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You be the judge: my housemate’s dog is disruptive. Who should move out?

·6-min read

The prosecution: Abdul

My housemate’s new dog isn’t trained properly and it’s disrupting my life. Should I move out?

Joshua and I have lived together for six years, since meeting at university. We’ve always got along well; he’s laid-back, fun, and fairly tidy. When he adopted a dog from a shelter in the middle of the pandemic – a five-year-old greyhound called Biscuit – I was initially ecstatic. Biscuit is calm, relaxed but a little nervous around new people, as he spent so long on a racing track.

But Joshua hasn’t spent enough time training him, and the dog has developed habits that are disrupting my life. And things are getting tense with Joshua. He’s too soft with Biscuit. Biscuit was weeing on the kitchen floor for the first few weeks, but slowly he got the hang of going outside. I encouraged Joshua to keep taking Biscuit out and praising him whenever the dog did well, but feel that I’ve done more research around training greyhounds than Joshua has.

When I brought this up Joshua was offended and said he’s doing all he can, but I don’t agree. Biscuit also takes up space in our common areas and has free rein of the sofa in the daytime, which is now covered in hairs. In my mind a dog should have its own bed. Joshua doesn’t see it as a big deal, and just excuses Biscuit’s behaviour with: “Well, that’s what rescue animals are like.”

Joshua and I used to go out to the pub with our mates, but now I barely see him

Biscuit also suffers from separation anxiety; he used to bark whenever Joshua went into another room. He kept me awake howling for hours from the living room (which was originally Biscuit’s bedroom), and Joshua began sleeping on the floor next to him to calm him down. I told Joshua that something needed to change: implement a proper training programme, or put a shock collar on the dog. In the end, he just moved Biscuit into his bedroom – he now sleeps on the bed. This has stopped the barking, but made things worse because now Biscuit is needier than ever. Joshua won’t leave him alone for 10 minutes in case he starts barking again.

Joshua and I used to go out to the pub with our mates, but now I barely see him, because he wants to be in to look after Biscuit. He should learn how to train Biscuit so he behaves better, or send him back to the shelter.

The defence: Joshua

Abdul assured me that a dog sitting on the sofa wasn’t a big deal. Now, eight months later, he’s changed his mind… it’s going to be harder to reverse the habit now Biscuit has got used to it

Abdul agreed that I could adopt Biscuit, otherwise I wouldn’t have done it. We’ve known each other for years and if Abdul wasn’t comfortable with the idea of living with a dog, I think he should have voiced it earlier. Biscuit is anxious and shy, as he’s spent years living on a greyhound racetrack so, essentially, he’s been a working dog. He needs time to acclimatise to a house, and I think we’ve made great progress.

When Biscuit began barking a lot after moving in, I did all I could to reassure him, but the obvious solution was to let him stay close to me, day and night. The barking went on for six weeks, then it stopped. Abdul was understanding at first, but he then suggested techniques like using a shock collar on Biscuit, which I think is inhumane.

The accidents really didn’t last that long. Any carpet that was damaged, I paid to clean

I appreciate that getting a rescue dog is a lot of work, and I’m grateful for Abdul’s help with house-training Biscuit, but the accidents really didn’t last that long. Any carpet that was damaged, I paid to clean. I’ve been happy to take on the main responsibilities.

With the issue of Biscuit beingon the sofa, I asked Abdul’s opinion before the dog moved in and he assured me that a dog sitting there wasn’t a big deal. Now, eight months later, he’s changed his mind and says Biscuit shouldn’t be allowed on there at all. Of course, it’s going to be harder to reverse the habit now he’s got used to it. I don’t see the problem with Biscuit sleeping in my room at night and going to the couch in the day, when both of us are working. I clean the hairs off regularly and, luckily, greyhounds don’t really smell.

Perhaps I was naive thinking everything could stay the same. I’m still in my 20s and having Biscuit is a lot of work. Abdul initially threatened to move out, but now he’s saying Biscuit should be sent back. We had a rocky first few months but there’s no way I’d return my dog to the animal shelter, I’ve made a commitment. Abdul just needs to decide whether he can ride it out a bit longer until Biscuit settles down.

The jury of Guardian readers

“Poor Biscuit. Nobody has told him he is a member of a pack, not the pack leader. Joshua needs to do some training with him so he knows his place and can gain confidence. Once the rules are agreed and consistently applied, nobody needs to leave and harmony can be restored.”
Maggie, 69

“Like it or not, Biscuit is a part of the household now and deserves to stay there. Although it was unexpected, this is a reality of pet ownership – training can be a very long process and requires patience. If Abdul can’t tolerate living with Biscuit, and the relationship with Joshua is important to him (which it seems to be), he should move out.”
Rhea, 28

“Abdul is jealous of Biscuit’s new relationship with Joshua. Many of Biscuit’s behaviours – barking, weeing on the floor – that initially bothered Abdul have since changed. If Abdul cannot come to terms with sharing his friend with a dog he should leave the house.”
Milo, 29

“You’re not married, Biscuit’s a dog and Jeremy Kyle was cancelled. Abdul, move out. Even if his behaviour’s an issue it’s only been eight months. To go from ecstatic to shock collar, you clearly hadn’t thought through life with Biscuit. Do a runner and leave them to the couch.”
Trent, 32

“Abdul should have thought harder before agreeing to Josh taking on a rescue dog, as they often arrive with behavioural problems. The dog was bound to change the dynamic in the flat and clearly requires training, love and commitment from both of them. The dog is here to stay – Abdul should adapt or consider moving out.”
Graham, 63

The verdict – LOOKS LIKE 3 INNOCENT, ONE GUILTY, ONE NOT PROVEN TO ME (ADRIAN)

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