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Finders keepers

A client once told me that his dog was “well-behaved but not well-trained.

Rosalita is one of those dogs.


She may not know any tricks or be able to lie down on command, but she is so little trouble that her stubborn streak is more of a charming quirk than a behavior issue.

She doesn’t bark, jump, bite, chew, potty in the house, or beg for food. She walks great on a leash. When she encounters another dog or a boisterous human, she becomes a wallflower at the party, disappearing seamlessly into the background.

So how could Rosalita, an 11 year old old Chihuahua, be a problem? Well, there’s that stubborn streak for one. On a cold day, she digs her tiny paws in and refuses to go outside. Nope, she will hold it until Spring, thank you very much.

Most troubling, though, is a predilection to hoard.

Should the other resident dogs turn their backs for a moment on a Greenie or a biscuit, Rosalita slinks over and nabs it. She scuttles back to her bed and deposits her booty there, along with the rest of a growing collection of aging foodstuffs.

Finders keepers.

A human can take any of these tidbits away from her without consequences. But woe be to the dog that eyes her cache of goodies. The meek Chihuahua then becomes a snarling, spitting wolf.

To Rosalita, this makes the utmost sense. “Look” she seems to say “I may not be as big as you are, but I will NOT be considered a helpless runt, Buster! This a battle of brains not brawn. If its not tied down, its all mine!”

And so, in fairness to all the dogs in the family, Rosalita is fed separately. Everyone’s bowl is removed after 15 minutes – a period of time that allows the dogs to finish their meals but not to linger. Even treats and chew toys are distributed in separate areas of the house. To help Rosalita adjust to food as a resource that she doesn’t need to control, she sits and waits for food just like the other dogs do.

Since Rosalita is a rescue dog, we don’t know what caused her food guarding issues, or her stubborness for that matter. What we can do is manage her issues to help her – and the other resident dogs – live comfortably together.

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