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Problems with new/old dog...

October 12th, 2011, 01:47 PM
A bit of background… 10 year old - female - shihtzu/poodle x - The dog belongs/ed to my partner and his ex-wife. For several years his ex kept the dog and then about 2.5 months ago decided it was unfair that she had the responsibility and sent the dog to live with us. My partner was thrilled to take the dog because he adores her… she's the first dog he ever owned… etc. I, on the other hand, wasn't thrilled. I'd met the dog a few times and didn't care for her much. I'm not really a fan of little dogs to begin with (probably because I've met very few that don't fit the stereotype of "spoiled, poorly behaved little dog") and this one only confirmed my reasons for not caring for small dogs.

My partner and I together have a 15 month old male sheltie. He's a big-time barker (mostly only when he's outside… birds, squirrels, leaves, bugs, wind, you get the idea… they're all great fun to run around and bark at) That being said, he's sweet, patient and obedient. He's incredibly friendly with all other dogs, kids and people. His joy for life is apparent and he wants nothing more than to play. So much so that we were looking into adopting another young dog so that they could have the time of their lives in our huge yard, etc. The brakes got put on that plan as soon as my partner's ex decided to send the dog to live with us.

Ok moving on… After 2.5 months, I haven't grown closer to that dog at all. In fact, I dislike more and more with every passing day. She growls and snaps at our younger dog constantly. He's much larger than she is, but he never reacts aggressively. In fact, all her growls just excite him and he gets even more playful. (my partner reprimands the younger dog and tells her him to "get away from the old girl") Whenever my partner pays the younger dog any attention she's in there growling and snapping and trying to chase the younger dog away from "her" person. (my partner tells her "no"… but it's not a very convincing "no" and clearly it's not working because it's been going on for almost 3 months!!) She growls and barks at the cat non-stop. (again the weak "no" from my partner) If she hears the cat "meow" in a different part of the house she starts barking her food head off and comes running and growling. (I keep hoping the cat will "school" her, but he's dog savvy and easy going, so he mostly just ignores her) The dogs are not allowed on the furniture, but I catch her on the couch all the time. She's growled and snapped at me when I've tried to push her off the couch. She growls and snaps when I try to pull her collar to remove her from an area. (my partner just sort of smiles and shrugs his shoulders when I tell him that this is happening… I think he thinks I'm making it up because he knows I'm not a fan of the dog) She growls and snaps at anyone that startles her. (ie. she was sleeping under the coffee table and my son accidently brushed her with his foot… she turned and nipped his foot) (My partner thinks it ok that she does this because "she got scared" …. I've asked him if this behaviour would be ok from a german shepard or any other big dog… he says "No… but she's just little and can't hurt anyone anyway") Whenever the younger dog is having fun/being boisterous she charges him and snaps at him (whether or not he's even close to her).

So there you have it. The dog doesn't "fit" in our pack at all… and my partner doesn't have the stomach (he's such a softy when it comes to animals) to do any work on her issues. He coddles her… he gives affection and praise for absolutely nothing (quite often immediately following some sort of bad behaviour… or when she comes up demanding it)… he doesn't make her follow the same rules as our younger dog has learned to follow (he's been raised with the "nothing in life is free" philosophy and gets treats, affection and praise when he's earned it… he knows he's not the boss and he doesn't even try to be)

I've tried to discuss it with him calmly and reasonably, but he takes everything I say as a critisism of the dog and/or his handling of the dog. (truth be told, I am critical of the way that dog is treated… she's a little headache of a dog because of the way she's been raised!!!) I try to explain that he needs to be her leader and that her "being nervous" is a result of lack of clear rules/boundaries and leadership. I don't think he gets it though. I think he thinks I'm just advocating for him to "punish" the dog because I don't like her. He adores her… I adore him… I'm stuck. Any words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated.

October 12th, 2011, 02:46 PM
Hi and welcome to the board :)
If the dog is older, she's probably set in her ways. It doesn't mean she can't be taught, but it's going to take patience. Is it possible that there is some resentment towards her as she belonged to your partner and his ex at one time? If so, the dog will feel that. One thing you should try and understand is that he loves her. I had a similar situation with an ex many years ago. When I got my baby girl back (DobieX), my new guy didn't want anything to do with her because she had belonged to "him". Not only did that cause issues between him and one of the sweetest dogs you'd ever meet, but it caused issues between us. I started to resent him for the way he treated her. One thing you need to remember is whatever issues the dog has, it isn't her fault. It's the owners. There is no such thing as a "bad" dog. It's just like small children... it's what they're taught (or aren't taught). You may want to speak with your partner about getting a professional trainer to help overcome the issues as it sounds like she is now a part of your family. Good luck :)

October 22nd, 2011, 04:41 PM
As a second wife, I can tell you "i understand" more than you know.
Although it was "child" issues and not "dog" issues. But hey my dogs are also my ya go. :)

I found when I approached more from a "group" senario, and less a "that" child senario it went over well.

So instead of.
Fluffy is so....XYZ. If Fluffy keeps bitting we are going to have to...
Fluffy is really bothering me, I really dont like fluffy, I think fluffy needs a trainer.

I was thinking perhaps we could have a trainer in to help with bunny, fluffy , and kid.
Help us correct anything we are doing wrong, and help us correct anything any dog is doing wrong.
Its a learning curve for all of us.
Its not about FLUFFY
Its about OUR FAMILY.

Its all about PRESENTATION.
Deep down you will probably always "dislike" fluffy.
But fluffy cant help she wasnt taught how to be "A DOG" and not this spoiled, insecure, bitting mop head thing.
She's silently PLEADING for help in her own DOGGY way.
She's just as "unhappy" as you are I'm sure.
Look at it from HER perspective.
She's gone from "all" she's ever known. To suddenly placed in a home where someone adores her and lets her get away with nearly everything, and then someone that dislikes her and dosent want anythign to do with her, and a dog that wants to play with her and she's probably never had another dog has she? shes getting mixed signals. can i do this, can i not do this. well where i was last, this was ok. so and so let me do this, why cant i do it now. i'm insecure so I'll bite, that usually makes people go away. i want affection...i'll just demand it. ECT ECT ECT.
IF NOTHING ELSE>>>go at it from "fluffy's " perspective and how "tramatic" this all is FOR HER. If he dosent bite on that one. I truly would be surprised.

If your partner still resists ask him what he would do if you two were to bring a baby into the mix, and your child reacted poorly to it. would you get a FAMILY THERAPIST to work together on the issues...or would you continue to be in disharmony.

I think if you go at it from "i want fluffy to be happy here in her new home" (even if you have to force a smile and choke back the vomit while saying that)'ll go over a WHOLE LOT BETTER :)

Good luck.
Although slightly different situation..I've been there. Done that. Worn the tshirt, outgrew the tshirt, buryied the tshirt in the back yard, bought a new one, and am currently considering setting the new on fire. :D