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Behavior / Training
Husband VS Puppy
(dang this is long--sorry)
As the title suggests, there are some issues brewing between my husband and our Puppy, Coal. Things aren't serious--yet---and we are doing all we can to make sure it doesn't get worse. Honestly, I think that with patience and persistence, he will calm down. Hubby, however, is convinced that Coal HATES him (or at least really doesn't like him) and that this will not change.
Here are some things that have happened, and basically it is night and day between us. I call, he comes running eagerly. Hubby calls--he looks at him, or comes at a slow trot. Coal loves to lick my hands and face (I am trying to get him to stop with the face at least) and loves when I scratch him behind the ears or on his rump. He MAY give hubby a lick, if he is feeling like it (or I am there) and may or may not allow petting. In the mornings or any time we take him out of his house, Hubby will spend minutes trying to coax him out. I call him and he comes out almost immediately. On walks, he listens to me very well--I almost never have to pull or drag him, and I can get his attention in most situations. With my husband, once Coal is riveted on something, he won't budge or listen at all to hubby and hubby has to pull him along until he is far enough away to listen.
There are all cute and stuff, but it gives you an idea of our "Pecking order" if you will. Well, recently, things got a bit more...intense? Well, something shifted and we are trying to work out what it was.
During meal times, we go through a few routines--some tricks he knows and a quick check of his teeth and ears. This pup is highly food motivated, but very anxious around food as well. I didn't realize how anxious until a bit later. There are times when hubby has to do this by himself because I am working or sick (this last month has kind of sucked for me lol). According to my husband, Coal has complained a LOT with a kind bark/growl thing, like he was actually talking and trying to express something. I never witnessed it so I can only use his words to describe it. But once I am there, no problem.
Our last thing for meal routine is the stay practice. He is really good at this. I wanted to start getting him used to touching while he is waiting---he does good outside of meal times, but I wanted to expand it. When I touch him the first time, he is really stiff--obviously he wants that food and NOW. When my husband tried it--he
This was a first for both of us. We had been doing these kinds of exercises since day 1 with the touch the only recent addition. I reached in after hubby and he even gave a low-throated growl at me the second time, though the first was fine.
So we took a couple of steps back to reconsider what was happening. I can say that Coal is definitely a bit more--aggressive?--to hubby but is mostly an angel with me. He has "bit" at hubby a couple of times. The big ones are after coming in for a walk just before meal time, and waking up in the morning.
I say "bit" but I don't count it as biting because his inhibition is pretty good. No marks, no punctures, but you do feel the teeth a little (this is what hubby said).
So we don't know exactly what this is. We can touch and pet him while he is eating, pick up the bowl, put it doesn, reach in, do whatever we want while he is eating---he is fine! So I did an experiment. This time, it was my turn to feed him alone. While he was waiting, I offered him a treat in exchange for letting me touch him. He ate it very slowly, as if he had no use for it. That was odd as he was always so enthusiastic with treats. I let him go to eat, and then tried to put a treat in his way to see if he would take it. He completely ignored it! I tried a higher value--nothing. I combined highest value with a couple of others of varying values, and he finally took it.
We definitely don't want him to be aggressive, and it is important that he not only respect my husband, but obey immediately because of the times that I can't always be there. Behaviorists are not really a thing yet in Japan, and even trainers are expensive and far (Japan is a bit behind the US on many things, including this...I only just recently started hearing about the Dog Whisperer XD)
These are some of the triggers that I think might be adding to his stiffness.
1) my husband. He is tall, but skinny, a baritone voice--and very serious. He is from the old-school camp of aversive training and the whole dominance theory. He now understands that this is debunked, but changes are hard for an middle-aged man. His tone of voice is pretty neutral--no, yes, good, and commands carry about the same weight and his posture doesn't change much. He tends to stare the pup down, though he doesn't understand how it is different from eye contact. He often forgot to give treats or rewards after commands. Not only that, but he does things to do things. Quick, efficient, but I think tends to make Coal feel like a doll rather than a living creature.
2) Now, when we first got the puppy there was a biting incident when we were working on inhibition. It was the first time, and he bit my husband kind of hard. My husband reacted by kind of swatting at his muzzle. I immediately asked him not to do that, and he has not done anything like that ever since. Even though it was one time, I feel that this combined with how my husband naturally is created a large rift between them.
