SFVS animal behaviorist Sophia Yin recently was featured in an msnbc.com story on “Getting dogged: When your pet cheats on you / Some cats and dogs ditch their owners for someone they like better.” The article discusses dogs and cats who prefer other people and/or surroundings to their usual ones: “Dogs and cats can also cheat on their owners, leaving their own homes in pursuit of something better, or different. And perhaps more painfully, some pets carry on affairs right under their owner’s nose.”
SFVS’s Dr. Yin on ways to “fight to save your relationship”:
But if you don’t want to put up with your pooch pining for another — or worse, give him up, it’s easy to develop a stronger bond with him. Start by teaching him, on leash, that he can have everything he wants, but only if he sits and looks at you, says veterinarian and applied animal behaviorist Sophia Yin, who practices at San Francisco Veterinary Specialists.
For several days, instead of just randomly petting your pooch or giving him a treat, let him practice getting what he wants when he sits and focuses on you. Reward him with five seconds of petting at a time, then stop. By stopping in between, you’re rewarding the dog for continuing to stay with you and look at you, Yin says.
“Play little games where you have the dog sit, give a treat, then run, stop, sit, get a treat again,” she says. “Basically, you’re teaching the dog that you’re fun.”
When your rival for his affection visits, let the dog see her, but keep him on leash and don’t let him approach the person. Reward him for focusing on you while the guest is there. Once your dog consistently focuses on you, he can see the guest again.
“They’re telling the dog, ‘You can have what you want, but remember that I’m here and you should ask me first,’” Yin says.