Ella lives with eight-year-old Black Labrador Kizzy, and niether of them are too impressed with the three eleven-week-old puppies, who, when not penned, are doing what puppies do multiplied by three. Kizzy is more stoic; Ella seems slightly scared – afraid of doing something wrong and so she keeps out of their way. She is currently somewhat withdrawn, only coming alive when out on walks – away from the pups.
This is going to be an ongoing job for me – and a very enjoyable one. I myself have five dogs but have only integrated new puppies one at a time. I am very aware of how, the more dogs you have, the tighter boundaries and manners need to be, and how too much excitement can redirect into trouble between the dogs.
The couple are beginning to realise the challenge they have taken on – they were going to keep two puppies but the third has a deformed leg so they are keeping her as well. They want to pre-empt as many problems as possible and have my ongoing support. Our initial plan is very mindful of not only what puppies of this age need, but also looking ahead. There are lots of questions with the future in mind. What should the physical boundaries be? One can imagine three puppies persuing two older dogs around the house and flying all over the chairs if not restricted! Where will they all eat and how will it be handled? Where will they all sleep when bigger? What will happen when someone comes to the door? How will they cope with walks? How to get each puppy used to being separated from the others without those left behind creating! How to know the right moment to intervene when play gets out of hand. How to keep some continuity for the two big dogs whilst also integrating the puppies.
It is one thing integrating one puppy into a ‘pack’ at a time – but quite a different matter three puppies! Whilst we are pre-empting as much as possible, there are sure to be a lot of unforseen things to field as they crop up!
I know just how exasperating one puppy can be sometimes, so they will need a huge amount of patience.