How do I dog?
September 9, 2017 12:36 PM   Subscribe

I've never owned a dog nor did I grow up "around" dogs (or even have many opportunities to be around dogs as an adult, now that I think about it). However, I'm about to move in to a house where my roommate has a labradoodle dog and I'm getting more... apprehensive about it. How do I get used to a dog? How do I act around dogs? The number of dog "rules" and "tips" I've read already exhausts me. I don't want to lock myself away in my bedroom away from the dog all day.

I don't hate dogs, I like that dogs exist and that people get so much joy from them, but... I guess I'm kind of nervous around dogs.

I feel really uncomfortable when they jump on me (my roommates dog did a few times). I don't know how to react when they do that. Barking makes me nervous. I'm afraid that if I make one wrong move around a dog they'll bite me, no matter how "friendly" the owner insists they are. (I was bit on the wrists by my uncle's dog when I was 15 and had to go the emergency room, so I suppose that memory DOESN'T help much!). How am I supposed to act around dogs? Do I need to binge Dog Whisperer episodes? I know NOTHING about how or why they behave the way they do. They're kind of mysterious to me, upon reflection!

Oh, and her dog also tries to escape and jumps on the door whenever you try to enter the house. She says she's trying to train the dog not to escape and not to jump on people, but... ugh, I feel like I've made a mistake by signing a lease.
posted by VirginiaPlain to Pets & Animals (35 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
I am also a nervous-around-dogs person, and I'd say the biggest thing you can do is just ask your future roommate what her particular dog likes. I would be doubtful of trying to spend all of your time reading up on dog tips when you can just go right to the source and figure out if this particular dog likes/doesn't like certain things.

That said, I also think it is 100% reasonable to ask your roommate to continue taking her dog to training classes to work on behaviors like jumping and escaping. If she refuses and it gets to be too much, I think it's reasonable to talk to her about getting out of the lease early. But, give it a try -- with you being around a lot, I think most likely you and the dog will get used to each other and she/he won't get so excited with the barking/jumping/etc. every time you come in the door.
posted by rainbowbrite at 12:45 PM on September 9


If your roommate isn't working with a trainer, preferably one who comes to the home and is teaching your roommate how to be an effective dog owner, get out of the lease by any means necessary. You can't be responsible for this animal escaping, jumping up on you, jumping on your guests. NOPE. Run.

If roommate has a professional trainer, ask to attend a session where you can get some education and learn how to handle this pup. You need to take your cues from the owner and trainer on how you should respond to jumping, escape attempts and other challenging behavior.

PS - roommate situations are difficult without this hassle.
posted by jbenben at 12:47 PM on September 9 [6 favorites]


Seconding jbenben. Especially if you have not had experience with dogs. It can be a bit of a precarious situation re: roommate/dog scenarios that might make your experience living there less enjoyable. If possible, find a different roommate. Some people really like dogs and it's no big deal. Others, not so much. I have lived with a few people who owned dogs and it ranged from totally not a problem and not even noticeable to omg-now-i-have-to-take-care-of-this-dog-and-it's-not-even-mine.
posted by lunastellasol at 12:53 PM on September 9


Also, would the dog be crated when your roommate is out? Will you be expected to walk the dog, feed the dog, etc. when your roommate is not around?

If the dog was well trained I think this would be great. As it stands, it seems a terrible burden on you. It's not that I think labradoodles are biters, it just seems living with an unruly dog that's not yours is such a hassle and it might alter habits like bringing friends home, use of common spaces like the kitchen. Even being responsible for escapes when your roommate is out, or if your roommate is in the other room but the dog escapes while you're negotiating grocery bags through the door or whatever. Seriously, your roommate seems inconsiderate here. There's someone out there that can handle this situation (maybe someone with a vet tech or training background, someone who grew up with multiple dogs) but it's not you.
posted by jbenben at 12:57 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


Not to pile on, but I didn't live with a potential roommate due to a dog situation, because I felt like I may end up being responsible for the dog if she was running late, away for the weekend etc. So, definitely sort that out before you move in.

