adjusting medication, and exploring other tools available to her and you. There are countless parenting books and even social media accounts devoted to parenting tips, some specializing in parenting children with depression. Even though you’re busy, you need to make time to learn some ways you can better support your daughter and set her up for success in her young adulthood and beyond.