Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Journey to a Holistic Mindset, Part 3

Start with Part 1 here


Not-so-fun Fact:  The incontinence medication, Proin, that I have been faithfully feeding Maggie for 3 years is nothing other than Dexatrim.  The active ingredient in Proin, Phenylpropanolamine (PPA), is the same active ingredient as Dexatrim.  Awesome.  I have been giving my baby diet pills her entire life.  How f***ed is that?!?!  Not to mention that PPA has been banned in the US due to its tendency to cause stroke in people.  Double f****ed!!  Now that I know what this drug really is, I have to wonder - could some of her behavior problems be related to being on a "speedy" drug for the past 3 years? 

Part of me felt betrayed that my vet never bothered to discuss side effects or the history of the drug with me.  The other part of me felt guilty that I never asked.  To be clear, Proin is not known to cause stroke in dogs.  It is known to cause restlessness, irritability, elevated heart rate, seizures and coma.  When I learned this, I began to think that perhaps, just maybe, Proin could be one factor in a kaleidoscope of factors contributing to her itchies, or general discomfort, as well as the behavior problems.  Not to mention that Maggie has never gained those few pounds that most dogs do as they transition from puppy to adult (guess those diet pills are working!).

Determined not to keep her on Proin, I had been spending time researching herbal and homeopathic remedies to incontinence.  During this time, we started seeing her eating her own poo and having digestive issues.  Worried that changing too much at once would lead to further issues or at the very least, leave unclear what remedy was helping what issue, I decided to post-pone the transition to an herbal incontinence solution until we had these digestive issues under control.

 Until now.  I give Maggie her Proin in her food.  The other night, Hurley got into her bowl as I was putting them down.  I noticed he got a few pieces of kibble before I pulled him back and redirected him to his own bowl.  And I thought nothing of it.  Fast forward 2 hours.  I start noticing that my little puppy was having difficulties getting comfortable.  He lays down, whines and moves.   Again and again and again.  Something is not right.  I rack my brain – did he eat the mushrooms that grow in our yard (I’ve been trying to keep those pulled as soon as they come up so he won’t get at them) or could it be that the newspaper he ate in his kennel is blocking his digestive tract??  Finally, I remember dinner-time and holy crap, he might have eaten Maggie’s Proin!  

The hubbie and I immediately googled a Proin overdose and called the local vet hospital here in Portland.  Thank god for Dove Lewis!  Their vet tech talked through his symptoms with me, checked with the doctor on dosage (he only had 25 mg, half a tablet).  I was told that this was on the high end of a dosage for his age and size but that it was still within an acceptable range.  Meanwhile, Hurley was obviously miserable.  My poor baby!  It was one long night of keeping an eye on him to make sure he didn’t have a seizure and that his heart rate was not so elevated that we needed to take him to the hospital.  Lucky for us, he was fine by the next morning. 

Never again will any of my dogs be given Proin.  The next day I started Maggie on Animal Apawthecary's Tinkle Tonic.  So far so good but I'm sure we'll need to play with dosage levels and maybe turn to a different product/solution if this doesn't work out.  It's only been a few days.  I've got a laundry list of herbs and products to try - from cornsilk to cranberry powder to Homeopet's Leaks No More.  What I have learned in my research is that herbal remedies can have different levels of efficacy on individual dogs.  It may take us a while to find the solution or combination of solutions that work but we will persevere!  And even if no herbal remedies work as well as Proin at controlling her incontinence, oh well.  So I have to do a little extra laundry.  Whoop-de-doo.

Never again will I accept a prescription without both doing my research and exploring natural remedies as an alternative to a daily pill.  Never again, will I take a vet’s recommendation without question.

Never again will I fail to connect dots – it still amazes me that my vet never considered the totality of Maggie’s various issues and treated her wholely – holistically!  Perhaps it’s because I was already pre-disposed towards exploring natural remedies and have a distrust of big companies, like dog food manufacturers and pharmaceuticals, which led me to question what I was being told and half of what I saw online.

I still don’t know if Maggie’s behavioral issues will improve as a result of being on a better diet and off Proin.  We have seen improvements in the last year but those could be attributed to our positive reinforcement training as well as better nutrition.  What I do know is that I believe wholeheartedly in stepping back from an individual symptom and considering the entire picture – behavior, nutrition, chronic health issues, environment, and genetics.  I believe in under-taking the many times arduous process of addressing a root cause, rather than just treating the symptom.   And I believe that nature knows best but that science has its place in my arsenal as well.   I will continue to see my regular vet for annual checkups and vaccinations but I will seek a second opinion from a holistic vet if any chronic illnesses rear their ugly heads – which may be sooner rather than later if the herbal remedies I know of do not work on Maggie’s incontinence. 

