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Advice on training/behavior for boyfriend's dog who would eventually be mine too

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by ewest89, Jul 16, 2017.


  1. ewest89

    ewest89 PetForums Newbie

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    Hello everyone! I am here to seek some much needed advice on training and possible implications on your relationship with your significant other.

    I have been dating a wonderful man for a year and a half. He is the owner of a very cute, very sweet, 4 year old Beagle Lab mix. The longer we are together and the more I grow to love this man, the more of a future I see with him. There has been conversation about moving in together eventually (not in the very near future), but I do have some concerns about his dog, my tolerance for certain behaviors, and I want to have a productive conversation about it.

    My boyfriend is very attached to his dog - she runs his house and has access to anything and everything. It’s his house, his dog, and his expectations, I understand. But if we were to share a home, I would want there to be more boundaries.

    I am scared to have this conversation with him because after we had been dating a while, I decided I could no longer tolerate sleeping at his place with the dog in the bed. I could not acclimate myself to it and was very uncomfortable. I very gingerly brought the topic up to him and asked if he would consider having her sleep elsewhere (literally anywhere except in the bed) whenever I stayed over, which was/is only one night a week. He became very emotional, cried, got upset and defensive. The next day he was a bit more reasonable, and now, ever since the conversation, she now sleeps in a chair beside the bed whenever I stay the night. He said that he understood why I felt the way I did and was sorry for his reaction, but as you may understand, that incident has made me nervous about any future conversations about the dog.

    I want to outline some of the behaviors and situations that are worrisome for me and it is my hope that you all can give me some pointers on how to remedy them so that when I approach my boyfriend, it is not a negative conversation where I am complaining about the dog, but more that I have some suggestions to propose so it is a more constructive conversation. I also want us to both be consistent with her, using the same language, and get him on board with trying things even when I am not around, again, for consistency.

    Jumping - this is one of my pet peeves. His dog is a jumper. She jumps on me (and anyone) when they come in the door, which is problematic as she scratches skin, dirties clothes, knocks things out of my hands, etc. Even once I am inside the house, if I have something in my hands she wants, she will jump on me. Out in public, she jumps on others and has even attempted to jump on waitstaff at restaurants. He allows her to jump on him, and when giving her treats for commands like sitting, he holds it at his level and allows her to jump up to get it, which I feel like probably reinforces this behavior.. She has torn up my legs and arms multiple times by jumping on me. I tell her “OFF!” like he does, but it’s usually too late because the damage is already done. He has seen the scratches and apologizes to me and tells me he knows that it bothers me, but I am not sure what to do to make the jumping stop.

    Food - his dog is entitled to any and all food. He frequently feeds her when cooking in the kitchen, and when he is done eating his meals, he puts his plate and silverware on the floor for her to lick. I find this to be an issue not only because I personally think allowing dogs to lick people plates is gross, but even more so, it causes her to beg and even lunge at plates while we are eating from them - even at the table! She is under the impression that it belongs to her, and she knows she will be given the food eventually, so why wait? If eating on the couch, he will allow her to sit on the couch beside him/us, or worse, she will climb the back of the couch and lean over top of you while you are eating.

    Separation anxiety - my boyfriend brings his dog with him everywhere. He is on the road a lot for his job, and she often rides with him, so she is not used to being alone. This means when we are preparing to go somewhere she can’t go, she becomes visibly anxious. He coddles her before we go, which I think confuses her and makes it even worse. Even if we are in the house just hanging out, she has to be in the same room as him all the time. We can’t even go into the bedroom and shut the door for intimate time without her pawing, clawing, and banging her body against the door. This is a huge reason I still have not allowed him to bring her over to my place, which does not allow pets, because I have heard that once while on vacation he left her alone in a beach house where she tore apart all the blinds. He will eventually cave to her demands to be let inside the room, which I feel like reinforces that behavior.

