My Dog Hates my Valentine!

Every February, love is in the air, but so too, is jealousy. Dogs in particular can make their opinions known in a variety of destructive ways when they don’t care for the new significant other in your life. Chewing shoes, barking, growling, guarding the furniture, and a true favorite -- urinating on your sweethearts clothes -- are all tactics dogs have been known to employ to get rid of the intruder.

Bad interactions with a new date can be problematic and stressful, not only for you and your dog, but also your date! These interactions can also be exacerbated if your Valentine begins to fear or feel anxious around your dog (it’s true - dogs CAN smell fear). And since your pup can weigh in heavily on your dating decisions, it’s important that you take steps to help your pup feel better about getting along with everyone.

Here’s where to start:

  • First, try to figure out if your dog is averse to a type of person, or an individual. For example, your dog may not care for men with mustaches! In reality, some dogs just have aversions to types.
    • This usually stems from fear, and you can gradually get your dog used to a type of person by employing a method I like to call, “Hot Dogs from the Sky.” Basically, every time your dog has any kind of interaction with this type of person, you should drop a piece of hot dog, and keep dropping them for as long as the interaction with the Scary Person lasts. It’s unimportant who feeds your dog, the connection you want your dog to make is Scary Person = Hot Dogs From the Sky.
    • This usually fixes a problem pretty quickly, just make sure that you don’t go too quickly and over-stress your dog. If your dog stops eating the hot dogs, he needs a break.
  • If your dog is having a field day with your Valentine’s belongings, the easiest thing to do is to keep his or her stuff away from your dog until things settle down.
    • A major upheaval, such as a move, can disrupt routines and make your dog feel uneasy. If needed, revert back to crating your dog for short periods and provide a special treat while you spend time alone with your date.
    • Remember, even if you are in the throes of love, keep your dog’s outings on schedule because regular exercise is critical for fixing behavior problems (and it can also keep the accidents in the house under control). Incorporate your new Valentine into your routines.
  • The other way to incorporate your new love into your dog’s life is to make your sweetie the Most Favored Person. What this means is that you stop giving your dog all the things that he loves - like walks, car rides, games of fetch, food, and treats, and ONLY allow these to come from the Most Favored Person.
    • Most of the time, dogs will reassess their judgment after a few days of this technique, and best of all, it requires no confrontations.
    • The Most Favored Person is simply the guardian and giver of all good things in life, so dogs eventually learn to tolerate this person as the gatekeeper.

Try to be patient with your dog as he learns how to share you, which is probably not easy. Indulging your pup in some quality one-on-one time like a belly rub can also help your dog feel better, because he, too, should be your Valentine!

Jaime Van Wye is the CEO and Lead Dog Trainer at the Zoom Room, which offers classes in dog agility, obedience, puppy preschool, therapy dog, tricks training, and a wide range of specialty classes such as Shy Dog for newly-adopted rescue dogs.

Ms. Van Wye has trained dogs in search and rescue, bomb and drug detection, criminal apprehension and tracking. She is a Certified Master Dog Trainer, a graduate of the North State K9 Academy, and a Professional Level Member of the International Association of Canine Professionals.

For more useful information, please download our free Dog manual.

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