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HGl3ee's avatar

I am wondering if I am overreacting or completely in-line when it comes to how my sister treats her dog?

Asked by HGl3ee (3948 points ) March 27th, 2011

My younger sister (who is 20) rescued her very first dog this past Christmas and I have begun to see patterns in how she has been treating her dog physically at times.

The most recent situation was last night; everyone (parents sister her fiance and me) were all eating in the living room watching a movie and Marley (the pooch) was begging at my feet. I just took a dog class at my local SPCA and I have been helping out there volunteering a lot of my spare time. I was taught that when a dog begs for anything to ignore them and not acknowledge their presence and what they are trying to do: get food from you.

This was working fine but my sister suddenly became very agitated grabbed Marley by her collar and jerked her right over backwards.

This and other things such as hitting, yelling, pushing, and smacking I have begun to notice happening regularly when I am around them. Which leads me to believe it happens regularly all the time.

I have been an animal-lover all my life, aways standing up for them and demanding what is best for them and protecting them. I have rescued numerous animals and have also had abused or neglected animals taken from homes. It is something I cannot and will not tolerate.

Is it right for me to hold my sister to the same standard I have always held every animal owner? Is what she is doing considered abuse? Grounds to have her dog removed from her home?

My strong feelings towards this situation has caused a major rift between myself and my parents. They are trying to protect their daughter and justify her actions. While I am seeing them for what they are.

I’m so frustrated I’m seeing red… If anyone has any suggestions or comments to offer up I would love to hear them.

Thanks,
Heather Grace

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21 Answers

faye's avatar

Poor puppy. I would sure give her a tonguelashing when she pulled the puppy over and every time I saw her do that! Dogs want to please you. Warn her that you will phone the SPCA or equivalent. Encourage her to give the dog away. This is why dogs should not be given as gifts.

chyna's avatar

I have a few comments that I will keep to myself about your sister and her dog. It’s obvious she doesn’t deserve to own a dog, but I’m not sure what it is we can do to help. No matter what we or you say, she will do as she pleases with this dog. I’m sorry she owns it.

HGl3ee's avatar

@faye My sister is very difficult to talk to in that if anyone ever says anything critical of her she flips out or becomes horribly difficult to be around. I have found myself biting my tongue because to say anything would not just upset her but my parents as well. Had I of said anything last night it would have ruined the evening for everyone and I would have been blamed..

@chyna I am sorry she owns Marley too.. Marley is such a beautiful dog and she is so smart and learn so quickly. I have tried to tell my sister before that if she just takes the time to train her dog and actually has some consistency to the training that things might be different, she wound up not talking to me for nearly two weeks..

Darwin's avatar

Maybe you could convince your parents that she and the dog need to go to obedience classes. Possibly she will learn a bit about how to get a dog to do what she wants, including learning to speak dog instead of using violence.

One question arises as to where she learned to use abuse to get someone to behave – how did your parents correct you guys when you were little?

Otherwise, you might have to arrange for the dog to “run away” and find it a new and better home.

creative1's avatar

@Darwin I was going suggest exactly the same thing until I read your comments… Both the obedience classes first then if that doesn’t workout arrange for Marley to go missing and find the poor pup a new home

HGl3ee's avatar

@Darwin my Dad never disciplined us physically, he just yelled. My Mum used the wooden spoon on us usually..

Maybe that’s what I should do.. I should give her a gift of paid for obedience classes for her and Marley to attend. Not only would it benefit Marley but it would also put my sister in her place. She would be made an example of by the trainer there as soon as she so much as raised her hand to Marley.

Whenever I see it happen I have this need to scoop Marley up and give her love and cuddles.. every damn time my heart breaks..

marinelife's avatar

Your sister is abusing her dog.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, that is abusive behavior.

I have a friend who is a very good person but she is completely ignorant about animals.
She tends to get pets without really thinking things through and then ends up with, ( DUH**!) issues.

If you don’t want to learn or have the desire to really understand and do what it takes to have a happy,healthy, well behaved pet you shouldn’t get one.

It’s ignorance and lack of willingness to be ‘teachable’ and the animal suffers for it.

All you can do is speak up and try to ‘educate’ someone without coming across as arrogant.

