Raising A Creative Canine

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

Effective Home Management

Setting Dogs Up for Success No Comments »

The first thing I had to do was setup the house so that it would be easy to keep Austyn and Kayden separated but still be exposed minimally (and safely) to each other.  I put two crates up: one in the living room (upstairs) and one in our bedroom (downstairs). I want to be able to have the puppy with us when we are enjoying family time in the heavily trafficked living room as well as taking full advantage of exposing the two dogs at the most quietest time of the day: at bedtime.

The other piece was deciding where Austyn was going to be able to play with his toys and my other dogs in the house without being secluded. We have a huge backyard so the outdoor environment didn’t concern me. The indoor environment did. We live in a ranch style house but the rooms within are very small.

Austyn has two spaces where he plays: the kitchen, separated by a baby gate with smaller holes, which works extremely well since it is right off of the main dining room and the larger area downstairs where I also train the other dogs. The other thing that I like about the kitchen is that the door leads directly outside to help to improve Austyn’s housetraining abilities.

In the van, we have set Austyn’s crate up beside Lizzie-T’s, which is kitty corner from Kayden. So, again, Kayden is being exposed to the baby at an angle and not “head-to-head.”

Austyn-Roque Comes Home!

The First Day 1 Comment »

I don’t know why I chose to get a puppy now. God knows I have enough on my plate: between husband, three competitive obedience and agility dogs,  working full time as a veterinary technician, and teaching my Karen Pryor Clicker Training classes along with reactive dog classes and seminars, this is hardly the time for a beautiful Golden boy! But I just knew.

As I sat there watching all of the little Golden babies swarm around me, I knew that one of them was mine. (It was that same feeling that I had years ago when Ben had bloat. There were no obvious outward signs, just a feeling that something was terribly wrong. And even after bringing him to the emergency hospital, and being discharged with a clean bill of health, I still demanded that they keep him there overnight. And sure enough, in the early morning hours, the overnight doctor called to let me know that his stomach had twisted and that they were prepping him for surgery.)

So this was the same except that this situation was a happy one. I somehow knew that whichever little guy was chosen for us; he would be our teacher just as all of our other dogs have been. (The question always is: “Do I really have to learn THOSE lessons?” said by the girl who learned more from Ben than any other human or canine alike! See “Click to Calm:Healing the Aggressive Dog.”)

This litter was just so perfect! All of the puppies were not only gorgeous but all appeared so wonderfully stable. I have been around puppies long enough to know that when you find a stable puppy, grab him! They certainly do not come along every day. Shannon Gervais (www.zengoldens.com), our dear and close friend, is the breeder of these pups. It is she who molded them by exposing them to all kinds of stimuli to a degree that they could handle, and hence, profit from.

So today is the day that we are bringing Austyn home. His full name is Austyn-Roque. The name “Austyn” means “great or magnificent” and the name Roque (pronounced “Rock” and sometimes spelled “Roch”) is the patron saint of dogs.

“Saint Roch was born the son of a wealthy French nobleman. As a child and a young man, he had many advantages and privileges. Yet, as he grew, he saw the needs of the homeless, the poor, and the sick.

At age 20, he gave his fortune to the poor and renounced his nobility. Saint Roch then went on a pilgrimage to Rome where he spent his time caring for victims of a plague, curing and healing by the sign of the cross. The sign of the cross had personal meaning since a birthmark on his chest was in the form of a cross.

While ministering to the needs of the sick, Saint Roch became infected himself. It was his nature not to burden others and he stayed in a hovel. While he lay dying, a dog from a nearby villa found Saint Roch and brought a fresh roll from his master’s house each day. The dog’s owner noticed this strange behavior and his curiosity led him to Rochus. Touched by the sick man and his condition, the dog’s owner befriended him and Saint Roch recovered.

Back in France there was a civil war. Saint Roch left for home and the dog went with him. The turbulence of war led him to be accused to spying. Saint Roch refused to identify himself as royalty and was thrown in prison along with his dog. He spent time praying and helping fellow prisoners until he died five years later. At his death a document in his possession and the distinctive birthmark revealed his true identity.

After his death, numerous miracles, especially those related to the plague and infectious diseases, were attributed to Saint Roch. He was canonized 100 years after his death. Since then, intercessions on his behalf have helped paupers, princes, priests, and popes.”  Taken from: St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church site.


The rest of my pack:

Wylie-Rae is my five-year-old Papillon. He is one of my agility dogs. He is a great little guy and loves people and other dogs. Out in public, I have to watch him carefully because he will greet other dogs eagerly and doesn’t seem to care what size the other dog is. I am constantly aware that, being a small dog, he could be perceived by some as prey and could be snatched up in an instant!

Lizzie-Taylor is my four-year-old Golden Retriever that is a born workaholic! (Just like me!) Being named after two of Ben’s superb veterinarians, and two of my best friends, (not the movie star!) she is a dog that excels in obedience and agility. She is my “dream” dog earning two 199’s and two 198’s earning her first AKC obedience title.

Kayden-Blue is a three-year-old Golden Retriever and a reactive boy. He was abandoned in a collapsible crate on an elderly couple’s front lawn when he was approximately 7-8 weeks old. He weighed only nine pounds and had four different ailments: ear infection, urinary infection, puppy pyoderma, and intestinal worms. He seemed fine with people and dogs at the time, but once we got him home, I noticed some concerning behavioral issues.

The first week he came home, I took him into the kitchen to introduce him to some retrieval exercises. I threw the toy. He picked it up, turned and started running back toward me, but then sunk into a down and froze. No worries. I went to the refrigerator and took out some cheese to exchange with him. I offered it to him but he ignored me. His body was still frozen, rooted to the floor. A chill went up my spine! This is what you DON’T want to see in any dog, never mind a puppy! “Ok, this is great,” I thought. I went back to the fridge and got out some beef. I took a huge handful and placed it in front of his mouth and then made a trail towards the door of the kitchen. At that point, he did drop the toy to get the food, but he turned very quickly to grab it again. I was able to pick it up in time but from this day forward, he was in puppy re-hab!

In the weeks to come, I also discovered that he was food possessive as well and he was not good with other dogs. My assistants in reactive dog class told me that I was being paranoid, but I knew! I could see the signs…

Kayden’s Puppy Kindergarten:

In the first class during puppy playtime, he hid under the table. In the second class, he happily ran out into the middle of the room, and then when a group of other puppies surrounded him to play, he promptly attacked them! There was no bloodshed, only a lot of noise.

I am the owner of another reactive dog! Damn!!!!  Luckily, he is not as bad as Ben but reactive just the same. Getting him comfortable to live with a new puppy in the household is going to be a feat! (And, hence one of the reasons for this blog!)

Kayden is reactive with everything not just dogs: a lone person walking in a field, a trash bag blowing in the wind and anything weird and unfamiliar to him.

Targeting worked beautifully for this. I taught him at a very early age to “touch” anything that disturbed him. For example, we can be walking in a field and he spots a person in the distance. He reacts by barking and pulling on his leash. As the person comes closer, I can tell him to “Go Touch” and he will run up to them eagerly and go and touch their hand. Once the contact is made, he relaxes and enjoys the company. (Please note that Kayden was never a biter and actually has quite nice bite inhibition.)

So this is the challenge I face: raising Austyn-Roque to be a smart and successful competition dog of some kind (I let my dogs choose their sport) while teaching Kayden to accept the newest member of the family.