Today's blog post comes to you from our new FURiend, Stuart Mills.
Frenemies! - A Truce in Tug!
I got my first dog eight years ago. Cooper. Ahh, what a blessing. I felt so deeply connected to my Frenchie, I decided to get another one after a few years. He was getting old and I thought a younger pup would make him lively again. Also, the only thing better than one pup is two pups, right?
Or so I thought.
To begin with, my older bull didn’t seem to welcome Richie, our pup. Every time they were in the same room, Cooper had a permanent snarl etched on his face. It was so evident that we never left the two alone for the first six months. By then, Cooper had warmed up to Richie, only enough to bear his presence without threatening him. And we thought that the worst was over with.
But then, Richie got brave. This started our daily intervention between these two enemies, one moving away while the other tried to play with him. It started off with slight nudges and barks and went on to bites on the tail, the legs, and the neck. We could see Cooper was holding back but would break any moment, so we stepped up our game.
Grabbing His Attention
Richie was young and wild, to say the least. So we started luring him away from Cooper. How? By inviting him to play tug.
His consistent grab and pull on Cooper was evidence of what he wanted and we took our cue. We got him a tug toy to play with and it worked. He’d give me the side-eye before approaching Cooper so I’d call him to play on my own. Smart, I know!
And just like that, he’d go rampant on that tug toy for an hour before calming down and going his way. Now every time he approached Cooper, it wasn’t as aggressive as before. Now, he just wanted C’s attention. But that took time still. It wasn’t until the two began playing with the tug toy together, that Cooper truly warmed up to Richie’s presence. With a toy to bite on, C- was no longer being bit, and he acknowledged the growth.
Focus on Commands
To ensure that Richie was truly calm before he approached Cooper or even played tug with me, I began using simple commands to grab his attention. Something as simple as a ‘sit’ or a ‘stay’ would be enough to grab his attention for a few moments. This interval of calm eventually set into his personality. As he grew, he started demanding my attention - not by going berserk but quite the opposite. He’d sit still and stare right into my soul.
Using Treats to Create Boundaries
When it comes to sleeping, both Cooper and Richie had their own beds. But these were only used during the day. When night fell and I slipped under the sheets, C would take his place at my bedside. Unfortunately, Richie wanted what Cooper had. And then began a different tug of war, one in which C- participated just as much.
But one thing was for sure, nobody was going to take Cooper’s place from him. I consulted a few friends who had previously taken care of multiple pets at the same time and that’s when it clicked - treats in bed.
Say what you will, but this was the only method that actually worked. I began placing the Farm to Pet Chicken Chip dog treats
exactly where I wanted Richie to settle down while I used some to lure Cooper onto my bedside. And just like that, the sleeping arrangement was sorted.
Enemies to Friends?
The change in their relationship was evident. Richie seemed to sense that Cooper needed someone to be calm and composed around him, and that’s exactly what he did. He’d take out all his wild aggression while playing tug with me to make up for it too.
Richie’s change wasn’t predictable at all. He didn’t require any long-term punishments, he just understood what was expected of him. Not just with Cooper but myself too, Richie slowly turned into my emotional support. I finally made it official two years ago, when I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. I sat through a few consultations with My ESA Doctor
and turned R- into my Emotional Support Animal (ESA).
Since then, Richie has helped Cooper as he ages. From his calm demeanor to his snuggly habits, the two seem to enjoy each other’s company a lot more now. So, coming back to the question - the only thing better than one pup is two pups, right?
Yes, no doubt. But it’s definitely not easy. Instead, it’s also a long and tiring process of creating familiar and balanced grounds between your dogs.
We took our own sweet time (a few years to be honest), but we were able to change enemies to friends.
Treat you handsome hounds next week!