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Problems with Wfie's Dog

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

  
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Member Since
07/07/2013
 
 
Barked: Sun Jul 7, '13 8:38am PST 
Hi All, I have some questions about my wife's Boston Terrier. We were married in Oct, and the dog moved in with us in Mar once we were settled.The dog has had a tough time adjusting, and so have I not being a dog person. My wife has an attachment to the dog that I find unhealthy for both of them. I feel she treats the dog like a spoiled child rather than an animal. I'm wondering how much of the problems are my not understanding, the dog being poorly trained, or my wife no treating the dog correctly.

1. One problem is the dog poops in the house, much less frequently now than when he first moved in. But I'm afraid either he is pooping and eating it, or my wife is cleaning it up before I get home so I don't notice. I notice new stains on the floor, but when asked my wife says she didn't clean it.

2. The dog doesn't listen. There are several instances of this. One he has a problem with licking his paws raw. He has seen the vet about this. My wife will make a hissing noise which he supposedly listens to. But most times he will stop until she looks away, then start again. Or move somewhere she can't see him to do this.

3. He constantly licks the carpet where she feeds him treats. I don't like this at all. She started giving his treats in his bed, but he still licks where the treats were previously even after i vacuum. I tell him to stop, snap my fingers to get his attention, tried to clap my hands. If i approach him, he will run and hide near her, then come back a few seconds later to continue. To me this just seems defiant.

4. When being walked the dog leads. My wife likes to joke that he is "being the leader of the pack". I've always been told you do not allow the dog to be the leader, you have to be or he will not respect you.

5. The dog sleeps in the bed. I don't want to sleep with a dog. That's my issue. But the wife has chosen that the dog sleeps in the bed, and I am sleeping on an air mattress in another room. My wife has told me I have to sleep in the bed to let him know the bed is mine. But when I try that and try to push him into his bed in the middle of the night he yelps and she gets mad at me. How can he be trained to sleep in his own bed, rather than ours?

6. He tries to get food off the table. We don't typically eat at an actual dinner table as it's just the two of us. But the dog is constantly putting his face as close to the table to get food. If i attempt to push him away he yelps and hides next to her. If we do eat at a table he will stand on his hind legs and attempt to lick things off the table. He is rarely if even told not to do this. If he is told he is doing something bad he will soon be scratched and petted, which I feel tells him that it's ok. If he jumps on someone else and tries to bother them for food, my wife says he's bothering them so they can tell him to get down.

This is just part of a long list of things that bother me bout the dog. But a start to find out if i'm just being overly judgmental of the dog, or there is a problem with the dog.

Thanks in advance.

PS: I'm posting to several forums in hopes of different view points. Please don't flame me for this
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Kali

She's game for- anything that's- fun.
 
 
Barked: Sun Jul 7, '13 9:51am PST 
Some people do get very attached to their dogs. I am one of them. With that said, dogs do need boundaries. That's very important, not only for basic obedience and peace in the house but also for safety. For example, if you drop a pill on the floor, you need to know that one command will keep the dog from running over and eating it. It could kill them. Maybe you could try going to training classes with your wife? It sounds more like a difference of opinion on how your dog should behave. Now that your married, technically, the dog belongs to both of you, even though it's basically your wife's dog. If the classes help with the obedience portion of the dog's training, then maybe your wife will see how much better it is? You should not be in another room in your house when you sleep. Who owns the house, you or your dog? You need to find a middle ground with your wife on what your dog is allowed to do and now do. Hope that helps. Good Luck!
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Arya

Serious Face
 
 
Barked: Sun Jul 7, '13 10:21am PST 
1. Did the dog poop in the house prior to the move?? If not, it's probably just an adjustment thing and he will re-learn where is appropriate. Every time we moved our dog Misha, he started going in the house again for a couple months until he adjusted. Your wife could be not telling you about when it happens and hoping it works itself out... especially if you tend to get mad or irate about it.

