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Dog behavior causing relationship problems...

February 29th, 2008, 11:42 AM
Ok, this kind of a backwards post. I do not own the dogs (2 labs) my partner does. We moved in together about 3-1/2 months ago. Sorry this is long....

Prior to this she lived more than an hour out of town with another woman who took in rescues. I only went there once before we moved her. The owner of the home was not my girlfriend but the woman who took in the dogs. She had 14 dogs total (not to mention the cats). And she let them do anything they wanted to in the house. Climb on the furniture, on the bed, pee on the floor, she left piles of food out for them to eat when ever they wanted, no structure at all. She would leave about 7-8 of them in the house all day while at work. My girlfriend who lived there had her two dogs but they were house trained and much better than the 14 other. The youngest of hers stayed in a crate during the day.

We talked about the dogs before moving in together but not a lot. She said they were really good dogs and she never had a problem with them. We found a place and I signed the lease because of her credit not being as good. We moved in and the two dogs were completely out of control. First off, we are renting a house that has a fully fenced in backyard because of the dogs and she said they could stay outside while we were at work. But she never put them out. We’d leave for work and she’d put one in the crate and leave the other one loose. The one loose slept on everything and he likes to suck on pillows, etc. So the sofa and bed were getting nasty from hair and wet spots. That wasn’t as bad as trying to sleep.

She would bring their beds into the bedroom and lay them next to the bed. And ALL NIGHT LONG they would dig & whine at us. Then jump on the bed at random times. 1 dog weighs 70 lbs, the other 125 lbs. She sleeps like the dead and would sleep through a lot of this. But even still, she would get up 2, 3 and even 4 times during the night to let me out. I on the other hand, have a hard time sleeping even in the most serene situations. So for the first three weeks I literally did not sleep. I had scratches all over my legs, arms and face from them digging at me at night. It gets even worse…

The youngest one is just about a year old now and doesn’t have any sense of discipline at all. When you put him outside he tears at the storm door and has ruined it, jumps on the side of the house under all the windows and has damaged the siding, literally chewed and ripped of the metal flashing around the back door, jumps on the heat pump and has bent the top grate all up and dug holes in the backyard. He has chewed up tools of mine, gloves, clothing, shoes, etc. Anything he can get his mouth on, he chews.

I said all this to say I do not know how to handle this. I love her very much and our relationship outside of the dogs is great, even better than great. But this behavior of the dogs is causing all kinds of problems. I finally told her that I had to be able to sleep and we had to do something different. So now we have a baby gate up to the bedroom at all times and at night the youngest sleeps in his crate and the other on his bed in the hall. That has helped with sleeping. But the other problems still persist.

As it is from a financial standpoint I can’t just let these two dogs destroy this house that we are renting. I know we’ll loose the deposit and probably have to pay even more to fix everything. But every time we fight she blames me and says I told her I love animals. Which I do love animals, but this is out of control. I grew up with cats, dogs, squirrels, birds and even turtles as pets. But we always had very well mannered and disciplined animals. We didn’t let them run wild. And you do that for the sake of you and the animal.

Finally, after bolting both gates closed, building a barrier around the heat pump she will let them stay outside during the day. But only if it’s warmer than 50 degrees and not a chance of rain. That means that they go out maybe 2-3 days a week. She does not walk the dogs at all, she doesn’t play with them in the yard enough to give them proper exercise, and she has no system of training them to behave or action/reaction reward system. Most days they stay in the house all day and are only outside for 30-60 minutes tops. And if it’s cold or raining, they only go out to go to the bathroom and then come right back in.

I am at my wits end. I have told her repeatedly that she’s got to step up and discipline them. She’s got to work with them A LOT to teach them better behavior. She says she’s gonna work with them more but nothing changes. So I am CONSTANTLY getting them off the sofa, telling them NO, and she just sits there. She only tells them no when she’s frustrated or agitated, otherwise she just lets them do what they want. She’s very inconsistent with them so they don’t learn anything. All they do know is wait till I leave the room and then all hell breaks loose.

Can someone who understand he perspective more tell me what to do or say to her?!?

February 29th, 2008, 12:17 PM
wow it sounds like you really care about her and the dogs. Does she take offense to you when you tell her these things? If so, try to explain it to her how you explained it to us. Maybe the training will fall to you because you seem to know what you are doing with dogs.

February 29th, 2008, 01:22 PM
This is more of a relationship question than a pet problem.

I think the real question is- if she treats her pets that she loves this poorly... Would you trust her to have your children in the future? Just saying! :)

As far as the dogs go- tell her she needs to put them in "doggy daycare" and that they both need to sleep in crates (somewhere where you can't hear them).