The rest of it, I think you have to really speak to your roommate. Her dog should be properly (ideally professionally) trained. I would tell her that if there's issues, you may have to move out.
posted by bquarters at 12:58 PM on September 9


I think living with a dog that you are not responsible for is actually an excellent way to "learn how to dog". It's like learning a language by full immersion. It's really all about learning body language and cues.

Honestly it wouldn't hurt to binge watch dog whisperer, but the main thing you need to know is be confident and act like you're in charge, in relation to the dog. When speaking to the dog, use a low voice and keep your voice firm. If the dog comes near you say firmly and loudly "No!" or "Get down!" I'm a woman so I think of it as my dad's voice. Think of it like your father's middle-naming voice (the "you're in trouble" voice). Not threatening, but loud and just a tad scary. Dominant. You will not be this dog's alpha, but right now the dog jumps on you because he thinks he's higher in the pack than you. If he keeps jumping you can push him back with your knee with a loud and firm "No!" Keep displaying to the dog that you won't tolerate any nonsense and he'll get it pretty quickly. Bottom line, displaying dominance is key, even if you're nervous.

All that being said, the fact that the dog isn't well trained and that he tries to escape is worrisome. Is she "trying to train" the dog, or is she actually enrolled in a training class and attending weekly classes and practicing with the dog every day? Is she "trying to keep the dog from escaping" or is she proactively disciplining the dog when he tries to escape?

A dog that is not trained is a danger to people and thus ultimately a danger to himself. I'm not saying he's going to escape the front door and attack someone, but he could escape and run into the street and cause a car accident. Or in his enthusiasm to greet he could knock down and injure a toddler. My concern for you in living with this dog is what would happen if roommate isn't home and the dog escapes on your watch? Will the dog be secured when roommate isn't home? How much responsibility will you have for the dog in roommate's absence? These are things you need to get straight from the outset.

As a lifelong dog owner I would be absolutely mortified if my dog was constantly jumping on people, and I'd be worried sick for my dog's welfare if he escaped and I'd be taking measurable steps to prevent it. If roommate sounds wishy-washy or non-committal about training I think you should tell her that you thought about it and it's not going to be a good fit. If she can demonstrate that she's actively working on it then it might be a decent situation.
posted by vignettist at 1:06 PM on September 9


(Disclaimer: I'm a cat person) This sounds like a nightmare to me, frankly. Unless you are trying to rent in a very competitive market or this place is a truly terrific deal, I would bail if I were you. At the very least, as vignettist says, ascertain how much responsibility you will have for the dog, if any, and whether the owner is really working with a trainer or is "I'm working on it, I swear!" aka not really working on it at all.

I've lived with irresponsible dog owners and ill-trained dogs and it was a freaking nightmare, especially if the owner(s) expected their housemates to take up the slack with dog care or had dogs prone to escaping - which can be really dangerous if the dog runs in front of traffic or attacks a child or elderly person.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 1:15 PM on September 9 [2 favorites]


Check out the answers to this question I asked last month about office dogs.
posted by matildaben at 1:20 PM on September 9


Assuming that your roommate is doing the right things with training and is taking you seriously (otherwise yes, that's on them) then you need to get yourself in a mindset where you can be patient with the process. It is a process - animals can learn and learn pretty quickly but they aren't machines -- and you will be calmer through it if you can feel a part of what is going on even as mostly an observer.
If you were my new roommate I would:
1) teach you a simple treat routine with my dog. Dog sits, you put treat on floor, dog can get treat. It's basically "leave it" but without feeding the dog from your hand. As you and the dog get more acquainted you might start hand feeding or other games, the dog will know and like you and you will start to understand the dog more.
2) put a squirt bottle of water next to the front door to reinforce don't jump when you come in. Dog might bark or whatever- but as soon as you say "Syd Vicious it's me" they should back off and let you come in without jumping. All regular residents should have this rule. A water bottle is a nice reminder for the dog, and after a few uses may only need to be pointed at to get your point across.
3) enforce some type of companionship boundary for the dog around you. Maybe the dog snuggles with others on the couch but for you it's just at the feet. Begs for food with others, but no noses from under the table with you. Whatever your limit is, the dog should learn quickly as long as you are calm about it and everyone reinforces it. Again, another water bottle at hand for dogs-who-are-pushing-their-luck is quite handy.

