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Strong Disagreements with DP Regarding Training(125 Posts)
I'm a long time lurker, and have been considering writing this thread for a long time now, but I've been pushed to my wit's end.
My partner and I got two puppies just before the start of lockdown (we're in the UK). We discussed beforehand about training strategies and it became apparent we were a bit different in terms of what style we would use (I am pretty much 99% reward based training and 1% "punishment" in the form of a sharp "No!" if things get too much or too boisterous). My partner is against reward based training, at least with food, and is very much "I AM TOP DOG - MY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY", but this was totally downplayed at the time. In our discussions pre-puppy we said that we would go for the reward based more and keep punishment to a minimium. I also said to him that if he ever, ever rubs the dogs nose in its business (something he said he saw as a good strategy for teaching a dog not to pee or poo inside), then I would leave him. Thankfully he hasn't done that... but he didn't handle it well at all (I'll go into it in a mo).
I booked dog obedience sessions with our local Dogs Trust, and we managed to attend the introductory session before the lockdown properly started. My partner came out of the introductory session feeling happy and confident that positive rewards actually work and started to "see the light". Now, due to restrictions, we have not been able to attend any of the actual training sessions and our puppies are now 7 months old. One of them has a more nervous disposition and more separation anxiety than the other, which seems to be getting a little worse.
Anyway, if I had known what my partner was REALLY like with dogs (I only ever had reference when we have looked after other people's dogs, he was always lovely, kind and gentle with them), I would NEVER have agreed to getting the puppies.
As an exampe, if the dogs don't do as they're told, they are dragged by their scruff, yelping, to their bed. They both get yelled at, they get yanked HARD on the lead if they aren't walking to heel. Another annoying thing is that my partner thinks that they should be off lead as much as possible despite there being various issues with that (cyclists, pedestrians, other dogs that might be nervous). He once let them out of the car into a CAR PARK in the city with no leads on - I went nuts and he told me the dogs need to be trusted... they were about 4 months old and god knows what they would have done if they saw a pigeon or something the other side of the car park....
He criticises other dog walkers for having their dogs on the leads if the dog is nervous - now I agree that it's often better to have dogs loose to reduce anxiety, but some dogs are on leads and need to be kept separate from loose ones for good reason, they could be rescues, on heat or whatever reason that they do not need to justify to my DP.
Any time I try to interject with his training style, I'm told "well I've had dogs all my life, I know what I'm doing". I get completely shut down: "I don't want an argument about this!" (to my reply of "I'm not trying to argue, I just want you to listen to what I've got to say"... then follows the argument...").
It's true, I've only had one dog myself, but I spent months and months researching about training and what to do and what not to do, as well as attending puppy classes with that particular dog. I can get the dogs to do my command by having small treats in my hand, but I've been told we're "not allowed to use treats anymore" because "they won't do as they're told if you don't have treats". I can also command them to relatively good success without the treats.
My nervous pup is getting more nervous when he's around, and I get told off if I don't act "harsh enough" (e.g. yesterday we were keeping the dogs outside as an excercise in separation and I was gently holding nervous dog's head out of the way of the door whilst I went to shut it and I happened to say calmly "come on, stop pushing me, it's OK" and was told I need to YELL at him to get him to do what I want... I wasn't even trying to command him, I was trying to act calmly for him. I'm expected to be yelling and grabbing and "putting the dog in his place," which 1. I have refused to do, and 2. I would absolutely hate myself to the core if I did that and 3. it's fucking embarassing if anyone sees, I look like an animal abuser!
Whenever I have looked at "How to stop X behaviour" it's generally about being calm, ignoring undesireable behaviour, rewarding good behaviour, giving lots of attention and stimulation etc. Whenever I've shown him the multiple, multiple websites and advice regarding rewarding behaviour being good for the dogs and building their confidence through play and calm interactions, he claims he just knows best. Even when the websites CLEARLY state "DO NOT GRAB/INTIMIDATE YOUR DOG, IT WILL MAKE THE BEHAVIOUR WORSE".
The only time he has listened is when I called the Dogs Trust trainer in an absolute panic because after the dog pooed inside, I saw him grabbing him by the scruff, "showing" him the poo - not rubbing his nose in it and therefore still sticking to my zero tolerance rule. This caused yelping and fearfulness in the dog, but according to him, he's "Just playing up and being dramatic". The trainer talked us through what the best options are for stopping him from pooing inside - which he accepted and the behaviour stopped.
