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Discussion Starter #1
Hey again,

I posted a topic a while back asking about my place in the pack; I've also taken quite a bit of advice from those that replied, and it has genuinely helped the relationship with my pup. I need some more wisdom!

I've come to terms with my pup not wanting to sleep next to me, she sleeps only with my wife on the bed. Although in the mornings, once my wife leaves she'll cuddle up against me sometimes. She is doing something strange though —*she'll lay in my exact sleeping place in bed when I'm not there, at night. If read it can be either a sign of affection or dominance. She's a very very submissive dog, so how do I make sense of this?

The other thing, she listens to me more than my wife. But I fear it's out of anxiety than love, and I've become much less stern with her over the past couple months and really relied on building a trusting relationship. How can I keep improving this? Because she still feels much more comfortable with my wife in that regard. I devote an hour to play time, walk her, and even take her for social interactions. I wonder if there's anything I can do to regain her trust.

Thank you for reading!
 

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Not a dominance thing, she probably sleeps in your place, b/c she likes your warmth and your smell. She may sleep with your wife b/c your wife may be cooler, may move less in her sleep, or may have been more receptive?

I don't know what you wrote in the past, but many dogs show more 'interest' in people that they see less of. When your wife is around, what does your dog do, if you leave the room? When you are around strangers, is she friendly ... but if you leave, does she stay with strangers, or does she follow you?

I've see a number of retriever mixes that loved other people, but the moment the owner was gone, they searched for the owner.

If you do have an issue with trust, then you can do some bond-based training:
1. Sit on the ground and hand feed her kibble to her.
2. Get some small cubes of cheese, take a bite of a cube, then give her the rest. Continue this for about 5 min. every day. Do this as a 'training' exercise, and don't do this while cooking or while you are eating meals, b/c you don't want to encourage begging.
3. No yelling, striking, or jerking the leash. However, continue other interactions, training, walking, etc.
 

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Her laying in your spot is not out of dominance. That is a very old school way of thinking and highly inaccurate. My dogs like to lay in my spot too - it's probably just broken in more, or is warm from you just being there, or it's just a coincidence because a bed is only so big.

If I remember correctly, you were very stern with this dog and it could take her quite some time to trust you again. Some dogs just aren't built to handle that kind of treatment, and you got one that isn't. The best way to improve is to not just be LESS stern with her - don't be stern! Set her up for success so you don't feel tempted to yell at her or scold her because she won't get into any trouble in the first place. Be kind, gentle, and let her warm up to you. Don't do anything with her or bring her anywhere that makes her anxious or nervous as she may associate those feelings with you given the history between you.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thank you both for replying!

To address some points: I move quite a bit in my sleep and even before, it always takes some time to get adjusted. My wife sleeps like a rock. Thank you for suggesting some of the bond-based training!

I was very stern with her in the beginning and it was mostly lacking the foresight necessary to understand proper guidance. Having never been in the position of raising a dog I had little to no understanding despite doing online research. As you pointed out, what you consider archaic thinking is front and center on the first google page.

The irony is, in the family I'm the pushover. She wasn't allowed on the furniture. Now she is. She would never sleep with us — now she's a permanent night guest. My wife jokes, but it's true. When my wife is turning blue in the face from yelling at her because the dog is destroying the underside of a couch, or pulling at rug ends, grabbing socks off her feet, or whatever else she can muster — the dog simply barks back and hides in places she can't be pulled from. I merely show my face and the pup submissively lowers her ears, puts her little butt up high, and rolls over. I can't help but laugh and come over to pet her. Do I still raise my voice and yell? Sometimes, but 90% of the time, I don't have to — she knows she did something and she'll act submissively before I can mutter a word.

I'm not proud of this. I feel like I've been proactive about improving our relationship. Drive her to Petsmart so she interact, social dog gatherings, new places to walk to engage her senses, and she LOVES to play fetch with me. But when her little ears lower because she feels I may be angry, it upsets me. As someone posted in my previous thread — your dog should do things out of loyalty and love, not fear. That is what I'm striving for.
 

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You shouldn't be yelling. At all. It does nothing. I think you and your wife should both invest in positive reinforcement, force free training classes to learn better methods to train your dog and improve your relationship.

As for why the dog still gravitates toward your wife even though your wife yells, too, it could be because your wife's yelling simply isn't that scary...women tend to have higher voices, and they only get higher when yelling. Men have deeper voices that can be downright scary. Dogs like high voices, it's exciting. Deeper voices, not so much. But none of that matters, because neither or you should be yelling. Your dog just knows that you've both gone off the deep end for some reason. If she's tearing up a couch, you 1) need to supervise her or confine so she never gets a chance to tear into the couch, and 2) redirect her to an appropriate chew toy. No yelling required.

To me, it sounds like you're taking a reactive approach to dog training rather than a proactive one. Your dog should never even have a chance to get into trouble, because you should be managing her. Rips up couches? Crate when you can't supervise, and praise her for chewing her own toys. Grabs at socks and rugs? Redirect to an appropriate toy, and praise (you should always have a toy within reach to do this), and if she doesn't comply, take her to a pen or crate for a time-out. You can pick up rugs and put them away until she understands, you can even pen off the couch. There are so many things you can do to teach her good habits, but most of it is preventing her from building bad habits and rewarding the behaviors you do like.

Of course, you are human and there will be mistakes, but its important that you learn from them and think about how you can prevent that behavior next time. In the moment, just take a deep breath, redirect your dog to an appropriate behavior, or even crate her for a bit if you need to calm down, clean up the mess, and move on. If she got into the trash, perhaps locking up the trash is now a good idea. Ripped into your shoes? Put the shoes away next time. Peed on he floor? Take her out more frequently, supervise better.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
You shouldn't be yelling. At all. It does nothing. I think you and your wife should both invest in positive reinforcement, force free training classes to learn better methods to train your dog and improve your relationship.

