Morning, everyone! I am really starting to enjoy this blogging thing. (And it helps that it’s Winter break and I have the time to do it!).
To be honest, I am a little hesitant to talk about this so early into the blogging game, but it’s been on my mind and I’m hoping that other people might have advice about how to handle this or have had similar experiences.
As I said in my last post, when we first got Zoe, she was incredibly submissive. When she would meet another dog, she would immediately throw herself onto her back.
She even allowed the cats to boss her around (or use her as furniture).
While Zoe remains extremely submissive around people, her behavior toward other dogs has changed as she has matured. Now, our biggest issue is that she is a resource guarder. If another dog comes near her while she has a prized object (be it food, a water bowl, a ball, etc.), she will growl/lunge at the other dog until it has backed off. She has never bitten a dog (and I do think she has had the opportunity), but it still worries me. Whether it’s just Zoe’s way of correcting another dog’s impolite behavior or not, I’m concerned that other people will buy into the aggressive pit bull stereotype after witnessing such a display.
This leads into what happened on Christmas.
K. and I were going to his parents’ house to celebrate the holiday, where there would be three sweet, submissive collies. Angelique and Margaux (the in-laws are Francophiles) are six years old, and Mark (not pictured here) is around the same age. They are much calmer than Zoe. They are also purebred dogs from an expensive breeder.
Zoe had been there last fourth of July, and was her regular happy-go-lucky self. She was a bit wild, but the weekend was largely without incident.
But I had a feeling that perhaps this time might be different because I’d seen Zoe becoming increasingly less tolerant around certain dogs. K. told me not to worry so much or to project negative feelings into the future, but I couldn’t help it. My usual nervousness about making a good impression when going to the in-laws was compounded by the fact that I was worried Zoe would misbehave and confirm any preconceived notions about pit bull type dogs. In the face of such anxiety (and let’s be honest, I’m anxious about a lot of things), I did what I always do: prepare prepare prepare.
When it comes to Zoe, the best means of preparation is exercise. Lots of it. When Christmas arrived, K. took Zoe on a brisk four mile walk. We then took her to my dad’s house, where she was exposed to a new environment and lots of people, which I thought would also tire her out. Then, when we finally reached the in-laws’ house, we had Zoe run around their 5 acre property for a solid half hour.
You would think she would be tired, right??
Let me count the number of things that went wrong during this short visit:
1. Zoe jumped on the counter and ate part of the dinner turkey. Obviously, this type of behavior is not tolerated at home, but for some reason, she thought she had license at grandma and grandpa’s house.
2. Zoe raced around inside the house like a total maniac, nearly knocking over K.’s grandparents on numerous occasions. Sometimes she gets so excited that she has no idea where she is going. I know this is going to happen when she gets this wide-eyed, crazed look, and starts throwing her entire body into things (and people).
3. When my father-in-law gave her a rawhide, Zoe lunged at one of the dogs that came near her prized possession. I had warned everyone not to give her treats while the other dogs were around, but this was forgotten in the hustle and bustle of the day.
4. After the rawhide incident, we cleared away the other toys so as to avoid another scene. But when Angelique came near K. and me for attention, Zoe lunged at her even more aggressively than she had with the rawhide. We don’t know if this happened because she was in guarding mode after the previous incident, or if she was being possessive over us, or both. Either way, it was super embarrassing.
After that, Zoe had to be confined in the laundry room. I felt like a horrible doggy mama.
As a result of being stressed out because she was away from us in an unfamiliar place, she chewed up K.’s step-mother’s sandal. I didn’t even have the courage to tell her. Sometime in the future, she’s just going to happen upon a severed sandal and curse Zoe.
So that was Christmas.
I know that I should be positive and say that at least no dogs were injured, and that Zoe never displays aggression toward other people. But as a daughter-in-law still trying to please K.’s parents, and as someone committed to changing people’s minds about pitties, it was still very embarrassing.
Has anyone else experienced resource guarding issues with their dogs? Does anyone have any ideas about how to handle this?