I think that the destructive behavior has a lot to do with the fact that the house is a new surrounding, sans 14 other dogs and numerous cats. Think about it- two children who are used to being in a house with 14 other kids are going to be really bored when 14 of their playmates disappear. Give the dogs something else to do, other than be destructive- or make her crate the other dog.

Good luck!

February 29th, 2008, 01:29 PM
I am crazy about this girl and really want this to work out. And yes, she gets very defensive and tells me that I hate her dogs. But I can't get her to see that loving a dog isn't letting them run wild. I love the dogs but they are so undisciplined that it makes it really difficult to live with.

I knew a couple that was interested in getting another dog and her youngest that we've had the most problems with was exactly what they were looking for. They had the time to deal with more than we did and a better yard/home situation to work with him.

So they took him and then next day they put him on the screened in porch and he literally chewed through and then tore out the window unit and climbed into the house. Then proceed to tear up thing and sleep in their bed. They brought him back that night and said he was more than they could handle. Ugh....

If she doesn’t get on the same page with me about teaching them then everything I do is undone by her. She’s their master, ya know, they look to her those boundaries and I am afraid the dogs will just see me as this monster that does nothing but tell them NO all the time.

February 29th, 2008, 01:39 PM
I'm going back to my original point- you may be crazy about this girl...

But if she were as "crazy" about you in return, and had the proper maternal instincts, she would want her dogs to be as behaved as possible.

I really think you should show her this post, and then tell her you either A. want to crate both dogs during the day, and at night when you're asleep, or you need to take them to doggy day care so that they can exhaust themselves (and a lot of those "day carers" are dog trainers that will help reinforce positive behavior).

My dog is very well behaved, and my boyfriend always tells me that he can't wait to have children with me, because he knows that I realize what's best for my "children".

Dogs have a NEED to learn and a NEED to be disciplined- just like children. You just have to find the "disciplinary action" that is best suited to your dogs needs (my dog hates being separated from everyone, so he goes into "time out"... My friend's dog hates the water spritzer... It all depends on your pup).

Bottom line, it's not good for the dogs, or for your relationship to be that out of control.

February 29th, 2008, 01:58 PM
I agree wholeheartedly with everything boxerlady says.
The dogs are definitely bored, and doggy daycare, even a couple days a week, would be excellent. Not to mention a trip to the dog park on days that you don't take them to daycare. These dogs clearly need something EVERY DAY to keep them tired and out of trouble, and I find it unsettling that your girl won't lift a finger to excercise them.

Maybe you could take the initiative to take them to obedience school. I'm not sure if it would help them at this point, but you could ask her how it makes her feel knowing that you care more about her dogs and their well-being (plus yours as a couple) than she does. If you're like me, and don't like to argue with your partner, I know it's very hard to have a discussion in which criticisms are made, but maybe you making all the effort and her making literally none will drive the point home.

I hate to use the word ultimatum, but maybe if she thinks there's a chance that she'll lose you if her dogs don't stop wrecking the house, she may at least take on half the responsibility of these dogs.

Speaking of which, have you been doing anything other than telling them no and giving them ***** when they do something wrong? Because if you're the one taking them to school, the dog park, daycare, etc, their view will shift eventually, to you as the master, especially if you're also giving them positive reinforcement.

Any good woman will realize when she's not pulling her weight. You need to take the initiative here, give your time and money to these dogs so they will respect you and your home. She will come around when she sees clearly what you're doing. These are just my opinions, but if you want to save the relationship and be the owner of two great dogs, you need to do something other than chastise the dogs and whine to your girlfriend. Just take action.

February 29th, 2008, 02:26 PM
The whole children thing was a big punch in the gut. We actually talked about that recently and I told her she'd never discipline her children if she couldn't discipline the dogs. She argued that she would be different with kids. I was thinking, no you won't. If you can't step up with these dogs, you won't step up with kids.

The doggy day-care is a great idea but the issue there is 1, she doesn't have the money for that, 2, I would have to be the ones to both take them and then pick them up and most likely pay for it.

I would LOVE to crate both dogs but the house is so small we seriously don't have another place to crate the other one. As it is we have a big storage unit that's full.

As a last resort I am going to call a dog trainer that I have been in touch with over the past few months and see if she can just sit down with both of us and we can go over all the issues and let the trainer tell/explain to her that what she's doing is not in the best intrest of these dogs. Maybe hearing it from someone other than me will open her eyes.

