Ask the Dogfather: Rosie the barker

Rosie the dog. – Courtesy Tricia Ford

Dear Dogfather:

I have a rescue dog that we have had for two years. We adopted her last April, when she was a little over 1 year old. She had been bred once at a young age, and then did not want anything to do with being bred again, so she was given up. She is part bichon, part shih tzu, and possibly part Jack Russell. Our home has three adults, myself, my boyfriend, and a roommate. For some reason, Rosie continually barks at the roommate. He is a dog lover, and my other dog gets along with him fine. Rosie will nip at his heels, and will bark when he moves around the house at all. But she will also allow him to pat her, and will sometimes sit on his lap. But as far as his coming and going, or moving around the house, she is right at his heels. We have tried spraying water in her face, as recommended, and also removing her from the room. Nothing seems to work. Help!

Thank you,

Tricia Ford

Dear Tricia,

The behavior of Rosie that you’re describing is uncommon, but certainly not unheard of. I’ve seen it quite a few times when a boyfriend or girlfriend moves in, and to the chagrin of the dog, the pack of two becomes a pack of three. Rover may have been fine with sharing his two-legged significant other (TLSO) when the boyfriend came over for short-stay visits. But for Rover to have to share his TLSO, and space, and time, on a permanent basis: unacceptable. Spraying water in Rosie’s face may have exacerbated the problem, if she came to expect water turmoil in association with the roommate. You said the roommate is a dog lover, so if he’s amenable, try having him feed Rosie her meals. Put a harness on Rosie and let her drag a leash around in the home, and have her hang out in the roommate’s quarters as much as possible. Then, when he’s going to move about the house, have him pick up the leash and take Rosie with him, while offering her treats as they’re moving about. Having Rosie spend some nights sleeping in the same room with the roommate may do wonders for her attitude. When all four of you are hanging out, have “Roomy” call Rosie to come from time to time, and when she arrives she gets a treat. (All these treats are the size of crumbs.) If Roomy wants to move to another room, he calls Rosie over, picks up the trailing leash and then does his roving about. These types of things will go a long way to helping Rosie see the household as a pack of four, instead of three with an interloper. Plus, Rosie does need to be taught the “leave it” command — it being whatever you want her to leave, be it a squirrel, cat, pizza crust on the ground, or roommate. That would best be done by a pro.

Good luck,

The Dogfather