Why is it so hard to be on the same page? <Rant>

So I went away for about a week and a half to help my dad move down to North Carolina, from Upstate NY. It was a grueling 14hr drive one way.

I left the dog home because (a)my Aunt doesn't really like dogs, and (b) her fiance is severely allergic to animals. Like we went to a Zoo and he broke out and had an attack just from being at the Zoo, and this guy loves animals to death, I really feel bad for him.

So I left my dog at home, with my fiance. We had a training plan in order, he was told before I left to remember to make sure every-time he left the house the dog went in his crate. The dog wasn't crated the whole time I was gone. Instead of crating him he put laundry baskets around in the areas my dog liked to chew the floor while we were out. While it worked, it wasn't the right message to the dog because the dog can easily just chew a new spot.

We also had a thing going where the dog was not allowed on the furniture unless invited up. This has been a problem since day one with training. My fiance just doesn't get what inviting the dog up means or something. My fiance will sit down on the couch and the dog will jump up after him, and I will say down, then he will chime in and say "I was going to invite him up anyways..." then I tell him thats not the point he doesn't know the difference. Then its a personal attack against my fiance and he gets pissy for the whole night because I had to explain to him (again) that if the dog jumps up on his own its not an invite.

Despite this, I worked around my fiance and trained the dog to stay off the couch. In the week and a half I was gone, he completely untrained him. Then when I said something about it the second night I was back, he rebuttled with "well he wasn't trained before you left." I was pissed and just said well he might have done it with you but I had it so at least when I was around he stayed off the couch, and it shut him up.

Now every-time we leave a room he is up on the furniture again. Which he was banned from because of past indiscretions of guarding against the cats.

He untrained him to wait when coming in from outdoors. We put him out on a runner when he goes out to poop so that I can know he is safe and do what I need to do while he is outside. Then when he comes in its sit, wait (undo his collar) then release. My fiance does all three at the same time. He says sit while he is undoing the collar, then before the collar is even off he's saying release. So the dog wont wait, I can get him to sit, but the minute I start undoing his collar he is already trying to bolt through the house.

If I even try to talk about it my fiance takes it as a personal attack, that he can't do anything right, and to be honest I'm getting kinda sick of it, and am adding that to my list of reasons to rehome my dog. I keep telling him that him not being on the same page with me on training is not only unfair to me, but its unfair to the dog because the dog isn't getting the structure he needs. He has one person telling him one thing while the other person is doing something different and it frustrates the dog, and confuses him. But for some reason my fiance gets offended and starts the argument of So you think the dog is stupid?

This is an argument of him saying that a dog should be so smart that it can tell the difference, when I say hes not, he's not much smarter than a three year old, and his counter is that well three year olds are pretty smart I'm sure they could tell. And its that back and forth argument forever.

I'm sorry I just had to get that out. </rant>

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Comment by Kathryn Harbour on August 11, 2014 at 1:35pm

I hate to say it, but step back and take a good look at your fiance.  What will it be like when you have children?  Hope things work out for you.

Comment by Beverly Butler Redford & Tucker on August 10, 2014 at 1:27am

This is kind of on point and kind of off point.  I've been talking to trainers about assisting with some challenges I have with the boys which are beyond my training knowledge.  The women trainers are more about reviewing the behavior and modifying it and cementing good behavior.  The male trainers are more of the "let's force them to behave the way we want them to behave".  One of the women pointed out that men have a different perspective about training which can be very force-oriented because of the way men are raised.  I don't know if that plays into the dynamic you're working with or not.

As to the "trained dogs don't get to be dogs" position, part of training (at least from some trainer's perspectives) is to get a dog to understand their position in the pack which is a natural event.  It also serves to make sure the dog can safely get to a position where they can play.  A dog that can't walk nicely on a leash runs into the street and gets hit by a car. 

It sounds like you've gotten to a point in your life where you are a lot more stable and can work on what the priorities are between the two of you in terms of training.  This is just another aspect of the communication between the two of you and successful communication is a component of a successful relationship.  You may want to try to phrase it as, "it makes me upset when we differ about how to work with the dog.  How can we get to a place where we have a common plan/goal"  That way there are no accusations that put him in a defensive posture.

