The Puppy Has Now Arrived!

Coco is becoming a bit more used to the puppy behind his barrier

Coco

I do love the variety in my job. I wrote about Coco (left) four weeks ago and about preparing him for the arrival of their new puppy: http://www.dogidog.co.uk/?p=15370.

Coco is a ten-year-old Chocolate Labrador who really isn’t good with other dogs. They even had to abandon a camping holiday a while ago because of Coco’s behaviour towards other dogs on the site! They called me out so that they could not only prepare him in the best way possible for a puppy, but also to make sure they start their new puppy off right and that he, unlike Coco, is well socialised with dogs and people from the start.

They have a chart and are ticking off Charlie’s encounters as they build up. They have now had him for about 6 days and he has met about twelve different people, so they are doing well.

Chocolate Labrador Puppy Charlie

Charlie

After a scary start on introducing Charlie – I had hoped to be there but it didn’t work out – although he avoids him, Coco is becoming a bit more used to him behind his barrier. He no longer growls and hackles. Each time they feed Charlie they also feed Coco – one each side of the gate. They have actually done very well in just six days.

The gentleman is very anxious and I’m sure Coco will be picking up on this.  There is just a little danger that they are overdoing the ‘being nice to Coco’ so that they are on his case all the time.  They both need to chill!

With the couple sitting on the sofa and Coco on a loose lead, I went and fetched the puppy and popped a lead on him also. I walked Charlie about at an acceptable distance for Coco (watching him) and every time Coco looked at Charlie I threw him a treat which he happily ate, something he wouldn’t have done had he been particularly worried. If it looked at all like there was any stillness or staring, I got his attention by calling his name before throwing the treat.  At one point they were within a couple of feet of one another. We then called it a day. Little and often will progress things fastest.

I’m sure if the people can relax and play safe by keeping both dogs on lead or separate sides of the gate, it will be no time at all before they will be freely together – under supervision. Coco is too old now to appreciate being jumped on and climbed over. He was very close to their older dog that died a short while ago, so I’m sure he will also be fine with Charlie if he’s not pushed or over-fussed.

Will Chocolate Labrador Accept the New Puppy?

Chocolate Labrador is not good with other dogs and they are soon getting a new puppy Chocolate Labrador Coco is ten years old now, and they are getting a new Chocolate Labrador puppy in a few weeks’ time.

The owners readily admit they didn’t do enough to socialise him with other dogs and he barks frantically at them – GO AWAY! I don’t myself see him as aggressive at all. He is scared of them. He has had three incidents when an off lead dog has come too near but no blood has been drawn. He has acted with self-control by doing no more than was necessary to stop the dog’s unwelcome attention which I say is good, not bad. On each occasion he himself had been trapped on a lead held by a panicking human and the dog in question had been off lead on not under control (a much too common story).

Doing what they felt was best, in their ignorance they called in someone from a ‘Home Dog Training’ franchise. I can only speak from evidence of other dogs I have worked with that had been further damaged by this organisation’s bullying tactics. Poor Coco was set up with another dog to fail – deliberately pushed well out of his comfort zone and then she threw water bombs at him! This went on until he was quiet near the dog. He simply shut down.

As one might imagine, this has done nothing at all to make him feel better around other dogs, rather the opposite. I find it amazing that anyone could imagine that punishment can cure fear! It can be no more than a quick temporary fix. The poor gentleman followed this advice just once himself and felt so bad he never did it again thankfully.

Now they will be doing the very opposite – finding Coco’s comfort threshold and instead of pushing him over it and then bombing him with water, they will work on doing nice things like feeding and playing, the ultimate aim being for Coco to see that the presence of another dog brings good things, not bad.  As far as is possible he will now be kept at a distance where he feels comfortable, and this gap should gradually reduce in time as he learns to trust his owners.

Understandaby, they are worried about how Coco will react to the new puppy. They have a few weeks to get him used to a few changes at home before the puppy arrives. We looked at the logistics. When puppy comes I shall call again to help them over the transition and to start puppy off on the right foot.

Puppy Training: It’s Best to ‘Start Small’

Eight week old Chocolate Labrador puppy

Oscar

Sometimes my job just isn’t work at all!

Oscar is 8 weeks old – a gorgeous Chocolate Labrador puppy. He has been living with his family for just three days. I shall be helping them not only to start his life with them in the very best way possible, but also helping them as he grows bigger with walking nicely and training.

Getting things right from the outset is so much better than later having to remedy a situation that has got out of hand. Puppy training is about a lot more than learning tricks.

To start off we cover everything from the food he eats, where he sleeps, how to toilet train him, how to make sure he never develops separation problems, how to make sure he is confident and polite with visitors, get him used to wearing a collar and harness, to have a lead attached and walking beside them off lead initially. In this way he should be comfortable with the equipment when they are able to take him out in a couple of weeks’ time.

We ‘start small’ and work our way out. A puppy that is crated from the start quickly learns to love his ‘safe den’. It helps with the toilet training as he won’t mess his bed area unless he is really desparate. It gives him a peaceful hidey-hole when there are too many people about. He can be safely left in there when they go out. In a while he can be given the freedom of the ktichen for short periods. Puppies with too much freedom initially can end up toileting everywhere, stealing things from bedrooms and can generally feel insecure.

The family in their excitement with this glorious puppy may be using rather loud voices and clapping loudly to call him to them. I suggested they ‘start soft’. If they speak quietly and he will learn to listen. Reserve a loud clap for occasions when it’s important to get his attention to save him damaging something or himself. It’s the same with play – ‘start gentle’. Rough and tumble with huge humans can be scary to a sensitive little puppy.

My own Chocolate Labrador, Marmite, as a puppy

Marmite

There is one area Oscar’s humans need discipline – and that is with playing hand games. Teaching Oscar to chase and grab hands may be fun now, but it will hurt more as he gets bigger. He will move on to grabbing clothes. Right from the start he should find no mileage in biting hands or clothes – and I show them how to achieve this without scolding. They can collect loads of legitimate things he can chew – that he can put in his mouth instead of human flesh!

The one area of slight concern is his wariness of people coming in the house. It’s unusual for a puppy so young that has come from a normal home environment to be wary of people at this age. When someone comes in the front door he hangs back and may pee a little.  The ‘fear period’ in a puppy really starts at about fourteen weeks – the age when usually puppies start to feel cautious of things. Up until this time as many different people, friendly dogs and positive experiences as possible need to be introduced.

With Oscar, because of his slight wariness they will need to go carefully, watching for signs of unease so that they don’t push him out of his comfort zone. It’s important at this very formative time he doesn’t associate anything with bad stuff. It may be a delicate balance between exposing him to things and avoiding frightening him.

The picture on the left is my own beloved Chocolate Labrador, Marmite, now unfortunately dead from a heart condition. She came from the same area as Oscar but nine years ago, and to look at Oscar I believe they may well be related.