Monday, July 31, 2006

What To Do About A Spoiled Dog?

From time to time, I get interesting emails that illustrate important points about responsible dog ownership. I publish these for the education of the general public, but remove identifying information about the persons involved to protect their privacy. This is just such a letter. Here is what happens when you spoil a dog.

How many times do we see people spoil their dogs… not willing to give them order and leadership, feeling that is somehow harsh… only to see the owners being bullied and bitten by those same dogs, the owners ultimately either yelling and hitting the dogs, having these dogs put to death by veterinarians for biting problems, giving the dogs away to a shelter, or causing the breakup of families over the dog issues?

If you have a spoiled dog, then hire a professional to help out, and do what they say:

Here is a real case study, and a classic example of the Mommie / Daddy type of dog owner:

Dear Sam,

I have a 1 ½ year old standard poodle. I have had her since she was 8 weeks old.

I enrolled in an obedience class and have completed 7 sessions. In these classes, she learned to sit and off (sometimes).

My problem is I got married in January. My husband is afraid of dogs, yet he is with her while I am at work. He tells me she is quiet all day long and good. When I come home from work, she starts to jump on me, and at night she bites my hands. She loves to chew on my skinny wrists and it hurts. Then, she will get a little aggressive as I pull away and she’ll come after me. I have to let her outside to run. When it comes time for food she sits at the table with me and eats with me and wants my food. She wont stop barking for food so I have to give it to her to keep her quiet.

I can't eat with my new husband I have to eat with the dog to keep her quiet. It is ruining the marriage. I won't give her away.

She is my child and means the world to me.

I tell him not to yell at the dog. When he yells at her, she gets worse, and he’ll go into the bedroom to close the door. She lunges after him and then I have to try and grab her to get her away from him. She is uncontrollable to get, but I grab her and get my hands scratched. I won’t have her attack him to keep peace.

She is spoiled with the food and the bones. That I agree. But the biting is the major problem. Why is she biting my arms, and why does she get aggressive towards my husband? She gets even more aggressive after he yells at her. She bites hard, and I have been bitten and bloody. I have to be careful so I don’t get my arm bitten or finger bitten off.

I love this dog. Why does she do this?

The dog is great otherwise with me. When I‘m alone with her she is fine. If he is alone with her she is fine. But, when we are both together she is biting my arms. or my legs. I have to give her bones to chew to keep her from biting me to quiet her down.

I don’t know what to do anymore.

I was married before but my first husband of many years died and I just remarried. My first husband loved dogs and they loved him but not this new one.

It is awful!!!!

My first husband saw my new pup when she was a baby and he loved her. He said to me before he died “take care of her; she’ll be your best friend.” Now, she’s a year and a half old, and I’m married to a retired military man who hates dogs but puts up with her. One minute he talks nice to her but as soon as my dog jumps up to him he gets scared and yells and it sets the dog off. I don’t know what to do anymore.

If I knew this I would never have married him and put myself in the position I’m in now.

He knows it’s my dog and she comes first to me. I hate to say it, but, after my first husband died, I lost the love of my life, I didn’t need to remarry and now be in this situation with someone who can’t tolerate my pup.

Thank you,



Your dog is a spoiled brat. This problem is being created by both you and your husband. This can be fixed with proper obedience training and house rules. You need a better trainer to work with. No need to get rid of the dog or your husband. Both of you should be involved in the classes to learn more about your dog and how to manage her. This is easily fixed.

The biting is because she is a spoiled brat. You gave up your leadership position with this dog long ago, and it doesn’t help your husband is afraid of the dog. Fear doesn’t make you act like a calm, directed leader around a dog, so the dog takes advantage of that. You baby the dog, and so you are half the problem, your husband is the other half.

The bones are a small part to fixing this. If you do this on your own, without a professional, you will not fix this.

I see from your letterhead that you are a professional person. Do you think I could just walk into your job today, without any training and experience, and do what you do? You believe in education otherwise you wouldn’t have the degrees you have. However, you don’t believe that training and experience play a factor in becoming a good dog trainer or dog owner. You can have this fixed in a month if you work with someone good. On your own, this will keep going on and on because you don’t know what you are doing. You need a new type of education: dog training.

This is a piece in the puzzle for sorting out your marriage problems, too. This is a way for you both to learn to work together better. It can be good for you, your husband, and your dog.

Best wishes

Sam Basso

UPDATE: This person has contacted me and told me they are setting up lessons. This is a good sign. I have encouraged her to stick with the training to see this through.

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