De-velcroing the dog

This is 100% my fault, as I knew better but “I couldn’t help myself”. I have made a velcro dog of our new addition, Chelly. Now I have to undo the velcro, loop by loop.

He’s been here not quite two months. Dog relations have improved vastly from the first couple of weeks, so that’s good. This is a dog who was not set up for success by his previous owner; he lived in a kennel for most of his ten years and was never taught anything beyond what was necessary for the show ring. And because he had longstanding ear infections that the breeder thought she was treating successfully with early 20th century home remedies, we are not sure how well he hears. Lower frequencies seem to register; if I talk to him in a deep, clear voice, that gets tail wags. Teeth were a horror show. Now that his mouth has healed we’re addressing the ears, so should know soon enough how much hearing he has.

So. I know we probably should have started with ground rules on Day 1. I felt so sorry for him, though, and overindulged. That said, I think it is definitely fixable. I can leave the house and he doesn’t melt down and he hasn’t developed any bad habits. He’s good about going in his crate and sleeps happily in it at night. He’s housebroken. But he is so velcroed to me that SO can’t really make a connection with him, and that bothers both me & SO. For example, if I’m not here Chelly just goes and naps in his crate instead of visiting with SO.

I can reverse a lot of it. As hard as it is, I am going to a “four on the floor” policy: jumping up gets ignored, down on the floor is rewarded. He can’t physically jump up on the bed and I’m not going to start lifting him up there. Treats will be limited to specific times of day or as a reward for some action performed.

But how can we work on creating a bond between SO and Chelly? SO has had English cockers all his life and says he’s never had one so aloof - usually they’re in everyone’s pockets looking for attention. I pointed out to him that dogs are individuals, and this one requires a bit more work to get to know.

So far the plan is for SO to take over at least one feeding/day and we will start to look at training classes once the ears are cleared up. Other ideas? I’m also the primary dog walker, and that might be a little harder to convince SO to take part in.

I would consider starting in-home basic commands now, except for our other dog. She IS a typical ECS, has some training but also insists on inserting herself right in the middle of anything going on.

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For every dog I know that needed to be won over, treats worked really well. If SO becomes a treat machine when you are gone, I bet he would start getting a lot more attention from the dog, (assuming the dog is food motivated). Might be problematic though, if your other dog gets in the way. Can she be put in another room so SO can get some one on one with the new guy? The treats don’t need to be free, he can play simple games with him - have the dog pick which hand the treat is in for example.
Once the dog likes him enough, walks and obedience sound like a good idea.


Oh, he’s definitely a treat piggy! Both of them are. We can do that, but I prefer it to be secondary to everything else. An “enhancement”, if you will. For one thing, this summer is shaping up to be absolutely stupid hot, which is going to limit exercise simply for safety’s sake. (I was considering walking them this morning before the sun came up, but at 5:30 it was 76 degrees with about 927% humidity, putting the heat index at 88. Kill me now).

And he has gotten a little bit too treat focused, to the point where he will grab at your hands if he thinks there might be food in them. Not something I want to escalate or even continue.

Chelly doesn’t dislike SO . He just prefers me, and doesn’t have much connection to anyone else, though he is very friendly and approaches everyone with tail wagging.

My dog is a spaniel mix. She likes nothing more than car rides, “field trips” to Lowe’s or Tractor Supply, and hanging around while we do yard work. Walks and trick training are fine in her book, but she is always cuddliest with whoever most recently took her out to run errands.

That said, my parents had a retired show dog, a sheltie, as our first pet, and he never warmed to my dad. He would do what you describe and run to the crate as soon as my mom left the house. But he was a very shy dog, and it can take a lot of patience to bring them around. Especially as shy dogs always seem to be extra wary of men.

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LOL my puppy does this right now. It’s not his fault; he has been fed in certain positions (e.g. heeling on the left) so if your hand is there and looks like there might be something in it, he’ll grab it. Since he’s a puppy and I’m not concerned about this explicitly, I don’t really care but I agree I wouldn’t want it to escalate.

So feeding is great. I would also try to have him do some training and that can involve treats but you will need to crate your other dog. Maybe play some crate games and both can get rewarded. And you can have the treats be only from the floor or from a dish; which can actually be a useful tool - sit stays or down stays where the treat is visible but the release comes from the handler, and it’s a dual reward - food from a dish and lots of praise and “good boys” from the handler.

Obviously walking or field trips can be useful. How does the dog feel about grooming? Some dogs love it; others not so much. My oldest will fall asleep during a tick check - he finds that combing and belly rubbing to be very meditative. :slight_smile: And it’s useful.

