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Is the dog the problem, or am I?

asked 2020-01-06 06:48:08 -0600

Hey guys. I apologize in advance for the lengthy description, but here it goes.

My boyfriend has a 5-year old female Springer Spaniel that has always had free access to all furniture, with the exception of when she was a puppy, due to her piddling. I completely disagree with dogs being on the furniture, as fur, the dog's bodily fluids, or mud getting on somewhere I lay just grosses me out (all of which have happened). He has let her on the couch and bed when she's in heat (consequently dirtying them), and she loves to get a mouthful of the blanket and let it sit in her mouth, soaking it in slobber. Nothing irritates me more than seeing these things happen on freshly washed bedding. I told him this, and despite his hesitation/reluctance to do so, he has been making an attempt to restrict her furniture privileges so that I feel more comfortable.

My boyfriend says that I am not patient enough with her. The dog knows good and well what "off" and "down" means, but she is slow to do what she is told. Personally, I think this is unacceptable. I don't think I'm being impatient, I simply believe it is poor behavior for a dog not to do what they are told the first time.

There were two times when I've told her twice to get off the furniture, only for her to stay in her spot looking at me. As a result, I have given her a nudge while telling her once more to get down, only for her to respond by trying to nip me! That is NOT OK. I believe that in itself is enough to show that her unrestricted furniture privileges have caused behavioral issues. She is over-affectionate and has no concept of personal space, which I also think could be a result of being welcome to the furniture all the time.

My boyfriend was told both times this happened, and it irritated me further when he responded by saying I'm the only person she has done that to, as if to say I'm the one that did something wrong. I understand where my boyfriend is coming from when he points out that free access to furniture is all she's ever known, but I can't help but feel that he's being too lax with her.

To be clear, I ultimately don't mind the dog, but I find her very annoying because of all this. I realize it might be unfair of me to get annoyed with her because it ultimately comes down to him, but it's hard not to. This is a lot to address, so I'm thankful to anyone who chooses to respond. I just don't know what else to do, so I thought I'd try to enlist the help of other dog lovers/owners.

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answered 2020-02-09 13:01:57 -0600

Let's start at the beginning. This list in in order of how I'd suggest you tackle it. It's possible to accomplish first 4 steps this week

  1. After every walk, one of the humans needs to clean the dog's paws. Disposable wipes kept near the door and a dedicated area to sit (rug, stool) may make it easier to start and continue this habit. You may find it easier to use a wash basin and towels (either disposable, paper, or reusable ones set aside for the dog). That will help alleviate the dirty and muddy paws to help with keeping the entire home clean (furniture and floors) and will also help with Springer Spaniel girl's health. If you don't clean paws, she will - and in the course of licking ingest dirt, pollen, pesticides from grass, and possibly infectious contaminants from other dogs' feces and urine output...over time, it can lead to unnecessary vet visits and allergies. Both of you (and a walker if you use one) need to commit to doing this.
  2. She's old enough now and should be spayed. Spaying and neutering dogs is beneficial to their health. Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and mammary tumors, breast cancer!
  3. Set your home up for success with implementing NEW Rules. That means first you & boyfriend need to agree on what the changes or new rules are. No furniture privilege or 100% privilege. Realize that you're setting up for defeat if she can lay on couch some times and not other times. Which leads to the next part, assuming no more furniture privilege- create a comfy zone for her (i.e. with a nice bed or two) that she'll enjoy wherever she's allowed. Initially, it may help to invest in an indoor playpen, which is high enough that she can't jump over, and when you don't need it the 8 metal wire panels fold up nicely like an accordion to store flat. If the bed will be off limits 100%, you could place her bed in the playpen area when it's time to sleep.
  4. Dogs sense everything, especially emotions and feelings. It doesn't even need to be verbalized. She can smell the physiological chemical reactions that accompany annoyance, impatience, and irritation, even if she doesn't understand exactly why. From her point of view, it sounds like everything in the living situation was fine with her and her man and now that you entered the picture what is fine suddenly isn't (and her muddy paws and gross bleeding is not in her control - that is up to her humans to tend to).
  5. Both of you need to implement new training with her. Again, you first need to agree on what are the new rules. That training will be easier and quicker if you find a good trainer that uses positive training techniques. Know that Both you & your boyfriend Must actively participate, which will likely include many hours of reinforcement after the trainer departs, so she sees both of you as her ...
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