Raising A Creative Canine

The introduction of a new puppy into a reactive multi-dog household

Kayden and Austyn (Final)

A Chronological Summary Add comments

For those of you who are currently working on integrating a new puppy into a reactive dog household or for those of you who will be in the future, I wanted to write up a chronological summary so that you can see the steps I took and in what order. Some of this information was discussed in more detail in the previous two posts.  (Please review Kayden’s history. This description is in the entry called “Austyn-Roque Comes Home!”) Kayden is highly reactive to dogs and also exhibits possession aggression tendencies. If he gets frightened and panics, he will attack whatever or whoever is in front of him. He has never attacked a person but he certainly will go after any dog.

When Austyn came home, I was very adamant that both dogs be separated. No surprise meetings! I set Austyn up in the kitchen with his bed and all of his toys. For a couple of months, this was his central residence. I set up three crates: one in the living room, one in the bedroom, and one in the car. (The one in the bedroom and in the car were purposely set up next to Kayden’s crate. I wanted to see what Kayden’s reaction to this would be knowing that I could make whatever changes if necessary.)

I used the crates with the hopes that I could transfer Austyn from one to the other so that he could always still partake in whatever activity we were doing. Though I needed him safe, I never wanted him to feel separated from us.

Because of this situation at home, it was even more important that Austyn was physically and mentally stimulated. Please note that Austyn would not stay in the kitchen all of the time. I would take him out on a leash in our big yard while the rest of the dogs were playing and he would run around the rest of the house when Kayden was downstairs.

At feeding time, Austyn would stay in the kitchen while the rest of the dogs went downstairs and stationed in front of their crates awaiting their meals. For security, we would be sure that Kayden was put in his crate first with his meal, and then lastly, Austyn would be invited to come downstairs and “jump in” his crate to get his meal.

Austyn was also taught to station on his bed as Kayden was coming back into the house. No crowded doorways. See the final behavior at: Kayden and Austyn (Part 2)

BEGINNING INTERACTIONS

In the beginning, Kayden was afraid of Austyn when we brought him home. He would look at him but then keep as far away from him as possible. What was difficult is that though Austyn appeared to love Kayden all of his happy wiggling would send Kayden running into another room. Gradually Kayden’s curiosity won him over.

As Austyn’s body movements became more familiar through the baby gate, Kayden became more comfortable. He started to stay closer and closer to the baby gate.

The first baby gate had really small holes so that if Kayden would erupt, the puppy would not get hurt. This is the way that we left it for a while. As Kayden would hang out closer and closer to the gate, he seemed to get calmer and calmer. I liked this because Kayden could make his own decisions as to how close he wanted to come to the puppy. A couple of weeks later, I started training them together as a group. They would all sit and I would click and feed each one of them over the baby gate. (I knew that team training had to be implemented if they all were to become comrades. I remembered this from Ben’s training plan when attempting to incorporate him with the rest of the pack.) This is a video of Greg reinforcing them for sitting:

The next step was to put up a baby gate that had bigger holes so that the puppy would become more and more obvious but yet would still be protected. It was around this time that I would have Greg hold Austyn in his lap and I would put Kayden on a leash and would click and feed him for watching the puppy at a distance. Slowly we moved closer and closer. It wasn’t too long before Kayden was actually targeting Austyn but in a very structured manner. A video is posted in: Kayden and Austyn (Part 3).  Kayden was taught at a very early age to “Go Touch” those things that scared him for whatever reason. This is the same technique that we used here. If Kayden appeared to get over-excited, I would end the session while it was still successful. (Or Kayden would have already removed himself from the situation.)

Over time, I noticed that Kayden would try to play with Austyn underneath the baby gate. I would watch this closely. Austyn looked like he was trying to push the toys underneath the gate while Kayden would be reaching for them with his paws. I was cautious with this! Although I loved that they were actually interacting in a positive way with each other, I wanted to be sure that Kayden would not obsess about “winning” the toy. Around this time, I also noticed that Kayden started sleeping close to the gate. Austyn would be lying on one side with Kayden on the other.

Here is a video of Kayden and Austyn during one of their interactive sessions:

Slowly Kayden got more and more accustomed to having Austyn around in a controlled manner.

The next step was to see how Kayden would adjust to Austyn in the big yard. Greg and I went out and let all of the dogs run off leash in the yard. Austyn would run after Kayden but thankfully Kayden could always outrun the little guy. Kayden’s confidence started to grow! Little by little, they started playing more and more, as Kayden started to become more and more comfortable.

After many of these successful interactions, Greg and I put them both in the small yard. Yes! Both dogs continued to play as they had in the bigger yard. No breakdown of behavior seen! Here is a video taken from the first couple of sessions:

The hardest, and most trying test was to allow them to interact in the house. Our house is a decent size but none of the rooms are very large. Each room is small, and with the furniture in it, can become very confining. So Greg and I picked up all of the toys, put the other two dogs downstairs, took a deep breath and let both of the dogs roam around the main floor. Both dogs started playing immediately however we did not allow it to continue for a long period. After about 1-2 minutes, we called both of the dogs to us, had them sit, and gave each a training treat. Then we separated them for the rest of the night. We started doing this sporadically at first, and then as both dogs continued to enjoy each other’s company, I lengthened the duration of the play sessions.

Currently both dogs are continuing to get along very well, however I still have to monitor them. For example, Austyn can sometimes get overbearing. He will jump on the couch and then, as Kayden walks by, he will throw himself into a spin and land on Kayden’s back! “Too much” is the cue I use to tell Austyn (and Kayden) that they need to slow down. I have to be the one to monitor them both. I don’t want Kayden to think that he has to make these decisions. I will keep them both safe.

I am now working on allowing the dogs to have toys in the room. They will share bones and balls well however the stuffed toys are a different story. They will start to play tug, and then if Kayden wins the toy, he will take it and hide behind a piece of furniture, ready to go after any dog (or person) that will attempt to take it away. Because of Kayden’s intense weekly training schedule, so far I have been able to take the toy away from him without incident.  (Please see my next blog post about Kayden’s regression after my recent surgery.)

My next question is whether or not I should allow the dogs to have the toys in the room, and if so, how to prevent the above scenario from happening.  Stay tuned…!

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