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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tuesday's Training TIP: INTRODUCING YOUR PUPPY TO YOUR DOG AT HOME

Yesterday's post is an example of a good outcome when bringing a new puppy into the domain of your own dog.  The incident I described occurred five days after FLD Gus joined our family.  My dog, Gypsy, is a nine-year-old female mutt, set in her ways and a bit nervous of other dogs.  I was careful about how I introduced Gus to Gypsy; she needed the space to let Gus know who ruled the house, and Gus needed to understand how to respond.

This is how we did it.


FIRST INTRODUCTIONS ON NEUTRAL TERRITORY--OUTSIDE

When we got to our townhouse with FLD Gus, I immediately walked him on-leash to a grassy common area to "park."  Andy went inside and brought Gypsy out, also on-leash.  Gus instantly wanted to jump to Gypsy, but she only glanced away.  Andy and I kept them far enough apart so there was no contact.  I let Gus sniff around and follow after Gypsy.  Before we took them inside, I picked Gus up and held him so Gypsy could "check him out."


SEGREGATED AREAS INSIDE

An adjustable pen is an invaluable tool; both for housebreaking and for helping everyone in the household adjust.  (I need a break from the enthusiastic pup once in a while!)  The pen I use has six plastic panels that can be separated or folded up.  I cordon off a corner in our tile-floor kitchen by the door wall to the patio.  Inside this pen are Gus's small crate, various toys, his cushy bed, and stainless steel food dishes.  (Click on this link for information about this pen.)

Initially, I stayed in the kitchen with Gus when he was free in the pen so I could snatch him up to go "park" when I saw that he was thinking of relieving himself.  If I left the kitchen, Gus went into his crate.  This encouraged him to control his bladder, as puppies instinctively avoid messing in their "den."

After a day or so, I took three panels and sectioned off the opening from the kitchen to the living room, giving Gus run of the entire kitchen area.  I still stayed here with him, to continue monitoring his need to "park."  If I left the kitchen, I repositioned the panels into the smaller pen, but no longer restricted Gus to the crate.  He soon learned to "hold" him self in the pen area.

During these days, I kept Gypsy and Gus apart.


GRADUALLY LET THE PUPPY AND DOG INTERACT

Every evening, I allowed Gus to join us in the living room.  The first few times I kept the leash on him, dragging as a "handle" so I could control his movement and quickly grab him up if he looked like he was about to "park," or get too close to Gypsy.  Gus needed to find out Gypsy's "rules" on his own; the leash prevented a problem if he didn't back off when Gypsy warned him.  Luckily, Gus is a smart puppy and Gypsy got her message across:  "Leave me alone, bud!"

Now Gus comes into the living room in the evening off-leash, free to interact with Gypsy as she allows.  After his "stalking" incident, Gus is very cautious.  He won't go into Gypsy's bed when she's not in it; instead, he approaches it in much the same manner as he did when she warned him away!  Without her there, he gets close enough to sniff the corners, yet backs away if she rumbles from her perch on the couch.


LET THEM WORK IT OUT

Living in a townhouse without a large, fenced-in backyard has its limitations.  Andy and I take the two dogs out to our common area on leashes.  Gypsy runs and plays.  Gus chases after her--but not too close!  Gypsy keeps him on his toes.  It is amazing to me how well they communicate. Someone once told me, "Let your dogs work it out themselves.  Unless there is blood flying, I wouldn't worry about it!"

This interaction with Gypsy and a new puppy has happened with each of my three Leader Dogs for the Blind puppies.  Each time she adapts more quickly, and with less stress.  Just the other day, she even tried to play with Gus.  Of course, Gus wasn't too sure about that!

Here is FLD Mike's approach to Gypsy last fall--very much the same way as FLD Gus did the other day!  (Notice how Gypsy is glancing away:  "If I don't see him, he's not really there!")

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