Dear Prudence: My husband and I are dog lovers but we didn't have one until our children started asking for a dog. We spent months researching the right breed. I was unable to go and choose the puppy, so my husband made the final decision. I hate this dog. He chews on people constantly. He will go outside and pee, then race past me so that he can poop in my daughter's bedroom. My children are ambivalent. I don't want to find him another home since the dog and my husband have formed a close bond. If I mention to my husband how little I like this dog, he gets irritated. Do I suffer through? Take a doggie bonding class?
Prudence says: Surely you remember from having children that teaching good manners takes patience. Invest in dog training classes and have the whole family participate. It's likely that with discipline on all your parts, you can end up with a dog who makes you merry. But let's say the dog never improves. For 10 years I had such a dog. Despite several trainers, vet visits and Prozac, she only just tolerated our attempts at affection. It wasn't until after her death that we were able to put the rugs back on the floor. We now have a devoted, housebroken Cavalier.
Today's dogma is that your dog's behavior is your fault. This is odd since we now recognize that certain wiring problems can cause children to behave badly and we no longer blame that on the parents. If a concerted effort with this dog doesn't work, you need to talk with your husband about finding the dog a more suitable home. I'm prepared to be told to roast in hell, but a pet should be more than a presence you simply endure.
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