How to get family dog to accept my new wife

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How to get family dog to accept my new wife

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Old 07-12-2019, 10:47 AM
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How to get family dog to accept my new wife

New member here. Hope this is the correct forum.

TLR: Our 10 year old maltichon has not been trained well. Does not like anyone outside of us (4 family members). What is best way to get him to accept my new wife?


Full Story:

I live in the apartment above my parentís house, with my new wife. My parents and sister live downstairs with our 10 year old maltichon. Unfortunately they never really trained him. They used a trainer a few times, but didnít do much.

He is trained to use the bathroom outside. He usually comes when we call him. He knows when itís time to go out, etc. He is not destructive.

He has never liked anyone outside the 4 of us. He will bark continuously and snap if someone gets close, or bite their pants like (maybe worse, we never let it get to that).

If someone is already sitting, he may bark at first but then will calm down and not be bothered, unless they start to get up.

My dad is stubborn and forgetful, so not good at training. If you tell him donít yell at the dog as it makes it worse. He will always forget and call the dogís name loudly.

As you can see, a bit of a difficult situation.

Now Iím trying to find the best, quickest way, or good tips and tricks, to get him to accept my wife.

If I bring him upstairs (and she is already sitting), he usually wonít bother her. She can even reach over and pet him. But if she comes downstairs he will not accept her.

When going down the stairs to our apartment, we pass a door to the main house. He will hear and come over non-stop barking. If I lift him up on the landing, he will usually stop and let her pet him or at least be near him. I believe because he is scared of the stairs.

If she is already sitting on the couch downstairs when he comes in, he will bark for a little but then usually stops as long as she doesnít move.

She has been here for 3 months and he has gotten a little better since she first came, but not enough.

If anyone could offer advice I would really appreciate it.

Thank you very much.
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Old 07-12-2019, 04:23 PM
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I would suggest you and your wife to take him for a walk every day. She could also carry treats in her pockets so whenever she has the opportunity to meet him she can throw him a morsel, perhaps just a bit of his kibble.
Maybe she can give him his meals? Maybe even hand feed him a few times.
Soon the dog will see her as the most wonderful person and greet her happily. There may still be barking, but rather a happy bark.

Another way to bond is through play and training. Playing fetch, teaching tricks with yet more treats. (teaching "look at me" or "touch" can help break the moments where he gets too focused on barking)
If the dog is fussy, find a treat that is irresistible. Small pieces of cheese, boiled chicken or liver. Freeze dried liver can also be purchased in tiny cubes. Or any of the training treats in the stores that are soft enough to break little pieces off. The idea is to just give him a taste, so there aren't too many calories going in, which could create some weight issues.

And praise.....lots of praise, catching the dog whenever he does something you would like to see more of. Being able to be distracted while he barks, sitting quietly, laying down and relaxing...! Dogs love being praised, and it also will teach your dog what behaviour you are actually expecting of him.
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Old 07-13-2019, 02:34 AM
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I agree with littlefox. Walking is the key to a dog's mind and heart. Let your wife walk the dog ALONE, nobody else there, just her and the dog. Use treats. When the dog starts to associate your wife with things that he likes then he'll come around. In fact this process might not even take very long. Dogs adjust to change better than people, in my experience.
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Old 07-15-2019, 07:45 AM
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Thank you both for the responses and detailed information. I will definitely try some of this. However I really don't see how my wife can walk the dog, either with someone or alone. Anytime the dog is outside and he sees her, he starts non stop barking, angrily. And trying to get to her (we have to hold him back). So I don't think he would focus if she is walking with him, and if alone I feel he would just attack her.



I will have to try once, for me to walk him with her coming along, but out of reach and see if he is able to walk or not.
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Old 07-15-2019, 08:01 AM
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Yes start with your wife beside you and on the other side to the dog and have her throw little treats from a distance. It works best if she is far enough away for the dog to be calm and all walk in the same direction and have her very gradually get closer but if the dog barks thatís too close. Take it slowly but persevere and Iím confident the dog will include her in his list of ok people if she keeps throwing food intermittently.


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Old 07-15-2019, 08:07 AM
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I'm sorry, but the "angry" barking is exactly what the walk will stop.

First of all, she will have to dog out of it's "claimed" environment and away from objects and people that it claims.

The issue here is probably related to anxiety and/or claiming. Both can create the kind of aggression you are seeing. Usually, removing the dog from the space/object/people they have "claimed" are are anxiously trying to protect, the aggressive behaviour will stop.

The term you need to google to get more information about this will be "territorial aggression" and/or "protective aggression". This will tell you more than I can in a few words.

Dogs are instinctively social and territorial. Some how this dog has come to see your wife (or any stranger) as a threat and is following his instincts to protect the people and places that he feels are his.

You and your wife may be making things worse as well because I can imagine that she is frightened and/or wary of the dog and you probably stiffen up when your wife is around the dog too, which the dog will pick up on like the most sensitive of all radars.