    Sleep - as I mentioned previously, my boyfriend compromised and has her sleep on a chair and not in the bed while I am staying the night. It still causes sleep problems for me, but I feel like I won such a huge battle that I am reluctant to bring this up. She is used to being on the bed the other 6 nights/week I am not there, so it takes several rounds of her jumping on the bed and him telling her “off” and then trying again before she finally settles in her sleep spot. For the remainder of the night, I have difficulty sleeping listening to her lick, bite, chew, scratch, etc. as she is literally right beside the bed. In the mornings when she wakes up, she will jump on the bed and it wakes us up, or she will bang her body against the blinds on his back bedroom door so they rattle and wake us up. He will appease (reward) her by letting her out and or feeding her, and fifteen minutes later she is jumping on us on the bed again. Sometimes, she bangs on the blinds when she doesn’t even want to go out or be fed, she just wants attention. I would prefer for her not to sleep in the bedroom at all, but as mentioned above, if we shut the bedroom door, she will relentlessly scratch and bang her body against the door.

    Furniture - again, I won a huge battle with the bed, and it is his home and his preferences…. But if we ever share a home, I prefer that dogs are not on any of the furniture, couches included. She is a huge shedder and sometimes I want to be able to watch TV and eat a snack on the couch without being covered in hair, saliva, and getting scratched in the face as she attempts to jump behind me on the couch to get my food.

    Scolding - I am not sure how this could be handled, but whenever she does something she shouldn't, my boyfriend usually just laughs it off. For example, she often gets into things she shouldn't. She once managed to get inside my bag while we were out of the house, where she pulled out my dirty gym clothes, isolated my underwear, and licked them to the point of saturation with saliva. We found her in the act on the couch when we got home, but rather than scolding her for having gone through my things and pulled them out, he just laughed and thought it was funny. On that note, she also has this awkward obsession with sexual fluids that I don't know how to address - she has eaten used condoms out of the trash, she will lick our underwear she finds, and after sex, she is always in his bed, licking the sheets... it's so uncomfortable to watch and he usually just ignores it or laughs it off.

    He would argue that she is well trained, when in reality she knows some basic commands and tricks (sit, lie down, roll over, wait, speak). I would prefer that there are more boundaries in the home and that she is more well mannered for company and being out in public. Any tips on how to target any of these behaviors or how to approach the conversation? Thank you!
     
  2. MiffyMoo

    MiffyMoo PetForums VIP

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    This is quite a difficult one, as it's coming across that you aren't very keen on the dog, which may become a much bigger issue once you're all living together as a family.

    You're right, the jumping up is totally unacceptable, especially with strangers. If she did it to someone quite frail and they fell over, it's a lawsuit waiting to happen. It's relatively easy to train her out of it, but you both have to be united on the training, or she'll get very confused.

    Eating from the table is such a no no, but I'm not terribly sure how you would approach that conversation. I keep thinking of one of the early episodes in season 1 of Victoria Stilwell's It's Me or the Dog, where the dog was fed at the table, so consequently was horribly overbearing at meal times. Have a look and see if you can find it on YouTube.

    Scolding isn't really the way to train a dog. Beagles love to sniff, and if she's bored, she's going to sniff out exciting new smells. Maybe suggest teaching her sniffing games to put it to good use. She'll love the stimulation. All I can say with regards to your gym kit and any other things that you don't want her to get is, don't set her up to fail by leaving it where she can get to it. Make sure that dirty clothes go straight into the hamper and all trash goes into a bin that she can't get into. She doesn't understand that what she's doing is wrong, as these are human values and emotions - she just thinks they're a brilliant new smell and taste.

    As for the separation anxiety, the best thing you can do is get a good behaviourist to come and see her. He will be able to observe and tell you if it really is SA, or if she's just acting up because she knows she'll get her way if she does. If it really is SA, then it will take a lot of work, as you're dealing with a real fear, not a behaviour.

    With regards to how to broach it with your partner, I'm 44 and single, so you probably don't want any relationship advice from me...
     
