Mother-in-Law Won’t Listen

25 Aug

I cannot stop my mother in law feeding my dogs, as we work together and the dogs come to work with me every day. She feeds them sandwiches under her desk. I have asked her to stop but she takes no notice.

One of my dogs has allergies and I like to keep my eye on what he eats. She still will not listen if I tell her to stop. She will say he is not allergic to food and the vet is talking crap. Sometimes, our dogs stay with her and when we get them back, they act like they don’t want to be with us. In fact, Charlie our male dog, growls at me if I pick him up or stroke him.

I have had arguments with her regarding these problems, but she thinks I don’t know what I’m talking about. She treats them like human babies. I think she likes it that the dogs don’t like me. Can you help me please? Any advice is welcome.

Wit’s End

United Kingdom


Dear Reader,

There are several things going on here. One is that your mother-in-law doesn’t respect you. She overrules you on matters that you alone have authority over. I would have a talk with her and ask her why she does it. She may brush you off at first and deny there’s a problem, but persist. Without anger, ask her why she ignores your decisions about your dogs’ diet, as well as the advice of your veterinarian. Depending on how badly her treats impact your dogs’ allergies, think about not bringing them to work with you. If not bringing them to work is not an option for you, provide some treats that your dogs can enjoy and ask your mother-in-law to feed them those treats. Or confine the dogs to an area where they cannot get to your mother-in-law’s desk for sandwiches. I knew one person who tied a long leash around his waist at the office, and clipped the other end to his dog’s collar. The dog had to go everywhere with him. After a few weeks, he took off the leash and the dog stayed by his side, never left his office, and didn’t wander around anymore. It might work. It might also make a point.

As far as the dogs acting like they’re not happy to see you, don’t take it personally. Dogs don’t live in the future or the past the way humans do. You should, however, seek the help of a
trainer to deal with the dominance displayed by Charlie when you try to pick him up or stroke him. It could be that he dominates your mother-in-law while you’re away and he needs a reminder when you return. But dogs can grasp the concept of different relationships with different people, so some training might help. If your mother-in-law enjoys the fact that your dogs are not overjoyed to see you, that’s spiteful. You should address that with her, also.

You may not get anywhere by talking to her, but you may make a point on another level. Imagine that you’re your mother-in-law. You engage in these little passive-aggressive behaviors to get a rise out of your daughter-in-law. You’re creating a problem for her. But what would happen if, every time you do, she comes to you and you have to have this big talk about it. The fact that she’s passive-aggressive tells me she wants to avoid confrontation. If she has an uncomfortable conversation with you every time she does something like that, now it’s her problem, not yours. I’ve done this and it really works. Don’t be angry or dramatic. Just be serious and thorough. Look her in the eye. Ask her to answer your questions instead of brushing them off. Don’t let her get out of it quickly or easily. Tell her you really want to understand her point of view. She’ll tire of that quickly and stop triggering it. Give it a try.

By the way, where is your husband in all this? If he won’t stand up to mommy now, he never will. Ask him to talk with her, too.

– L 


Posted by on August 25, 2009 in Dog Etiquette


70 responses to “Mother-in-Law Won’t Listen

  1. Bethany

    August 26, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    That sounds much more like a mother-in-law problem than a dog problem! She should consider that it really affects your dogs health and not just give him what he likes. I have a hard time saying no to my dog, but you need to if it affects their health.

    • sue316

      August 29, 2011 at 2:20 pm

      Great advice I think they hit every problem and gave very sound suggestions to start to address the issues and hopefully get this family working together.

    • Karen

      September 7, 2011 at 8:07 pm

      I agree that the issue is a human one, not a dog one. You must take care of your dog first, so look for alternatives to allowing your mother-in-law near enough to hurt your animal as quickly as possible. This may not be easy financially, but money spent on a dog sitter will cost less than vet bills. Second, speak up for your dog’s safety and your rights respectfully but constantly. Third, get your husband to back you up if possible. Fourth, don’t give up. Both you and your dog deserve better!