Relaxing yourselves enough to even try this is going to be step one. At this point, you may want to hire a trainer for a day to show you how to get your wife out the door with the dog. Trust me, it can be done. It is not difficult, but the dog is NOT going to cooperate if *you* do it because you are the thing he is protecting.

There is a risk if your wife takes the dog out the door on her own that it will go off the deep end and bite her. Personally if it were me I would take that risk but you should be made aware that even if the dog hasn't bitten her yet, it could very well be triggered to do so if she tries to (in the dog's mind) kidnap him.

A trainer can show you in a couple of hours how to break this enough for your wife to walk with the dog. Reading your posts, I think there is an underlying issue as well, which is that the dog's aggression is being generated by your actions (actually, probably your father's actions). I don't want to sound rude about that but it sounds like the dog is going to need some degree of systematic desensitization to being around other people/animals and for that I believe hiring a trainer in your case may be the best (and possibly only) way you will be able to achieve this.
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Old 07-15-2019, 10:00 AM
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Thank you for the additional responses. I understand what you are saying and will try to walk the dog with my wife and hope, as you say, aggression may stop since he is out of his territory. I will try some things and see how it goes, as I unfortunately do not have funds to hire a trainer at this time.


Thank you again. I appreciate all the advice.
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Old 07-15-2019, 10:22 AM
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Ok, Anthony. I understand that you don't have the funds to hire a professional and you need to do it yourself.

I would advise you to continue to use this thread to get some advice. It's probably worth what you pay for it, but it's better than trying to invent your own wheel.

For now I would advise the following steps:

1) walk a LOT with the dog and your wife together. Once he's out of the house he should calm down provided that he doesn't get triggered by too many people.

2) walk him where there are as few "distractions" (ie. other people or animals) as possible.

3) walk him for 30min at a time if you can (or whatever he can handle) to start and then ramp that up to 45-60 minutes once his condition improves (I am assuming here that he does not walk much because of the trouble you are having).

4) YOU walk him and your wife walks along. That makes her -- to put it in Cesar Milan terms -- part of the pack, which will make it easier for your dog to see her as someone who belongs there. This is not the end result you want, but it is a good intermediate result if he isn't freaking out about her being there.

This will be a challenging step if he's still hyper-alert. Just keep practicing. If he barks at her ignore it regardless of how frustrating, irritating, embarrassing or hopeless it looks. Get HER to carry a pocket full of "treats" and use the command "LOOK" (look at me) to get his attention and then reward him 8 times out of 10 with a treat if he looks (I'll explain another time why this works).

Within a short time you should be able to walk the dog with your wife peacefully as long as you are there. By a short time I mean after 5-7 repetitions.

5) you definitely are going to need to relax. The reason that dogs get like this is because they feed off of OUR nervous energy. There are two REALLY easy things you can do to help your dog relax.

(a) do NOT talk to him during a walk
(b) do NOT look at him during a walk

regardless of how much of a Tasmanian devil he is being, do NOT look at him, do NOT talk to him and do NOT pet him. Just walk like he isn't even there. You focus your attention on your wife and she focuses her attention on you. This is an approach that works (wonders) although it may feel uncomfortable, or embarrassing at first.

Try to get through those first 5 steps. Be VERY VERY VERY VERY consistent about execution and get back to us once you get to step 5. We may be able to help you but if you can afford even an hour or two of a trainer's time it will help more than this thread can.
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Old 07-16-2019, 06:23 PM
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So today was the first day I had time to try and walk the dog with my wife. And unfortunately, it was a disaster.


My dad had just finished walking him, so I know probably not the best time. My dad walks him 3 times a day. They were sitting together in the front of the house.


My plan was to start walking the dog down the street, and then have my wife join us. She had pieces of chicken, his absolute favorite treat.
Firstly, the dog would not walk with me. I could not pull him away from the house. He is not used to walking with me so he kept looking at my dad and wanting to go back to the house. It just wasn't working.


So then I decided to try and have my mom come with us. She is his favorite. He followed me and my mom down the street, but as soon as my wife walked out of the house he started barking at her and trying to pull towards her. We stayed calm, didn't talk to him, I just held him. My wife came near and put a piece of chicken down in front of him, but he did not even look at it. He simply stared and barked at my wife. My mom tried to point to the chicken and got a little bite on the hand. Not sure if by accident or if he was just angry.


So we had to give up. Not sure how to make that scenario work.
Will have to try more with treats in the house and meetings in the house, but he doesn't even seem to have interest in a treat if she is there. Any suggestions on this?


Thank you very much again. Appreciate all your input.
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Old 07-17-2019, 01:29 AM
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Keep trying. Just keep walking. Use the reward when (if) he stops barking. Maybe it's best if you give the reward for now instead of your wife. If he ignores it, just move on.
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