Following is the practical, forward-looking side of the issue raised, when a woman complained about a dog’s bad behaviour and her boyfriend’s unwillingness to train his pet (March 28):
Reader #1 – “I've worked with animals professionally and owned many. Training a dog isn’t easy. It takes time and plenty of patience.
“Neutering can take a lot of the testosterone away and calm a male dog down. But it seems this dog’s neglected - a bigger dog needs lots of excessive exercise, and good sturdy toys.
“It may be a good idea to start over again and crate-train him.
“On walks, she needs to show the dog she’s the boss, starting with getting the dog an H-shaped harness which gives more power to the owner.
“When the dog pulls, pull back harder (but don't hurt him). Don't keep walking until he stops for you, give him a treat and continue, repeat ever time he pulls.
“If the dog’s aggressive, DO NOT take him to the dog park. It’s not fair to endanger other dogs. Take him only at night instead of prime hours.
“When he gets over-excited, grab his collar and make him lay down.
“NO TREATS UNLESS HE DESERVES IT. Dogs are smart and he clearly knows his owners are pushovers.
“DO NOT YELL. Stern deep voices, even try growling as you scold.
“This could all take months; patience is KEY.
“Also, the couple need to stop making excuses, work together, and put time in to train this dog.
“She clearly understands how a dog should behave if hers is great. If he won't do it, then she'll have to, and if she really wants the dog gone, the Humane Society will gladly find him a new and more experienced home.”
Reader #2 – “I’m a professional dog-trainer working primarily with families to resolve pet behavior problems.
“I’ve often seen underlying issues within a couple’s relationship get amplified when dealing with their pets.
“Getting the humans working together, committing their time and effort, are the most vital steps in resolving any pet behavior issue.
“Dogs that excessively bark, don’t come when called, knock people over, and can’t be walked on a leash are a problem not just for the dog’s owner, but also the community.
“These behaviors can be exacerbated by lack of exercise, anxiety, and boredom. It’s clear that the dog’s physical and emotional needs aren’t being met.
“Unless the owner commits to providing basic training, stimulation and exercise, and support/guidance, the dog won’t learn self-control or how to safely behave within the community.
“Family members should also participate in the training process.
“In the girlfriend’s case, this is important, since her bond with the dog has been damaged.
“Part of the problem with dog-training for many families is not knowing where to start. Some have no idea how rewarding and enjoyable training a dog can be.
“Dog-training’s come a long way from choke chains and corrections. Modern methods, based on building the relationship with the dog and his guardians, make the process simple, enjoyable, and effective.
“Professional dog-trainers offer private sessions, affordable group classes, and a range of other support services.
“Often, it’s not just a training issue, but also a lifestyle issue where providing more outlets for the dog’s energy and instincts helps the process.
“Contact a reward-based dog trainer who specializes in making the experience pain-free for the whole family and the dog.
“Reward-based trainers in your locale can be found online.”
I divorced 20 years ago, am happily remarried for 18 years. My ex is also in a longtime second marriage.
Our mutual grandson, eight, recently asked me how we could get “unmarried and marry again.”
His parents said they trust I’ll answer appropriately. I suggested a private talk soon, as there were then others around. How should I handle this?
At age eight, a short and simple answer, soon, is best, but must include a gentle probe of why he’s asked. Tell him to ask exactly what he wants to know.
Answer that “these things happen” among some adults, but that many marriages last “forever.”
Then, ask why he’s been thinking about this. If he expresses worry about his own situation, reassure him that his family’s fine, even if his parents sometimes disagree (explain that is normal).
But report his worries to his parents, so that they’re aware of his sensitivities.
Tip of the day:
Dog ownership calls for a responsible commitment to training, exercising and supporting a dog toward safe, acceptable behaviour.