My 4-year old female Labrador gets along fine with my kids and me. But when my husband is around, the dog will not leave me alone. She insists that I play tug with her, and it's making watching TV at night anything but relaxing. Why might she act this way, and what can we do about it?
It's hard to say why she is behaving this way without meeting her and the family, but it could be she is anxious or excited or stressed. Training is the best way to address the problem. The goal is to establish a line of communication with your dog in a way she can understand. Dogs who lack mental stimulation in their daily lives get bored and find ways to entertain themselves, thereby relieving stress. The right combination of leadership, training and mental stimulation can alleviate stress for the dog. You can also try these tips: Take the dog for a structured walk late in the day to tire her out before your husband comes home. Establish rules and a limited time for the tug game. Teach her to go to her "place" and relax there with a chew toy. Use the crate as a last resort (but not as a form of punishment), and give her a treat in the crate.
This week's expert is Pauline Houliaras, certified professional trainer and co-owner of Doghouse Girls, a local dog walking, training and pet sitting business. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.