Yes yes, I am one of those freakish Dog-People who puts her fur kids first above all else. My dogs are not my whole life, but they truly do make my life whole and complete, not to sound completely cliche. After 14yrs of life with my Pomeranian-Schipperke, Osita, we made the family decision together to get a new dog friend. The first month with our new Sato (stray island mutt), Hennessy went beautifully smooth, way to smooth in fact. I should have known better.
I wanted life to be easy on all parties involved and had the best of intentions of instilling fairness on all levels within my two girls lives. I made my first mistake by assuming these two very different dogs would need exactly the same things. I so very badly wanted them to love each other like true sisters so I enforced the same rules and gave the same privileges to both Osita & Hennessy. I attempted to merge my two dogs lives into one without considering each of their individual needs. Looking back now I can see exactly what I did wrong. I made a mistake similar to a new mother who already has a teenager in the household, instilling sameness in areas that so obviously needed individual attention for each (fur)kid’s needs. I did not show respect for Osita’s 14 year old body needs and then further disrespected her by taking away almost every freedom and priviledge that she had been used to as I attempted to teach Henny about our household rules and train her. No more couches or beds, locked doors and fenced in gated areas, no more free roaming and coming back as she pleased, no freedom and less of Mama’s time. I inadvertently knocked Osita off her much deserved Alpha still wouldn’t eat and post and in doing so gave Henny the impression that she was Alpha over us all.
All of a sudden anything that Henny wanted she bullied into taking from us and would snap at me if I tried to discipline her at all. When Henny began showing signs of food aggression that became violent I realized we had to nip that in the butt immediately. When she attacked me in my sleep for rolling over and accidentally touching her while she had a treat in her mouth I realized what a severe problem we had on our hands. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.
We are working on establishing new ground rules every day but this one is the most important ever for her own safety and the safety of all others that visit our home. I learned a lot from watching a dog walker/handler that I stayed with back in San Fransisco handle her own, her clients, and my dog and things I watched her do and say was stored away in my memory banks. Back then I didn’t understand why she had set certain ground rules of hierarchy during feeding time but after being attacked by my own dog I understood immediately.
Hennessy is a rescued island sato, so her food aggression comes from fear and anxiety, not alpha dominance. We are working fast to establish consistent routines that make her feel safe and at the same time let’s her know who the Alpha in her family is.
Our new routine flows as followed:
– Exercise before mealtime to reduce hunter mentality
– I enjoy my breakfast first in front of the girls (I always felt so rude for doing this before but I respect the importance of it now)
– Osita eats her meal while Hennessy sits and waits patiently outside
– Hennessy eats last and she eats small portions at a time from my hand until she learns my hands near her food means rewards and love
I apologize for not making myself perfectly clear before you stepped paws into our household baby Henny girl. You will always get good consistent meals, you will never be touched forcefully, and you will Always get love. BUT…..I am Alpha, don’t forget it young lady. 💪🏾
Just as we nipped the food agression in the butt I began noticing a severe change in Osita’s mood and behavior. After 14 years of life together, I am just as in tune with her as she is with me and my moods. She stopped playing, wouldn’t react when I asked her to come or go for a walk, refused to eat, and got sick several times a day. I could literally feel my little girl wasting away by the day so we backtracked super fast. I began to watch everything super closely and pulled everything in her life out for individual review. She would bounce back to her regular spunky attitude as soon as she was out of the house alone with me and Henny was left behind. Osita is an incredibly sensative dog so at first I considered that maybe she was more than a little sad about the severe changes in her lifestyle. She would immediately regain her ultra dramatic depressed attitude when we returned to Henny and I still couldn’t get her to eat.
My next step was putting all her raw diet and old kibble food elements in separate bowls and watching to see what she selected. I was honestly shocked when given the option she kept selecting her dog kibbles over the meat, sweet potatoes, eggs and rice she had loved so much last month. Trust and have faith. I trusted that she knew what she needed and for the next week I proceeded to give her every option available and allowed her to essentially make up her own meals this way. I checked in with our vet and they assured me that backing off on Osita’s raw diet was the right move. Since she had never before in her life eaten a completely raw diet it was wrong of me to attempt to alter her what her body had been accustomed to. We have since found a balance of a little bit of everything and I swiftly noticed Osita’s energy levels increase.
Today I looked up from my crocheting to see both my girls enjoying their separate and completely different meals at their own separate paces and my heart exploded in happiness. As I was sitting there beaming with pride for my little ladies, Osita finished her entire meal and went over to Hennessy and began their usual post meal nuzzle & tussle routine. We did it! With far less effort than I had realized, all it truly took from me was consistency and patience, the girls both learned and relearned super fast. We have regained balance within our household and I am still learning lots everyday about how to handle Osita & Hennessey’s individual needs. I read lots of websites, books and got advice from vets and friends before we began the raw diet transition. There is so much to consider that we humans might not be aware of when it comes to our fur kids needs. I loved this article found online
I am still learning and I would love to know Anything & Everything that does and doesn’t work for other people’s dogs during the raw diet transition. It takes a tribe to raise a youngster and I appreciate the knowledge gained from others. Please comment below with any suggestions and advice that you may have.
If you live in the Oakland/Bay Area, have fur kids that you love dearly and want the best possible care for them, contact Claire who owns Ruffin’ Around and can be found on DogVacay. She has more than 10 years of experience, provides a wide range of Dog Services such as Dog Walking & Boarding, and can help with a lot of different types of behavioral patterns while your fur kids are in her care.