With all that said, my husband HAS been changing. He gives treats more often, has tried to soften his voice, doing things more slowly and enjoying the time together, but still struggles with not staring him down. Personally, I feel there has been progress because prior to the attempts at change, Coal would NEVER lick him.
3) He has mixed feelings about the crate. This was my fault. I haven't properly trained him for the crate, and we use it a lot because we can't always keep an eye on him. His potty training has gone swimmingly, though, and we are working on giving him more freedom bit by bit. Still, we generally put him in his crate immediately or lure him in and close up so that we can take care of things. When we take him out, it is for long periods of time, at least an hour each to include potty, walking, and play (if we have the time).
At this point, if we leave the door open, he will start to go in on his own, and then immediately dart out as if afraid that we will close him in. I think this is also adding to his anxiety during the stay practices because we usually ask him to go into his "house" (we never use that term when we have to put him in there for any period of time, only with the door open---but the damage has been done).
4) He is a teen. Hormones are running loose and establishing his boundaries is the norm. He does it more with Hubby because hubby is more willing to play that game, and has more time with him.
5) He is teething. That is enough to make anyone grumpy.
6) He hasn't seen much of me these month because of colds/asthma that usually come hand in hand in the winter with me. I am not allergic to dog, thank goodness, but my triggers are cold\dry weather, pollutants in the air, and catching a respiratory cold. When they all hit at once, it takes a while for me to recover. Unfortunately, there is nothing I can do about it until I recover, so hubby acts as second in command for me.
My personally assessment is that it is all these factors combined together. If hubby persevere with his new method of a slightly gentler self (remembering treats, a slight tone of voice modification when interacting with him, and doing things more slowly) Half of these will go away with time, while the remaining require re-training/patience.
Just so you know, my methods of negative punishment is removing me from the situation or ignoring him. If he snaps at me or barks/gets zoomie and rough, I turn my back to him/stand up, sometimes leave the room. Me doing it is extremely effective. I have that high of a value with him. Hubby, on the other hand... Well, there is some improvement, but it isn't as powerful as when I do it, it seems.
My game plan
Right now, I can't do much. Once the cold weather passes, I want to take over completely again and have hubby take a break for a week or two, then slowly reintroduce him with only positive interactions and situations. Until then, I want hubby to keep doing what he is doing with the changes he made.
For the crate issue, I have to set aside time for that--which means expanding his pen so that we have a space to move around in. This is difficult to do since we live with hubby's parents and the only space (living room) is small. He isn't quite ready for free reign in the living room, but he is going to get more privileges as he behaves and grows up. This IS Japan, after all ^_^; So I have to wait for a free afternoon where I don't have work and most of the family is out and about so that I have space and time.
There are so many things we need to work with him on, but I feel that either resolving this, or at least coming to terms with it, is most important . Hubby is part of the care routine. Coal needs to respond as quickly with him as he does with me, especially in a situation that might be dangerous.
And since we are kind of isolated out here, we are on our own. So far, the closest "trainer" is about an hour or so away...sucks living in the countryside, but that is how it is. Hopefully, the whole behaviorist thing picks up in popularity so that it is more accessible, but for now we have to make do with whatever tidbits we can piece together. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
I really have tried to find answers in previous posts, but none of them seem to match up quite with what we are facing. It isn't resource guarding exactly, as he has no problems when we take and give him toys, etc. So we aren't 100 sure of what else to do outside of what I outlined. He never sasses me, and he generally loves everyone else. He just gets all bent out of shape with hubby.
Oh, he is 5 months old this week. If that helps. We have had him since the middle of November.
Post edited by Anjyil at 2017-02-07 15:33:55
I read the first post and glanced at the second and third, there is a lot of information and I do not have a lot of time, so forgive me if I missed something.
First and foremost, stop messing with your dog at meal times! You are teasing him, and I would get pretty freaking angry about it to. Let the poor dog eat in peace.
Second, your dog obviously trusts you much more than he trusts your husband. If your husband has physically "swatted" him, that could explain it. You need to work on building that trust. Stop thinking about things as a "pecking" order and as a partnership between your dog, you, and your husband.
Build positive associations with your husband. Have him do really fun things with your pup. Establish reasonable boundaries and reward heavily when they are respected. Time outs, ending fun time, etc. are great deterrents when boundaries are not respected.
Read through the "Behaviour/Training" threads to get some insight on proper training techniques and what is acceptable dinner time routines (in my house, a simple sit and wait gets them dinner in peace). There is obviously a time to get a dog used to handling, but dinner is not that time.