While I have certainly made mistakes with Maggie, most of which are me not being as informed of a doggie mom as I should have been, I am forever grateful to her for leading me down this road.  Not only she but Sadie, Hurley and the many, many dogs we will have in our lifetime will benefit from what I have learned and my commitment to continue learning and exploring. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Journey to a Holistic Mindset, Part 2


As I began to question the advice my vet was giving and started researching causes for Maggie’s itchiness, I quickly realized that issue #1 was her food.  At this point in time, my primary concern was finding and addressing the cause of her allergies.  We were well on our way to re-training her leash aggressiveness through positive reinforcement and I still had not connected any dots in terms of her Proin medication being a factor in any of these issues.

It took one google search to convince me that Iams was an awful choice for food.  It still disturbs me that my vet praised me for our food choice; it’s one thing to not criticize your patient’s decisions in nutrition, but it’s another thing to whole-heartedly cheer them on.   I immediately began my search for a better food.  The first decision I made was to remove corn, wheat and un-identified protein sources from the ingredient panel as well as go with a highly respected kibble.   I tried Wellness first, which greatly improved her coat health and vitality.  But it didn’t make the itchies go away.  With this small improvement, I knew I was on the right track.  Our next food was Solid Gold and within a few days, Maggie’s itchiness became non-existent.  

During the food trials I was under-taking, I also continued my research on nutrition.   My opinions are based on what I’ve read online, a few dog nutrition books I’ve read as well as just what makes sense to me.  The basis for my philosophy is this:  I cannot believe feeding the same food day in and out can be good for our dogs, especially when that food comes in a highly-processed format such as kibble.  I was however stuck in a bind – having found a food that eliminated Maggie’s itchies, I hesitated to experiment and cause it to come back.   At the same time, my husband and I were strict on not feeding the dogs “people” food so no begging would be encouraged.  The more and more I read, the more I started to believe this distinction between “people” and “dog” food was preposterous.  I wanted to proceed cautiously though.  I began to feed one home-cooked meal per week – Meat Sundays.    I started giving vegetables as treats and not worrying if they got a little of our leftovers, so long as those leftovers were healthy and did not include any ingredients known to harm dogs.  

With the new business, I have to admit that I haven’t been consistent with the one home-cooked meal per week though they still do get a little leftover baked chicken or veggies on a regular basis.  I have since tried to switch up their kibble from Solid Gold to another brand I carry in the store.  Towards the end of the bag, I started noticing Maggie getting itchy again so back to Solid Gold we went.  I’m just not comfortable giving her variety through various kibbles at this point.

Through the process of educating myself on commercial dog food and what can be so awful about it, I also began to connect the dots between behavior and physical health and nutrition.  I began to let go of feelings of guilt over any responsibility in Maggie’s bad behavior and start to consider that a change in her food may help with those behavior problems.  At the same time, I was also reading up more on her incontinence medication, Proin, and started to have some misgivings as to whether it was doing her more harm than good…

To be continued

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Journey to a Holistic Mindset, Part 1

I used to be one of those people who trusted every word that came out of their vet’s mouth.  Iams is the best food I can be feeding?  Great!  I need this pill for my 1 year old incontinent puppy?  Where’s the prescription!   I trusted that the advice I was given was coming from the mouth of experts and who was I to question an expert?

Our Maggie started developing chronic UTI’s at the young age of 8 months.  After months of antibiotics, tests and finally surgery, we solved the chronic infection problem but were left with a 1 ½ year old puppy with incontinence.  Our vet prescribed Proin and for the past 3 years, Maggie has received a pill a day.

Proin worked great for solving the incontinence problem.  

The next fall, we started noticing that Maggie was itching a lot.  Luckily her annual appointment her is each fall so at her check-up, I asked our vet about the itchiness.  Sounds like seasonal allergies is what she told us and advised us to give her a half-Benadryl when it was bad as well as give her regular baths.
The baths have helped but didn’t solve the problem.  I was hesitant about adding yet another pill to her daily intake so I just didn’t give her Benadryl unless it was particularly bad.  Her “allergies” slowly and slowly progressed to the point where she was itchy all the time.  You touched Maggie, she scratched herself.  It seemed the only time she wasn’t scratching was when she was asleep.  
 