As for why the dog still gravitates toward your wife even though your wife yells, too, it could be because your wife's yelling simply isn't that scary...women tend to have higher voices, and they only get higher when yelling. Men have deeper voices that can be downright scary. Dogs like high voices, it's exciting. Deeper voices, not so much. But none of that matters, because neither or you should be yelling. Your dog just knows that you've both gone off the deep end for some reason. If she's tearing up a couch, you 1) need to supervise her or confine so she never gets a chance to tear into the couch, and 2) redirect her to an appropriate chew toy. No yelling required.

To me, it sounds like you're taking a reactive approach to dog training rather than a proactive one. Your dog should never even have a chance to get into trouble, because you should be managing her. Rips up couches? Crate when you can't supervise, and praise her for chewing her own toys. Grabs at socks and rugs? Redirect to an appropriate toy, and praise (you should always have a toy within reach to do this), and if she doesn't comply, take her to a pen or crate for a time-out. You can pick up rugs and put them away until she understands, you can even pen off the couch. There are so many things you can do to teach her good habits, but most of it is preventing her from building bad habits and rewarding the behaviors you do like.

Of course, you are human and there will be mistakes, but its important that you learn from them and think about how you can prevent that behavior next time. In the moment, just take a deep breath, redirect your dog to an appropriate behavior, or even crate her for a bit if you need to calm down, clean up the mess, and move on. If she got into the trash, perhaps locking up the trash is now a good idea. Ripped into your shoes? Put the shoes away next time. Peed on he floor? Take her out more frequently, supervise better.
You're very right. We shouldn't keep yelling at her.

She has an abundance of chew toys and we've followed the approach you've suggested in the past, she spends 2 seconds then dives straight back to what she was doing. From the very beginning she hasn't been near anything she can destroy (with the exception of furniture, and even then we spray the areas she's trying to rip apart) —*but pulling socks off my wife's feet isn't something we can avoid. The issue with crates and timeouts is she'll bark incessantly until she's let out. This is really problematic when I'm working from home. We've purchased a gating system to keep her constrained within an area and it's the same result as when crating, she won't stay quiet.

Positive reinforcement, force free training classes seem to be the direction to go.
 

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I'm gonna make you feel bad, hopefully in a way that you will smile at in a few years. In order to have a companion, you have to gain her trust by being consistent (positive vs. violent), and you have to learn to communicate with her. Training classes will help with the first, and I suggest that you buy the little book on Calming Signals [" On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals"] by Turid Rugaas. It is a deceptively simple book that describes 30 types of body language that dogs use. When you read the book, don't 'memorize' the 30 gestures, instead use this knowledge to become more aware of what it means when your dog raises her butt ... or licks her lips. When I first learned Calming Signals about 20 years ago, I felt bad because my dog would lick his lips and would yawn at me, suggesting that I was making him anxious. Then, I realized that he was not fearful and 'anxious.' He was unhappy that I wouldn't let him go play or wouldn't let him have a treat, as I was training him to be more patient and to learn impulse control. ... And, that was valuable to realize. So, when I was teaching him to Stay, I knew he was about to break, when he yawned, or when he scratched ... so I could reinforce the Stay or release him, before he broke ... And, my better timing and communications led to greater trust.
 

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How long have you had your dog? My dog was like yours! Didn't show excitement when she saw me, wasn't as affectionate with me, etc. It was actually quite hurtful cause I was her sole provider and owner. I live with my family, and they help out once in a while but I was her sole owner/trainer/carer. I was always with her 24/7. Spent most the time with her & as much as I tried to bond with her, she wanted nothing to do with me. Didn't want affection, no cuddles, pets, nothing! One time I went on vacation for almost a week with my fiance, and my sister was gone just as long(for school), I thought she would be over the moon to see me but she literally saw me walk in the house and walked away!!! lol but got super excited when she saw my sister. I eventually learned to accept that maybe she just has more affinity for others (she was really attached to my fiance). But something in her changed when suddenly I started working very long hours away from home (11+ hours). She became way more needy for attention and always wanted to sleep by my side. Like someone mentioned above it seems dogs tend to show more interest in people they see less and maybe she didn't appreciate what she had when I was around and now that I'm not around her 24/7 she wants me haha :p But I agree continue to bond with her, don't give up! My fiance and I took her on our mini getaway this past week and she got to do things and experience new things shes never had done before (play on the sand/beach, play in the ocean and roam freely in the wilderness). It made her bond with us even stronger when we got home. It was amazing to see the difference of a happy dog :)
 

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It's funny that I ran into this topic because my husband and I were just talking about this stuff. I'm a stay at home dog mom and he works from early morning till 5pm, so hes gone most of the day, everytime when he gets home the dogs go nuts and are all excited to see him. He asked me one day why that was and I told him, they miss you, they dont get to see you that much, I'm home all day with them. I just found it funny that I was on the right track from what I see everyone else saying.
However Dexter listens to me soooooo much more then my husband, but we have had him since 5 1/2 weeks old and I am the one who trains, feeds and does potty time. It took a long time for Dexter to even go outside to go potty with my husband and even now when he goes to take him out he'll look at me as if saying "is he serious? why aren't you going? Nah I'll stick with mom" Lol
 

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It sounds like your dog is still young? Keep in mind that dogs do change as they mature and age, just like people do. She may develop a deeper relationship with you over time. Our dog Pepper was not affectionate at all when she was younger, but now that she's 5 1/2 she's more laid back and has become more affectionate than she used to be. Still nothing major, but things like choosing to sleep next to us rather than on her own bed, coming over for pets every once in a while, etc.
 
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