I feel like I've failed as an owner, I feel I have no voice or power in how these dogs are treated outside of the way I treat them (with love, patience, compassion, calmness), and I am incredibly disturbed by my DP's transformation from what I've seen with other people's dogs as a massive dog lover to some kind of dominance fiend.
Do we know when puppy classes will open again? I'm hoping someone with more authority than me can show him how much damage he's doing. I need my DP training ASAP.
Sorry for the stream of consciousness here, I'm in a highly anxious state, I'm supposed to be working from home but needed to get this off my chest so I can concentrate. Suggestions welcome.
I have to say, before the puppies, my DP has never shown any hint of being such an aggressive, dominant person. He respects my views, he generally listens to me and we have calm, adult discussions about things. It's as though the puppies have brought out some kind of buried demon inside of him.
Your partner is an animal abuser. A monstrous, idiotic arsehole. I am shocked you allow him to be so horrible to those poor dogs. If it were me, he would have been out on his arse the first time he dragged it by it's scruff. Truly appalling behaviour. Don't be stupid enough to ever have children with this disgusting man.
Goodness me OP, you have a lot going on here.
The way your DP is acting towards those dogs is abusive. He grabs them so hard they cry and yelp in fear/pain. He yanks them about on the lead - not only is that highly ineffective but it's also incredibly dangerous and could do a lot of damage, especially if the lead is connected to the collar.
If I was you, I would leave your DP and take the dogs with you. By staying, you're basically saying "I don't agree with you, but I'm happy to stay with you while you abuse my dog". I also highly suspect your nervous puppy will do a lot better without him around.
Please don't wait until puppy classes are on again. You're doing damage to these dogs that may not be undone. Lots of dogs that are abused in childhood and adolescence never recover from it. Please get them away from this man ASAP.
I don't "allow him" to do anything, I have shouted at him about it - but then I'm completely shut down, I've told him it's disgusting, I'm told I'm being argumentative. I've told him it's abuse and he's damaging the dog and he is completely convinced that I am anthropomorphising them... that this is the correct way.
That the yelping is the dog "being dramatic" (talk about anthropomorphising..). It makes me feel physically sick and I end up shaking and crying about it. He just cannot see that it's damaging, he really can't see it.
You're right. I needed someone else to say this to me, to confirm what my thoughts are, hence the post. It's just plain disturbing and upsetting, I never thought this would happen but I do need to get out... I can't believe it
You should rehome the dogs
In all honesty this sounds like a partner issue, not a dog issue.
You have already shown him online links and he doesn't believe them so I am not sure how much we can help him but, if you wanted some real evidence aginst aversive/punishment based training:
- Loads of studies by John Bradshaw, Emily Blackwell and co all look at the damage punishment based training can do. Studies have shown that dogs trained this way are more likely to develop aggression-based behavioural problems towards humans (both known and unknown).
- The American Gide Dog training centre did a trial year where they split their dogs in two. Half were trained using a mixture of gentle punishment and reward. Half were traned with just rewards. The reward-based group had a much higher pass rate (80% of dogs passed compared with about 50% of the mixed group) and were ready to pass quicker (an average of about 10 days) than the other group.
- The idea of a pack leader is tosh. The kind of pack a domestic dog might form is not the same as a wolf pack and does not have a clear leader. All an alpha leader is, when you break down the human interpretation of that description, is someone who uses the threat of violence to achive what he wants. That's a bully.
At 7 months old your dogs have not yet gone through the teenage phase - which can test even the most patient owners - or become old enough to dislay aggression which typially starts (if it's going to) at around 1-2 years old. This could get a lot worse if you are not careful...
What can we do to help you, OP
Sorry OP, but you are allowing it. You're staying in that situation and allowing him to abuse your dogs.
Believe me when I say your dogs may not recover from this kind of treatment, and the longer you stay, the more traumatised they will become.
I rescued a cat who had been abused (kicked, hit) - I've had him for three years now and he still reacts badly to men, loud voices and legs/feet coming too close him.
Don't keep your dogs in this situation any longer. If you're unwilling to leave your partner then have the decency to send those poor poor puppies to a rescue centre where they'll be safe.
X-post with you.
Please do the right thing
If you're not prepared to leave him over this, rehome the dogs asap. That's your choice. They are being damaged beyond repair the longer they are exposed to him. Act now and don't wait.
Your partner is abusing your dogs.
You should rehome the dogs
I'd be more inclined to rehome the partner.
How a person treats an animal is usually a good indicator of who they really are. And anyone who treats a dog like that would not be welcome in my life.
