Let’s pretend we have two dogs – that’s pretty much what I did this weekend. My friend was going out of town and rather than put her dog into kennels for the long weekend I offered to mind her here in my house. I could say that it was because I’m a great friend or that I didn’t want the poor dog on her own in the kennels all weekend but honestly the main reason I did it was because I wanted Boomer to experience having to share his stuff.
Raising a puppy into a balanced dog is quite hard to be honest – there are so many ways you go wrong without even realising it. Pretty much every puppy book, dog trainer tv show or behaviour specialist etc always says the same thing – “there are no bad dogs, only bad owners”. I’ve been very mindful of this in how I’ve been raising Boomer; making sure he got a lot of socialisation and experiences very young to ensure that he became a confident and friendly puppy who didn't scare easily or get nervous or fearful.
However, there are so many things that I can’t teach Boomer – I can’t teach him how to share his food for example, or his toys. This is one thing I’m been a little worried about recently in terms of Boomer’s behaviour. Boomer has a fantastic relationship with the cat (an outdoor stray…more of her story) except when there’s food involved. If he thinks the cat is going to get food he tries to bully his way into getting the food for himself…..this gets especially annoying when I have a treat for Boomer in my hand to encourage him to go to the bathroom but the cat decides to rub-off me for attention. Boomer thinks she’s trying to get the treat and he tries to intimidate her away. Not that she even bats an eyelid at him, but this is a behaviour that unchecked could become a serious issue very easily.
I can’t teach Boomer to share – he’s not a human I can’t reason with him or train him. Once I noticed it becoming a problem I began feeding the cat on the front porch instead of in the back yard (out of sight, out of mind), thus problem averted but the issue is unresolved. This is where Bailey steps in.
The idea was to make sure Boomer never felt like Bailey was somehow depriving him of food so little Boomer had food set down on the floor for him that he could eat whenever he wanted. He wolfed it down as soon as Bailey arrived despite the fact that she showed no interest in the food. I refilled it. Straight away he ate more but he left most of the food this time….I made sure his bowl was never empty. At first, anytime Bailey went near his food he ran over and started gobbling it up but slowly over the course of the weekend he began to realise that her eating his food didn’t matter because the food was replaced and by the end of the weekend Boomer and Bailey were eating out the same bowl. Success!!
He even brought his toys over to her to share with her, and we went out shopping on Sunday and left the two of them (post-walk) alone (with no food) for 2 hours and came home to a perfect living room without a thing out of place. Sharing with another dog – another puppy life lesson learned, making me one step closer towards someday getting a second dog to join our little pack.
[Let me also state that I had both of the dogs safety in mind at all times - I fed Bailey seperately so that she was less likely to want to take Boomer's food and I had Boomer on a leash to ensure that I had full control over him at all times]
PS: I achieved so much of what I wanted to do this weekend and I have loads to share with you – including a trip to Peachtree Rock, sewing my first item of clothing and I tackled a very awkward skirt alteration that turned out fantastically – a fab weekend around!