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Transferring who is master?

Got a new, young, furry love in your life? This is the place for you to ask all of your questions-big or small! Just remember that you are receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a vet or behaviorist! Most important is to remember to have fun with your new fur baby.

  
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Youki

1254117
 
 
Barked: Fri Jun 15, '12 7:14pm PST 
Hi all - please bear with me on this one, there is some back story to explain, but please do read through and give me any insight you can.

So, approximately 5 weeks ago we brought home our sweet bundle of joy, Youki (a Husky/Bernese Mountain Dog mix). We've tried having dogs before, and haven't been able to give them the time and attention they need to be happy. Now that our life is more stable, my girlfriend really wanted to try again.

The goal was that this was to be *her* dog.

Neither of us have much experience with dogs - but she has slightly more, so I tend to bow to her experience/knowledge, especially when it matches what I read online (when comparing multiple sources).

After about a week or so of the puppy at home, we had a discussion about who would be the "master" with him: My girlfriend is a better disciplinarian (I'm way too much of a softie to effectively train him), but I'm the one who gets up in the morning to take him out for morning pee/walk/play.

The idea was that I would take on the "master" role, trying to step up my authority with the dog and take a firmer hand in all of this.

About week later, my girlfriend decided she wasn't happy about the situation, that she was the one who wanted a dog, and that she wanted to take a more active role in his life, being his master and trainer. I admit that I found it hard (I had bonded a lot with him) but I agreed that it was a good idea for her to take it on - she has more time and patience and a firmer approach that makes for a happier dog, IMO.

So, for the past week, I take him out for pee in the morning, give him food and water, and then put him in his cage until she gets up. Then she plays with him, takes him out for training and walks, and so on. I have very limited interactions with him - I don't play, I don't give treats, I don't give commands.

He's still very attached to me, likes to come see me, looks for my attention. Today we took the dog to the vet for the next round of vaccinations, and (at my girlfriend's request) I sat in the back of the car with our puppy to make sure he would be safe. After that we took him home and went out for some errands. On coming back home, I started unloading the car while my girlfriend took the puppy out for pee/play. She was then very upset afterwards, as apparently he wasn't even interested in seeing her, all he wanted to do was go see me and jump around (near me). This she attributes to me having spent approximately 1/2 an hour total with him in the car (just holding his collar and trying to keep him from moving around too much).

She's now very frustrated, and claims that basically it's hopeless, he's bonded with me and that she can fill the "trainer" role but he doesn't see her as his master and he never will. I think that this isn't theoretically true, since dogs can and do get successfully adopted. Perhaps the transition will take a bit more time, but I think he will see her as his master with no doubt.

My questions are:
1) What are the signs that a dog considers someone his master (as opposed to him just being happy to see someone)?
2) If, indeed, our puppy considers me his master, is that something that can be transferred/shifted to my girlfriend?
3) What sort of behavior should I avoid with the puppy to help him make that transition?

Many thanks to everyone who managed to make it through that long and rambling description - and thanks in advance for any and all advice!
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UCH Onyx TT,- CGC

Do you even- lift?
 
 
Barked: Fri Jun 15, '12 8:10pm PST 
What exactly is your definition of master? Person the dog likes best? Dogs can consider multiple people worthy of respect and love, but some dogs are naturally more one-person dogs and will bond strongly to one individual. Who the dog chooses can be based on who spends the most time with them but not always. Dogs have personal preferences and can prefer one person to another just because they like that person better.

She could try spending more time with him by getting up in the morning to do the things you're currently doing. He's only three months old, there's still a lot of time for his personality and preferences to develop so I certainly wouldn't call the situation "hopeless" at this point. And even though there is the chance that you're his favorite person and always will be, that doesn't mean you can't both spend time with him (together or apart) and enjoy him.
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Jackson Tan

Lad about town
 
 
Barked: Fri Jun 15, '12 8:34pm PST 
Well, a dog can, in effect, have 2 masters. Jackson is really both me and my husband's, and is trained to take commands from both of us. He loves us both and wants to spend time as a trio. Maybe he is a little more bonded to me in the fact he spends more time with me but he always obeys my DH and does what he tells him to. Training a dog together is great fun and good for a relationship, you should try working together ... take him to puppy school as a pair and both spend time with him.

Edited by author Fri Jun 15, '12 8:39pm PST

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MIKA&KAI

Akita Pals- Always.
 
 
Barked: Sat Jun 16, '12 7:14am PST 
I agree with Onyx, we have 2 Akitas. Mika was supposed to be MY dog after I lost my GSD/Akita mix to illness. I was the one who,fed,trained,played with,and took care of all of her needs. I also spent 24/7 home with her,she decided that although she liked me and I was nice to hang around with,that the sun rose and set on my husband. She just absolutely adores him,she listens to me,respects me and loves me,but I am not her person. Our Kai on the other hand adores his Mommy. He too,listens well to both of us,respects,and loves us but given a choice of who he would rather spend time with it is me,hands down. We did not pick their favorite person,they did. I don't know at what point that happens but at only 12 weeks,I'm sure the situation is not hopeless.
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Twister

Love me.
 