Are your dogs siblings? Have you heard of littermate syndrome? There's evidence to suggest getting two puppies at the same time is a bad idea as it creates anxiety problems amongst other things. Maybe have a look into it if you haven't already heard of it, and then consult a dog behaviourist for help.
In regards to your partner, I would seriously LTB. That's not on at all.
Sorry OP, but you are allowing it. You're staying in that situation and allowing him to abuse your dogs.
Please either rehome the dogs asap or get rid of him .
This is animal abuse plain and simple.
Even worse is you have litter mates (which a quick google would have told you is a VERY bad idea) Once they are no longer puppies they will start fighting and god only knows what that vile man will do to them then
The dominance theory is utter bollocks,,long since disproved..all your partner is doing will end up with terrified cowed dogs who will eventually become fear aggressive (if they are killed accidentally by not being kept safe)
I'm sorry if that sounds harsh but you MUST rehome them where they have a chance to be treated and trained properly (and separately) Otherwise this is going to have a very unhappy ending and those poor puppies are going be very severely damaged.
Sort it today. Explain to a rescue how your partner is treating them and get them out of there. (and protect yourself too..he has really shown you who he is )
She can't rehome then if the dogs belong to both of them. The RSPCA isn't going to get involved for something like this so realistically she's going to have to find a way to get him to agree to the rehome them or hire a professional behaviourist. Any qualified behaviourist isn't going to be happy with how he's treating them and can explain it to him. Even doing zoom sessions would be a start. And more importantly DON'T have kids with him OP.
Hi all, thanks for this. I've just broached it with him - I told him he can never grab the dogs by the scruff again.
He told me I have no control over the dogs - to which point I asked the dog to come here, sit and lie down which he did compliantly.
He's then said I'm emotionally unstable, I have no idea what I'm talking about, I need to google "grabbing dogs" - then I read this out:
I focused on the "if your dog is fearful then it will make it worse" unfortunately he refuses to acknowledge that and saw the website kind of advocates it. He's also telling me that me arguing with him is damaging the puppies more than grabbing them.
I feel so sick, I'm sat here crying, I can't tolerate this but I'm not strong enough to leave, we've built a life together. But I can't let these puppies go through this... should I call the Dog Trainer again - I think she managed to speak sense to him last time but I just want this to stop. He's SO ARROGANT - he's saying things like "you can't just read things online, it's all about intuition". I'm intuitively seeing that the dog is fearful, but that doesn't count.
I think the dog trainer would really help the situation... it did temporarily last time as he actually respected her opinion, whereas I'm just soft and emotionally unstable apparently. I might give her a call when I've calmed down.
The dogs were bought with my money so they are "technically" mine. I'm not married either. But we own a property together... making all this more difficult than it should be.
If I called the RSPCA to tip them off about abuse - pretending I was a passer by who saw the abuse - would that work? I mean he doesn't hit them, but he is aggressive/dominant/grabby - but that's all the same to me.
OP would your DH let you take over sole care of the dogs, if they are causing him so much stress?
I believe the situation should be reversible if your DH will listen to you.
If he WON'T listen to you then I agree you have bigger issues than how best to train your puppies.
My training class has opened up again outdoors - I also know of behaviourists who are doing 1-2-1 consultations outdoors. I'm sure you could find someone close to you.
If not, try looking online. Look for people with different approaches - I like Packwalker's videos for example. Not a great deal of detail on his training methods but he is always very calm and has 100% control.
There are lots of youtube videos out there, try sitting down and watching some together.
In the meantime, see if you can take over training & obedience, and DH just focuses on calm playing and bonding with the dogs to rebuild their trust.
Help? What more can we do? We have all told you to leave this abusive prick, but you're "not strong enough." Yet you're strong enough to be gaslighted, told you're mentally unstable, don't know what you're talking about, and watch your dogs being abused. Which is it? You know what you have to do, you just won't.
He's abusing these dogs. He might not have obviously abused you yet but it's likely. He will abuse children if he has them these things are linked! Having 2 puppies the same age whether they are actual siblings is at least twice as hard as having one. They need to be kept mostly separate til they are fully mature. They need to be walked and trained separately and this abuse it not helping at all. Personally I'd leave him and re home one dog unless you are in the position to provide that double care. He's showing you who he is OP through his treatment of these animals. Even punishment basked training doesn't mean physical violence, fear and pain!
OP you need to take a stand for those poor dogs without voices. And for yourself.
Leave. Take the dogs. You all deserve more
He's abusive Anyone who hurts dogs by grabbing them is just evil, it's a puppy
Reward based training works.