  2. Des

    September 17, 2009 at 8:54 am

    That was a great response. I have to agree that this is more of a person to person problem, than a dog related issue. From what was said about the mother in law it won’t be easy to resolve the problem, but it certainly is possible. Good luck!

  3. Ann-Marie Fleming

    September 24, 2009 at 8:39 am

    I had the same problem, but it was with people at my work. At this job I was allowed to bring my two dogs in with me which was awesome, but people feeding my dogs quickly became an issue for two reasons. 1) my Pug was on a diet so the extra feeding was impacting his weight and 2) My French Bulldog was super allergic to all sorts of things. The way I handled it was to be very honest about the consequences. I told them that the reason for Mackenzie’s diet was to alleviate the pressure on his enlarged heart and for Churchill I explained that if he eats the wrong thing he will break out in hives all over his body. Both were the true reasons I was against their actions…it took me a few times of repeating myself but eventually it all stopped. I think once they all realized how important they were to me they figured they were not going to be the one to impact their health in any way. All was well after this 🙂

    Thanks for a great article.

  4. Hunde

    October 14, 2009 at 2:32 am

    Great advice. Some people just don’t understand that some dogs can’t eat everything that is given to them. Last week I heard about a bulldog that could get seriously ill if i did’t get the right kind of food every day.


  5. Jonathan

    November 7, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    Great advice. thanks.

  6. kangal

    November 8, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    thanks very helpful

  7. John

    November 26, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    Yep, I think that this is a mother in law problem! I’m luck, I’ve been married for 5 years and NEVER even met my mother in law. Wow, ar you jealous?

    Seriously though, there are some dog training articles on Top dog Stuff that may help you out.

    The two best training programs reviewed on the site are:

    # Secrets To Dog Training Review
    # The Ultimate House Training Guide Review

    I hope this helps any.

  8. how to feed a dog

    December 1, 2009 at 4:52 am

    Maybe, it will be better to seek help from your husband. If you will tell him what is going on he will surely make a way to let her mother understand that you already consulted a veterinarian and they already warned you about the food that you will give to your dogs.

    • PetSupplies

      December 6, 2009 at 5:20 pm

      Yes that is a great idea, after all it is his mother 🙂

  9. Pet Directory andPet Forum

    December 9, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    Definitely sounds like more of a mother in law problem 🙂

    Don’t worry we all have them

  10. James Colella

    December 11, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    We have been training dogs and puppies in Long Island for some time now. You need to be more persistent with dogs, and embarrisingly more stubborn with humans. We define a good dog trainer not merely on how well they can train a client’s dog, but on how well they can transfer that knowledge to the owner. The latter, the most difficult. hang in there, they usually give up.

  11. James Colella

    December 11, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    Hang in there.

  12. Mohaberry Youhoing

    December 16, 2009 at 10:10 am

    Just talk to her one last time. Try and explain how the problem really makes you feel and the health isuues that comes with it. Then if that dont work; dont let her see the dogs until she changes her actions. By keeping her away from the dog that will consider the change. Let her know you mean business. It may seem mean but she have placed you in a hard position. i can tell that she loves them but they are yours only you decide what goes in their mouth. If you want to chat with other pet owners please visit my site.

  13. leanne

    January 6, 2010 at 6:56 am

    I have a similar problem with my dad we are trying to train our puppy he is getting to attention seeking so we ask every one to ignore him when they come in and he doesn’t get attention until it suits us but my dad can not seem to do this he far to much of a softy and just gets him excited.

  14. Hunderacer

    January 14, 2010 at 2:42 am

    Great advice. Some people just don’t understand that some dogs can’t eat everything that is given to them. Last week I heard about a bulldog that could get seriously ill if i did’t get the right kind of food every day.

