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to think that this is extremely irresponsible dog-ownership (and a bit of WWYD too please)

(23 Posts)
HeIsSpartacus Mon 25-Jul-11 16:09:54

A friend (P) and his girlfriend (L) got a puppy 10 months ago. I have previously posted humorously about their dog having a FB profile page and it being a bit of a wind-up that L keeps telling me that having a dog is just like having a baby (and I learnt a lot on that thread that perhaps it is more than I thought!). P seems to revel in the dog's naughtiness (posting photos of things it has ripped up/savaged on its FB page) and L, it appears, treats the dog as a substitute baby. I learnt on the weekend that the dog travels with a pair of used <boak> underwear from each of them to keep him happy (cue L's sister turning a pale shade of green at this revelation and later being outraged at having had a tug of war with the dog over these underpants!)

Anyway, the dog has been biting L for a few months now and from the stories they tell, I and other friends have begun to think that the dog is out of control. It has been on 3 puppy training courses and they had a dog whisperer round.

Skip to the end....we all went to a festival this weekend but L and P had to return early to collect dog from L's mother because it had attacked her, trashed the kitchen and was unapproachable. L's mother is a sensible woman who has previously owned several dogs. The dog reportedly flipped when it saw an 8 year old boy next door in the garden.

There was a lot of blaming one another and both were very upset and talking about not wanting to give the dog up (L & P) and we (myself, another close friend of theirs and L's sister) gave some constructive advice (I think?) about the need to be consistent (dog sleeping in bedroom/on sofas and then not being allowed and then sometimes allowed), giving themselves a review deadline (3 months), keep a doggy behaviour diary to see if there is progress, agree rules between them (so no arguing between each other as to what is/not allowed) and phoning the breeder immediately for some further advice. BUT the most important bit of advice we all gave them was that the dog should not be taken outside without a muzzle until they are sure he is under control.

While they listened/took on board some of the above, they are not keen on the dog having a muzzle (and tbh I doubt much of it will be put into action). Are we being cruel (unreasonable) in giving that advice to the dog? I just think it is also risking the dog's life (being put down for biting) as well as others and cannot see why they wouldn't do this. L was even talking about an incident when she couldn't control the dog leaping and biting at her in the street and she was so shaken she was sobbing.

I know I am sticking my nose in their business by giving advice but I feel like I am watching a car crash in slow AIBU and if not, is there any more/better advice out there please!

Kladdkaka Mon 25-Jul-11 16:14:39

No you are not being unreasonable. For the dogs own wellbeing it has to be muzzled outside. If it bites a passerby it will be destroyed.

Gastonladybird Mon 25-Jul-11 16:16:00

No you sound sensible and quite measured in circumstances

alice15 Mon 25-Jul-11 16:18:50

Suggest you post in the doghouse for good advice. Unfortunately it sounds as if they don't really think of the dog as a dog, which means that the car crash is likely to continue unless they wise up quickly. Your advice sounds excellent, but as you say, it won't help if they don't follow it. What breed is it? Bad behaviour in a Yorkie is not viewed as harshly as in something big and potentially dangerous, understandably/ : (

issey6cats Mon 25-Jul-11 16:22:35

no you are not been unreasonable if the dog bites someone in the street the owners will find themselves in court and probably face having the dog PTS,
this behaviour from the dog is showing that he considers himselfpack leader and you need vallhalla or dogsbest friend here as they have dealt with dogs like him for ever and will have more practical strategies that can be employed than me

Marne Mon 25-Jul-11 16:25:04

I can see why you are worried, if my dog ever bit anyone i would have to get rid of her (but maybe because of the damage she could do).

HeIsSpartacus Mon 25-Jul-11 16:26:05

It is an Irish Terrier and is getting pretty big pretty fast. They are supposed to be easy to train?

Mixitnow Mon 25-Jul-11 16:30:19

Yanbu they are, it is a dog and should be treated like one, if they don't get it under control soon they never will, dogs need boundaries and to know who is in charge, it seems that the dog thinks it's the boss!

coccyx Mon 25-Jul-11 16:32:54

Irresponsible dog owners!!!

Tsil Mon 25-Jul-11 16:33:18

Yes they are a clever breed and learn quickly but they need a strong leader as they are strong willed and do not have the tendency to be eager to please as some other dogs do.

But at a year old this behaviour can be modified as he is still a puppy but your friends need to be consistent, firm and relaxed with him.

HeIsSpartacus Mon 25-Jul-11 16:41:01

Tsil Thanks for that - am going to post in Doghouse too to see if there's any Irish Terrier experts over there too!

