, Salem, MA


February 1, 2013

Jealous terrier won't warm up to co-owner

Q: My partner, Al, and Tally, our just-adopted Cairn terrier, haven’t quite bonded yet. Al is a bit impatient, and although he hand-feeds her, she tends to growl and show teeth when he tries to play with her. I am sensing a bit of jealousy on both sides:

Al: Why does the dog like John better than me? Why doesn’t she jump in my lap and kiss my face?

Tally: Who is this guy? I want John all to myself. Three’s a crowd.

Oh, the burden of the pack leader. Please tell me how to break the cycle.

A: You break the cycle by allowing these two enough space to work out their own relationship. If there are bad feelings (real or imagined) on both sides, cold contempt should melt into warm acceptance over time.

Being a pack leader is a burden, but it’s an enjoyable task, as you’ve figured out. As part of these primo honcho responsibilities, advise Al to stop hand-feeding Tally. She needs her own big-girl bowl.

Oh sure, he should slip her a treat occasionally to reward her for doing something great — and, quite frankly, to bribe her to cozy up. Al should also be the one to put down the kibble bowl for a while so Tally expects great things from him.

Q: I am so tired of people advising not to buy pet-shop pups. That sad little pet-shop pup you wrote about in a recent column needs someone to buy him and love him. It’s not his fault that he came from a pet store or a puppy mill.

I also disagree with your advice to not to buy that pup because of her and her fiance’s long work hours. Instead, you should advise this couple to sit down and talk about pros and cons of dog ownership. If you work long hours and can afford a dog walker, hire one.

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