, Salem, MA

February 1, 2013

Jealous terrier won't warm up to co-owner

Ask Dog Lady
Monica Collins

---- — 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.

If you can afford a doggy day care, take your new dog there. Puppies need love no matter where they come from, a puppy mill or a pet store.

A: Pet shops wouldn’t exist if people ignored those doggies in the window. The pups can’t help where they come from, and, as you point out, all pups need good homes. A classified advertisement led Dog Lady to her own puppy many years ago. Let’s agree that however a pet comes into your life, it’s a sweet thing.

However, we do have some control over these matters, and we have to be responsible about acquiring a dog. Dogs from puppy mills can have terrible health and behavior problems caused by inbreeding. They need patient owners.

And time is crucial. Why get a puppy if you are never home to walk it, train it or enjoy it? Dog walkers and doggy day care ventures — as good as they are — require an investment that has nothing to do with personal connection between you and your puppy.


Monica Collins offers advice on dogs, life and love. Follow the “Ask Dog Lady” fan page on Facebook; Twitter at @askdoglady. Email questions to