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You be the judge: should my housemate return his out-of-control dog to the shelter?

·6-min read

The prosecution: Abdul

I love my housemate’s new dog but he isn’t training it properly and it’s disrupting my life. Should the dog 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 ecstatic. Biscuit is calm 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. Initially, I wanted to move out when things got really bad, but now I don’t think it is me who should be further inconvenienced.

Things are getting tense with Joshua. He’s too soft with Biscuit. The dog was weeing on the kitchen floor for the first few weeks, but slowly he got the hang of going outside. I encouraged Joshua to praise him whenever the dog did well, but feel that I’ve done more research on training greyhounds than he has.

I told Joshua that something needed to change: implement a proper training programme, or put a shock collar on the dog

Biscuit also has free rein of the sofa in the daytime, which is now covered in hairs. A dog needs its own bed. Joshua just says: “Well, that’s what rescue animals are like.”

Biscuit also suffers from separation anxiety; he used to bark whenever Joshua left the 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.

Joshua and I used to go 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 adopting a rescue dog wasn’t a big deal. Now, eight months later, he’s changed his mind

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, he should have voiced it earlier. Biscuit is anxious and 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.

Abdul initially threatened to move out, but now he’s saying Biscuit should be sent back

I appreciate that 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.

Related: You be the judge: I’m super tidy, my girlfriend is not. Should she change her ways?

With the issue of Biscuit being on 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 the sofa 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

Should the dog be sent back to the shelter?

“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 in 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 reallycan’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 seems to be jealous of Biscuit’s new relationship with Joshua. Some of the dog’s behaviour that initially bothered Abdul has improved. If Abdul can’t 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, leave them to the couch with a better episode on ITV.
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

You be the judge

So now you can be the judge, click on the poll below to tell us: should Joshua return his dog to the shelter?
We’ll share the results on next week’s You be the judge.
The poll closes on Thursday 28 October at 9am BST

Last week’s result

Last week, we asked if Abby should change her habits and become tidier like her boyfriend, Dave.

77% of you said no – Abby is innocent
22% of you said yes – Abby is guilty

Have a disagreement you’d like settled? Or want to be part of our jury? Click here

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