2. Maybe see another vet about his paws and see if you can't get something for them? Something has got to be irritating them. Does anyone here know if bitter apple spray on them will help deter the licking, or if it's too late? If the vet says it's not medical, maybe it's a habit from stress or anxiety in which case finding out why the dog is anxious will prevent it.

3. Your wife needs to stop giving him treats in bed/on carpet, and the fabric needs to be like...steam cleaned. A dog's nose is SUPER sensitive, he can still easily smell where the treats were even though it seems clean. To him it still smells very tasty and like something that is for him. He's not being defiant, he just wants treats. He runs over to your wife because you're being scary and intense. When you stop being scary, he tries to find the treats again. Unfortunately you're not teaching him anything other than that you're a scary person.

4. There is no leader of the pack, that's old behavior thinking that is now considered a myth by most trainers and behaviorists. Dogs don't have rigid hierarchies in groups.
As long as he isn't pulling on the leash, there's no problem with him walking in front. I actually prefer my dogs walking a little in front at me so I can see what they're up to. If he IS pulling, then he just needs some more training.

5. The dog gets upset because he's always slept in bed and doesn't understand this new rule. You getting into bed is doing nothing to teach him that the bed is yours, only that you sleep in bed too.
I'm actually not sure how to train a dog to go to his own bed... Arya was crate trained and likes to sleep in her crate right next to the bed. Try making his bed a really fun place. Play with him in his bed, give him special treats in his bed. But you might want to try crate training too... I'm not sure how you would keep him from getting back on the bed in the middle of the night.

6. Yeah... it does sound like your wife is not keeping consistent with what the rules and expectations are, so her dog doesn't have great manners. Shouting and pushing again only makes you seem scary. But it's totally fair that you think this behavior is inappropriate.

It sounds like your wife and dog would really benefit from taking classes together and working with a positive reinforcement trainer. It would be awesome for you to work with him to, if you're up to it, or even just go with and watch the classes. I know you don't really like the dog right now, but I promise he's not being bad on purpose, he just hasn't been taught clear, consistent rules. A little bonding with you would do some good, seeing as you guys are stuck together. smile

I think a trainer would also help convince your wife which behaviors need to be worked on and how important it is. If these have been problems that are causing a lot of tension in your marriage, she may get overly defensive with you saying so many things are wrong with her dog.
Whereas...going to see a trainer together could be fun for the whole family, and show her that you're interested in getting to know the dog and working together. smile
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Augusta,- CGC, RN

Such a Good Dog!
 
 
Barked: Sun Jul 7, '13 12:30pm PST 
Agree with Ayra--good points! Most of these things are not the dog being bad, but being a dog and possibly needing more boundaries and structure.

I can't remember all the points in order, but some additional thoughts

Sounds like the dog needs to be on a more regular feeding and walking schedule. If he's going in the house, maybe he needs to be walked first thing in the a.m. after breakfast and at lunch and again at night. If he's just being put out in a yard to go alone, he may not be going.

Obsessive paw licking is not something you can expect a dog to listen to you about--his paws itch, you can interrupt him temporarily, but you can't order him to not be itchy! He needs relief and to see the vet again, if whatever was tried didn't work. He's probably got allergies.

Leading on walks is not a big deal, forget about that one.

Begging while you eat . . . put him in another room during meals and don't share food while you eat. He'll get used to it.

It would help if he was crate trained and accustomed to spending some down time sleeping in his own crate. That would be useful for both a place to put him while you eat and sleep.

The bed is the tricky part, lots of doting pet owners like to sleep with their dogs, but if she's choosing the dog over you in the bed . .. . that's a sticky wicket. Maybe you could compromise and at least not have the dog in the bed every night. This might even be worthy of human counseling to get her to see your side of things.
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Smokey

Let's play tug!!
 
 
Barked: Sun Jul 7, '13 2:13pm PST 
Great advice, Arya!!

