What to do when a sibling lies about you

Cookie Vidal asks: I’m 12 and my brother is 17, and he always blames me for things that I didn’t do, like putting bones in the sink. I’m getting sick and tired of him blaming me, so how do I make him stop?

Hi Cookie Vidal –
Remember a while back, when you asked me about your brother’s airheaded irresponsibility, and I said to accept it as a phase, and not feel that he’s a bad guy in any way?  Well, I’m starting to change my opinion.


You see, we dogs don’t lie.  It’s not that we’re too moral (we’re NOT!); it’s that we simply can’t.  Our brains don’t work that way.  Because of this, there’s a lot of confusion in our dealings with humans.


The most common example is when kids play fetch with us, and tease us by pretending to throw the ball and not actually letting go of it.  We run to chase it, and can’t find it.  The kids laugh at our confusion.  Now if they do it once, it’s not a problem, but if they do it more, we begin to think that their making that throwing motion doesn’t mean a ball is coming, so we stop responding to that sight.  We don’t have any sense of the child’s joke, because we don’t think that way.  So then the kid wants to really play fetch again, and it doesn’t work, because we’re not responding the way we have to in the game.


The other great example is when humans feed us dinner at four in the afternoon, and then start fixing themselves their food, and we jump up and down asking for some.  Humans so often will say that we’re lying – that we’re pretending we haven’t been fed.  No, we’re not lying at all.  We’re just saying that their dinner smells really good and we’d sure like to have some of it!  It’s the absolute truth!


So now, back to your brother.  Because I can’t lie, I’m not terribly tolerant of those who do, unless they have really good reasons for it.  And from what you’re saying, I’m guessing his reason to say you left the bones in the sink is to avoid getting scolded for it?  What a wimp!  I get scolded every day – for barking too much, jumping on people, pulling on my leash, taking up too much space when I lie on the bed – and he’s afraid of a little “I told you to put your bones in the wastebasket!”?


Well, there are two ways to go at this.  First, you can try to catch him in it.  If there’s a single thing he keeps doing, you could put a video camera in that room when you think he’ll do it, to have proof.  But that might be too much to ask.  Other possibilities would be to make a point of not being home when he does certain things, to have your parents keep an eye open for possible lies, or to even get a fingerprint kit and test the actual evidence!


The other though, which is far easier, would be to sit down and talk with him about it.  To tell him that it’s really hurting your feelings, and that he means too much to you for this to be okay.  After all, an older brother is a kind of role model, and he should be working to improve you, not teach you to lie.


Maybe he’ll tell you that your parents have been coming down really hard on him lately, and he just can’t take more of their complaining.  If so, perhaps you could offer to try to help, to defend him in some ways.  Because this current method, of him trying to get you in trouble instead of him, really just doesn’t cut it!


And I have a feeling talking to him will work.  Everything you’ve told me about him sounds like an okay guy who’s just trying to avoid things right now.  If you make him realize that this lying isn’t making things easier at all, and remind him of how important he is to you, I imagine he’ll start to step up to the occasion right away.


But one note – if you have a dog, and those bones are from birds or fish, don’t encourage him to put them where we can get to them.  They’re dangerous for us to chew, and absolutely irresistible to us!  So please do keep them out of reach!


Best of luck my friend!







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