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longgone's avatar

How do you get a dog to fall out of love?

Asked by longgone (17920points) September 2nd, 2014

My teenage sister owns a three-year-old maltese mix called Amy. During her school hours, I take care of this dog. I do about half of the daily walks, play time, and training.

About two months ago, Amy decided to appoint me her sole caregiver. She used to follow my sister everywhere. Now, while she clearly loves her, I’m the one who gets her to squeak in excitement and if both of us call her, she will run to me. This is hard for my sister, who loved being number one.

I suspect Amy’s change may stem from me doing clicker training with her, which she loves. I’ve also made even more of an effort to be gentle with her recently (she’s a very timid dog).

Now, I suppose I know the answer to my question – it looks like I may either have to do less with Amy, or start scaring her. I won’t do the latter, of course, but the former is not a real solution either…I can’t leave all the work to my sister.

Fluther has surprised me with solutions I hadn’t even thought about before – hence this question. Any ideas?

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14 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I don’t think I have ever even considered this as a question, especially before I read the details. Obviously, you have won the dog’s trust. Is your sister a little rough or not as gentle with her? Your sister needs to look at why the dog trusts you more and maybe change a few of her behaviors. You can’t be rough or mean to the dog, that might seriously mess with her spirit. I had a dog I suspect was abused and it took a lot of work, but she came around. Your sister needs to work at it more.

syz's avatar

It’s not your behavior that needs to change, it’s your sister’s. She needs to spend more time with the dog, do more training with the dog, and spend more time walking her.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

Why would you want Amy to love you less? It’s clear that you spend a great deal of time with Amy and treat her wonderfully. Of course she’s bonded with you.

Please don’t do less with Amy. Under NO circumstances should you “start scaring” her; that’s animal abuse, and something that you shouldn’t consider or even mention.

Your sister is too immature to have a dog. It’s her behavior that needs to change. Instead of being a brat who’s jealous of Amy’s attachment to you, you sister needs to spend after-school and weekend time with Amy, play with her, brush her, take her for nice walks, etc.

janbb's avatar

@SadieMartinPaul @longgone already said she would never consider scaring Amy.

Maybe if your sister is solely responsible for feeding and treats, and spends more time with her. But dogs are not dummies, they pick who they love.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I don’t have an answer to your question.

But I’m a little worried about why the dog has a common human girl’s name…That’s bothering me. Did your sister want a new human friend?

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

@janbb Yes, she did, which is why I was slightly troubled that she’d even mention the idea.

@elbanditoroso All of my animal companions have had human names. Right now, I share my life with Sadie (dog) and Martin (cat). This isn’t unusual; in fact, I think it’s the norm. Among my most immediate neighbors, there are animals named Emma, Winston, Chloe, Jack, and Charlotte. I never come across any Rovers or Fluffys.

I did meet a Dalmatian named Dotty. I thought that was a great choice. The name was both cute and extremely descriptive!

longgone's avatar

Well, this did not come across well.

@Adirondackwannabe Thank you! No, she isn’t. If anything, I was too rough on her. For all: By “rough” I mean calling out “Hey. Stop it!” when Amy is on her way to grab another dog’s toy. We’re talking about an extremely timid dog.

@syz Thanks. Though that would be ideal, it won’t be possible for the next couple of months (school schedule).

@SadieMartinPaul You’re jumping to conclusions. I was kidding – I was not seriously suggesting scaring our dog. That would be insane. Also, my sister is neither jealous nor “a brat”. She’s just confused at Amy’s change of behaviour, and I can understand her being sad, too. I’m sorry if I wasn’t clear, but the other half of Amy’s care is my sister’s responsibility. On weekends/during holidays, she does everything by herself.

@janbb Hm…if my sister was the sole distributor of squeaky toys, that may help…

@elbanditoroso What @SadieMartinPaul said – also, I’m the one who named her.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

@longgone A few smiley faces would have helped. Here’s my own smiley face, to show that you and I are friends and shouldn’t have any bad feelings. :-) So often, the written word doesn’t convey the writer’s intention. As a lifelong animal rights activist, I get upset when someone mentions “scaring,” or otherwise harming, a sweet dog!

Peace, sister, and thank you for making Amy’s life so nice.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

@elbanditoroso all my animals have human names and I certainly wasn’t looking for a human friend when I named them. I just don’t want a dog called Bozo (or a similar sort of name) or a cat called Fluffy. I don’t think it’s unusual for people to give their pets ‘human’ names. They’re just names.

As to this question, I can’t go past @syz‘s response. It’s spot on.

KNOWITALL's avatar

AMy is confused about who is pack leader. Your sister should re-bond alone with her, you should back out slowly.

ibstubro's avatar

Maybe you should be more demonstrably loving to your sister in Amy’s presence. A three-way of sisterly love. Touch your sister more when Amy is around and talk to her in the same voice you use with Amy.

Pandora's avatar

Amy is going to bond naturally to the person who does more with her. Amy sees you as her life line. The way a baby bonds with the person feeding itand caring for it.
You could lessen your time, but your sister needs to be the only one to give her treats and food. I know you mentioned she is in school, but after school she should take the dog out for walks alone. Feed the dog before she leaves for the day and feed and walk the dog in the evening. I’m sure she is off on weekends and can spend a lot more time with the dog on the weekends.

Do not scare the dog or act mean to it. Maltese are very loving dogs and scaring her may only make her a nervous yappy dog.

longgone's avatar

@SadieMartinPaul All right then. I understand tempers flaring in regards to animal abuse, I’m quick to judge in these matters as well. Friends! :]

@Earthbound_Misfit and @KNOWITALL Thanks for answering!

@ibstubro Love that idea!! Amy is incredibly sensitive to our moods, me getting excited about my sister coming home is almost sure to get her happy. Happiness all around. Thank you!! :)

@Pandora I was kidding, I would never scare her on purpose. Don’t worry. Thanks for your response!

longgone's avatar

Update: Small changes discussed here made it happen: Those two are best friends again, they both smile whenever they see each other. Amy’s relationship with me is still very good, too. If she absolutely had to decide, she’d pick my sister (which is fine for all of us), but she is very happy to stay with me, too. In short: Amy is back to normal with my sister, while still very much in love with me. All’s well that ends well! :]

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