Another thing that might help is having a comfy bed height ottoman on her side of the bed for him to sleep on. I have one with a soft memory foam mattress pad and blanket on top. I'm a snuggler, but I nudge Smokey over there if he wakes me up too many times in a row. And he sleeps there sometimes if he's hot or very tired. That way she can cuddle him if she wants to, or he can start off in the bed but move over there if it gets too crowded.

I heartily second the advice about taking a reward-based training class together. That was definitely what changed my relationship with my ex's dog, and ultimately turned me into a dog person. You will feel better when you realize that these are behaviors that respond to reinforcement, and not unchangeable frustrations.
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Addy, CGC

Let's go for a- walk!
 
 
Barked: Sun Jul 7, '13 3:39pm PST 
1. One problem is the dog poops in the house, much less frequently now than when he first moved in. But I'm afraid either he is pooping and eating it, or my wife is cleaning it up before I get home so I don't notice. I notice new stains on the floor, but when asked my wife says she didn't clean it.

Did the dog poop in the house before the marriage and the move? If not, it's an adjustment issue, which takes time, as well as a training issue. Consistency is essential, and it seems possible that your wife is, instead of being consistent and getting him outside frequently enough, is possibly being lax and cleaning up after to mollify you.

2. The dog doesn't listen. There are several instances of this. One he has a problem with licking his paws raw. He has seen the vet about this. My wife will make a hissing noise which he supposedly listens to. But most times he will stop until she looks away, then start again. Or move somewhere she can't see him to do this.

If he is licking his paws raw, there is something wrong. This is not a problem of "doesn't listen." This may be from stress (you really do desperately need to improve your relationship with this poor dog, and sincerely believing you're not doing anything to stress him doesn't mean you aren't), or it could be from allergies--food allergies or grass allergies are both real possibilities.

You need to take this seriously. This is not a discipline issue.

3. He constantly licks the carpet where she feeds him treats. I don't like this at all. She started giving his treats in his bed, but he still licks where the treats were previously even after i vacuum. I tell him to stop, snap my fingers to get his attention, tried to clap my hands. If i approach him, he will run and hide near her, then come back a few seconds later to continue. To me this just seems defiant.

No, this is not being "defiant." This is a dog being a dog. There was food there, so he'll keep at it till he's sure he's gotten it all (especially if he's a bit insecure and stressed), and your wanting him to stop makes no sense to him at all.

Is there a reason why this is actually a problem, or is it just that you "don't like this." You do have to make some compromises to live with a dog, and if you want to live with someone who loves dogs. On this one, you might just need to get over yourself.

4. When being walked the dog leads. My wife likes to joke that he is "being the leader of the pack". I've always been told you do not allow the dog to be the leader, you have to be or he will not respect you.

Nonsense. Popular nonsense, but nonsense. What it means when the dog is in front of you on a walk, is that the dog happens to be in front of you. Actual behavior problems: Lunging and pulling on the leash.

Well-trained dogs should learn to heel, but that takes training. There's nothing obvious about it to the dog, that if they respect you they should follow rather than lead. It's about safety and not being a pain to other pedestrians, not making sure the dog respects you.

The human should control the direction of the walk. This is different from actually being in the lead.

5. The dog sleeps in the bed. I don't want to sleep with a dog. That's my issue. But the wife has chosen that the dog sleeps in the bed, and I am sleeping on an air mattress in another room. My wife has told me I have to sleep in the bed to let him know the bed is mine. But when I try that and try to push him into his bed in the middle of the night he yelps and she gets mad at me. How can he be trained to sleep in his own bed, rather than ours?

This is primarily an issue between you and your wife, and only secondarily (at most) a dog problem. You need to reach agreement on what you are going to do. Until you are actually in agreement on where the dog should sleep, you will not be able to train him to do it.