You've seen there are solutions to the other problems you've been going through, look at different ways to get to a mutually acceptable solution to this problem

Comment by Michi Michi on August 9, 2014 at 2:53am

I am glad to hear that your fiance is great on other fronts. I think if you approach the subject in a way that's relateable to him, he'll listen from readily. Sometimes, if you preface a difficult conversion with "I'm not trying to judge or chastize you but this is something that is very important to me and we need to be on the same page...." might help too.

Your fiance sounds like he is comparing domesticated dogs to wild animals. Domesticated dogs were breed and raised over centuries to work for and live with humans. Corgis specifically, were not bred for leisurely purposes. These low riders were made with an important job in mind, to herd and guard the farm. They have to be smart, agile, and have enough endurance to do their jobs properly. I bet you can connect the dots quickly and recognize why they can be so stubborn. They are very trainable for this same reason. Dogs in general enjoy having a job and are happy when they are mentally engaged. They need as much fun and activity as they need rules and boundaries. The two of you are, afterall, the masters of the house and he is a natural follower. You may find explaining this to your fiance easier with some supporting reading material by experts.

You may still agree to disagree in the end but finding the key rules that are most important to you and approaching your guy with them piece meal might be your best bet. I trust your guy is a good person who loves you so I think you will all come together on the same page or get close to it. Goodluck!

Comment by Linda on August 8, 2014 at 5:43pm

Kay....just like with kids there's not just one right way to raise them. Each parent is different and each kid or dog is different.  I have never found anyone here to be pushy and say you HAVE to do it this way or it's wrong.  There is so much good experience on here and what doesn't work for one someone else has a good idea because they've been there.  Please keep us posted.

Comment by Kay White on August 8, 2014 at 4:51pm

I thank you all for your wonderful replies. Its gave me a new way to view things from, and some of it has made me rethink my belief that dogs need to be the same for both of us. I had it pounded into my head from the other site I used to be on that if both of us weren't working on the same page the dog would never behave, and ultimately need to be re-homed. That site was full of people who pushed intimidating ideas like that on people. So I am relearning a lot from everyone here a little at a time, and I can't thank you all enough for being patient with me as well.

Comment by Denis J. on August 8, 2014 at 1:05pm

I agree with comments on here.   We can't downplay the importance of this issue because "it's just a dog" but ultimately it's a test of your relationship and support for one another.   You're fiancée sounds like he's a good guy but he should respect you in the way that you want to raise the pup, if he's not willing to give his support in the discipline.    Letting the dog do what he wants is not raising the pup, it's being another mutt of the pack and not a leader.

I work with families and I can certainly testify of the hardship families have from raising children in two separate homes (with lack of mutual communication and disagreements on raising their children).   Communication and mutual respect of one another is key and if you feel you are not getting this, from someone that should be there to co-raise this pup, it prompts to seek someone for help.     But in the end, with all the comments you blog might receive, with the number of advice, you seems to know exactly where this will lead if it doesn't change... frustration, much arguments, distrust, etc.

Take it like this; my wife didn't want to consider having a dog.   She was transferring on me troubles that her co-worker was having with her husband.   He didn't pick up after the dog, clean the floors, walk it, etc.   He would let her (full size Lab) jump on the couch knowing this was bothering his wife and allow the dog to rush in the home with dirty muddy paws.  

My wife was sure I would do this as well, because, well.... I'm a man and men don't care for themselves right?    :)   That was irritating me to the fullest as I didn't appreciate being pre-judged on an idiot (pardon my judgment) that doesn't respect his wife or his household.   

I got her to trust me and in the end she is not disappointed.   Wally's my responsibility 98% of the time, I walk him twice per day (rain, shine, cold, snow, nighttime, etc.)   I clean his paws before coming in the home and play with him, discover things together, etc.     You see, I'm a strong believer the way someone cares for their pets is the way they care for themselves.    You can apply the same thing to car ownership...   lol

 

Good luck with everything.

Hope the replies help you making your family life better for everyone.