  15. Jp

    January 19, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Killer advice! Thanks so much!

  16. Byron

    January 20, 2010 at 2:42 am

    Hi. I have just started a blog, detailing the dangers of the food people feed their dogs. It is on going as I find more information, but I think your mother-in-law could learn a thing or 2 from this info.

    Drop by and have a read, or recommend it to people who might have similar problems as yours with their dogs.

    Hope it helps

  17. Cramer

    January 21, 2010 at 8:45 am

    I have the same problem my mother in law comes to visit and each time we tell her not to feed are dog. But she does it anyways and will say sorry right before doing it and thinks that is ok. She feeds at the table which is the worst.

  18. Dino Dogan

    February 24, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    Regarding Charlie. It’s important not to give-in whenever he wiggles, tries to bite or whatever when he’s in your arms. Stay calm and firm until he calms down. When he does, THEN put him down. Keep doing this and extending the “calm time” until he learns that only calmness gets him out of your gentle but firm grip.

    Regarding your inlaw, L is right on the money. Its a matter of respect. She may not respect your expertise with dogs or it may be general lack of respect. She may be thinking “I had dogs when I was a kid and I fed them and everything was fine”…persist, try diff methods suggested by L, Im sure one of them will get your point across. Good luck.

  19. Interesting Dog Facts

    February 26, 2010 at 11:41 am

    You need to sit down and have serious talk with mother in law

  20. Barking Dog

    February 27, 2010 at 12:50 am

    This is a problem I have been in and have heard about before. I found the best way is to get the message through you partner, maybe he/she would have a better relationship with their mother and can tell them to stop.

    Hope all worked out fine!

  21. Vovse

    March 27, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    You just have to tell her how you feel.

  22. Michael

    March 29, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    A mother-in-law that does not listen. Isn’t that normal? Actually I had the same issue. Just needed to be firm but nice, and explain how human food was causing my dogs to have upset stomachs.

  23. Delicia

    March 30, 2010 at 5:00 am

    This is interest because it reminds me of what my dad told me about one of his brother dogs would keep coming to our house when it got out. So maybe we were giving it something it liked.

  24. Snapshot Media

    May 10, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Wow, cheers for this.

    We’re designing a dog blog at the moment and yours is an inspiration.

  25. kæledyr

    May 14, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Great advice… i like this post.

  26. StuffedBulldog

    May 15, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    Maybe you can let her know that you will be presenting her with the vet bill when the dog she’s been feeding gets sick. Would that make her think twice, maybe?

  27. Emma

    May 26, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    I can’t stand it when people ignore your wishes/ the dog’s needs and just feed them anything. My dog is just the right weight for his breed, but if I let him he’d get huge because he’ll eat anything. Which wouldn’t be good for him and I want him to be happy and healthy. My mum however just feeds him anything and everything, whatever she’s eating at the time. No wonder he looks grumpy when it’s back to me!

  28. Louise

    June 20, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    It is so frustrating when this happens. I find it especially difficult when we have BBq’s and people think they know better than the actual dogs owner! My flatcoat has thyroid problems and his weight and diet have to be constantly monitored, doesn’t stop friends and family trying to feed him burgers!

  29. video converter

    July 24, 2010 at 3:19 am

    I thing your mother- in- law is selfish. Why she does this thing. I can’t undersdand her. I hope you and your dog have a good relationship quickly.

  30. Hunderacer af Mia

    August 14, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Very nice, thank you 🙂

  31. bulldog training

    August 15, 2010 at 12:11 am

    You know this is very true. Pretty much says everything.

  32. A. Harvey

    August 19, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    Try to get her to understand how dangerous obesity is to dogs. If charlie is growling at you when you pick him up after being with her, then she is letting him rule the house, be the pack leader in other words. That is also dangerous for dogs as it leads to other problems in behavior.