Pushing the dog may be causing him pain. I know it is not intended to, and it isn't necessarily doing that, but it is possible. Take him to the vet and FIND OUT. After that, and after reaching agreement with your wife on where he's going to sleep (you should know that lots of dog owners like their dogs, especially small ones like Bostons, to sleep in their beds with them; she needs to know that the frequency of this actually happening goes down dramatically when there's a second person involved), then you can get on the same page and train him to do that. As with all training, consistency is vital.

6. He tries to get food off the table. We don't typically eat at an actual dinner table as it's just the two of us. But the dog is constantly putting his face as close to the table to get food. If i attempt to push him away he yelps and hides next to her. If we do eat at a table he will stand on his hind legs and attempt to lick things off the table. He is rarely if even told not to do this. If he is told he is doing something bad he will soon be scratched and petted, which I feel tells him that it's ok. If he jumps on someone else and tries to bother them for food, my wife says he's bothering them so they can tell him to get down.

Your wife is training him to beg for food when you eat. Not intentionally, I'm sure, but yes, she's reinforcing the behavior. It is a natural behavior, but one that's fairly easy to stop with consistent training.

When I have dinner at my sister's house, with her dogs and mine, my brother-in-law and my niece are the constant focus of attention from all the dogs (although they have learned not to actively beg), while my sister, myself, and our mother are ignored by them. Guess why. big grin This is, again, something you need to discuss with your wife. And again, pushing the dog, resulting in yelping, might mean the dog is experiencing some pain. It's also not the most effective way to discourage this behavior.

And, while I'm not a big one for eating at a table either, doing so would remove temptation further away from your Boston's face. Food is a huge incentive for dogs; once you've worked this out with your wife--and unlike the bed issue, this is an issue where it's not just a matter of making a decision one way or the other; you are right about this, unambiguously--eating at a table while you do initial training on this would make the training go easier. Once he's mastered Not Begging at an actual table, then you can move on to more challenging exercises, such as not begging while you're eating in the living room.
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Sandy

tiny...but fast!
 
 
Barked: Sun Jul 7, '13 4:07pm PST 
As far as the bed situation goes, this is what my friend and his girlfriend did(and it worked) they bought the dog a comfortable dog bed and put the dog bed in the human bed. They kept putting the dog in her new dog bed( on the human bed) until she settled down and slept in the dog bed(on top of the human bed). They continued to do this until the dog willingly went into the dog bed(on the human bed) to sleep. After a week stair of the dog willingly sleeping on the dog bed they moved the dog bed to the floor right next to the bed and the dog went to the dog bed to sleep. I'm not saying this would for sure work for u but its worth a shot and maybe even having the dog in a dog bed on the human bed could be like a compromise.
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Member Since
06/01/2013
 
 
Barked: Sun Jul 7, '13 10:28pm PST 
Its not a canine matter as much as a human one. Sleeping in separate beds because of the dog is very bad for your relationship.
1) You and your new wife should go to counseling.
2) Find a good behaviorist who specializes in such cases and consult them. Maybe they can suggest some creative solutions that will work for you and the dog.
3) Good Luck!
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Fritz

Fritz, cats are- fun when they- run
 
 
Barked: Mon Jul 8, '13 3:41am PST 
Very good advice all around, one thing you should be aware of. I can't speak for your wife but If my husband made me choose between him and my dogs, he would be the one moving out. Many dog owners feel this strongly about their dogs, keep that in mind, find a positive trainer and a good counselor.

PS being close to a dog is not unhealthy, it sounds like your relationship could become unhealthy if you don't get help soon.

Good Luck.

PS we have 3 dogs in the bed and 2 on the floor at night.
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Jackson Tan

Lad about town
 
 
Barked: Mon Jul 8, '13 4:06am PST 
I tend to agree with Fritz, it would be very unwise to make it a 'me or the dog' issue (not saying that you are). These sorts of ultimatums rarely go well, especially with people who are very attached to their dogs. That being said, you should not be sleeping on an air mattress, that is unhealthy, your wife needs to compromise on this at least a little bit. It sounds like you two need to have a long talk about things.
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