Sometimes when I place a dog I find that the bond is stronger with one spouse than the other. This can lead to difficulties for everyone involved. The below was an extreme case, but the tips are simple and can be used with success by anyone.
My adult daughter had bugged me for years for a dog, preferably a relative of Val, the Silky she had had as a kid. When I decided to retire Hugo, Val’s last son, I immediately thought of her. The dog was perfect for Tyra and her husband – Hugo is a quiet boy with an iron bladder (which suited their busy schedule), but also happy and spunky as any Silky Terrier should be.
Tyra and Hugo hit it off immediately, but it was another matter for Moses. Hugo would back off and bark and bark and bark at him. Moses would get tired of the noise and yell at Hugo. Hugo would take the yelling as a direct challenge and…… you get the idea.
When I came to visit the place was like an armed camp. After watching events for a day, I sat down with Moses.
“Listen. No human ever wins a spitting contest with a dog.”
“Okay. Seems pretty silly when you say it like that.”
“Exactly. Now I’m telling you this. This dog is perfect for you guys, and I think if you and Hugo can learn how to live together you will really enjoy having him around. But you have to do as I say. All right?”
Moses sighed. “Okay.”
“When this is over, you’ll thank me.”
1. I told Tyra and Moses that from now on, Moses was to be the only one to feed Hugo. Including treats.
2. When Moses came in the room he was to ignore Hugo, but drop bits of goodies for him to eat.
3. When Moses sat down to watch TV or eat supper, he was to ignore Hugo but occasionally throw goodies on the floor for him. If and when Hugo came up to Moses for more, Moses was to give him a goodie and praise him.
4. Moses was to become Hugo’s regular dog walker. This was to include occasional swings by Burger King.
In other words, without challenging Hugo in any way, Moses was to let Hugo know that he was a prime resource for the good stuff.
Neither boy changed their attitude towards the other overnight. But slowly Hugo realized that “the big guy” wasn’t going to be worn down and besides those trips to Burger King were kinda cool. And Moses started to appreciate Hugo for his macho terrier spirit, especially now that it wasn’t constantly directed against him.
I was visiting several months later, and spoke to Moses.
“Do you thank me?”
Hugo looked up at me from his favorite spot, right next to Moses on the couch.
Moses laughed and scratched Hugo some more behind his ear.
“I like how Hugo watches the apartment and how clean he is – did I ever tell you that my ex’s dog was still peeing on the carpet when she was 8 years old? And Hugo gets me out of the house for good walks. Yeah – I guess he’s okay.”
That was good enough for me.
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