In this same time period, we started having issues with Maggie’s behavior.  She attacked one small dog one summer; the next it was two.  Leash aggression started to become a real problem – so much so that we stopped walking Sadie and Maggie at the same time so that we could both manage Maggie’s reactiveness effectively and also so that Sadie wouldn’t learn this new behavior.  At the time, I blamed myself for the behavior issues.  You see, when Maggie started having the UTI’s I kept her away from the dog park and socialization with other dogs as I didn’t want her to be exposed to other illnesses while she was fighting an infection that just wouldn’t go away.  I thought her subsequent bad behavior was my fault because I had ceased making sure she was well-socialized during those critical adolescent months even though I had thought it best health-wise.

Meanwhile, at each vet visit, I received praise for feeding them well (Iams) and was reassured that the increasing itchiness was definitely seasonal, not related to food, and that it was common to get worse as dogs aged.  Someday we may have to look into prescriptions or steroid shots, if it got to that point.  Behavior-wise, we were doing the right things.  And I never thought to ask if any of this may be related to the medication she was taking.

At around year three, I started connecting the dots.  Incontinence, allergies, behavior.  Didn’t it make sense that these issues were inter-related?  As Maggie’s itchiness and discomfort increased, so did my uneasiness with our vet’s diagnosis.  The issue transcended seasons; it just didn’t make sense.  And so began my journey into finding a solution, with or without the help of my vet.  I was not going to accept additional medications to ease symptoms without examining what might be the root cause.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Preventing Dog Bites

This week was National Dog Bite Prevention Week, a topic that is dear to my heart - four years ago, we adopted Sadie, who soon began exhibiting fear-aggression.  From day one, it was paramount that we prevent the possibility of any dog bites, in addition to working on training and socialization to rehabilitate her.


This happy girl was once not so happy and confident!
Sadie's fear aggression was not the worst case nor was it the mildest - she never has bitten anyone since we've had her (though I have no idea her history before we adopted her at 1 1/2 years old).  But from day one, she showed a tendency to snap at people when she was scared, which was all the time, with everyone (except me - she's even snapped at the hubbie a few times).  I do believe the only reason why a bite never occurred is due to our management of her when she was in situations that we knew caused her anxiety and fear. 

Most advice out there on dog bites comes from the perspective of how to prevent yourself from being bit.  Not much is covered on how to manage your dog if you worry that the worst may happen.  From experience, I know that bite prevention management is possible.  We did it - without a muzzle, without a trainer (though had she bit, I think we would have gone the next step to seek professional help).

The first and foremost rule is to never allow anyone to pet your dog while out of the house.  When you have a dog who is fearful of people, it is important to only allow people to touch her that she knows, that she is comfortable with and to allow her to get comfortable with those people in her own time and way.  I have lost count of the times that I have told people "Sorry but my dog isn't always comfortable with new people".  You don't have to say she's fearful or that she's aggressive but you do need to say no.  Four years later, I am confident that Sadie is at the point where she will not snap - the reason for this confidence is because I see her tail wagging happily when we pass people on a walk (we've shown her people = affection + treats).  But do I let strangers pet her?  No.  It's simply better to be safe than sorry, no matter how confident I am that she is mostly rehabilitated.

The second rule we instituted to prevent any bites from happening is how we ask people to interact with her when they come to the house.  If you are new to our house, we ask that you refrain from petting Sadie for the first 5 minutes.  We ask that you treat her as you would a skittish horse (this is the best and most effective analogy that we've ever come up with to make people understand her needs when meeting new people).  The #1 rule is to go slow.  Let her sniff you out (I tell people she is just making sure you're not a serial killer come to do us harm, which generally gets a laugh).  And when she has finished sniffing and the 5 minutes have passed, you can pet her but please pet her on her side versus her head (touching a dog's head signals dominance and fearful dogs especially can have a problem with this type of petting from someone they don't know).  After four years of requiring this type of interaction when Sadie meets new people, she is now a confident and happy dog that engages with our visitors and seeks their attention.  I do still ask people to meet her in this manner.  Why?  Because it's on her terms and when something that made her fearful in the past is introduced to her on the terms that she is most comfortable with, I'm setting her up for a successful interaction.

Rule #3?  Stay away from crowds.   A large group of new people can still make Sadie uncomfortable to this day.  So I keep her away from any outside gathering of people where she may have a negative reaction.  Yes, this means she can't go to the concert in the park with us but she is a happier dog for it. 

The bottom line?  I had to put my selfish notions of what type of dog I wanted aside and embrace her for the dog she was/is, while at the same time managing her behavior and working on training and socialization to help her realize her doggie potential.  This meant for us that we don't go to campgrounds (mostly now because she will bark and disturb others but at one point, we were concerned about controlling her interactions with the children that run around those campgrounds, often unsupervised), it means we don't take her to crowded events.   Each time we do something new, we set her up for success rather than pushing her too far.