As long as your roommate is backing you up you shouldn't have to feel like the mean human at all, and can find yourself developing an understanding with the dog that you might enjoy.
posted by dness2 at 1:20 PM on September 9


I'm not sure if I can get out of the lease, I'll have to re-read it. I think it's too late, I've already signed it paid the damage deposit and the first month's rent (I'm just taking forever to move in because I had to wait for a friend to help me move my bed). The lease is for 8 months (the school year), so regardless I am going to find a new place to live. (Rosie M. Banks, it is a terrific deal in rather competitive market). I feel sick to my stomach now. I know this is a terrible situation and a stupid choice.

How do I plan for the worst case scenario?: I can't break the lease and have to live with this dog for 8 months. I sent her a text asking for her to go over how to interact with her dog when entering/exiting the house tomorrow and she will show me. She's said she's training the dog with a shock collar (which, from what I've read, is not actually that effective?). I will bring up a professional dog trainer when I see her tomorrow and see what her opinion is. The dog is crated when she is not home, there's a third roommate living with us who also grew up around dogs. After the initial excitement of me entering the house the dog seemed to calm down considerably. I chatted with him when the owner wasn't there today and he seemed to have positive opinions about the owner/dog. I mean, I don't know how much value to put in his opinions. I know that she is particularly worried about the dog escaping because she recently built a garage and the fencing is incomplete.
posted by VirginiaPlain at 1:23 PM on September 9


I don't think it's going to be so terrible. Since you can't break the lease, your best bet is to try to enjoy the dog. Tell your roommate you are not responsible for anything having to do with the dog. You get to play with it, teach it tricks because it's fun, give it treats, laugh at its nonsense, without being responsible -- like the aunt or uncle of the dog. It sounds like a young dog; young dogs are over exuberant and a little chaotic, like kids. But you really can learn to have fun with this dog as you get used to its presence in the house. I'd try very hard to relax and play fetch right away. I think in this situation it's fine to put your knee up when the dog jumps on you so it learns fast not to do that on you. (Not too hard, just to let it know.) But mainly do something fun that helps you understand how to interact with it -- make it sit for a treat, play fetch, come when you call it. Yes, I'm a dog person, but I've had housemate situations with ill-trained dogs and non-dog people in the same house (not my dog though) and while it is a headache in some ways, everyone eventually gets something pleasurable from having a dog around. If you can get out of the lease I'd say do so because you don't want this. But if you have to do this, try to change your thinking and tension and imagine this as an adventure with interspecies bonding for one school year of your life.
posted by flourpot at 1:39 PM on September 9 [5 favorites]


Well, if you're stuck with the doggie for now, one good way to bond with a dog is goodies. You just sit somewhere when he's somewhat relaxed, and give him treats slowly (make sure the owner knows! he could have a funny stomach - so ask!)
You can even make it into a small game: show him that you have a treat in your hand > he should get stoked about that, and probably slobber your hand/try to paw it out/other, but when he looks up at you, you give him the goodie and praise him! so you're rewarding him for 'making contact' with you. its cool, they usually get it pretty quickly. also, rubbing his chest gently is nice - they're not huge on being patted on the head (even though you see it all the time).

Don't
- stare 'em directly in the eyeball for long periods (makes them uneasy)
- get spooked if they jump at you (often its just bad manners/excitement). a lot of dogs will just leave you alone if you just turn your back to 'em and/or ignore them completely – if they leave you alone and just sniff around, then you can greet em gently and happily and they'll figure out that that's how you get attention


Do
- ask lots of questions from the owner - there are no dumb questions! every dog is a bit different
- def. check out Brightdog academy on youtube (there's a bunch of answers for random stuff, especially about the warning signs of a bite coming on are good to learn - they give you plenty of cues!). also Victoria Stilwell is really cool and has tons of resources online
- just hang out with fuzzball. i'm fairly sure you'll find it pretty chill, they are man's best friend for a reason

good luck!
posted by speakeasy at 1:51 PM on September 9


Here's the thing with dogs. You are bigger and control all the resources so they do what you let them do. I'd a strange dog jumps on me at the dog park it meets the pointy end of my knee, no regrets. You should do the same if this dog jumps on you. It'll stop quickly. If it does something bad say "no!" in an angry tone, if it obeys or makes a good decision give effusive praise. If the dog seems go be asking you to go out or for water, give it. If it's asking you for permission to do something say yes or no in a neutral tone and praise for obeying. That is IT. That's all you need yo know to live peacefully with a dog. Everything else is gravy. Consistent and understandable communication solves 90% of problems in a day or so. You can talk to dogs and they will listen to you though.

