Raising A Creative Canine

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


A Big Mistake! No Comments »

This Easter morning, I was up, rushing to get the dogs out before Greg and I went to church. Instead of carefully choosing who would go out with who, I let them all out together. (I had five minutes!) I figured I had put them out briefly before so surely nothing would happen in the small amount of time that they were out now.

Usually Austyn will stay close by but this morning he playfully romped around the yard trying to find a place to do his “business”. All was well up until this point.

Kayden and Austyn finished eliminating almost at the same time. Both dogs ran to me in triumph to receive Mom’s accolades. Mistake! I could feel Kayden stiffen, and in a moment’s flash, Kayden growled and charged at Austyn! Austyn, stunned by the suddenly violent behavior, screamed loudly as he clumsily ran back up onto the step. It broke my heart to see him so upset. Luckily Kayden had not done any damage but the point had been made.

As much as I didn’t want something like this to happen, I’m glad it did. It was a wake-up call. This was a situation that if one of my students told me they did, I would read them the riot act!!!

Just because a reactive dog hasn’t had a problem in awhile, it doesn’t mean that all situations will be safe. I foolishly was lax. Dope!!!!

I have to always remember that I need to not only protect Austyn from Kayden but that I also have to protect Kayden from himself and his own tendencies.

Beginning to Work!

Puppy Agility Class No Comments »

Tonight was Austyn’s first puppy agility class! Greg, my husband, is taking him since I still cannot train my dogs because of my surgery last week.

We had a ball! Shannon, the puppy’s wonderful breeder, is taking the class with Khouri, Austyn’s sister. Both puppies learned how to run on each side (left and right) with their handler as well as confidently going through the tire and tunnel. They are also learning to ignore the other puppies in the room, even in the case of highly distracting puppy siblings! Both Goldens were focused intently on their person even at the age of 13 weeks! (Love the work ethic!)

The one thing here that I wanted to mention is that one must always be aware of one’s surroundings, no matter where you are, even in a well-run classroom setting.
Agility work begins
There was a young girl there with a dog that was reactive. Now, please know that my heart has a place for reactive dogs (heck I own yet another one!) however it made me cringe watching the two interact. He would growl as dogs came close to him and she would grab him by the muzzle and hold on tightly. Now I know what the intent was, but I wanted to take her aside and explain that what she was doing was only making the behavior worse. This is where I have to watch my step. My “behavior hat” cannot always be on, especially when someone else is teaching the class. This girl wasn’t even in our class. She had taken the class before ours.

A couple of times that Greg was going to send Austyn through the tunnel, I told him to wait because the girl (and her dog) had migrated from one end of the room to the other. They were standing very close to where the opening of the tunnel was. All I could picture is Austyn seeing the dog, and innocently running over to him to be corrected, or worse, bitten! People would think that I am being paranoid however I have counseled many families whose puppies have been through such a scenario only to be aggressive with dogs in the future.

We must always protect our dogs no matter where we are. When Austyn is older, I will teach him a handful of Emergency Foundation behaviors that I can use to diffuse, and protect him, from a potentially dangerous situation.

Reactive Dog Update

Kayden/Austyn Interaction No Comments »

Kayden has been dealing with the puppy’s arrival quite well. Kayden is exposed to Austyn from behind the baby gate and when I carry Austyn from room to room. So far Kayden has remained somewhat calm as the transitions are being made. If Kayden should start to get over-stimulated, I quietly tell him to “Back up” and he does so. Kayden has already been taught this behavior.

The one scenario where I have to refresh the cue is when I am putting the puppy in his crate. Kayden has a habit of pushing past the other dogs to see what I am doing. When I verbally tell him to “Back Up” in these situations, he does move away but only for a few steps. He still wants to have his head right there. This behavior will have to be retaught in this situation.

Some experimental exercises I have done with them both:

One was to take them both out into the yard (we have a huge yard) and I would click and feed “anything and everything” that Kayden did that was appropriate with the puppy. So he would run around us and then decide when to come in for clicks and treats. The nice thing about this is that, because the yard is so big, he gets up speed and then comes in smoothly for a sit. The sit is his default behavior and I love that he chose to do it in this scenario. This exercise helps him go from crazily running around to coming and sitting calmly with Mom and the puppy. (only to happily run off again!)

The other exercise was to insert Austyn into his favorite game in the world, “Two Ball.” I throw a tennis ball in one direction, he retrieves it, and then I ask him to drop it. Once he drops it, I throw the other tennis ball in the opposite direction. And so it goes. I inserted Austyn into this game by helping me get Kayden’s “off” ball. Austyn is with me on a leash and I switch between having him walk with me and by me carryng him. By watching Austyn become part of his favorite game, Kayden did very well.

Please note that the two games played above are set up taking Kayden’s issues into account. I know that, first and foremost, it would be highly unlikely that Kayden would actually bite the puppy (if this was the case I would have never added a new puppy to the household as I had not with Ben) and I also know that Kayden, as long as he has enough room, will not come in and confront the puppy.

Although both dogs seem to be enjoying each others company in this limited way, I want to go slow. It is so easy to think that all is fine and that nothing is going to happen. And if something does happen, it can take literally years to repair if not at all.