When things get rough, don’t lose faith & keep working

I read this post just now and it made me think of a couple of things – skip to end for the message of hope!

I would definitely say 2 females has not been the easiest of rides but now that Grace has reached adulthood things seem to be easing up. The worst time was a year ago before Grace had her 2nd heat around 1 year old & we now understand that Nell was probably in minor pain. There was lots of challenging of Nell’s role and rights, down to borderline bullying from Grace…

It was hugely stressful & resulted in a constant threat of fights – and with 2 females things can get REALLY bad. 95% of time everything was great between them but the 5% (or even less) had the risk of situation escalating our out of hand in literally seconds. I’ve broken up a handful of fights indoors and prevented dozens by a split second reaction and constant vigilance.

Now… life is so much better and the ladies have agreed their boundaries, rules and roles. Grace has calmed down and Nell has matured to be come the peacekeeper who seems to realise her sister is a bit of a hot head  She proactively resolves situations by volunteering calming signals – I don’t know how she’s worked it out, but I am so proud of her for it because she used to be the bigger problem!

This success wasn’t overnight – it has taken 1.5 years of curating their relationship from the day Grace arrived. Teaching them to share toys, food and human attention; intervening in situations to protect one of the dogs so they know they don’t need to run the household (especially important for Nell to know we were on her side when Grace was at her worst), and creating positive interactions to build their bond – lots of play and fun walks. I’ve read a lot about dog emotions, body language, counterconditioning, desensitization, group dynamics etc. and learned so much from observing them.

The message? However hard it seems with your dog, don’t give up.  Human behaviour change is also difficult – learning good habits is hard, especially when you’re talking about teenagers who have a lot of hormones coursing through their bodies. (They can’t help it, we just have to help them weather the storm and teach them how to become sensible adults.) Whatever you and your dog are struggling with, don’t despair it takes time, effort and empathy to work through it.  ❤

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