Of course there is stuff the dog will chose to do, knowing it'll get in trouble but judging it worth it. Like sleeping on the couch or getting in the trash. Dogs are people too.
posted by fshgrl at 2:02 PM on September 9 [8 favorites]


Dogs are not monsters. Dogs are not generally aggressive, but can be a bit protective of the things they consider "theirs" to watch out for- their people, their living area. If you are introduced to the dog, you coming in and out of the house will very quickly become no big deal to the dog- you are part of their world, so you are A-OK.

Labradors and poodles are both generally smart, loyal, and protective. There can be animals that are flat out crazy, but this is rare, or a sign of really bad dog-parenting. Don't be afraid of the dog or act like it has the right to boss you around. If it does like to make escape attempts, the spray bottle is a good idea. Or holding the groceries on the sideof the door that has the most space when first opening can be helpful. Running headlong into a few bags of groceries can get the point across to even dumb, rowdy dogs after a few times.


Dogs are also not particularly fragile. I'd never advocate violence or abuse against an animal, but using reasonable force against bad behavior is ok. The knee- push is a good example. Grabbing their collar and pulling/holding them in place is another. I don't want to make this sound like a wrestling match or anything scary or extreme, just that you do have options for dog management. And honestly, the jumping behavior is usually friendly/play type stuff. Dog socializing. I know its annoying and can be intimidating, but it's not meant to be aggressive.

"After the initial excitement of me entering the house the dog seemed to calm down considerably" is a really good sign!! From what I'm reading, this sounds like a normal, somewhat happy/enthusiastic/active young dog, and it was enjoying meeting new people.

Don't leave people food where the dog can get it, it probably won't chew shoes or anything but don't leave them where it can get them just in case... And don't panic.

It will be ok. You can get more help and training from your housemates if need be. You can make friends with the dog or just co-exist, either is fine, but this sounds like a good doggo with reasonable people.
posted by Jacen at 2:04 PM on September 9 [3 favorites]


If it doesn't work out because of the dog, you should use up your 1st months rent & deposit and move. That would put you in the house for a month or 2. You'll know by Oct 1 if it's not working. I'm a dog owner, dog person, animal lover. But it is the job of the owner to resolve issues and to train the dog to behave with you.
- Good behavior like sitting and being calm gets rewarded with Good dog and patting. Bad behavior gets mostly ignored by you as it's the owner's job.
- If the dog jumps on you, say No, Down sternly. Same with crotch-sniffing and licking. My dog looooves licking, but was able to learn not to lick me. Other people let him despite my recommendation otherwise.
- If the dog has any leash manners at all, taking the dog for walks, even around the yard, is a good thing. If you run, and can take the dog sometimes, that would be a good thing.
- Don't leave food out. Even good dogs will chew through your purse to get something that smells good to them, or reach up on to a counter to grab the defrosted meat.
- Dog almost certainly likes to fetch a thrown tennis ball. If the dog knows this game and knows how to bring the ball and drop it for you, it will be a good game to share. Shared activity will help you and Dog get friendly. My dog is required to drop the ball and sit before I will pick it up and throw it.
- Leave the dog alone while it eats. Just good general practice.
- Labradoodles generally have a good temperament.
- You may very well find that you and dog become great buddies, and at the very least I think it will go fine.
posted by theora55 at 2:13 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


Can you request that the owner find a reputable dog trainer to come over for a few sessions with you, the owner, and the dog present while you talk about your concerns and get advice on how to deal with them?
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 2:18 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


First, please don't watch Cesar Millan. He seems to have a natural affinity with dogs, but he can't teach that. His methods are based on controversial ideas about dog behavior, but more importantly, they're ineffective and can even be dangerous. It'd be like watching a Bruce Lee movie and then going out street fighting. Don't try to discipline the dog, assert authority, anything like that.

