The young lady came back from overseas just a couple of weeks ago with her two wonderful dogs. She is seven months pregnant. They are now settling in their new home.
I will give you a little of her story which I find quite moving. Back in Greece they had adopted Macey, a Springer cross, who is now eleven months old. Soon after that they saw a litter of beautiful little white Akita mix puppies, only a few weeks old, wandering in the middle of a road. They tracked down the owner whose attitude was that if they were run over then it would be one less problem for her.
The girl and her husband took all five puppies home and fed them for the next three weeks until they were ready to be homed. They managed to find good homes for them all apart from Raven, whom they chose to keep.
Because her two young dogs would need to be crated in order to fly them back to the UK, she had for two months acclimatised them to the crates they would be flown in. She did such a good job that apparently they were the most relaxed dogs the transport people had handled. They stepped out of their crates like nothing had happened.
The girl is also preparing her dogs for the baby. Already gates are up to accustom them to the restrictions they will necessarily have; From the start she has made sure the pups are very comfortable and happy being touched anywhere and gently pulled about.
They have spent a lot of loving effort training and socialising the two – in very much the same way as I would have advised. Consequently, they now have two adolescent dogs that are friendly and relaxed with people and amazingly chilled.
Unfortunately there two new problems she hadn’t anticipated.
Against a quieter backdrop now, any sounds or people passing outside are more noticeable to the dogs, and Macey in particular is having fits of barking.
What worries her most of all is that at times Macey barks during the night and she fears she will get complaints, even being forced to give up her beloved dogs. I can’t see that happening at all. I hope I convinced her that the barking is nowhere near that excessive and that by both limiting their access to ‘guard duty’ places and also by how she reacts when they do bark, the problem will be under control and Macey happier for it.
She has worked so hard in preparing them for their new life that it’s understandable she’s now feeling overwhelmed by coping with the new unforseen problems by herself.
The second issue is that walking the two dogs together is now impossible, due to the fact that at seven months pregnant she is unable to hang onto Raven who is a puller. Previously they didn’t spend much time on lead and are so used to freely playing with other dogs that when they see a dog they can become frantic with excitement to get to it.
The girl can’t walk them separately either. These two dogs have never been apart. Raven was already with Macey before his siblings had left and he goes into meltdown if she is out of sight. Human company is no substitute.
They have a dog walker who takes them for a good run with other dogs three times a week and sometimes days the lady walks with a friend, one dog each. Her husband works abroad so can only help when he’s home.
She is unduly worried that her dogs are suffering due to the lack of regular exercise but to me they show absolutely no signs of dogs that are lacking anything in their lives. When they can’t be walked the young lady gives them sensibly stimulating things to do and balls to chase.
She can now put her excellent dog skills into gradually getting Raven used to being away from Macey – in a very similar fashion to the two dogs I met a few days ago – Wilson and Cooper.
In principle she should pop one dog behind the gate or in her crate, pop the lead on the other dog and walk around the same room and then into next room – out of sight for one second before walking back in again – and then swapping over the dogs. I would introduce scattering food for the dog left behind when I got to the stage of walking out of the back door. When the absences become longer – and this could actually take weeks – I would leave the crated dog something like a bone. The act of chewing helps a dog to self-calm and will also help her to associate the departure of the other dog with good stuff.
Where the two dogs’ excitement at seeing another dog is concerned, she will be teaching them to focus on her early, before things get out of hand whilst making herself as exciting and rewarding as that other dog!
The young lady has a lot to cope with at the moment, but being one hundred percent dedicated to her gorgeous dogs she will be just as successful with the barking issue, with getting Raven to walk nicely and with both dogs showing some self-control when encountering another dog as she has with everything else she has done with them to date.