We recently added a new pup to our home and want to make sure we're on the right track. Are we handeling things correctly? Is there anything else we can do to make it better?
Dear Cindy (and Ed),
First of all, thank you so much for all of the information you have provided on your web page. I can't wait to order more of your articles and books.
I've read through a ton of articles and q&a's, but frankly our problem isn't to the extent of what others have written in with, but I guess I am more so concerned with prevention of future problems. We have a 3-year-old mini Australian shepherd female. We adopted her over a year ago because her first owner didn't want to deal with her anymore. From what we were told, we know she was taken from her litter at 4 weeks, and then not socialized as a puppy. This along with lack of training resulted in stranger (both people and dogs) defensive/aggressive behavior. We took her in knowing this and immediately started obedience training with a slip collar. Although I am horrified by what I read on your page about slip collars, she has improved wonderfully. Every once in a while we still have to give a firm correction about growling or barking, but she responds well to us. Recently we inherited a stray 4 month old German shepherd/australian shepherd male. We were worried about trying to keep him, but we figured we would give it a shot, and find him a new home if it didn't work out. We introduced them at a neutral site, and I've never seen the mini Aussie so excited to play with another dog. We kept them both on leash, but they played and wrestled and never showed any sign of a problem. We then proceeded to only let them together in the backyard, and they were still very playful and excited. They even got to the point of ignoring one another before we brought them inside together. But now while we are in the house, the mini Aussie growls and runs at the puppy every once in a while. It doesn't seem to be triggered by anything specific. She never imposes harm because we have been diligent about correcting her immediately. If she doesn't calm down, we remove her from the room until she does. She usually returns with no problem. However, the puppy is very afraid of her and now hides under the furniture whenever she is in the room. It has been almost a month, and we have to step in to correct the mini Aussie about once a day or every other day. Are we on the right track? Do we need to step up the corrections? Is there anything else we can do to make it better, or is it just going to take time? At this time, I hate to give the puppy up, but I would rather do it sooner when finding him a new home might be easier.
Thank you so much and I look forward to your response,
I wouldn't allow this to even be a possibility. As time goes on you are going to end up with fights, when the puppy gets older and finally says "enough bullying". The older dog needs to be shown that YOU make the choices about how the puppy is disciplined and the puppy needs to know you will protect him BEFORE he gets pushed around.
You need to take charge of the adult dog and let her know you don't tolerate this. If you wait until it already happens, you've missed the opportunity. Correcting dogs for anything after the fact doesn't teach them how to change their behavior. If you want to have both dogs in the house with you they should BOTH be on leash so you can control their movements.
The puppy needs protection while being integrated into your home properly. We use an exercise pen in our house when introducing pups to our established older dogs. If our puppies are not leashed with us in the house, they are in an expen or crate.