You should probably familiarize yourself with basic dog language, particularly signs of stress and fear, so you can avoid escalating any of those things. This kind of thing is a good starting point. (One thing people sometimes don't realize is that a wagging tail isn't always a sign of friendliness. Dogs wag their tails when they're angry sometimes too.)

Which all sounds scary, I know, but really, it's unlikely that the dog will be aggressive. Those are worst case kind of scenarios, and they're pretty rare. Dogs are much, much better at reading people than people are at reading dogs.

The absolute ideal here would be that all of you get a consultation with a behaviorist who can assess your situation. (Not a trainer, or at least not just a trainer, and DEFINITELY not a "dominance" trainer.) They'll be able to get a much better read on you and on the dog, and should be able to offer ideas and tips based on that.
posted by ernielundquist at 2:26 PM on September 9 [11 favorites]


Honestly it wouldn't hurt to binge watch dog whisperer,
Actually, yes it would.

Read this advice about dog behaviour instead. If your potential flatmate has picked up some bad ideas about training, that rather than the dog should be your reason to bail.
posted by Lanark at 2:31 PM on September 9 [5 favorites]


Please just ignore the dog. That is the number one piece of advice I have for people that are new around my dog and literally no one has ever listened to it. IGNORE the dog and all will be well. Focus on the dog, dogs going to focus on you. Ignore the dog, dog will ignore you.
posted by coldbabyshrimp at 2:59 PM on September 9 [18 favorites]


This is a good opportunity. Whether you like dogs are not, knowing how to interact with a dog is a very valuable life skill and it's very easy to learn.

As far as not getting bitten goes: a healthy, non-abused dog is almost never going to bite anyone without giving a warning first, so the main skill for you to learn is what warnings look like. This is not complicated to learn at all, but it is sometimes counterintuitive for non-dog-people at first: for instance, as someone mentioned above, people unfamiliar with dogs often think "wagging tail = happy," but actually there's a happy kind of tail wag and an uncomfortable/angry kind of tail wag. But they're really very easy to tell apart, once you've seen them both; people only get confused when they don't know there's a difference.

So that's the main skill: do some research on dog body language and vocalization - youtube will be a big help here. If the dog is giving "I am uncomfortable and need some space" signals, give it some space. If you're not sure about what kind of signals it's giving, give it some space anyway. Basically, don't force the dog to interact with you unless you're sure it wants to interact with you, and you will be fine.
posted by waffleriot at 4:09 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but I just noticed the thing about the shock collar, so I'd say the dog is being abused..

A dog that's being trained using those kinds of aversive tools is just learning not to communicate things like warning signs. Most dogs are incredibly patient and tolerate all kinds of abuse without lashing out, but the shock collar could be a real problem.

I somehow missed that part in the update, Asker, if you have any sway in this at all, I'd suggest the second thing you do after not watching Cesar Millan is to use your persuasive skills to get roomie to ditch the shock collar. I had a friend who got a shock collar for his dog, and all it took for him to change his mind was when a bunch of us told him he had to try it on himself first.

Again, everything is probably going to be just fine, and I'm not trying to scare you. Based just on what's in your question, I'm much more worried about the dog's well being than yours.

You'll be OK. There are plenty of things in your home that are far more likely to seriously injure or kill you than a dog is. Dogs very rarely behave aggressively toward people, especially their own family members. But if you want to minimize that already small risk, OR if you're just concerned about the dog's well being, do what you can to encourage your roommate to learn about more modern, effective techniques that don't involve abuse. That site Lanark linked looks like a great place to start.
posted by ernielundquist at 4:31 PM on September 9 [6 favorites]


Honestly it wouldn't hurt to binge watch dog whisperer

Strenuously disagree. That dude is a terrible trainer and gets bit on the regular.

Rule number one of dogs is "Dogs do what works to get them what they want." (What they want is, the vast majority of the time, a tangible resource, comfort, or attention) If they're doing something you don't like, figure out what they want and make the current behavior the way to not get that thing, then present option b: get this thing you want by behaving in a more acceptable way.