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  3. McKenzie

    McKenzie PetForums VIP

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    Hmmm it's a tricky one. He's had this dog for four years and is presumably perfectly happy with how they live. While some of your points are valid such as stealing food, others are simply preferences e.g. the furniture, sleeping in the bedroom.

    Your list of issues with the dog is pretty extensive and it does sound like you don't like the dog much, or at least have very different ideas as to the role of a dog in someone's life.

    The old saying 'love me, love my dog' springs to mind. Why are your preferences regarding the dog more important than his? By all means some training wouldn't go astray, but to be honest if I were him and you told me that you didn't like all of those things you listed, no matter how nicely you said it, I'd be pretty unhappy about that.

    Sorry, no practical advice except to say that it sounds like he really, really adores his dog and she is very important to him. Tread carefully.
     
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  4. Mirandashell

    Mirandashell Banned

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    I agree with the others. This is going to be tricky.

    Think of it this way, if you had a child and someone criticised the way you are bringing them up, you'd be upset wouldn't you? No matter how justified the criticism, it still hurts. For your partner, it's the same thing. He is going to feel attacked no matter how much you try to soften your words. So you need a strategy for that. Maybe do it in little steps rather than have confrontations about things. Like, as Miffy said, don't leave things where the dog can get them.

    And see it from the dog's point of view. Her 'pack' are her and him. You're the outsider. She's tolerating you as much as you are tolerating her at the moment. You tell her off, he doesn't. You moved her from 'her' bed so you could have it. You see this dog as an untrained nuisance (which sometimes she is!), she sees you as a rude intruder trying to make her do things she doesn't want to do and doesn't know are wrong. Maybe if you make friends with the dog, get her to see you as part of the pack, you would have more influence over the behaviour of both of them.
     
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  5. Lurcherlad

    Lurcherlad PetForums VIP

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    TBH I think I would have gone off him a long time ago as his attitude around the dog would just p*ss me off! ;)

    It actually does the dog no favours to allow such horrendous behaviours and not dealing with their anxiety over being separated actually would upset me and as he is clearly not prepared to do anything about it I would have walked long ago.

    BTW my dog is allowed on the sofa and beds, but not to the detriment of my OH. I absolutely would not want to be around a dog that behaved as you describe.

    If you sit down and explain exactly what you would want to change should you ever decide to live together (even now as she is such a PITA to be around to be frank - not to mention her own anxiety) and he isn't prepared to be reasonable ........
     
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  6. kittih

    kittih PetForums VIP

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    Not sure I can be much help but perhaps getting involved in her training might help. By this I mean you and the dog doing some fun stuff together where she learns some things (not tackling the issues you mentioned at first as you need to get everyone on board for that but just little things to start with.

    Get a clicker ( a couple of pounds) and some of her favourite treats (chicken or hotdogs cut into pea size pieces).

    Learn about how to do clicker training before you start

    https://clickertraining.com/15tips

    Then start with something fun and easy like teaching her "touch" where she touches her nose to your hand. We can give details how to train this and other stuff.

    Your bf should hopefully see you positively engaging with the dog and that will help with and perhaps lead to discussions about other training.

    As a beagle lab mix the nose is all important so there are a few activities you could do together that will engage the nose like find the treat under a set of three cups, searching for kibble in the long grass or in a snuffle mat or find a toy hidden in the house.

    I walked a neighbours border collie who was a bouncy untrained live wire. He also jumped up, got in the way and basically at times was a royal pain in the ass.

    I took him on walks and we started out doing simple training (like the touch command and sit). Training was only for 10 minutes at a time and I only walked him twice a week so we didn't have much time to practice. But with a clicker and treats he quickly picked up on it.

    Once he saw me as the giver of good and that learning was fun we progressed to lots of other things. In our case it was a mixture of tricks and good manners like sitting before exiting a door or having his lead put on and not pulling on the lead but we could have worked on anything.

    It didn't matter that his family didn't request the same good manners or teach him anything. When he was with me he did those things fine and was (eventually we'll behaved).

    In your situation it is harder as you would be interacting in boyfriends house so it would be confusing to the dog if you both had different rules about how the dog behaved inside the house.

