Tag Archives: Pet
Don’t be lulled into believing that Sofie likes Charles, even just a little, she doesn’t. I know she can really hurt him (55 pounds vs 15 pounds) and I am very watchful. Charles will be with us a year next month and it has been a learning for all of us. Even though all 7 of my animals have all learned to live together, it does not mean they are bonded to each other or are a pack. Sofie would probably throw Charles down the stairs if I wasn’t watching. The challenge I have with the two of them is mostly due to resource guarding.
When a dog is resource guarding there are 3 levels of escalation :
Low level guarding: Dog growls and bares her teeth
Medium level guarding: Dog snaps and lunges
High level guarding: Dog bites
After years of trying counter conditioning and all the lovely things that behaviorists and trainers have taught me to do, I have settled on the following methods to keep everyone safe.
Avoidance – I care less about what causes the behavior and more about keeping everyone safe. Charles eats in a pen (he’s aggressive towards animals and humans). Cats eat up off the floor. Sofie eats with a leash on. (Sofie is not aggressive toward Louise or humans).
Exercise – I try to walk everyone before dinner (never after because of bloat). “A tired dog is a happy dog.” More importantly, I believe that dogs like to work for things and this way they work for food.
Training – I make them all sit/stay when I put the bowls down until I give them the release word (Let’s Eat!). I like to think I have taught them a little control and this keeps them focused on the meal and less on each other. I also have trained them to ‘Leave it!” when I don’t want them mouthing something, whether food or not. This doesn’t change the anxiety or fear-based aggression tendencies but training should always be part of any program.
Don’t feed while humans are eating and don’t feed from your plate. Alpha’s in the wild do eat first and also scraps are just bad for dogs. I lose this battle at home often, so don’t feel bad if you do too. I am better at training animals than people.
In my multi-animal household, I don’t try for bonding or love or anything like that between the animals. The number one rule is to keep everyone safe. I respect that each animal has its own temperaments and quirks. I accept that animals will be animals and I don’t expect them to reason or to change certain anxiety or fear-based behaviors. Never trust that a growl won’t turn into a snap which then turns into a bite.
How do you keep your furballs safe when they are eating?
Some dog(s) must have left a very loud message on the swing set down by the river. I am always in awe of the dogs’ incredible noses. Especially, when you have a hound, like Louise. Her nose is never far from the ground tracking something. I call her a ‘Hoover,’ (like the vacuum cleaner). …They possess up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to about six million in us. And the part of a dog’s brain that is devoted to analyzing smells is, proportionally speaking, 40 times greater than ours.(NOVA – Dogs Sense of Smell)
A good sniff is worth a thousand words. Enjoy your Black and White Sunday!
A question popped up on my Facebook feed this morning that said, “If you could have one minute to say anything to your dog that they could understand, what would it be?” Truthfully, I don’t need one minute. I talk to the dogs, and cats, all the time and I really think they understand what I mean because it isn’t the words but the energy behind them. What do you think? Do you need a translator to speak dog? Sofie says she understands me purrfectly.
Keeping 3 dogs quiet when people keep coming up to the front door of the house is a major feat. (Keeping Sofie quite, ever, is a big job.) I put the ‘baby’ gate at the top of the stairs to keep them away from the door, but they still can look over the ledge and watch the action. Charles actually came through the bars (like the cats do) on the side. I guess I will have to block that section too next year. You can see Sofie hiding behind the fountain watching me. I am sure it doesn’t help that the skeleton dog and cat are outside the front windows. Looking out the side windows which have prism glass, I would bark too.
What kind of mischief did you get into today?
Getting this trio’s attention is easiest when there are high-value treats involved. My go-to treat is a training bit made of liver or beef. It makes my hands stink (which grosses me out because I don’t eat meat), but the doggies will do almost anything for them. I like freeze dried training treats made from a single ingredient only. They don’t bother Louise with her sensitive tummy nor Sofie’s allergies and they are only 6 calories for Charlie’s waistline.
This was Halloween night and I was doing everything I could to keep them from going crazy with all the witches, goblins, superheroes, and princesses that came to the door. Treats are treats in any language.