  33. Shalisha

    August 27, 2010 at 3:32 am

    It sounds like your mother-in-law needs a lesson in boundaries! Although you keep asking her not to feed your dogs, she disrespects your wishes. I would discuss this with your husband and tell him your feelings about it. Then, I would absolutely refuse to allow my dogs near her no matter what. Stop taking your dogs to work with you and put them in doggy day care. Stop bringing them over to her house. She can’t feed them if they’re not around. When she asks why you won’t bring them around, tell her. Actions speak louder than words.

    Shalisha A

  34. TopDogTom | Small Dog Training ETC

    August 31, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    Some people think (or don”t think at all) that the know better about everything. Yes your spouse should step in and correct the problem but it sounds like that won’t happen. My suggestion would be to hire a dog sitter and present the bill to your spouse. $ usually gets attention.

  35. Palooza

    September 15, 2010 at 12:48 am

    Obviously the issue has very little to do with the dogs and everything to do with the mother-in-law. Family dynamics can be so difficult but it is always wise to face things head on. By addressing the issue directly you will be taking a stand to gain your mother-in-laws respect.
    I wish you all the best.

  36. Crystal

    September 17, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Wow, now I really love my MIL. She always gave our dogs treats they weren’t supposed to have, but when the vet told me that our Pug had to go vegan, even my MIL took it to heart. Now we all give them frozen green beans, lol. 🙂

    I’m sorry that your MIL is being so difficult!

  37. Dani

    September 20, 2010 at 9:19 am

    Great article! Very Nice post. Thanks

  38. Sarah

    September 30, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    If you are a dog lover, you might like this cute Halloween pet fashion show. One of the dog’s is dressed as Lady Gaga.

  39. Sarah

    September 30, 2010 at 3:18 pm

  40. Matt

    October 25, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    Sounds like you’ve got a popularity contest going on here! I’ve experienced this same issue with my parents and our dogs.

  41. dogs

    November 24, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    that is not a dog problem it is mother in law problem !! 🙂

  42. Hunderacer

    November 26, 2010 at 9:42 am

    This is by far the funniest blog abot dogs I ever read…thank you…(wipes tears)


  43. Grant

    December 20, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    You need to be abrasive and put your foot down, she has to learn whats yours is yours and if she isnt willing to respect your wishes then you should start revocing privliges. she cant feed your dogs they cant stay the night, and she cant play with them. they are your pets you love and care for them, and if she wont respect that then you need to set up limits and then follow through with your consecquences. i know you love her and care about her and you may want to have your spouse step in and lay some rules with their mother!

  44. DogTrainR

    January 5, 2011 at 4:10 pm

    You need to get the husband involved, It’s his mother, let him deal with her. If she still doesn’t listen, then she is truly disrespecting you. It would be best to find an alternative, because bringing your dogs in to work will be detrimental to both you and your pets, good luck!

  45. christian

    January 9, 2011 at 4:16 am

    you serious need to take a stand against your mother in law,it´s clearly that she do not respect you.It´s more an issue between her and you than a dog problem i think.
    Just my thoughts…good luck


    January 26, 2011 at 5:46 am

    Wow, respect.

    You definately seem to know your stuff!

  47. Heather

    January 31, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    That is terrible! I am so sorry your mother in law treats you with such disrespect. It is so hard to deal with other people who treat my dog differently than I want him treated. We often come across people who WANT my dog to jump on them! oO. Like a parent’s wish for their children people ought to respect an owner’s wish for their dogs.

  48. 6 Biggest Mistakes Dog Owners Make

    February 28, 2011 at 12:30 am

    What kind of grand mother is that. She both abuse and disrespect the dogs health. I think she dont have any knowledge about dogs life thats why she do anything she want. As you said she already treat the dog as a human. Well that not bad but she must give a limit specially on the food she feed.

    6 Biggest Mistakes Dog Owners Make

  49. Ysabelle Lawrence

    April 18, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    Just another story about in-laws! peace!

