Being pulled down the road by two little dogs, one screaming and one barking in sympathy, is no joke.
Mollie and her sibling sister Maggie are absolutely adorable little Miniature Schnauzers, six months of age.
They have very few of the usual puppy problems that I go to. They don’t nip, they ask to go outside to toilet and they sleep peacefully when left alone at home – which isn’t ever for very long.
Although there can be disadvantages in bringing up siblings, a big plus is that they always have a playmate. They have a great outlet for their energy.
Maggie and Mollie have their own funny little ways! At night, when going out for the last time, they now go out separately. Unsurprisingly, if taken together they start to play and won’t come in!
The first dog to be left indoors cries and, though the other one comes in willingly, the second one out then won’t come back in! This is the same whichever order they go out in.
The couple can manage the ‘coming in’ while they work on good recall by using a Flexilead in the garden (the only good use for one of those).
Crying when parted is at the heart of what we will be dealing with. The couple will work on treating the two little girls as individuals so they can be happy to be apart for short periods of time.
Happy to be parted for short periods is key.
This is particularly necessary for walking them.
Little Maggie is screaming as soon as she’s out of the door, pulling madly as she goes. She’s barking and screaming at any dog or person she sees and Mollie, who is generally a lot more confident, then joins in the noise.
The lady and gentleman want enjoyable walks, not being pulled down the road by screaming, barking puppies! The pups are now six months old and things won’t improve unless done differently.
Walks for now should be with one dog at a time only. Treating them as individuals will also help to avoid any trouble between the two girls when they mature. Already Mollie is a bit controlling of Maggie and tends to redirect onto her when they are aroused by something like a person coming to the door. She may also object if Maggie is being fussed.
The couple are prepared to take this slowly, one tiny step at a time.
They will shut Mollie in the sitting room with a stuffed Kong for a few minutes, whilst working in the kitchen, bit by bit, at getting Maggie to love her harness (both dogs are wary of the harnesses being put on).
Then they will swap the dogs around, working on Mollie in the kitchen whilst Maggie has a Kong in the sitting room. The more times they can do this in a day the faster the dogs will get used to it. They will stick to working with the dogs in the same order so they know exactly what to expect and that they will get their turn.
Bit by bit they can work towards walking out of the back door and into the garden with a quiet puppy. The dog with the Kong alone in the sitting room should be more settled by now. No crying, whining or screaming.
If Maggie starts screaming in the garden they will bring her straight back in. While she is walking nicely, they will feed her.
When ready, the little dog will be taken in and out of the garden gate – Mollie will get to this stage well before Maggie I’m sure.
They can then stand still just outside the gate for a few minutes while each puppy can smell, hear and watch the outside world. Then come back in again. Any screaming will result in turning around straight away.
When this stage is achieved, the next step is to start walking further away from the house.
Will Maggie start screaming?
If she does, they need to take things back a step or two with her and take it even more gradually.
Getting to this stage where the dogs can be walked separately and quietly just outside the house, on loose leads one at a time, is a major milestone.
We will then work out what to do next in order to take things forward so that eventually both little dogs can enjoy a quiet walk down the road together on loose leads.
Fortunately they have a nice garden and get plenty of exercise. For outings, the couple may try popping them in the car, taking them somewhere open and letting them free on long lines. Any screaming and this will be abandoned.