E.g. Jumping: dogs greet one another at face, level so it makes sense that dogs want to greet people this way too. But obviously humans would rather not have a dog jumping on them. When the dog jumps, turn around and ignore them. When they stop jumping, go ahead and greet them. If the jump again, turn around again. The dog isn't trying to dominate you, he's just doing what works to get him the greeting and attention he wants. You can, with a littler patience and consistency, rewrite that program.

Anyway, this dog ain't your dog. You don't have to train it in any regard except how to behave around you. Studiously ignoring an attention-seeking, silly labradoodle will get you pretty far. But Google "extinction burst" before you move in.
posted by soren_lorensen at 4:56 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend by the Monks of New Skete is a classic dog training book that I enjoyed back in the day. Superpuppy was another favorite. These books really get into how dogs think, their body language, and how to interact with them, plus they're written in an accessible way with pictures. My top recommendation would be to read one or both. I think you'd get a lot out of them if you truly want to understand dogs. And then lend them to your roommate to read because it sounds like she has a lot to learn.

If you just want to be able to survive living with this particular dog for 8 months, lab type dogs are typically highly food motivated. I would get a big bag of dog treats (whatever your roomie approves) and keep rewarding the dog and speaking to it warmly whenever it does the right thing, like not jumping on you. The books above suggest that dogs, like children, respond best to positive reinforcement rather than punishment - which is one of the reasons why shock collars are not great training tools. "Sit" is one of the most basic commands for dogs. I would try to train the dog into sitting when you walk into the house, ideally - the books above can tell you some really simple methods to do this, and the dog will probably enjoy learning this is the way to make you happy, and that in turn will make it happy - dogs like the one you describe are usually eager to please and just don't understand how to behave to get the attention they want.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 5:09 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the all the advice. I'm going to mention the shock collar thing to my roommate when I see her tomorrow, one of my coworkers made their cruelty apparant to me when I mentioned it to her and it doesn't seem quite right to me either.

My biggest "worry" about this dog is it bolting from one of the doors when I am trying to enter the house. I really just don't know WHAT to do to prevent it from leaving as I'm entering. I used to have a cat that tried to escape and I'd just nudge her away with my foot, but that isn't something that'd work with a dog. I would feel so awful if it escaped because of me. My stomach is knots about it happening.
posted by VirginiaPlain at 5:22 PM on September 9


that isn't something that'd work with a dog

You might be surprised, actually. But! One thing you can do is ask your roommate to have the dog drag a leash for your first week or two in the house. It's common to do this with dogs in training for various things, and the dog won't notice after about 30 seconds, but it will make it way easier for you or anyone else to grab the dog if necessary and, I think more importantly, put your mind at ease.

I don't know the layout of the place, but if there's any kind of a vestibule typed situation, a baby gate can also be some peace of mind and insurance here.

We convinced our dogs that there's a magical force field in front of the door that prevents all dogs not wearing leashes from exiting (accomplished because our dogs were not bright and since they'd never been out that door without a leash, they assumed such a thing was simply not possible).
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:38 PM on September 9 [3 favorites]


I make a point of not feeding animals that don't belong to me. One reason is because you never know what an animal can or can't have for medical reasons. The other reason is it encourages begging. If you do go with giving the dog treats, do yourself a favor and put the treats in the dog's bowl (don't feed by hand), and don't feed the dog table scraps. One other thing - don't give the dog chocolate, it can be fatal for dogs. Likewise chicken bones.
posted by vignettist at 6:48 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


I used to be terrified of dogs and now I have two, and the big change for me was getting to know a roommate's dog. I learned to read their body language and use mine to communicate what I wanted. So even if you never become a dog-lover, spending time with one is the best way to learn how to deal with one. Mostly it's about using your body instead of your voice to communicate- block and turn away from unwanted behaviour like jumping, and give body pats (not the head) and treats for good behaviour like sitting calmly and waiting.