 
Barked: Sat Jun 16, '12 9:39am PST 
I see absolutely no reason for both you to be the 'master' (term loosely used). If it were a child, you would not expect only one of the parents to 'parent', would you? I think your dog is confused as to why he is suddenly not getting the attention from you as he once did, and I do not think it is very fair of your GF to expect you not to have anything to do with Youki. Just as a relationship takes effort from both of you to work, so does raising and training a dog; imo, everyone in the family should take part in raising the dog. Youki may also be sensing your GFs frustration, and as a result, wants to be with the person they do not sense that from. I personally think the reasoning of Youki being "GFs dog" needs to go. Officially sure, but in reality the dog doesn't understand that he belongs 'only' to your GF, and it isn't fair for her to expect him to behave as such...both of you are an important part of his life, and both of you should be involved.smile
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The Roo- Crew™- ©®

We go together- like peas &- carrots

moderator
 
 
Barked: Sat Jun 16, '12 9:53am PST 
Personal experience here:

My husband is like the pied piper of all things furry and children. They all love him.

When we got our first dog, Grizzly, he was supposed to be "mine". It didn't work out. I was young (21) and pouty. When I didn't get the attention I needed from the dog, I went out behind my husband's back and got Kody. This was going to be my dog. Nope. My husband was less stressed, and more playful than I was. No rules, just love. There is a way about him that is more spiritually relaxed. It isn't anything he is doing on purpose.

It isn't about being "master", I think. She just wants to be more bonded with the pup.

I get it. When we finally got Mickey (our 4th dog), I told my husband he was to have nothing to do with Mick. Not a thing. Don't look at him, don't talk to him, don't touch him. He's MINE! Yeah, it worked, but now Mickey isn't socialized enough.

It was immature of me. It was selfish of me. It wasn't what was best for the dogs. It was what I wanted.

I say, let the dog chose what he wants to do. If there are rules, great. If there is good socialization, perfect. But in our household, we don't have a "master" role. We are more of a parent/child relationship.

I hope that helps. Thank you for letting me download my guilt. Please send me your bill for the mental health break!
laugh out loud
Sarah,- CW-SR,- CW-G1, CGC

Million Dollar- Mutt
 
 
Barked: Sat Jun 16, '12 9:59am PST 
What kind of training is your girlfriend doing? If she is training the dog using aversives such as choke chains, prong collars, yelling, etc., that does not necessarily encourage bonding. Training using positive reinforcement- treats, toys, praise, etc. will help your puppy to bond with more with your girlfriend.
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Kodiak

The cheese ninja
 
 
Barked: Sat Jun 16, '12 10:27am PST 
I agree that both people need to be 'in charge,' enforcing the rules, participating in training (at least insofar as not undoing the training by letting the dog pull on leash, demand treats, etc) and giving the dog affection. I think it's a bad idea to suddenly decide that you're not giving the dog any attention. He is probably trying to figure out what he did wrong and how he can fix it. As mentioned, dogs do sometimes naturally prefer one person, but I think it's more likely that what's going on here is supply and demand. Your GF is following the dog around, trying to get him to interact with her, rather than letting him come to her. Her frustration may be coming through as a lack of positive attention, so she should remember that dogs have simple, manipulable motivations, and that it's not at all a lost cause. You are much more interesting because your approval has to be won. Your attention is rare and valuable. You nip that in the bud by interacting with the dog when he asks for attention appropriately, rather than playing hard to get. She should wait for the dog to come to her, and when he does, give him lots of praise and treats. She could even hide high value treats like pig ears and dried chicken in her pockets, and produce one when Youki looks at her. That will create some good, strong conditioned associations. Have her take him on interesting walks and play with him. In our house, Kody wakes up in the morning and decides whether he's a mama's boy or a daddy's boy that day. Whomever's attention he wants, he gets. But it seems to come out pretty equal, and his ideal is to have both of us petting him.
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Kashmir- ♥ CGC

Boxer Beach Bum
 
 
Barked: Sat Jun 16, '12 10:35am PST 
Both the dogs are and respect the family. Zoe is my moms dog but she listens to me as i help care for her and same goes with Kashmir. Im trying to get the bf on the wagon as well, if we move in together she comes. So ive been having him walk her and make her do commands when he comes over. I believe that one person should be the owner and both should participate.
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UCH Onyx TT,- CGC

Do you even- lift?
 
 
Barked: Sat Jun 16, '12 11:12am PST 
Sarah makes a good point about the type of training being important. Everything should be positive and fun, with no corrections at such a young age. Also keep in mind that at barely three months old, the pup's attention span is going to be very short. All training sessions should be short and sweet, preferably only a few minutes long at a time. Working with the pup until he's bored, exhausted, and full won't make him look forward to training.

I didn't clarify very well in my other post, but I agree with those saying you shouldn't completely remove yourself from the picture. I don't really see an issue with one person being the primary caretaker and doing all the feeding, training, walking, ect. as long as other family members are still allowed to freely interact with the dog. I did/do all the work with Onyx and although he adores me, he loves the rest of my family too and will ask them for pets. Like Kodiak said, if you completely remove your attention after he's come to expect it, he may just try even harder to get to you.
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