I am happy to say that I can't even remember the last time Sadie snapped at anyone.  One year? Two?  While she still runs and barks at people who come over, she is excited to see them rather than scared.  I have redefined her from fearful to sometimes shy and sensitive.  We have taught her that being by our side is the best place to be when she's just not sure of the situation.  It was a long road but ultimately a successful one and I believe the main reason for its success was that we stuck to these rules, no matter how far we think she has improved.  Because once they bite, it's a whole different story.  Especially when you're talking about a pitbull mix. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Problem with Puppies

The problem with puppies is that they grow up too fast!  This morning, I woke up to a Hurley that, I swear, is twice as big as he was yesterday.  In a month, he will be too big to pick up and cuddle.  :(

Week 1 Hurley:  Hardly bigger than his toys at 8 weeks
Week 2 Hurley:  Finally getting to share bed privileges
Week 3 Hurley:  Learning to sit at 10 weeks
Week 4 Hurley:  Zonked

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sarah's Rules of Order

Having three dogs in the family equals a chaotic household 99.8% of the time.  In order to maintain calm amidst the chaos, I have some rules.  Rules for the dogs (that'll be another post) but just as importantly rules for myself (what this post is about).
Two out of Three Ain't Bad!

#1:  Laugh.  It's quite impossible not to laugh when you've got a puppy and two rambunctious older sisters who now act like full-grown puppies.  However, the laugh rule is there to remind myself to embrace the chaos and imperfection that is our home.  Rules will be broken or forgotten or pretended to be forgotten but are really being broken; I will mess up a training exercise; accidents will happen even with the older gals; we will have some "getting to know you" inappropriate behaviors; and I will be woken up in the middle of the night by one small puppy crying and two large puppies thinking it's time to get up for the day.  My philosophy?  If you can find something to laugh at while cleaning up poo at 3 am, life is good.

#2:  Find your Stress Relief.  Having a puppy and adjusting to a 3-dog household can be stressful.   Finding a way to relieve stress and frustration without yelling at the dogs is key to creating calm from all the chaos.  What are my stress relievers?  Making up silly names for Hurley (Bite Monster, Hurley Monster, Bitey McBitey, etc).  I also sing to my dogs.  Yup.  No, I will not record this but you are most welcome to use your imagination.  I sing to Hurley about not chewing up my shoes, Sadie about not pooping in the basement, Maggie about not destroying Hurley's toys.  Fun fact: It's nearly impossible to yell at your dogs and sing to them at the same time.

#3:  Reserve "No" for only the "emergency" situations.  I really try hard not to say No to the dogs when their attention can simply be redirected but I also think it's got its place in the arsenal of commands.  For instance, No is not appropriate to yell at Hurley when he's chewing on my shoe.  I use an Uh Uh Uh or Leave It for these situations and redirect his attention, even if I have to redirect 10 times in a row.  I use No when he is chewing on an electrical cord that is plugged in and he could electrocute himself.  And I say it very loudly and strongly.  I have to admit that I am somewhat more liberal with the No when it comes to the girls - probably because they should know not to do whatever they are doing but with Hurley now in the house, I am much more conscious of saying it. One reason why I try not to use No regularly is so that I can reserve it for emergency-type situations when I need an immediate cease and desist from the dogs; the other reason is that all the stress, frustration, fear, etc I might be feeling is communicated in my tone of voice when I am saying No.  I feel that the Uh Uh Uh or Leave It comes out of my mouth with less emotion attached and therefore, is a better training tool in the end.  Plus Leave It is the #1 most important command I have ever taught a dog, especially Maggie.

#4:  Patience, Patience, Patience.  Take deep breaths.  Laugh. Sing. And at the end of the day, remember that it's my responsibility to show the dogs how I want them to behave as a three-some.  Reminding myself of this fact helps me maintain a patient demeanor with them and refocuses my energy on how to accomplish what I want of them.  And in those moments when I'm feeling impatient, can't find my laughter or sing a song, it helps that I have a great hubbie who will occupy the dog's attention while I give myself a time-out (usually in the form of a bath, which is one of the world's best stress relievers).

#5:  Take lots of pictures (and not just for the blog).  These puppy days will be gone soon and it's important to document and remember these early days before Hurley grows up to be a giant.

