Getting Used to the New Puppy

charliecocoJust twelve days ago I visited  10-year-old Chocolate Labrador Coco and new puppy Charlie . They knew things would be very difficult because Coco just doesn’t like other dogs full stop – they were expecting trouble. The initial introduction was a disaster but they have worked very hard since and here are the two dogs together.

The gentleman sent me this lovely photo today with these words:

“Coco is tolerating little Charlie much better than anticipated. He will sit with him now, he just doesn’t appreciate Charlie lunging into his face. Thank you Theo, we could not of done this without your help and recommendations…I am confident of that.”.

Coco looks reasonably relaxed but ‘tolerating’ is a good word to describe his body langage! I’m sure in another couple of weeks with owners who are careful we will see him angled more towards puppy Charlie and, as he gets used to puppy boisterousness he will actually invite interaction. I have asked for another photo when the time comes.

The Puppy Has Now Arrived!

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


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:

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


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.

Unpredictable Around Other Dogs

Molly is an excellent family dogbrindledMolly2Molly, a Staffie-German Shepherd mix age 6, came from Battersea as a puppy. She is a very good family dog, in an  environment with a lot of noise and stimulation, sparring between the men, and comings and goings in general.

She is inclined to be nervous, with noise and conflict stressing her in particular. She can’t tell the difference between play sparring and the real thing and she goes frantic, trying to break them up, whilst it causes them amusement. This mustn’t continue. She is also scared of certain people who come into the house and will bark at them quite scarily sometimes.

The main problem is that from a dog that used be fine with other dogs, she is now unpredictable and reactive. Some dogs she will hackle, growl, lunge and bark at, others she will ignore. She gets good days and she gets bad days. The reaction of her humans is inconsistent, with the men inclined to use force in the presence of other dogs. Walking is no longer a pleasure. She wants to pull, but this is prevented with constant correction and commands. I did suggest that as these methods of getting her to walk nicely have been used for six years now so they obviously don’t work!

Chilled dogs seldom are reactive to other dogs. There is a lot in Molly’s life at home that can be changed to make her more relaxed, not least her diet and the way she is fed. It is known that diet affects behaviour and Molly’s is fairly random. Lots of snacks, unhealthy stuff and sharing human food, along with low quality dog food. Too much protein can cause aggression and certain additives can cause hyperactivity. She has already been checked over by the vet – an essential first step to be as sure as possible that it’s not something physical causing the changes in her behaviour.

Today the excited family are picking up a puppy from the local rescue centre. Teddy is nearly eight weeks old and tiny – a mix between a Bichon Frise and something else. For his sake some consistent rules and boundaries need to be put in place, especially around food and Molly’s reactivity to certain callers to the house. The atmosphere surrounding the dogs at home needs to be much calmer. Molly will need a refuge from Teddy when he gets over-excited as puppies do, and for a while he will need to be kept safe from her – just in case. They have met briefly and all seemed to be fine but they will get a puppy pen to be on the safe side; the dogs can then be in the same room together and get to know one another in safety.

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog. Please just check the map and contact me.