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My two roommates and I got a puppy, Nikki, a couple years ago.

They are the ones who hang with her. She regards them as family.

I'm introverted and do a lot of work from home, so I spend most of my time in my bedroom. Nikki has decided I'm not family because I'm not around as much, and she clearly likes me, but isn't in wild love with me.

Nikki has some behavior problems. My roommates are clueless about puppy training and behavior and I think they are uniquely positioned to train her out of these problems, but they seem blind to dog psychology.

I've studied child psychology and work as a tutor to children, so it's not a mystery to me. I see how my roommates give her bad cues.

I'll write the rest of this from my point of view as applying some child behavior to dogs, but please correct me if I'm wrong about anything.

They just ignore my requests to train Nikki out of her behaviors. They don't understand me and just flat out reject it because it doesn't make sense to them.

So I'd like to get some expert advice from this website to pass on.

We've been training her, but she refuses to obey commands unless she sees us holding a treat for her in that very moment. I think my roommates are supposed to gradually replace treats with affection, but they have no consistency in doing this, and really have just given in to her behavior.

I don't seem to have much effect on her, as I'm not a pack leader to her. I wish my roommate Bren who is the true pack leader would be more consistent in training her not to demand treats.

They also don't understand that Nikki views their attention as a reward for anything she's doing at the time, and they don't use "negative reinforcement," i.e. briefly withdrawing their attention as a "punishment."

Nikki won't return a fetched object, or come when she's called, but instead plays "keep away." My roommates respond by chasing her and trying to yank the toy away by force. They don't understand this is just rewarding her, making it a game to her.

I got Brenda to use a little patience when training her to return a toy, but Brenda still gives the wrong cues. For instance when Nikki gets into the "keep away" body language (when she crouches or jerks the toy) Brenda gets all energetic and tries to tower over Nikki or snatch the toy away. Brenda has learned not to chase her, but still seems to be sending the signal "this is a game," or "aggression gets met with aggression."

Finally, Nikki can't walk on a leash without constantly pulling with maximum effort. Even when she wears a harness she chokes herself, starts breathing hard, and yet she still pulls hard.

My roommates have responded by yanking Nikki along on walks. If Nikki doesn't want to obey, they just shorten the leash and drag her along. I explained this is just reinforcing for her the idea that being on a leash is equated with pulling/force/choking, but they won't listen.

Okay, actually I know I may be wrong about some of this. Can I get some expert advice about what's the theory behind dog behavior? Note that my roommates don't understand human or dog psychology, so they tend to reject all suggestions. They need someone to explain patiently the theory behind it, and someone other than me, because I'm tired of being ignored and I'm sure they're tired of listening to me.
 

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you said it.... ( consistency ) = results..

pack leader ? My DH is not home for year at a time.. yet he comes home and the animals adore him. little sincere interest and engagement to interact, goes a long way.
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I'm an introvert no problem bonding with my animals. I don't have to entertain them, there are many things they come along and we do together and just hang out doing nothing too. Being a backseat driver to other people is pointless. You should get out of your room and find an adventure you and the pup could do together and bond over.. Dogs love to learn and for someone to teach and treat them right makes better company for them to want to hang out with you. good luck..
 

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Discussion Starter #3
you said it.... ( consistency ) = results..

pack leader ? My DH is not home for year at a time.. yet he comes home and the animals adore him. little sincere interest and engagement to interact, goes a long way.
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I'm an introvert no problem bonding with my animals. I don't have to entertain them, there are many things they come along and we do together and just hang out doing nothing too. Being a backseat driver to other people is pointless. You should get out of your room and find an adventure you and the pup could do together and bond over.. Dogs love to learn and for someone to teach and treat them right makes better company for them to want to hang out with you. good luck..
Time is the issue. It's not directly that I'm an introvert, it's that I don't hang out in the common area 24/7, whereas my roommates do spend all their at-home time with the dog. Nikki loves me but she relates more directly to my roommates--they spend 8 to 16 hours a day with her and sleep with her as well. they've done this since she was 8 weeks old. I spend about 4 hours a week with Nikki and I'm working on two businesses simultaneously (and it was always primarily their dog) so I can't compete with them.

