Happiness - My Dog HeyBigBoy

TL;DR

My dog (named HeyBigBoy) is all shut down/scared/stupid. These are my attempts at rehabilitating him back to normal, friendly dog status.

Background

I got HeyBigBoy (HBB) from the Oakland Animal Shelter in 2013. He was a beautiful pitbull mix with gorgeous muscle definition, who loved to cuddle and hog my bedspace (we'd go to sleep with him on the corner of my bed and me sprawled out, but we'd wake up with him in the middle of the bed and me sleeping on a thin strip at the edge of the bed). He used to get super excited and run around the house when I or my roommates came home, and he'd play with our neighbor's dogs endlessly.

When I moved to DC in 2014, I had to leave him with my parents in LA. When I returned to LA in 2017, I was surprised to see that he was a different dog: he seemed depressed; he slept all day; he'd show excitement only when there was food around; he feared everything (cars, sprinklers, cardboard boxes, rustling leaves, and the list goes on); and he no longer showed any interest in other dogs -- as a matter of fact, he was so shut down and mopey that most dogs passing by on the street try to attack him, as dogs/wolves do in the wild.

The Problem

Wtf is wrong with my dog? I do not desire these shut-down, passive, depressed behaviors from him. 

Proposed Solution

Rehabilitate HBB to be the happy, friendly, loving, excited dog he used to be.

My Experiments

I'm proud of the 5+ years of work with dogs (on and off) that I have under my belt, but admittedly there is a lot of room for improvement re: my skill level as a dog whisperer. 
Initially I wanted to get trained by a more experienced dog whisperer, but the training was well beyond my budget. So I ignored the issue for a while.

On November 15, 2017, I made the choice to start addressing HBB's issues:

Experiment 1

Hypothesis: If I increase the intensity and length of HBB's physical exercise, he will: 
  1. burn more calories thereby reducing his stress, and
  2. feel pride at completing a job that I've given him.
Method(s):
  • I put a dog backpack on HBB with 2 L of water on each side (over 8 lbs), and
  • doubled the length of his walks (from 1 mi each to 2 mi each) x twice daily.
  • Additionally, to encourage compliance, I reduced his meals from twice daily to once every two days.
Result(s):
  • No increase in confidence,
  • no increase in obedience (he's already quite obedient to begin with), and
  • marked increase in time spent sleeping.
Conclusion(s):
  • This increase in intensity of exercise and reduction in food did NOT yield the desired result.
  • Back to the drawing board.

Experiment 2

Hypothesis: 
  • d
Method(s):
  • d
Result(s):
  • d
Conclusion(s):
  • d

Experiment 3

Hypothesis: 
  • d
Method(s):
  • d
Result(s):
  • d
Conclusion(s):
  • d