In the past, every now and then, I would get down on the floor and roughhouse with the dogs. With Bear and Josie I never feared that they knew we were playing. The worst it ever got was they were vocal. Lots of growling, but no aggression and absolutely no biting.
Given River’s unknown history, I hesitated to roughhouse with her. I had no idea if she knew how to do it safely. Watching her interact with Bear, I learned she probably hadn’t. She is very vocal when she plays, and gets a bit rough. So, I didn’t roughhouse. She would have to earn that.
A few weeks ago, I decided it was time. She had earned it. It didn’t last long. It ended the moment she nipped me really bad. The bruise took over a week to heal, and I still have a mark two weeks later.
She knew she had crossed a line. She went and spent time in her safe place and didn’t want to come out for a good long while.
The next day, everything was back to normal. Until I pulled out the Wobbler. River is a bit territorial about it, but Bear had learned to keep his distance. He would stand on the edges waiting to catch all the bits of food she missed.
This worked out great until the moment it didn’t. Seemingly without warning (but I’m sure there were signs), there was gnashing of teeth and a brawl broke out. Thankfully, a quick word from me and the two separated. But not without damage.
I hate to admit, but at first I didn’t notice the damage. So, thankfully, it is small. But this is Bear’s first major brawl, and it did leave a bit of a mark on him.
It has been about two weeks, and it is still healing. But his nose is definitely scarred from the encounter. It looks like he picked a fight with a cat, not another dog, so I guess that is good. I could have been much worse.
Needless to say, we are back to having kid gloves with River and teaching her boundaries. And for now, the Wobbler is a “when no one else is around” kinda toy.