    However I think with time you can work on this. Just you and the dog work on learning a few tricks or cues behaviours that are new to the dog and the boyfriend never uses. So the dog won't get confused. Tell the boyfriend you are the dog are working on a surprise for him :)

    Once the dog sees training is fun the bf should also see it is fun too.

    You can then start work on "tricks" that you could use as alternatives to the things you aren't so keen on. Eg train a place command where the dog goes to a mat or marker. You could then use this with a nice tasty reward like a filled kong so that when you want to eat or have alone time you can ask the dog to go to its mat and stay there and get a reward.



    Look up kikopup on YouTube for lots of ideas.

    I guess my approach would be if you can't beat them then join them.

    Get involved in training simple fun stuff then very slowly slowly introduce cues for behaviours that would be incompatible with the activities you don't like or get the dog to think the alternative behaviour is much more fun. It's as much about teaching the boyfriend as the dog. Perhaps if you show him how much the dog loves training he will get enthused as well. You could try a few fun dog show classes such as best trick.
     
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  7. steveshanks

    steveshanks PetForums VIP

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    I'm 55 and Divorced followed by many other unofficial divorces (lived together then suddenly didn't:)) so i won't give any advice on relationships, unless anyone wants to know how to end one LOL. BUT i will say be careful, if i was in a relationship and my dog was coming between us it, well i'll be blunt, Pip stays :)
     
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  8. Mirandashell

    Mirandashell Banned

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    That's good advice from KittiH. Get the dog on your side and the partner should be easier to talk to. In fact, doing it Kitti's way could give him the idea that it was all his idea in the first place. Which is always good.

    Sometimes you have to flow like water around a rock.
     
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  9. kittih

    kittih PetForums VIP

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    The bit in bold is always a good thing to do. In fact (men close your ears for a moment), it is one of the "how to get you man to do what you want " rules :D

    I love the water round rock quote. It is this exactly. :)
     
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  10. Laney_Lemons

    Laney_Lemons PetForums Senior

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    Hello OP....

    It was quite a long list of concerns.... To be honest i wouldn't be happy to live in the house you are describing, the dog rules the house and has some very bad habits and the behaviour with the SA is quite distressing not only for you but for the poor dog.

    I can only suggest you bring it up in light conversation and imply this for the benefit of the dog, i.e. Jumping at strangers - if he does this to an elderly person with not good balance or a child it can lead injury which will open up a can of worms...

    The SA must be very distressing for her and not coping well on her own is not very healthy - again mention how she might hurt herself and getting a behaviorist in to help would be good for her.


    A few of your points thou are just part of dog ownership, and some you will have to compromise on.... as to her sniffing and licking and going into your bag etc, this is just dogs they like to get their nose into everything! ... keep your bag in a cupboard, close doors and get a good bin to discard items. Redirect her sniffing to something positive, sniffing games with treats out side etc.

    The casting again is just having a dog, the hair is everywhere regardless... i don't have a problem with a dog on the sofa, but what about putting a blanket down where she sits on the sofa,make a 'spot' thats hers?

    Your OH failed in teaching her manners and has not shown her what is acceptable and not, she is just being an unruly dog. remember this is not her fault, this is all she knows and has not be taught otherwise.

    Its maybe not my place nor my business however if you are unable to breach a subject such as this and coming to a compromise I would reflect on the relationship you have with him, however he was willing to compromise on the sleeping arrangements so its just about tactic and pouncing on the tight time so he doesn't feel like you are attacking and being negative all the time about his beloved beagle


    Your relationship with the dog sounds like its deteriorating or its non existent as the bad manners are overtaking all her good points , she is only 4 as well so she is young enough to start training.. remember she will be about most likely for 10+yr so you need to nip this in the bud before moving in etc.
     