It's not your responsibility to care for this dog, but you will be happier if you let the dog (and the roommate) know your boundaries and can find a basic game to play with it - fetch is easy and doesn't require any skills. Food either comes from the roommate or must be earned by sitting or doing a trick - no free lunches :)

Re: escaping. For a labradoodle you would need to graduate from foot like you did with your cat to knee, but mostly just blocking the doorway with your body will be enough. The leash idea above is excellent. If he does get out, try to be more fun and exciting than anything else - call him with a happy, yay-good-times voice and jump around like a silly person. Offer a delicious treat (or pretend to). Yelling just makes them (or any mammal, humans included) want to run away. But escapes are not your responsibility and you should make that clear to the roommate.

In addition to the Monks book and SuperPuppy and Brightdog, I'd recommend The Other End of the Leash for you or your roommate. It helped me understand things about dogs which scared me even when the dog was trying to be friendly and has excellent advice about training. Labradoodles are usually pretty smart & goofy dogs, this one sounds like it would love more training and exercise to burn off some physical and mental energy.
posted by harriet vane at 7:08 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


I wanted to add - your bad experience at 15 is worth sharing with your roommate so they know where your head is at. And don't worry too much about it all, especially not to the point of breaking a lease which otherwise seems like a good deal for you.

Dogs are a mystery to you now, but they are simple creatures who want food, fun and affection. Anyone can learn to deal with them even if you never become a huge fan of them. You have most likely learned more difficult things than this before, and it's a useful skill to have. You've got this, it will work out fine!
posted by harriet vane at 7:18 PM on September 9 [2 favorites]


My former housemate acquired a puppy down the pub one night, without discussing this first. Puppy was a German shepherd/boxer mix that jumped up on everybody who entered the house except me because I ignored her until she calmed down. Before long she'd just look up, wiggle with excitement but waited until I was ready to greet her. And she had a boxer brain.

My cousin's dog, a labrador, also jumped up on everybody else but generally ignored me for the same reason. I only ever saw that dog very intermittently - it does not take much at all for them to learn. So that is the least of your problems.

The main concern is that your housemate does not appear to have a good handle on training her dog.
posted by koahiatamadl at 8:15 PM on September 9 [2 favorites]


First, make it very clear that you are nervous about dogs and that you do not want not agree to take on any responsibility for the dog. Have her show you the best way to enter and leave but also if the dog gets out, the correct response to call the roommate and say "Dogs out!" Keep on eye on where he goes but let the owner get him back. If the owner isn't around, the dog should be in the crate anyway.

Second, my dogs I (a labradoodle and before that a standard poodle) get very excited when things are happening. People coming in the house is EXCITING. Once you come in and start doing boring human stuff, they settle down pretty quickly. It shoulds like that is what this dog is doing - excited to see you and but much calmer afterwards. The other thing is that if you pet my dog, he will be your friend for life. If you feed the dog (or drop food on the floor), you are his friend for life. If just sit around doing boring human things, you are no fun and he will quick ignore you. So I would start out being boring (not scared, but just not engaging or paying attention to the dog). After you get to know each other, it will get better and you can figure out what kind of interactions work for you.
posted by metahawk at 8:19 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


Other factors aside, living with an animal can be amusing. I took all appropriate opportunities to shout "Out Damned Spot!" at the dog whenever I wanted her to go outside. I'm sure my neighbors thought I was nuts (or a serial killer) but other than the dog I was living alone at the time so you gotta entertain yourself, y'know?

Also, apparently, singing to your furry roommate is a thing.
posted by vignettist at 10:56 PM on September 9 [1 favorite]


I used to have a cat that tried to escape and I'd just nudge her away with my foot, but that isn't something that'd work with a dog.

Oh yeah, that definitely works with dogs but you need to "nudge" with a bit more leg behind it. If I have a dog that's trying to escape I usually come home then go in the kitchen and make them sit then they get a super nice treat. Cheese singles even. Before long they run to the fridge when you come home and sit there and wait. Dogs are that simple. And pretty smart, the behavior likely won't work with another person with no history of coming home and dispensing treats.

