How to deal with a bratty younger sibling

BlackGermanShepherd asks: My younger brother is 8 and he always hits me, and I get in trouble because of him. He always goes into my room and takes things and yells at me. I feel like I have no power over him. What should I do?

Hi BlackGermanShepherd –


Your problem sounds like something we dogs go through all the time.  Our humans’ friends decide it would be a great idea if they introduce their puppy to us, thinking we’ll be great pals – and the next thing you know, we’re being bitten, jumped on, and really annoyed for the whole time we’re supposed to play together.  Or worse, our humans actually decide to get a new puppy, and we’re putting up with this nonsense all the time!


And just as with you, the worst thing about this is that, when we get fed up and turn around and bite that little pest in the butt (which is completely a dog’s instinct, and how puppies have learned manners for millennia), who gets yelled at?  WE do!  It’s ridiculous!


Now I’m sure everyone’s been telling you that, over time, you and your brother will become great friends, and he’ll get very mature, and he’ll even become protective of you.  And I have no doubt that that’s true.  But that doesn’t help right now.  Now, what you need is a way to get through this.


For that, I have a few suggestions.  First, try to avoid the problem.  Put the things you want to keep him away from out of his reach, or hide them.  Maybe your parents will agree to let you get a lock for your closet, or get a large box with a lock on it, that he can’t get into.  He’ll still be curious about you, and want to check out your room, but this way at least he won’t get into what matters the most to you (like a diary!!!).


Second, take advantage of his age, and win him over.  Is there something you could bribe him with? For example, if he wants to yell, can you say “I’ll give you a piece of gum if you stay quiet?”  That’s how people train dogs, and I find it works almost as well with humans!


Third, see if you can find out what he really wants.  Like, when he’s going into your stuff in your room, is that because he really wants more contact and attention from you?  Maybe there’s a way, if you figure this out, that you can get him to behave better.  For example, if you played a game with him for a half-hour a day (a game he likes), maybe he’d be content with that and not feel such a need to get into your private stuff.  When I was a puppy, I didn’t chew Handsome’s stuff up if he was with me; it was when he was gone and I missed him that I got all destructive!


And fourth, and biggest, get your parents on your side.  They do not want their hitting eight-year-old to become a bullying twelve-year-old, and the time to teach him to stop hitting is Now.  Talk with them about how you can best help them to do this.  Maybe they’ll say that you need to never hit him back, and just tell them when he does it; okay, I know that’s boring and feels weak, but if that’s what they want, then do it.  Maybe they’ll say you should just grab his hands and hold them and look him in the eye and tell him not to hit.  Great.  Maybe they’ll say you should bite him on the butt!  That would be amazing, and I’d think it was brilliant… but I’ve never heard a parent suggest that, ever!


And last, BlackGermanShepherd, I will repeat what everyone has said already.  This will pass.  He’ll grow out of it, and get less interested in you, and then later he’ll become the best person in your life – almost as good as a dog!  So be as patient as you can – hard as that is – and know that better days lie ahead.


All my best,






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