Advanced search

Dog is being horrible to my boyfriend! Advice welcome

(25 Posts)
HeIsAVeryBadBoy Thu 26-Mar-20 15:08:08

Hi all,

dog behaviour situation and could really use some help from some knowledgeable dog people!

So as not to drip-feed, my dog is seven and for four years of his life, I was in an abusive relationship. He's never himself been aggressive but is protective of me, probably because of our past. Up until now, he's never bitten anybody though.

I've now got a new partner and we've been living together for a year and for the most part, we all get along. But there's some worrying behaviour from the dog and I don't know how to sort it - some examples:

1) My partner was tickling me the other night and I was shrieking, as you do. My dog launched himself across the room and bit my partner's side shock He didn't draw blood and immediately ran behind the sofa (so he didn't continue savaging my partner sort of thing.) He's only tiny btw, he's not a great big Alsatian or something.

2) Yesterday, my partner grabbed me to give me a cuddle - it was a nice moment. But my dog came shrieking around the corner like the bloody cuddle police and started barking at my partner.

3) Every morning, my partner gets up and leaves for work before me. When my partner leans down to give me a goodbye kiss, my dog growls at him. This is every morning.

So I'm at a loss really. I want both to be happy, and both dog and partner are non-negotiable in my life. I also sympathise with my dog because he's seen some terrible things happen to me so I think he thinks he's protecting me. Unless he's just being plain old jealous? Would be interested to hear some opinions on this. He is quite spoiled too and my partner says it's probably more likely to be that.

So yeah, help Mumsnet! Anybody had experience of this?

HeIsAVeryBadBoy Thu 26-Mar-20 15:09:49

And more importantly - how to sort it?

Wolfiefan Thu 26-Mar-20 15:14:14

I’m no expert but your dog sounds scared.
Grabbing you, you shrieking? Your dog thinks you are being attacked.
Stop the tickling.
Stop grabbing each other.
Can partner feed, fuss, groom, exercise etc your dog and build trust?

Froq Thu 26-Mar-20 15:15:04

My dog was like this when I met my partner.

We were mindful of contact around him in the very early days then my H began to build trust with him by taking him on regular walks, taking over feeding him, offering treats and encouraging contact.

Over time, probably around 6 months, my H became his favourite person. We then included him in cuddles and when relaxing he’d join us.

Your dog isn’t being horrible. He’s doing his very best to protect you after seeing what you went through. He’s being amazing.

If you can’t see that and your partner isn’t willing to put the time in then perhaps you should think about rehoming. Although personally I’d have rather rehomed my H than my dog.

vinoelle Thu 26-Mar-20 15:19:21

You need to take the lead in correcting this. There’s some really good examples on the “dogs behaving badly” programmes on tv which would be worth a watch - you could probably find them on iplayer or c4 catch up. Usually the woman is subconsciously encouraging the dogs behaviour and reinforcing the dogs need to protect her - I’m not being sexist btw it was just always women in the show this was happening with.

Do you bother correcting the dog when this happens? Or do you just sit there and watch?

Froq Thu 26-Mar-20 15:21:16

The partner needs correcting, not the dog.

The dogs needs reassuring and calming. This is done by not confusing him in the first place with contact that may appear like harm.

Wolfiefan Thu 26-Mar-20 15:21:57

Don’t “correct” the dog and don’t do anything suggested by that awful programme.

Carouselfish Thu 26-Mar-20 15:23:14

Got to say, he is being your best friend. Agree with posters saying let him be kind to the dog and feed him, walk him, maybe not groom him yet or play tug but just be calm with him. New partner maybe also needs to be calm and less grabby with you at least for a while.
However also think dogs are a good judge of character a lot of the time! Hope new boyfriend is utterly lovely!!!

Northernsoullover Thu 26-Mar-20 15:26:43

Wolfie what was awful about the methods he used? Genuine question because it all seemed softly softly to me.

Elsiebear90 Thu 26-Mar-20 15:28:08

My dog barks and gets upset when we tickle each other and see shrieking, she doesn’t understand we’re just playing, she used to bark every time we kissed and she’s never seen any violence or been abused. Dogs don’t really understand when people are screaming or wrestling etc because they’re playing or because they’re scared and fighting. I think your dog needs to learn to trust your partner and you need to keep the play fighting and screaming to a minimum around her given her history.

Elsiebear90 Thu 26-Mar-20 15:28:28

*around him

Froq Thu 26-Mar-20 15:29:15

I don’t know anything about the programme but would suggest any methods used aren’t suitable unless they were also targeted at a dog who has witnessed his human being abused.

This isn’t standard territorial aggression. It’s very different and needs a gentle approach.

Blackberrythief Thu 26-Mar-20 15:39:16

Please please please do not correct the behaviour, given the history I am not surprised your dog is so protective. Punishing a growl will lead to the dog biting (google Cesar Milan and there's a clip of a dog that clearly is not happy and he ignores all the warning signs and attempts to punish it which results in a bite) so please ignore PP's comment. I would suggest getting your boyfriend to feed your dog and take it for walks too, to build a bond and a positive association and in the meantime no tickling, shrieking or grabbing to prevent the situation and your dog's need to protect you. You have a lovely dog who really cares about you!

