Your Questions: 'My dog whines and barks whenever my partner and I try to get intimate'

Q. I have a delicate problem: whenever my partner and I try to get intimate, my cocker spaniel starts to whine and bark, even though she's downstairs and we have our bedroom door shut. She likes my partner very much, even though my partner's only recently moved in. Jeff, via e-mail

A. This is a very personal subject so I will try to be gentle. Dogs are triggered by noise, if you get my drift, so you should try and move her as far away as possible from your bedroom.

The root of the problem is jealousy: you are spending time with someone else and not your dog. This type of admiration, however, is very unhealthy and you need to restore the balance there. Cocker spaniels can be difficult breeds, especially the red ones, so you may have your work cut out.

First things first – simple rules. You must go out of the door first; do not let your dog on the bed, the sofa or any furniture. She needs to learn her place at the bottom of the hierarchy.

If you and your partner are sitting on the sofa and you hold hands and your dog displays any unwanted behaviour, get up and leave the room, so it will show her that by crying or whining she will lose attention, not gain it.

You also need to get your partner involved and show that she's not the enemy. Get her to walk your dog, feed her, train her, or simply go to the park and play frisby with her.

One last point: dogs are very sensitive to clues, so make sure you are not giving her any. And give her plenty of exercise so she sleeps in the evening. Good luck!

Remember that if an animal shows signs of distress or discomfort, an early visit to the vet is always recommended

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