Comment by Beth on August 8, 2014 at 1:04pm

Here's a funny example of the way things go in my house.    It had gotten to the point that my husband had trouble getting Jack to go outside for his final potty before bed.  If Jack was already relaxed on the couch, my husband would call the dogs and Jack would totally ignore him.   Finally I would say "Jack, go to daddy" in a quiet voice.  The dog would hop down, sigh, stretch, and walk to the door.  My husband was frustrated with the dog at first but I jokingly reminded him that he sort of creates these situations.


So now, when my husband wants Jack to come to the door, he says "Jack, go to daddy!"   It is silly, really, that he can't just call the dog to him.  But it works and Jack knows if he doesn't listen I just repeat the command anyway. 


But like Anna says, they DO learn that different people in the house have different rules.  

Comment by Anna Morelli on August 8, 2014 at 12:45pm

Hi Kay, I remember your previous posts and am glad you worked out those issues.  You can work this one out too.

You've received a lot of good advice here, as well as good food for thought, so I'll skip over what's been already written, with the exception that I would wait on rehoming your fiance ( but I would do that before rehoming the dog!!! )

As you can see from your potential in-laws' dogs, there are many ways of owning dogs and different ways can indeed work for different people.  The problem is you and your fiancee have different ideas of what a pet dog should be and do and that you share the same space.  As others have said, it's easier to work it out on the dog issue than on a children issue.

Your fiancee is right when he says dogs are smart, can intuit he is about to let the dog get on the couch, etc.  Dale Carnegie said " When a man is convinced against his will, he remains of the same opinion still"  and never truer words were spoken. You will not change his mind any sooner than he will change yours! That's an inside job.

If you don't trust him to care for the dog according to your standards, put him with a pet sitter or board him when you are gone.  That's what you'd have to do anyway it you were the only one taking care of the dog.  I do that with my own dogs when the situation warrants it and I don't think my husband can handle things my way.  It never works to try and change people.  If you love him and otherwise find him a good fit, find ways to work around it, accept what you can live with and take steps to minimize  what you can't live with.  The dog can be two different dogs, one with you, one with him.  He will have less of a problem working that out than you do! Seriously....

This is a challenge, but need not become a battleground.  It will help if you approach it that way.

Comment by Beth on August 8, 2014 at 12:13pm

I think some compromise may be in order.   Pick one or two things that are super important and help him see why they are important and relax a little on the others.   Most guys are more laid back and inconsistent.  Yes, with kids too.  But both approaches are ok in some cases.   Yes my dogs follow my husband around, mug him for food, look at me and say "does he really mean it?" if he asks them to do something, etc.   But honestly, most of the consequences go back to my husband.   One of my dogs knows dozens of commands and words and yet my husband mostly makes odd squawking noises at the dog if he wants him to stop doing something. 

 

So yes, I have dogs that listen very well to me and not much at all to my husband.  But he adores the dogs and the dogs adore him.

 

I would limit the arguments to issues that are leading to dangerous behavior in your dog and let the rest go.  Guarding behavior on the couch IS a big deal, but whether or not he sits and waits at the door is not the end of the world. 

 

I would put my foot down on the crating, but take a different approach.  When you are NOT having an argument, approach your fiance and explain you know how much he loves the dog and that you know he would feel horrible if the dog ate something dangerous when he was unsupervised.  And since you would both feel awful and he's not reliable out of the crate, ask if perhaps you can both agree to keep him crated, for everyone's peace of mind.

 

With people, as with animals, we get better responses from rewarding the behaviors we want than from punishing the ones we don't.   :-)

Comment by Linda on August 8, 2014 at 12:05pm

Jane...this is my 3rd marriage and it has lasted 34 years.  He understood that to love me was to love my animals and since he was raised with cats and dogs the same way I was it worked out just fine.    No children by our previous marriages and we have one adopted daughter who is an adult now, she came to us at 6 months of age.  A few hic cups in the early years but we worked on having a united front even if we disagreed...we just never disagreed in front of our daughter. My biggest problem is not taking advantage of his soft nature when comes to animals...otherwise I would have a zoo.

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