Being a step mom to children can be challenging. Blending families is never easy, especially when you have lived as two separate families for so many years. There's always jealousy, fighting and the occasional screeching "you're not my Mother!"
When I married my second husband, I expected to have issues with the kids as we moved into his house. What I didn't anticipate was there would be problems with the dogs! I have a Maltese (Prince) and he has two large Labradors (Buddy and Oscar). I like little dogs and my husband likes big dogs. So Prince had to adjust not only to a new environment, but to having step-dog siblings as well. He was used to being an only child, so you can imagine the behavioral issues that arose.
Believe me, it was chaos and somewhere along the way, we lost control of the situation.
Suddenly, Buddy became very aggressive and would just growl at Prince. This led Prince to cower and then poop in the house. And if that wasn't bad enough, Oscar took to chewing our brand new leather sofa. The Brady Bunch we definitely weren't.
Bedtime was even worse. My husband and I decided that even though the dogs slept with us when we were single, three dogs in a bed was three too many. So we strategically set up their beds in different room and closed our bedroom door ... then the howling began!
If my kids were having adjustment issues, I would take them to a counselor, so I figured hiring a doggie therapist was the best thing to do.
And I was right.
The Bark Busters behavioral therapist came to our house where most of the issues were occurring. They worked with our whole family on our vocal commands (how we talked to the dogs) and our body language. We found out that our constant attempts to just scream "no" was ineffective! They gave us a plan of action and we followed it daily. It was relatively easy and more importantly it worked! Prince stopped pooping in the house, Oscar stopped his incessant chewing and Buddy stopped barking at Prince.
Peace was restored in our household.
My advice is this: don't wait too long and suffer before calling in a dog behavioral therapist. We were in way over our heads, and unfortunately most of our solutions were wrong. We could have saved a ton of headaches and stress if we had called in a dog trainer right from the start ... it would have made the adjustment easier for everyone.
Now if only I could get my children to respond to my vocal commands as well as my dogs!