I have always had dogs and I understand the hierarchy of the pack so I understand their constant need to affirm their spot in the pecking order. In their world my oldest, Micki a 13 year old mix is the queen, followed by the 8 year old Puggle so they are basically fighting for spot number three.
And, as most young men will do, they fight. It starts with a little snarl here, raised fur there, strutting, posturing, bumping and then sometimes full out attacks.
When this first started happening you can imagine how upset I was. Full out battles, showing teeth, biting, pinning, taking chunks of fur and flesh – it was a horrific scene. I would first make sure the girls were out of the way then try to get the boys to stop.
I would yell, spray with a hose, do anything I could to try to stop the fight. That hose thing – yeah, doesn’t work. I just ended up with two beaten up, thoroughly wet dogs and a really muddy yard. I would try and try and it would just go on and on.
After the long, drawn out bloody battle was over they would sit together and gently lick each other’s wounds. Boys.
One day they started in my office. I was in the middle of a resume and extremely focused so the distraction and randomness of stupid testosterone really just ticked me off. I got up, opened my office door all the way, the boys made their way out and I shut the door.
Then a funny thing happened. They stopped. I hadn’t taken two steps from the door and all was quiet. At first I thought maybe one was in a choke hold, but when I opened the door there they sat, looking up at me perplexed why they were locked out of my office.
The next time it happened we were in the kitchen. I told the girls to get back, opened the back door, out they went into the backyard and I shut the door. Not two minutes later there sat two boys at the backdoor pretty as a picture ready to come back in and join the family.
After all the stress they caused all I had to do was ignore it? That’s it? I should have known. The more I ignored the more infrequent it became. When any posturing would start I would just say, in the mom voice, “boys do you want to go out by yourselves?” and they would stop.
Apparently it isn’t as much fun if there is no attention.
Too often we give attention to that which upsets us the most. This only fuels it and makes it worse. Any attention is too much attention.
We need to learn to open the door, let it out, shut that door and get back to what we want to focus on.
We can’t always stop the irritations, frustrations and minor inconveniences; but we can control how we react to them. Sometimes the best thing is to recognize the signs then open the door to let it go.
You cannot control other people’s (or dogs) actions but you sure can control how you respond. Giving them attention was actually rewarding that behavior. Ignoring it lessened the impact.
Stop rewarding bad behavior. Start defining what you will and will not tolerate. I love my dogs and could not imagine my home without either one; however, I will not tolerate aggressive or bad behavior.
Someone once suggested I might need to find a new home for one of them and the thought is unimaginable. They are my dogs, this is their forever home and you don’t throw out a good thing for a bad behavior. You learn to work with it, compromise, tolerate or sometimes just ignore until you find that happy medium.
Once you learn how to stop the bad behavior it is important to remember the good – recognize, reward and appreciate. When they sit or snuggle together I always make a point of telling them how good they are, pet and love on them both at the same time affirming that they each have a spot in the pack, no matter what their number.
They are rewarded for playing nice and I am rewarded with two loving pups who serve as protectors, brothers and faithful friends.
Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.