L's "disciplining" voice is much the same as her "pampering" voice for the dog. I feel really sorry for the dog in all of this, but I have had to say no to mixing my 18 month old with the dog atm (they were saying how great the dog was with a 6 and 9 year old and 10 month old baby so they didn't think it would ever attack a child but I just won't risk it).

clam Mon 25-Jul-11 16:51:29

"they were saying how great the dog was with a 6 and 9 year old and 10 month old baby so they didn't think it would ever attack a child "

Yet it went bananas at seeing an 8yo over the fence?


Birdsgottafly Mon 25-Jul-11 16:53:21

I feel that you may be wasting your time, if they insist on not setting bounderies for the dog.

They should not need to muzzle it as they should be being super strict and not let it off the lead. It is well to soon to try to get the dog to integrate with people or other animals.

You cannot treat any type of terrier like a baby, they need disipline, they are happier for it. They can be exercised easier and as they should be.

They are in danger of creating a dog that needs to be put down because it cannot be re-homed, i took a JR off someone who had done the same or she would have had to be put down.

I did the basics and re-homed her to a suitable home.

It is the wrong breed for them.

Birdsgottafly Mon 25-Jul-11 17:02:09

Just been to 'in the doghouse', it isn't there yet so, at present the dog is seeing itself as the 'alpha' and in control, they need to put the dog back into its place.

There cannot be half measures, it gets treated like a dog from now on.

It sleeps in its own bed and they make a point of eating before it and he always eats last.

The dog reacted so aggressively towards the strange child in the garden because as the 'alpha' it is its job to protect, this makes a dog an aggressive nervous wreck, they prefer to take direction from the owners.

It will be fine towards the DC's because they are part of its pack, until it is challanged, which the mother did and then it will fight back, as any pack leader does.

alice15 Mon 25-Jul-11 17:02:31

Oh dear - Irish Terriers are quite feisty and reactive. Definitely wrong breed for them (not that any breed would be the right breed, by the sound of it, but a very soft spaniel that wouldn't say boo to a goose would be less of an accident waiting to happen). Hopefully the breeder will take it back, if they are willing to let it go? That would probably be the best solution here, if possible.

northerngirl41 Mon 25-Jul-11 18:33:15

I feel so sorry for this poor mixed up dog - I'm actually quite pro beefing up the "my dog is my child" point of view if that's what appeals to them. Because children need rules and consistency and boundaries too and it sounds like this dog is just one mixed up jumble of contradictions. Presumably having its photo taken whilst laughing at the chaos it caused for Facebook sends out all the wrong messages...

If they've already had the professionals round, I suspect these two just ignored th advice. I assume their advice was very similar to yours. What I would disagree on is the muzzling as it can make dogs more agressive. But they certainly need to have this animal under control when it is out and about.

Not sure what else you could do... But hopefully the breeder would take it back?

HeIsSpartacus Mon 25-Jul-11 19:31:00

northerngirl I agree but it is more of my dog is my baby. We did chat a lot about consistency and a dog or child needing boundaries to feel secure and loved. I have an 18month old DS and have had to endure them telling me having a puppy and a baby are just so exactly the same !(and it does still wind me up sometimes but now I just point out SS would want to know if I left DS at home alone for "no more" than 4 hours at a time which is their rule for leaving the dog alone - they both work long hours full time but have a dogwalker during the day) - so I was drawing analogies with dealing with DS even though I'm far from expert and am having my own battles with a bit of hitting at the moment.

I think they are close to splitting up over this which is not great when they are just selling and taking on a massive mortgage for a 'family' home (presumably with a view to marriage and having kids - I know L is madly keen on having a baby and this was their idea of a test run so there is a lot riding on the poor dog!)

I think P said the breeder would always have her dogs back but P thinks if the dog goes back it will be the end of their relationship because L will never forgive him for getting rid of "her baby" even if it is biting her all the time!

Have posted in the doghouse too and got two good replies but not much traffic!

HeIsSpartacus Mon 25-Jul-11 19:33:29

Also northern I can see your point about muzzling (i'd be pretty pissed off and get aggressive if I was muzzled!) but what can they do to ensure others are safe when they take him out?

The dog is properly biting (bruises all up inside of L's arms are testament to this and are horrible even after 3 weeks even though skin not broken)....