A fact is that Nikki is overjoyed beyond words when my roommates come home and jumps all over them, while she "merely" wants to cuddle with me when I get home. I guess I always assumed the reason is that my roommates spend all their waking and much of their sleeping hours with her.

It may also be more that my roommates are contradicting my directions. All I know is that with regard to problem behaviors, I might spend a few hours a week attempting to work on them, but my roommates spend 100 hours a week NOT attempting to work on them or actively enforcing them, so I don't do much good.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
you said it.... ( consistency ) = results..

pack leader ? My DH is not home for year at a time.. yet he comes home and the animals adore him. little sincere interest and engagement to interact, goes a long way.
.
I'm an introvert no problem bonding with my animals. I don't have to entertain them, there are many things they come along and we do together and just hang out doing nothing too. Being a backseat driver to other people is pointless. You should get out of your room and find an adventure you and the pup could do together and bond over.. Dogs love to learn and for someone to teach and treat them right makes better company for them to want to hang out with you. good luck..
Time is the issue. It's not directly that I'm an introvert, it's that I don't hang out in the common area 24/7, whereas my roommates do spend all their at-home time with the dog. Nikki loves me but she relates more directly to my roommates--they spend 8 to 16 hours a day with her and sleep with her as well. they've done this since she was 8 weeks old. I spend about 4 hours a week with Nikki and I'm working on two businesses simultaneously (and it was always primarily their dog) so I can't compete with them.

A fact is that Nikki is overjoyed beyond words when my roommates come home and jumps all over them, while she "merely" wants to cuddle with me when I get home. I guess I always assumed it's that my roommates spend all their waking and much of their sleeping hours with her.

It may also be more that my roommates are contradicting my directions. All I know is that with regard to problem behaviors, I might spend a few hours a week attempting to work on them, but my roommates spend 80 hours a week NOT attempting to work on them, so I don't do much good.
 

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I guess I'm not sure what the problem is. If they are not bothered by Nikki's behaviors and if you don't spend much time with the dog... Do you want your roommates to train this dog better, or do you want this dog to be more affectionate with you?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Actually, they are bothered the behaviors, but are clueless how to change them.

I do spend time with her and would spend more if not for the behavior problems.

I'd like to enjoy my play time with her more. It's almost impossible to play "fetch" with her because she doesn't return the ball. I like to walk her but I can't because she pulls so hard and I've got shoulder pain.

Sometimes I'm the only one home. If she gets out of the apartment, she won't come when called.
 

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I am NOT a dog trainer. In fact, I don't have a dog at the moment but I do have a couple of suggestions and a few video links that might help.

1) Create a training plan. Start at the beginning, as if Nikki was a puppy or a new pooch you just brought home from the shelter.
2) Sit down with your roommates and discuss your training plan. You might need to make adjustments to the plan to suit everyone. All three of you will need to be on the same page if Nikki is to succeed.
3) Post the plan on the refrigerator and, if possible, sit down as a household and watch dog training videos together.
4) Buy a long leash for outdoors and have Nikki wear a short leash inside until she learns to behave. If she starts to run outside, step on the leash to stop her escape. If she runs with a toy, hold onto her leash and gently encourage her to return the toy to you.

Here Stonnie Dennis uses a long leash on a puppy. You can fast forward to 14:00 to see how he uses it to encourage a puppy to come: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEZx2X46L7s

Here is Kayle McCann using a long leash to teach her dog how to play fetch: Here is an example from McCann Dog Training: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gH1rZwolIZ4

This is a long 2.5 hour YouTube video, but it will give your household a really good place to start with teaching your dog the basics like sit, down, come, heel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAFw2Pb_Mb8&t=1470s

Here is a guy who teaches (adult) shelter dogs how to walk nicely on a leash: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sF0udU6cz_g
 

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Three different people having different ideas of what 'dog training' is is NEVER going to work anyway. Dogs NEED consistency. If your roommates don't want to put the effort into researching how to train a puppy, and you can't agree on a training method, you're doomed for failure anyway.

Did you talk with them about who will keep the dog once you all move on as well? It just seems like a very strange situation... I doubt you are all planning to be roommates for another 14 years, are you?

Anyway, if you're serious about training that dog, you'll have to spend a lot of time doing it, and hope that your training will be enough to undo whatever damage your roommates are doing.
 
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