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  11. Calvine

    Calvine PetForums VIP

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    @ewest89: This would concern me a bit (from a grown man). OK, I can see he might get defensive about his dog, might try to justify her behaviour, OK, but to cry? That would be a no for me. It sounds as tho' you are not a dog person at all, and at very best would possibly tolerate a dog which behaved impeccably...which this one clearly doesn't. I don't see this working at all quite honestly. Sorry.
     
  12. lorilu

    lorilu PetForums VIP

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    Me too. I certainly feel he has a right to live with his dog the way he wants. But I would want no part of it.
     
  13. Burrowzig

    Burrowzig PetForums VIP

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    The boyfriend and you have such different standards about what behaviour is acceptable - in this instance with the dog, but the implications go far wider - I can't see it working out long term. Going out with someone is one thing, but the living-in arrangements show clear incompatibility.
     
  14. LinznMilly

    LinznMilly Moderator
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  15. Calvine

    Calvine PetForums VIP

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    Well...quite a lot of responses with differing opinions and advice; I wonder if OP has read any of the posts yet?
     
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  16. Jamesgoeswalkies

    Jamesgoeswalkies PetForums VIP

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    Unlikely as they haven't been on since a minute after they posted this thread ( or else they are lurking :D). Hopefully they will pop by sometime ........

    Personally a bloke who would prefer to share their bed with their dog rather than their girlfriend and gets upset if she suggests otherwise perhaps isn't ready for an adult relationship.

    J
     
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  17. Muttly

    Muttly Fluffy Mutts Rule!

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    Same here.

    But OP, Most of this dogs behaviour is awful and dangerous to her and others. You need to sit down with your OH and say how you would want things to be when you move in together. If he doesn't like it and won;t change, then please for the love of god end it.
    DO NOT try to tolerate it as down the line things will be so much harder.
    Also don;t let him change JUST for you as he will resent you for it. Try to make him see the problems for himself and if he can't, end it.

    Muttly is well-behaved, but he does sleep on the bed and I wouldn't change that for anyone ( I will add to this that for the first hour or 2 he sleeps under the bed and only when we are both asleep does he get on the bed). He also likes to be with his humans as much as possible. I like it this way, again I wouldn't be changing that.
    Me OH and I had many many arguments over dogs on sofas and beds etc...he was like you basically. Nothing wrong with that at all, some people don't like it, but I wish I had known his views before we moved in together and got a dog.

    Bottom line, like your OH, my dog is my world I would give my right arm for him and noone will change that. That's me. I come with a dog and always will :Smug
     
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  18. lorilu

    lorilu PetForums VIP

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    Same for me and my cats. I think @ewest89 should let them go and find someone more compatible. Most definitely NOT move in.
     
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  19. Sarah1983

    Sarah1983 PetForums VIP

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    This. My hubby included the dog in his marriage proposal lol. Kinda says something doesn't it?

    Although we certainly did compromise on things when me and Calvin got married. Rupert was used to sleeping on the bed, Calvin didn't want a dog in the bedroom at all. Told him it would be unfair to just banish him to downstairs when he'd had years of sleeping on the bed so we compromised with a bed for him in the bedroom. Spencer is now in our bedroom too although not on the bed. I didn't have a meltdown at the thought of my dog not being in bed with us though! That seems very odd to me. We've compromised with the sofa too, blanket over it so Spen can come up without the sofa being covered in as much hair (believe me, dog hair will get on the sofa even if the dog never does) or drool or mud.

    I know lots of people whose dogs behave like the OPs partners and it really doesn't bother them. It drives me up the wall just visiting them so there is no way on earth I could live with a dog doing that. Dogs on furniture is fine by me, having to fend off dogs trying to steal my food while I'm eating isn't and I honestly can't understand how anyone thinks that's acceptable. yet they do.
     
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  20. Muttly

    Muttly Fluffy Mutts Rule!

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    Awww!!!! Bless him :)

    I'm with you, I really would not put up with a dog trying to rob me of my food. Some of the things OP's OH lets his dog do makes me wanna :Vomit
    But, you know that's up to him, but he has to understand that other's won't like it and he shouldn't make them.
     
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