Yamihere Thu 26-Mar-20 15:40:57

I second not to take advice from a TV program, they are heavily edited and give unrealistic expectations.
Your poor dog is likely to feel anxious about your partner. Its a very good idea for him to build a bond with your dog without you there. Ask your partner to do activities your dog enjoys and when you and partner ae being close by cuddling, etc give your dog something calming to do, like a Kong or something to chew. This will help change your dogs emotion from anxious to calm in these situations. It takes months and consistency to change how a dog feels but if you want to keep both in your life, that is what it will take.
Also, your dog will pick up on your emotions so be calm and confident when your partner is around to promote these feeling in your dog. And it's a good idea to get some professional help from a qualified and experienced trainer that specialises in fear. Be careful as anyone can call themself a dog trainer, it is an unregulated industry and there are many doing the job that don't have the right knowledge or expertise.

HeIsAVeryBadBoy Thu 26-Mar-20 15:41:26

Although personally I’d have rather rehomed my H than my dog.

Me too Froq, my dog is going nowhere!

HeIsAVeryBadBoy Thu 26-Mar-20 15:45:21

This isn’t standard territorial aggression. It’s very different and needs a gentle approach.

I'm so glad people can see this. This is what I've explained to my partner - I feel awful about telling him off when he's traumatised from past experiences. He's just being a good boy sad

HeIsAVeryBadBoy Thu 26-Mar-20 15:50:14

Thank you to everyone who has responded so far by the way - you've all given such great advice and wisdom. I was expecting people to say 'get rid of the dog!' and that's definitely not going to happen.

You are all lovely people!

I'll definitely suggest more bonding time with partner and dog, and also look at my own subconscious signals. It stands to reason that my behaviour is possibly still telling the dog that I need his help.

And yes, my new partner is lovely. We've been together for long enough for me to see his 'true colours' and honestly, he's never even raised his voice slightly to me. He's a good man.

HeIsAVeryBadBoy Thu 26-Mar-20 15:56:55

Oh and also, we don't tickle and grab each other constantly. It's pretty rare, it's just that my partner has twice done this in the past week, and both times it's resulted in this sort of behaviour from Ddog.

I really want to sort out the morning growling though. From the dog's perspective, he probably sees that I'm asleep and is warning my partner off. But it gives my partner a pretty threatening start to the day!

I'll try to improve the overall situation by building their bond and watching my own behaviour - I'll see if that lessens it.

Wolfiefan Thu 26-Mar-20 16:06:32

I’m glad you’ve got a lovely partner.
With time and patience your dog will also see this and will relax.

vinoelle Thu 26-Mar-20 16:07:55

Just to clarify - when I used the phrase 'correct the dog' it wasn't implying any form of punishment or brutality confused you can encourage positive correct behaviours rather than passively allowing it - or further to my point - subconsciously encouraging it.

I don't see how the word correct = punish

Wolfiefan Thu 26-Mar-20 16:24:45

Positive means you reward wanted behaviours.
Correct means punishing a “bad” behaviour.

Redcherries Thu 26-Mar-20 16:30:36

We've recently had similar with my dog and DH. We got an authority dog trainer in (trains police dogs, customs search dogs etc) as we were at the stage where we would have to have him PTS. We had already had him snipped and tried to figure it out but despite many years owning dogs and never having a training issue we felt we owed the dog the chance and needed professional help to ensure we were doing it correctly.

The basic issue came down to the fact the dog was mainly with me during the day and I babied him, whereas DH wasn't very affectionate or involved with him.

To remedy this I have had to give the dog more firm direction and limit the affection a little and my husband has had to up the affection and do play times and feeding. If the dog shows any signs of having an issue I have to tell him off and remove him from the room (important, it gives the dog time to calm but also shows behaviour not acceptable) not my husband. The dog was viewing me as his mum and protecting me from DH who he considered outside of the family unit. I have two grown teens who also give him far more affection and love than reasonable and he didn't have an issue at all with them at any point.

It got to the stage of reacting to a kiss goodbye, a pat on my bottom, getting between us in a threatening manner if we cuddled. He also became possessive of his toys around DH, which we have removed and now DH gives him toys to play with and anything he shows too much possession over is taken away.

Its been a very tough journey, it didn't stop overnight but by following the trainers guidance he has made huge changes, he now goes to my husband for affection when he comes into the room and he brings toys for him and DH to play with, we don't have to watch our affection between each other in front of him as much as we did but I don't think the dog would accept anything too lively or boisterous. As far as the dog is concerned he is doing exactly as he should be, he is protecting his mum and family.

The first few days the dog did pine for my attention and became a little withdrawn, I was still giving him a good amount but limiting it, I also got tough on the rules, like not sitting on DH sofa (alpha move), or coming in the kitchen when I cooked. We did everything we were advised and a few month in, with a few slip ups on the way, things are much much better.

My advise is that it can be redeemable but it will need work and a professional can give some amazing insight and support. He has also taught me loads about how a dogs mind works. In our case we had to show the dog he was the dog and not the master of the house but also that DH was family.

Poppi89 Thu 26-Mar-20 16:46:41

Yes I would definitely start by your partner having a better relationship with the dog including walking and feeding - so the dog learns he's no threat. You can also say No to the dog if he's growling or if he's on your lap and starts barking/growling say no and put him on the floor. Don't scream and shout but just let him know that you don't want that behaviour. If he's on your partners lap you could both be stroking him so he knows that you like him being with your partner.

Poppi89 Thu 26-Mar-20 16:48:17

Fantastic advice from @Redcherries

FabbyChix Thu 26-Mar-20 17:37:08

Took six months for my dog to get used to a partner your partner can’t do what he does your dog is protecting you simple he needs to earn the dogs trust

Join the discussion

Registering is free, quick, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Get started »