Dog Behavior Question – What to do when a family member refuses to help with the dog training?

Dog Behavior Question – What to do when a family member refuses to help with the dog training?

Hi, my husband and I have been married for almost 2-1/2 years. He had a 10 year old mini schnauzer- Barkley and later we got a Shepherd Husky puppy – Melo.

Barkley had never received any obedience training but as a puppy was hit and yelled at when he did anything wrong. When we brought Melo home, Barkley constantly attacked him along with other puppies in the neighborhood and had bitten our friend’s grandchildren. We sent Barkley to a boarding obedience school. It was supposed to be a 4 week program, but they ended up keeping him for 8 because he was so difficult to train. In the mean time, my husband and I worked together with our puppy at an obedience school and he did great.

We finally brought Barkley home and he was well trained in obedience and behavior, and he got along really well with Melo.

Our problem is every summer, my step son comes to visit and he feels obedience training is cruel. I tried explaining that allowing behavior that the dogs know is wrong and then scolding them for it is what’s cruel.
He refuses to comply with the dog training rules in the house and within a week of him being there, Barkley reverted back to his old behaviors.

My question is, is there anything that we can do with this situation? I have worked very hard with the dogs since last summer and have them re-trained, but my step-son is coming for the summer again this week. What is the result of one family member allowing the dogs to disobey rules? What can my husband and I do so that we don’t have the same experience as last summer?


Hi Pattie – well this is something that I have not come across before – education is always the key to success. Explain to your step son that he is being cruel – how would he feel if your dog attacked someone and had to be put to sleep – now that would be cruel. Explain that dogs NEED to have boundaries they expect the owners to set boundaries and to train them. Explain that when dogs were in the wild – obedience training was fundamental to each dog’s survival – the pack leader would expect each dog to behave and to respond appropriately to their commands and wishes if they didn’t well you can imagine! In this case you are the pack leader and your family is the pack – and as such your dog should remain well trained and behaved. It is cruel and not fair to your dog not to be trained it will lead to him feeling insecure and not a member of the pack. Dog obedience training is vital.

Hope this helps.