If not, then I think this relationship is doomed. It will really hurt and break my heart to loose her over this but I have got to draw the line somewhere and realize that she has to take responsibility for her dogs and either I am worth more to her than letting them run wild.

Thanks for the response guys. I was beginning to think I was being insensitive or maybe I just didn’t get it. It’s good to know that I am not loosing my mind and this really isn’t good behavior.

February 29th, 2008, 02:38 PM
I thoroughly agree with the others. Dogs are pack animals, to them you will become the dominant in the home. In my house it is me that does the majority of disciplining and teaching and my partner does the feeding. Think about a wolf pack, there are two alpha's. So you start teaching the dogs to behave, let her do the feeding. At this point I wouldn't even discuss it anymore it obviously isn't getting you anywhere. Try walking them, daycare obedience class anything.

February 29th, 2008, 02:51 PM
I thoroughly agree with the others. Dogs are pack animals, to them you will become the dominant in the home. In my house it is me that does the majority of disciplining and teaching and my partner does the feeding. Think about a wolf pack, there are two alpha's. So you start teaching the dogs to behave, let her do the feeding. At this point I wouldn't even discuss it anymore it obviously isn't getting you anywhere. Try walking them, daycare obedience class anything.


You don't need to lose your relationship over it, this is a fixable problem! I know you said you'd be the one forking over the cash for the obedience school/daycare, but maybe to you, the cash is worth it to save your relationship. Maybe, after talking to this trainer friend of yours, all you'll need to give is your time, and I know THAT is worth saving your relationship. Aslan is right, don't bother talking to her about it, just take care of it.

P.S. I'm going to PM you.

February 29th, 2008, 02:56 PM
I'd also say that in some cases, the other person doesn't notice what a big deal it is until they see an improvement.

For example- she's still thinking "my dogs are angels" because she's comparing them to that other lady she was living with. You, having seen and been with VERY well behaved dogs, know what it means to have a "good" dog. She just isn't seeing the problem.

I think if you can, with a trainer or walks or even day care for a week or so, get her to see an improvement she'll be like "wow! They're so much better! Maybe you were right! This is totally worth it!" and will hopefully step up to the plate to take some of the responsibility off of you. If not- then maybe talk about the relationship-ending thing.

She's just become acclimatised (is that a word?) to the situation as-is.

February 29th, 2008, 03:06 PM
So apparently you can't receive PM...I wrote you a long one! Send me your email and I'll send it to you if you'd like.

February 29th, 2008, 03:25 PM
Good luck!

I hope you get the issues resolved.

I can't decide which would be worse to lose... My dog or my boyfriend! :laughing:

February 29th, 2008, 03:38 PM
To some degree I did just shut-up and started working with them myself. I would throw ball with them and make the younger one sit and wait before I would throw it. I would get treats and make them sit outside before they could come in. I took the younger one and would walk him on the leash around the yard to try and establish some control and confidence with him before I would let him off to play. I started scooping their own poop in the holes they dug and covering it with dirt and lining the edge of the yard against the fence with it too for the sake of deterring digging around the fence.

A number of things had improved especially staying off the furniture when we’re home at least. I was in the kitchen on the phone for a while and when I walk into the front room, she’s sitting on the sofa and the dog is lying next to her. I was like, the --- are you doing?!? Her response was “He wouldn’t get down” and I was said, honey, you have to get up and make him get down. Then she says “Well he hasn’t been up here in a while”. To I told her that he doesn’t understand the difference. To him, either he’s allowed to it, or he’s not allowed to do it, but he doesn’t understand that’s ok now but not later. So she brings up the whole “you just don’t love animals” speech.

I think was the biggest problem here is she’s content to live with animals like she did where she lived before. She likes them on the furniture with her, in the bed and free to get on things in the house. I think she feels like she’s treating them better by keeping them in the house instead of taking them out for walks or leaving them outside for a while to get some exercise. She thinks they are happier if we just let them do what they want and not to discipline them. More than once I have gotten up and pulled one of them off the sofa, sat them down and said NO! And she’s actually told me that was being mean to the dogs!

PS - danaekitty, email me at thanks!!!!

February 29th, 2008, 04:07 PM
No disrespect intended but, after reading all this, sounds like the pups are going to be the easy ones to train :o :laughing: . I'm so sorry, I couldn't help myself :o .

I guess you can infer with your experience is that it's not dogs who need training as much as some owners. Kudos to you for wanting to make it work it out :thumbs up but remember it's a two-way street. Missy has to meet you halfway if you're going to be successful....both with the dogs and in your relationship. You can't go wrong by sitting down with her full attention and telling her what your expectations are and what you're willing to do to make it work. Then ask her to commit to doing her share as well and have her outline what she is willing to do, consistently.

