The bouncy puppy, a twelve week Old English Sheepdog, is simply too much for their other dog, a little Poodle-Westie mix.
Both dogs individually are perfect for their relative ages and breeds. They are doing brilliantly with bouncy puppy Fergy and all the usual puppy things.
It’s when the two dogs are together that things aren’t going well for little Busby.
Before puppy Fergy arrived, Busby had an interference-free life. They took him everywhere. Now the ten-year-old has to put up with constant pestering from a bouncy puppy who just wants to play all the time.
When Fergy is playful or excited, his default response is to jump on Busby, to play. Busby has different ideas. Over the four weeks everything has built up and he’s now in a permanent state of stress He is growing increasingly intolerant of the bouncy puppy.
Growls and snaps
He growls, snarls and snaps at Fergy whenever he’s near enough.
So now Busby is on the defensive and Fergy is learning, from Busby, an undesirable way of behaving with other dogs.
Had they prevented Fergy from annoying Busby right from the start, they probably wouldn’t have much of a problem. The puppy now has a taste of freedom – more than he really needs – and he could object to losing some of it. It’s always a lot easier to nip things in the bud than to unlearn an established behaviour.
When the bouncy puppy moves in on Busby they should terminate it immediately, instead of leaving it for Busby himself to sort him out with growls and snaps.
Restricting the bouncy puppy
They now need to make his puppy leaping on Busby physically impossible, using management. They will make more use of Fergy’s small puppy pen and I suggest a stake-out cable in their large, open-plan kitchen. Thus Busby can relax out of his reach, and Fergy isn’t banished.
Fergy just wants to be a puppy and play. The best way to break it up is to have a positive approach (‘do this instead’). They already give him a toy. It needs more. I sent various ideas. For instance a rummage box of rubbish to get stuck into. This may make a bit of a mess but is quick to clear away and should give Busby a break whilst giving Fergy what he needs too.
They will teach the big puppy alternative behaviours that are incompatible with pestering Busby. Working on eye contact and ‘Come’, they will have the bouncy puppy on remote control. They will teach him to come away and ‘touch’ an outstretched hand, then direct him onto something else or either pen him or hook him up with a chew toy.
Reinforcement for Busby too
Despite the pestering, Busby doesn’t want to go somewhere else. He has been part of the family and that shouldn’t change. He doesn’t want to be left out and he still wants to keep an eye on the puppy.
They will reward and encourage the little dog when Fergy is near to him. It’s now got to the stage where he automatically goes into growling and snapping mode as soon as he sees him approaching. They will work on how he feels about Fergy by building up positive associations and protecting him from unwanted attention. They will do all they can to keep his stress levels as low as possible in order to help him to cope.
With some hard work for the next three or four months and I’m sure the dogs will become the best of friends.