They have nine-year-old Bingley and puppy Bumble, 4 months. Both are Show Cocker Spaniels.
Are they going to have to make the heart-breaking decision to give up on the puppy?
Bingley rejects the puppy
I can’t describe the situation any better than the lady in her initial message to me:
“Eight weeks ago we added 8 week old Bumble. We knew this would be a very tricky process for Bingley. He reacted, as expected, with absolute rejection, anger and hate for the puppy.
If Bumble tries to make contact, Bingley will growl, bark and attack him. Eight weeks on and we feel hopeless about the future for our lovely puppy. Should we be selfless and rehome him? Somewhere he doesn’t have to be gated everywhere and be attacked when he just wants to befriend Bingley. So that a beloved Bingley isn’t put through this stressful and depressing situation.”
To give up the puppy?
They have been putting up the barriers and avoiding contact between the dogs. This is in response to hostile reactions from Bingley.
The older dog is constantly on the defensive should puppy come near him.
Initially they tried to push ahead a bit too fast with the integration (in my opinion).
Now they have a situation where the two dogs can only be freely together when Bumble is sleepy. They scolded him when he growled.
Allowing Bingley to relax around the puppy.
My first priority is to allow zero close contact that could make Bingley feel defensive. Over a couple of weeks he will then begin to relax. He will no longer think, each time he sees Bumble, ‘Oh heck here he comes again!’.
Now they can begin to make some real progress.
Meanwhile they will make full use of the barrier, gates and Bumble on lead. Close physical contact between the two must be impossible for now.
At the same time, in safe proximity all the good things will happen. Everything nice will be within sight of one another. With the barrier between them, both can have Kongs, meals and chews.
Teaching both Bumble and Bingley.
At present most of Bumble’s input around Bingley is negative. Bingley grumbles and aggresses. The couple may ‘uh-uh’ or ‘leave-it’.
They will now only use positive prompts only.
They will set up situations with Bumble behind the barrier or on lead and Bingley close by. They now need to work on both dogs.
Bingley is clicker trained so they can use a clicker for him. To avoid confusion, they will choose a different short, sharp sound for Bumble (a squeaker perhaps).
The man can work with the clicker and Bingley. The lady with Bumble and the squeaker. (She joked that trying to work with both dogs at once would make her like a one-man-band!).
If Bumble is on the brink of being annoying to Bingley, they can call Touch for a hand touch. This give him a positive instruction.
Capturing calm with a marker
Each time Bumble calmly looks at Bingley – squeak/food. Each time he goes towards him calmly – squeak food. Each time he sits down near him – squeak-food.
Each time Bingley looks at Bumble calmly – click/food. Each time Bumble is playing or excitable (he can’t get to him) and Bingley looks at him – squeak/food.
They will reinforce and reward every desired behaviour. If they place the food on the floor, this also reinforces looking away from the other dog.
I would be very surprised, if they are consistent, that all won’t soon be well between the two dogs.
They won’t have to give up the puppy.