Mixitnow Mon 25-Jul-11 19:35:35

We bought a border terrier from a rescue centre( not a very good one) it had anxiety problems from the start he was 7 months old and i was able to train him to a certain extent but he couldn't be left in the house
on his own in the day as he howled constantly and chewed everything in sight , he went crazy if he spotted another dog, he wouldn't even go out in the garden on his own and just paced the house crying if he was left with anyone but me. The kids 16 and 8 couldn't sit on the floor because he just got too excited so I knew we would have problems when the new baby came. Unfortunatly i had to spend a month in hospital tho I thought it would be longer and the dog had to be rehomed ( reputable rescue centre who took into consideration our advise on type of people who he should be rehomed with) although it broke my heart he was retrained and rehomed to an elderly couple who had more Experiance than I had .

I never had any problems training a dog before and it hadn't occurred to me that after the initial training there would be any problems, we were the 3 rd home he had, not including the breeder and we had him for 2 and a half years it turned out that the couple before us only had him for 3 days before returning him

northerngirl41 Mon 25-Jul-11 20:58:46

Well as someone who had a very mixed up dog - what you can do is:
a) keep it on a lead (although again some dogs react badly to this too)
b) give it a toy so if it opens its mouth it loses the toy - makes them think a bit before attacking
c) Only exercise it away from other animals (we used to use a walled garden or an old tennis court until we'd worked through the problems)

We tried muzzling this dog and it used to just headbutt other dogs with the cage muzzle when it had it on. We tried the fabric type too and he managed to get it off and go for another dog. And finally the thing which worked was the dog toy in mouth... Once he realised the other dogs weren't all trying to attack him and that he didn't did to get his bite in first, he was actually a lot calmer. We worked with a dog shrink to work out his problems - he was very, very close to a trip to the vets, but as a responsible owner I needed to make sure we'd exhausted all possibilities.

Other things they might not have thought of:-
Having it neutered
Changing its food to chicken rather than beef (weird but sometimes works!)
Running it for at least an hour a day morning and night as well as dog walker during the day

But actually these people just sound like they won't follow any advice you give - it's a real shame.

Rhinestone Mon 25-Jul-11 21:07:18

Firstly, ignore anyone spouting the 'alpha' and 'dominance' bollocks. Cesar Milan is WRONG on those things. The research on wolf packs which led to all that thinking was completely flawed as it studied a captive wolf pack, not a wild pack and the behaviour was totally different.

And anyway, dogs are not wolves. They are dogs.

How old was the puppy when they got it? Where did they get it from? If they got it from a puppy farm then the pup may not have been with its mother long enough to learn bite inhibition. Tell your friends to Google it and use the 'yelp and shun' method. It really works.

Plus the dog sounds to be bout 1 year old? This means it's entering a 'teenage' phase and is going to be naughty! Has it been neutered yet? That could make a big difference in calming him down.

Ultimately they need to go to dog training so they can learn to be better dog people.

HeIsSpartacus Mon 25-Jul-11 23:02:00

northern thanks those tips are really helpful - I am going to try and pass them on as suggestions seeing as a muzzle may well be unhelpful as well as unlikely. I would just be so upset if anything happened and I hadn't said something but am also well aware I could piss them off by doing so.

Rhinestone The dog whisperer spoke to them about separation anxiety (think this is what led to used pants being left at P's mother's house for the weekend) but also said loads about pack theory because L was referring to it a lot. As a child we had an Afghan Hound which are known to be v difficult to train and although she was extremely hard to catch if she did a runner she was not bitey or aggressive and liked dogs. I am getting the view that terriers are actually much harder to train than I originally thought so they've got a bit of a challenge on their hands and the poster who said it's the wrong dog for them (I know P particularly wanted this breed and always has) has a good point.

Having just spoken to P they say they use yelp and shun all the time and he always has a dog toy when he is walked. P now thinks his mother overreacted and the dog has been good as gold since they got him home. I can see this is going to be dismissed - poor dog. I really think he's confused. I think I've said as much as a I can haven't I? I can't bang on to P about safety of others any more really without appearing rude - he is already v defensive so I am not doing a very good job of getting him to listen anyway sad

northerngirl41 Tue 26-Jul-11 12:04:50

The best thing really which could happen is for someone else to take this dog and train it properly. The poor thing is being sentenced to a lifetime of rejection if it's allowed to behave like this.

Honestly they need to step up as owners and start being cruel to be kind. The dog needs a schedule including lots of exercise. It needs an absolute rule on where it is/isn't allowed. It's an intelligent breed so it needs mental stimulation of training/food puzzles/retrieval and hunt games. If they are going to be out during the day they need to leave something for the dog to do - a kong filled with peanut butter or frozen beef stock is quite a good one, or hide its toys round the house, or set radios/tvs on timers etc.

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