I would just advise also to be patient. 2 months is a blink of an eye compared to the 10 years that have passed already. Just slow and steady - transferring some of the “mom” duties to “dad” will probably have lasting effects, but may not be noticeable immediately.


If your SO wants the dog to bond to him , then in my mind he needs to be the one to feed and walk and basically take over the total care of this dog.


There’s a saying in dog training: “The more the dog does for you the more he will love you.“

Dogs really bond to the humans who give them jobs to do, and who pay them for those jobs - not just pay them for existing.

The human who works “with” the dog: does enrichment, training (and of course exercise) will be the one who the dog loves, trusts, seeks out, respects, and listens to.

Anyone in the household can be a “treat dispenser “– my husband often feeds our dogs, but they certainly don’t respect him very much, and listen to him only under duress (they always look to me when he tells them to do something :smile:)

So encourage him to work with the dog; he doesn’t need to drill the dog on things, but establish clear rules for the dog to follow, be leaderly and confident, be clear and positive. Engage with the dog! This is what I always tell my students, and it works like a charm.


Skip breakfast or cut it in half and have SO hand feed that as treats throughout the day. Treats don’t have to be on top of full food, it can be the meal.


SO loves teaching tricks; our other dog has a pretty impressive repertoire.

Outside of fun things, this dog needs training, for his own safety as much as anything. And OG dog could benefit from a refresher; both should learn hand signals.

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All dogs need and benefit from training - It’s good for their mental and emotional health, it makes them feel more confident and comfortable in their own skin :wink:

Bonus that SO enjoys it, but in addition to tricks he will also want to establish clear rules and boundaries; dogs love “the bossy twits” if they are also fair, consistent, positive, enthusiastic, and a source of reward. (Ask me how I know, lol!)


I know everyone will be happier once boundaries are clarified and consistently enforced, including the dogs. We’re already working on this on a small scale - four on the floor and calm to get something you want, he sleeps in his man cave and not on the bed, etc.

I believe he picks up on things quickly. For example, he has figured out that sitting chill while his harness is put on = getting the walk underway. (Zoe, not so much, lol). And while I wouldn’t attempt to test it out just yet with an open door, I think he’s picked up on voice and hand cues for “stay”, at least in terms of not running through the door.

I know it’s hard, but SO has to stop taking Chelly’s seeming indifference to him personally. He got pretty distressed the other night when he could not get Chel to stop focusing on me and pay attention to him. The dog doesn’t understand the concept of hurting someone’s feelings, plus he is still very much in the stage of getting accustomed to his new world.


The same training for dogs who suffer from separation anxiety.

Not for the dog for you. For the first 20 minutes you get home ignore the dog. Do not greet it. Do not acknowledge. Do not talk to it.

Can you do it?

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That sounds like rules a cat might write lol. When your human first comes home from anywhere, ignore it. Don’t greet it; don’t acknowlwdge its presence for 20 minutes. Even better, turn your back on it as it walks in the door. Give it the hind leg gesture and wash beneath your tail.
Wait until it heads into the bathroom and gets itself seated comfortably. Then trot in and greet it wirh loud meows and leap into its lap. Purring and making biscuits.

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LOL This is the advice given by Dr Harry in almost every episode. In my experience every dog owner I have suggested thus to won’t even consider it.

This is really the answer. Two months is 2% of this dog’s life so far. It’s a drop in the bucket.

Imagine we put our dogs in a boarding kennel for a couple of weeks. We would hate to think they would have forgotten us in such a short period of time. (And they won’t).

So, it will take this dog more months to learn that this is his new life, and he’s not just temporarily here “on leave” from his old life.

Increase your SO’s responsibilities with dog care, and tell him to be patient. It will happen to some extent - maybe never to the same as your other dogs, but very likely more than there is right now.


To be honest every dog we have ever had is usually bonded strongly to just one person. They love everyone in the family but they live for that one person they chose ( me) because well, I am here all the time , I take them with me when outside and I do the feeding…

When my daughter got her Mini Aussie we had the pup ride home in the back seat with her. She fed and watered the pup in her room as well as kept it there when we were gone. She did total care of that pup.

That dog zeroed in on her in about 1 day . She loves me too but my daughter is her person 100%.

That is just how the majority of dogs are and @mara 's new dog being older and displaced I can see him gravitating to the one who does the care and feeding.

SO has homework. :slight_smile:

I started laying the groundwork for “sit” this morning. Basic, easy to learn, and it means we have manners on display when treats are being handed out. From this point on I’m planning to let SO take over and do the majority of treating/teaching. I will just reinforce. Using a simple, universal hand signal and tap on the butt along with verbal.

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This is very true. I see it in my own dogs.