If you work on those two things (building positive association with your husband and leaving the pup alone to eat), I think you will see remarkable improvements.
Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
I Wander, I Ride
I don't really have any similar experience but my first thought about the handling him around his food is that it is too difficult for him for whatever reason right now. Maybe you can practise handling at other times, when he is more relaxed for awhile. There are threads here on the forum on resource guarding where you might find better ideas on how to practice.
And regarding your husband, do you think he'd be willing to play more with Coal to make him more interesting and fun? I am thinking it probably shouldn't be anything rough and physical beacause that might just be scary, but activities like he can hide some treats/ place treats around the room and let Coal search for them or fold a big blanket or towel and hide treats in the folds. Look at Pinterest for ideas on other home made activity toys.
Oops cross posted with
Yeah, it is a lot. Sorry about that. I wanted to be as clear as I could about the situation.
We never do all those things at once. We give him handfuls of food after each thing we do with him before putting the bowl down. Hubby's handfuls are bigger than my due to my small hands. Generally it is just before meals (a kind of impatience--hurry up!!) and that one or two incidents in the actual "house" itself. Actually, he has done the soft-bit on him when meals weren't even involved (just happened this morning).
But I have been trying to get mys husband to do the check at other times, citing the fact that he doesn't allow it in other areas. I will keep pushing the issue with my husband on that one.
Yeah, I want to do exactly that--but right now, hubby has to handle the main things until I am well enough to take over again.
I have read through every single training/behavior thread before posting this. Most of the things listed, we are already doing. Other things I have already planned for but can't implement because I need to get hubby off doing the main things.. Was hoping there was something we were missing, but it seems not.
I am not so sure that it is resource guarding.
eating, he has no trouble at all. It is only very specific times and situations, as explained above.
My husband does take him to the park to play occasionally, and outside in our parking lot as well. Usually he does fetch and a little tug. Coal LOVES playing tug with him, but is a lot less willing to play fetch. He loves fetch with me, but is less willing to play tug. Also, hubby sometimes jogs with him briefly on walks (Coal loves it!) but I can't do that because of above issues.
I don't think the food is resource guarding, just tension and impatience / excitement. One of ours had resource guarding issues with food, but now she's fine. She doesn't particularly like to be pet or handled while she's waiting for her food - she will snarl a bit, whimper, give everyone around the stink eye - but if she's got her food and is eating she's fine. Basically once she's sure she's getting the goods she don't care what happens, but if the food is out and being prepped she's just an impatient ball of excitement that will sit and wait if I ask her to, but would rather I keep my hands to myself and get with the food prep thankyouverymuch.
Both of our shibas will get in a yelling match while waiting for dinner if either invades the others space or sends too strong of a stink eye across the room, but they don't outright fight in a manner that can't be quickly deflated with an interruption.
This is the first time I heard someone have such a similar story! That really puts my mind at ease. Coal is our only pup, but the first few weeks he was totally whining and almost-screaming (he almost never screams) We got that out of him real fast, though.
also, big plus today. We took Coal to the park and the pup mostly had eyes for Daddy XD They ran around playing chase (Coal chasing him, not the other way around!) and we all played some fetch and such. I headed to the car early with the pup and he kept stopping to look back at hubby to make sure he was coming.
I was very proudly telling my husband that this is further proof Coal doesn't HATE him, or even not like him. I told hubby that he just likes pushing his buttons because he pushes back. XD
Oh, and hubby FINALLY agreed to do the teeth/ear check in other locations. Hope he remembers later XD
We do the teeth / ear / paw check routine as part of their bed time process. They are tired and not very fussy at that point, so they're more co-operative and willing participants in the process.
I would LOVE to do that...but he doesn't get sleepy XD The only time he is calm is after a good play session or a long walk, but he still kind of gets the zoomies on his last walk before bed.
Well the post-play session seems like an ideal time to work it in to his routine then, maybe? Wait until he's calmed post-play so he doesn't think you're just still trying to play with him though hehe.
Great idea! definitely going to try and work that in then.
Probably after brushing, as he seems to get sleeping during that time
I should give an update--I am having hubby do some exercises to reassociate his hand with good things. It seems to help, especially immediately after. As for the barking/nipping, that is something we are still figuring out.
On the other hand, Coal has indeed started guarding. He grabbed at my hand when I was reaching for his food bowl when it was empty. Something he had never done before. We are taking things in steps, and I am going to step back everything and retrain him in many things.
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