Right now my dog wants to sleep and she just got on the bed, put her paw on my typing hands and looked me right in the eye like "shut up, ok?" then went back to her bed. You'll learn to communicate, we co-evolved, it's inborn.
posted by fshgrl at 1:28 AM on September 10


Hi! I adopted a medium-large mutt a few years ago, and then my mother who is extremely nervous around dogs came and stayed with me for a few weeks. She still visibly flinches whenever a dog comes near her, but she now loves my dog (in like an abstract, please don't touch or drool on me way) and has even walked her(!) and was insanely proud that she said "crate" and the dog went in her crate - it was like magic. The best thing you can possibly do: ignore the dog. It's one thing if you want to become the dog's friend and learn about dogs, but honestly, you don't have to. You can just be like my mom and go about your life without ever knowing anything about dogs, and I don't fault you if you just don't want to take on that burden. If you will resent your roommate because you have to read all these books or articles about dog behavior, then don't do it. Ask your roommate to be responsible for the dog and let them know upfront you're not into taking care of it.

If the dog jumps on you, or tries to greet you enthusiastically, just turn your back and ignore the dog. Before you know what the dog is like as far as chewing/shedding/drooling, close your door when you leave so it doesn't take your stuff/sleep on your bed/etc. I wouldn't leave meat unattended on a counter or grocery bags on the floor, but I would expect the dog would not steal from a fruit basket or shred a cereal box on the counter, and if the dog can't be trusted, the roommate should let you know and take responsibility for dog's actions. If something goes wrong - dog eats your shoes, steals dinner, pees on something of yours - text your roommate and let them know. If they are not apologetic and don't have a plan, then that's your sign that this is going to be an issue.

For the door stuff - I'm not sure why this is a big deal. If the dog is crated when roommate is not there, then it's not an issue if you get home alone - dog will be contained. If you get home and dog is out, that means roommate is home - just ask them to put dog in a room or crate while you unload groceries or whatever. Maybe you text them when you're 5 minutes away to let them know. On a side note, my dog started out pretty bad about this, and I instituted a rule that everyone ignored the dog for 5 minutes after they came in the house - now my dog doesn't bother getting off the bed when the door opens.
posted by autolykos at 7:39 AM on September 10 [1 favorite]


> we co-evolved, it's inborn.

Seriously, dogs and humans were living together before modern humans, homo sapiens, existed. We go waaaaay back.

On the issue of fear of escape: your awareness of the dog being there is doing to do most of the work. People who are unaware of dogs are the ones that throw doors open wide without considering the fact that they don't have x-ray vision and don't know if the dog is loose in the house. Open the door like the dog is on the other side ready to run out, which is to say you open the door while blocking the exit with your legs, and shimmy through a narrow gap. You don't have to squeeze yourself-- you're blocking a few dozen pounds of furry meat, not the air itself-- obstructing is good enough.
posted by Sunburnt at 3:16 PM on September 10 [1 favorite]


I used to be way more nervous around dogs, and over the last 5 years have settled into liking other people's dogs pretty well, though I'm highly unlikely to ever own a dog of my own. If me of 5 years ago were about to move into a house with a dog in it, the advice I'd give would be to limit the time of interaction.

People who like dogs think that when the dog is lying on a bed in the corner and then looks at you and resettles, the dog has left you alone. Or even if the dog gets up and wanders around the room and maybe puts his wet nose on your friends leg but not yours, the dog has left you alone. The thing is, when dogs make you nervous, both of these situations involved you paying at least 50% attention to the dog at all times because you don't know what is going to happen next. There's no such thing as having a dog in the room and not being distracted and anxious.

For me, I got over that by spending bursts of dog-focused time. Knowing that it would be impossible to not pay attention to the dog, I specifically hung out with my friend and their dog, doing dog things - going to the dog park, going on walks, taking the dog with us when we went to outdoor cafes, having the dog over and playing catch in my backyard and in my kitchen, etc. Now that I have internalized how to play with a dog who is paying attention to me, I can relax being in a room with a dog who is not paying attention to me, because I know what I would do if he did.

So, make sure you come to an understanding with your roommate that you will be spending a lot of time in rooms where the dog isn't (i.e. dog is not allowed in your bedroom, and if you don't like having your door closed all the time you'll need a gate), and come up with a plan for quiet enjoyment of the public spaces. Are you allowed to gate the dog out of the kitchen while you cook? Out of the living room while you watch a movie?
posted by aimedwander at 10:03 AM on September 11


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