February 29th, 2008, 04:14 PM
good luck, hopefully the dog trainer will help her "see the light" congrats for you on continuing to try. I wish all men were like that. My man is gone now because he couldn't understand that people love pets.

February 29th, 2008, 04:39 PM
First - let me welcome you to Sorry it's under these conditions.
Secondly - email addy's aren't supposed to be posted on your threads. You can check danaekitty's profile and send her your addy through her email addy.
Third - AT THE END OF MY LEASH! Have you heard of the show? You sound like prime candidates for it! Most definately some kind of discipline is needed. Your girlfriend is not controlling her dogs, they are controlling her.
Good Luck!!

February 29th, 2008, 07:46 PM
Your girlfriend is being so negligent with her dogs and allowing them to become delinquents. Have you tried routine walks (all 4 of you) every day after work, both of you leash the dogs and go for a good walk or to a dog-park for an hour. Tired dogs are well behaved dogs and she would benefit from the exercise also and start to see less-hyper, destructive behaviour.

March 7th, 2008, 12:13 PM
Hey guys...

We had about 4 nice days and the boys stayed out all day. And guess what? We had two, wonderfully wore out and well behaved dogs. AND, I talked to her about making both of them sit before giving them anything, even if I wasn’t around. So one evening we were eating popcorn on the sofa and for the first time the young one DID NOT jump on the sofa. He didn’t dig or scratch at her. So I stood up and made him sit, then gave him a piece. After like 10 pieces I say back down. Then she tried to get him to sit and he wouldn’t, just stared at her. So I said SIT! and sure enough, he say right down. That was the first time he’s done that. He always would dismiss me because he knew she would give him what he wanted. YAY!

We had a few conversations and I think she’s seen the light. First off, she said she wanted to get some dog houses so that the boys can stay out during the day even if there's a chance of bad weather. Secondly, and this one really staggered me, she said she'd like to try letting them stay out overnight. Good grief, I almost fainted. I talked to her about crating both of them but since we don't have room, the dog house idea was her solution. WOW. To go even further, I found a REALLY great place that does training, day care, overnight, everything. And they have an in-ground pool, huge play center, just doesn’t get better. I’m getting their records from their vet and setting up an appointment to have them evaluated about staying there. And for the first time we’re gonna go out of town overnight and have the boys stay there. That’s a huge step. She refused to leave them overnight.

So, I bought a really nice dog house that both boys can get into. As it is, they climb into the crate and sleep together so I think they will adjust fine to the dog house. I told her that we need to bathe them regularly since they’re gonna be out more, they’ll smell more like dogs.

Thanks for all the help/support guys. I think as long as she and I can agree on a direction to go, then stick with it, we’ll be fine. I think after making suggestions and then those suggestions working out, she has more confidence and trust in me. And yes, I spent money, good money too so I think that show’s effort on my part.

March 7th, 2008, 12:21 PM
Great to hear everything is working out. Not too thrilled with the leaving them out overnight. Keep up the good work.

March 7th, 2008, 12:28 PM
their is no question of your part of the effort

March 7th, 2008, 12:45 PM
I'm sure you're feeling so much better about coming home to your "family" now. Tension gone, solutions acheived...I'm SO relieved for you.

Forum members - I think we did a great job helping!!!

March 7th, 2008, 01:04 PM
yay for us.

March 7th, 2008, 03:11 PM
Things are much better and yes, I feel a lot better and don't dread coming home because of the dogs. The whole staying out overnight is something we talked about for a few reasons. We both are on a sponsored downhill race team and will have to race at least 4 races this season. So that’s at least 4 weekends that we’ll both be out of town. But with training, races, etc. we’ll be gone more like 8-10 weekends over the summer. We would be looking at several hundred dollars per month just for putting up the dogs. Never mind travel, gear, etc. The cost would get out of control. Sure, is we both win every race we could get some $$ but not likely.

If the boys can stay out overnight, then we could have friends, etc. come by and feed, play and check on them while we’re gone. That would be a whole lot cheaper then putting them up every time. If we can’t get someone to come by then we’ll pay to put them up. But financially this has to doable for us both. I love to ride/race. So does she. But there has to be some kind of compromise to have two dogs and travel often.

March 9th, 2008, 06:06 PM
Now that the dogs are behaving better just take them with you!!! My hubby and I take ours with us when we hit the road, you get good at it, it's not that bad....