SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

May 17, 2013

Ask Dog Lady: His dog gets in the way

Ask Dog Lady
Monica Collins

---- — Q. I am in a new relationship with a man I adore. The only problem is his dog, Chopper, who’s in control. The dog barks constantly, jumps in people’s laps (not a lap-size dog) and sleeps smack in the middle of us in the bed. We can’t even be affectionate because of the dog blocking us. I don’t mind the dog being in the bed, but I think he needs to be at the end of the bed. I just can’t handle a dog conditioned to do what he pleases. How do I handle this situation?

A: Your chap has all the control with Chopper. You should understand that the relationship between him and his pet is strong and enduring. This should give you hope and pause for paws, because any guy who loves a dog is a guy with a lot of love to give — but also a man who may be using the dog as an excuse to prevent a woman from entry into his home and heart.

Whatever you do or say, please maintain your sense of humor and composure. You should not be so attached to the outcome (a Chopper-less bed) that you forget you’re still in a new and fragile relationship and can still walk away.

You might begin the conversation simply by suggesting your guy train Chopper to sleep at the foot of the bed. This seems reasonable enough. See how the man you adore responds to this modest proposal. If he reacts negatively or defensively, you have insight into his character and his ability to forge a relationship with you. If he’s open to your suggestion, the departure point may lead to a general conversation about the dog’s behavior.

Q. We adopted a 5-month-old puppy from a rescue league. She’s great in every way and a quick learner. The only thing we cannot get her to do is take a walk away from the house. She stops dead in her tracks and looks back toward the house and whimpers sometimes. We’ve tried different paths around the house, as well as street walking and walking in the woods. Please help us. We need to walk our puppy.

A: Walk your puppy with other dogs. Others with tails will motivate her. She will quickly learn how it’s done. Ask another dog keeper in the neighborhood if you and no-go puppy might tag along. For a recalcitrant puppy, the lessons learned from another of its own species could be the incentive to step along.

Walk — or try to — at the same times every day. Anytime you see another human at the end of a leash, follow that dog with your balking buddy. The more you tail other dogs, the more your puppy will get it.

Right now, there’s no incentive for her to move. Walking on the leash is a learned skill. As you encourage forward motion, coax puppy onward in a high-pitched, happy voice. You might feel a little stupid at first, but the right tone is key for moving in the right direction.

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