Thursday, 3 December 2009

The trials part two - Food and toys

Jack and Ghyll will not share anything with each other - apart from a dog bed.

Ghyll has become possessive of any trophy he may have from chews to leaves out of the garden. This was the start of many problems that have now escalated into fights between the boys. Ghyll now gets his little trophies and scurries off into a corner with his back to the world. Any approach from Jack sees him snap and snarl...and this little tyke does not give in. When Ghyll is outside he does like to play ball but he is not obsessive and will share with other dogs - indeed he offers his ball to others. We use grass balls and can highly recommend them.

Jack insists that all toys are his and will take them from the other two dogs. If he has a tug he violently shakes it, bashing himself in the process as he swings it around. He will chase a ball in the house, bring it back to you and leave it without prompting. Outside he does not even acknowledge anything you may have to hand.

Meg plays occasionally with toys but not very often. She will touch any object with her nose or paw but she is far above running around and games of tug.

We currently have removed all active toys until the dogs excitement levels have dropped and they learn to respect each other.

I find this difficult as I used to enjoy setting time aside to play with the dogs but as last night proved they simply cannot play together at all for the moment. We had purchased a Dog Magic toy for hiding treats and allowing the dogs to use their nose to find the reward but this resulted in a fight last night - the worst one so far - and it will only be used when this aggression and frustration has gone. Jack's face is swollen and he has a gash along the bridge of his nose, Ghyll however came off much worse last night with a deep puncture wound at the base of one of his pads and a hole in his lip where he bit himself - he is limping badly today.

I was very distressed last night so fired a quick email off to Theo, the Dog Lady. Theo emailed me back within 15 minutes and 10 minutes later we were discussing matters on the telephone. Her words of wisdom, encouragement and reassurance brought me more comfort than I could have ever believed. Thank you Theo!

The dogs have no problem with food and eat together next to one another with no issues whatsoever. There is no bowl guarding and they do not approach each others bowls when they have finished. We feed our dogs on Burns dried dog food which is holistic, hypoallergenic and free from all things artificial. If we are doing high energy stuff, particularly our hikes in the Lake District during December, we also add brown rice or pasta and vegetables. We do insist the dogs show respect for our own personal space when we are weighing out their dinner and we now eat a little something (currently a tub of twiglets is on hand)  before the dogs have theirs.

The dogs rarely have treats but when they do we give them dried tripe stick. As titbits for training and scent games Dean gets the secateurs out and snips the sticks up into tiny pieces. We did used to give them calcium bones to gnaw and chew but with Ghyll's attitude these have been removed for now.

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