  50. greatdogwalks

    April 26, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Stick a lead on the mother in law and say BAD!!!

  51. Jenny

    May 8, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    I think anyone who is going to be around the animal frequently, needs to have a firm commanding role. This will teach the dog to be a follower rather than a pack leader or guard dog.

  52. Ria

    May 10, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Seems like the problem is with the mother-in-law…She want to be the “star”. If I were you, I will be firm not to let my dog to always be around her, or else one day your dog will not consider you as his master..

  53. chris

    May 25, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Seems to be that this is a mother-in-law problem more so than anything else – trust me, I have been there. Stick with it and you will be okay in the long run..

  54. Lori Northrop

    May 26, 2011 at 8:00 am

    Your husband should stick up for you and your dogs! Our dogs are family and your mother in law should respect how you want to “raise” your children!

  55. Tobias

    June 18, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Fantastic article – I love your blog – keep it all coming!

  56. Nicotine Patches

    July 2, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    I would tell her that if the dogs health is in danger she has to listen!

  57. Steve

    July 14, 2011 at 7:15 am

    The real question is: why does she feed your dog? There are tons of peple out there feeding pidgeons or ducks even if they know that it can lead to problems in the citys just because they want to care for someone. Maybe they are lonely and are feeling denied …so it’s very hard to ask your mother in law to stop, because there might be underlying psychological problems at work. Perhaps SHE is the one who needs more attention…

  58. mobile dog grooming

    July 15, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    two and four thumb up!!!1 nice article .a href=””>Mobile Dog Grooming Miami

  59. kopek dovusleri

    July 23, 2011 at 9:38 am

    they are your pets you love and care for them, and if she wont respect that then you need to set up limits and then follow through with your consecquences.

  60. Toby Jon

    August 6, 2011 at 12:48 am

    Oh Gosh, we have the exact same problem with all our guests 😦 I hate it, it seems that no matter how many times I ask them not to feed my corgi, they act like they know better.
    So, my poor dog has to spend most of the time in our bedroom every time we hae visitors 😦

  61. K9 Training

    September 5, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    Get rid of the mother in law and keep the dogs. She’s messing with your head time to put the brakes on the so called mother in law and lay down the rules or dump her. Like a dog she can be replaced.

  62. Bargain Backer

    September 11, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    There are lots of great books and tools available for dog training. There are great containment systems for dogs such as the PetSafe PIF-300. It is now available with a Free $10.00 Gift card with purchase (while supplies last). This is a great system for pets and reduces the cost of building a fence.

  63. pipspets

    September 24, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    and I thought my boyfriend was hard to train!

    Def agree with lots of other comments, your mother in law sounds like a pain.

    Would be interesting to hear what happened!!

    Hope the problem was solved before your pooches ended up getting sick.

  64. Lisa

    March 13, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    having the same problem with my mother in law who lives with us we have a black lab who is 7 and has a knee problem so we have to keep his weight down,we have asked her to not feed malachi as we dont give him people food well needless to say she wont listen my husband has spoke with her (this morning-bones) I asked her again this evening to please leave her chicken bones on her plate and put it on the stove and ill take care of them when i get home well needless to say chichen bones are no where to be found in ticked hes having bowel problems runs or constipated and i know its all the people food she just dont care i gueess ill have to put him in the bedroom while shes eating as i make her a plate and then leave to take my husband dinner (he works 2nd shift just really frustrating.

    EDITOR’S NOTE: I hope they were raw chicken bones. If she’s feeding him cooked chicken bones, they could splinter in his gut and cause a life-threatening internal injury. Other than that, it’s just a power play. When she disregards your preferences, she’s undermining your choices for your dog. Do you leave her “approved” treats that the dog can have, such as green beans or other low-cal treats? My dogs LOVE canned green beans. That’s as much a treat for them as hamburger would be. We know they’re nearly calorie free, but they don’t know that.


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