HGl3ee's avatar

Thank you everyone for all your comments and help, I have found a solution that I think will work out in everyone’s favour! I’m going to fund the obedience classes for her and Marley :D

I think that I will try this solution and if that doesn’t work then I will have her dog taken away. Period.

creative1's avatar

@HeatherGrace My worry with your sister is if she is abusive with her dog how will she be if she has kids, sounds like she may need counseling on how to act with her anger issues.

HGl3ee's avatar

@creative1 I have the exact same worry.. but when that time comes I think my parents will be more inclined to step in. I can’t fight all these battles alone.. this is the one I have chosen at this time. But you are 100% right!

mrrich724's avatar

Animal abuse is what is going on, and it’s illegal and just plain wrong.

Darwin's avatar

Dogs don’t speak English, but we can learn to speak dog. Then we can teach them some English (my oldest dog knows about 40 words. There is a border collie that knows about 1200).

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Yes, it’s abuse, and you need to get the dog away from someone who’s abusive.

rooeytoo's avatar

It is all a question of degree, I don’t think a swat on the bottom is abusive to a dog or a kid. If it goes beyond that, it is a different story. Unless you are correcting for a bite, biting dogs end up dead so you better correct it sufficiently so that it does not ever even consider biting again.

I do know there are millions of dogs euthanized every day because there are more dogs than people who want them, so rehoming the dog is not as easy as it sounds. Also there is so much horrid abuse going on that what you are describing would probably be ignored if the dog is fed and cared for properly otherwise.

The obedience classes are an excellent idea. If the dog is well behaved there is no need for corrections of any sort. And when they are called for, handler is trained how to administer them.

It is interesting to note though that obedience classes have changed dramatically over the years. You used to take your dog to a 6 week class and because of the methods of training at the end of that time you had a dog who could easily fit into your family and not require special treatment. Now the emphasis is on a softer method of shaping and luring and it is practically a life long effort. 6 weeks barely even teaches a dog to heel, in fact many do not learn to heel because choke chains (now called check collars) are not allowed. I have seen so many people drop out and the dog ends up being tied in the yard because it hasn’t been taught enough manners to live in the house. It was once thought that the worst thing you could do to your dog was to have to punish it repeatedly for the same thing. Sounds harsh but the rescues and pounds were not over run and the dogs were in the house instead of being in the back yard.

A generalization but in my experience often very true. The other and most important point to make is that there is not one method that works for all dogs.

cak's avatar

You sister needs to learn animal behavior and how to handle it properly. There is never a time when jerking a dog, punishing a dog for this type of behavior is acceptable. The urge to want a dog can be overwhelming; however, the desire to do the right thing, is not as overwhelming. Dogs are an investment. Obedience training, socialization, proper care – all those things can run into the thousands, easily.

Before things get too far out of control, offer her help. Not the Dog Whisper guy.

rooeytoo's avatar

The dog whisperer guy is one of the best trainers going. Not an academic who writes books about how to train dogs but wouldn’t have a clue how to deal with a killer, but a real trainer who handles dogs after other methods fail. He saves their lives because most otherwise would be put down or taken to the pound because their owners can’t cope. He also donates his time and money freely to shelters all over the country. I like him and I have been a trainer for 35 years. There is no one method that works for all dogs.

@cak just want to give the other side of the story.

cak's avatar

I appreciate his time, I just cringe at some of his techniques. I can probably find issue with just about any other trainer…I completely yield to your answer.

rooeytoo's avatar

@cak – thanks, just wanted to give the other side of the story. If trainers had only to deal with unspoiled 6 week old pups, it would be a lot easier and gentler, hehehe!

mcsnazzy's avatar

No dog deserves to be treated like that!. Dogs should be handled calmy. As long as you are assertive (this does not mean yell or hit, it means dominant), the dog will listen. You should train them at a young age as well. A simple “get off” should have worked to get the dog away from your feet.

stormking21's avatar

I understand your deep and wonderful compassion for the animal.It’s a good thing and I think that’s awesome.I’m a big animal lover myself.I have a golden retriever.But back to the situation at hand It sounds like your sister may not know how to treat her dog and she might have an agression problem or maybe it’s stress in her life.I wouldn’t be surprised if she took out her fustration on the dog.The whole yanking the dog collar and being agressive when you see the is a common theme of animal abuse.Maybe you two just need to have a civil sit down and talk about the situation but if there’s a possibility that this might cause a huge riff between you two, I suggest that you make certain that if there actually is serious animal abuse then you should check out http://www.aspca.org/fight-animal-cruelty/report-animal-cruelty.aspx

Good luck.

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