#6:  Celebrate successes.  Sing them far and wide.  For instance, did you know that Hurley learned Sit (hand gesture and verbal command) in 3 sessions over 3 days?  Or that he is almost there with Down and we've started on Stay?  He actually Stayed while I backed up 5 steps, waited 5 seconds and then returned to treat and release him.  That is an incredible attention span for an 11-week puppy and I am SO SO SO proud of him.  He's one smart cookie!  And Maggie has been fairly good (not perfect but improving) with sharing toys?  This is HUGE in our house.  And Sadie has the most incredible stay; it's even getting better now that Hurley is here.  Now that we have three, she seems to  understand that not every command I say is directed at her and when I'm working with Maggie or Hurley and have told her Down and Stay, she stays down. 

Those are Sarah's Rules of Order - keeping myself in order so that I can be the best doggie-mom I can be.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

When It Sh*ts, It Diarrheas

Oh so much going on at the Fullone household!  Happy to report that Hurley's temper tantrums seem to be quickly subsiding.  Methinks the issue was mostly the bad advice we got from the vet - to hold him when he's squirmy/bitey until he quiets down.  This practice was leading to panic attacks/temper tantrums, which culminated in me holding him for 20 minutes on Saturday night while he flailed, growled and tried to bite his way out of my arms.  When it was over, I simply looked at my husband and said "This can't be right.  I feel like I'm torturing my baby."  So off we went on our research on alternative methods of calming him down and so far, we've had to do a few walkaway timeouts but have not resorted to putting him in a timeout area, aka the bathroom.  The bonus?  He's finally starting to want to cuddle with his parents now that we aren't scary people who won't let him down. 

And while that's improving, we are tackling several minor digestive issues with the girls.  Maggie has been on a once-a-week puking stretch for several weeks and over the last couple months, the regularity with which she upchucks increased regularly.  Dogs puke.  It's just a fact of life for us dog owners but when it starts happening pretty frequently, you start to worry.   This time of year, she does eat tons of grass and I think this is one of the main causes.  She's also thrown up soon after eating so we've employed the muffin pan feeding method to slow her down while she's eating.  And to not leave anyone out, Sadie gets the muffin pan method as well.  It's kinda funny to see your two dogs just going to town on mini-muffin pans filled with their kibble.  We're also trying to keep a close watch on her while in the backyard to curb grass eating as much as we can.  So far, it's been about a week since her last incident.  However, the hubster discovered her eating poo the other day.  Awesome!  Sadie has always been a poo-eater but I counted on Maggie to have better taste.  Now, I've got to figure out if this is a habit she has learned from Sadie, a reaction to the addition of Hurley or a nutritional deficiency.  A customer recently turned me on to Solid Gold's SEP (Stop Eating Poop) supplement, which I am picking up today.  So we're tackling the puking problem on 3 fronts:  limit grass eating, get her to stop eating poo and slow feeding.  Hopefully that'll do the trick!  If not, it's off to the vet we go.

And if that wasn't enough, Sadie has had accidents in the basement (aka our family room) the past 2 nights.  This happened occasionally with previous foster puppies - I think the fact that they were having accidents led to her thinking it was OK to do her business downstairs.  But this morning, it wasn't just a pile o' poo, it was a puddle o' diarrhea.  My poor gal!  This one is 100% completely and totally my fault.  Hurley had ripped a hole in a bag o' food at the store and rather than toss it, I took it home.  It seems Iron-Stomach Sadie does not have such an iron stomach at all and is feeling the pains of an abrupt change in food.  I feel just awful for not transitioning their food as I should have.  Hopefully, it'll clear up soon.  I'm going to add some white rice to her meals to see if that will help.

My poor babies! 

PS - Sorry this post is mostly poo-related.  However, I know I'm not the only dog owner in the world who feels like they talk about poop entirely too much.  Thanks for listening!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Hurley Bite-Monster

When we named our new puppy Hurley/Hugo, our "brilliant" idea was that he would really be Hurley but the dual name would give us something to call him when he was being bad without utilizing his name.  I know all the experts say not to use your pup's name during any reprimands but in practice, I find that next to impossible.  Our Moms pulled out the middle name to let us know we were really in trouble this time; Hugo was going to be our middle name. 

Well, Hugo has definitely gone by the wayside.  In its stead?  "Bite-monster."   Because he is a little monster with a big bite.  See, our Hurley has shown a tendency towards puppy temper tantrums.  He goes beyond normal puppy mouthing into a frenzied state where each bite is harder and harder.  He growls.  He whines.  He barks.  Repeat.  Luckily for Hurley, his mom and dad are masters of the google search and as we started seeing this happen more and more (never had this problem with the puppies we fostered!), we turned to our good friend google to help us out with some training techniques.

The first couple sites advised alpha rolls and picking him up by the scruff and giving him a good shake.  Umm...no thank you.  While puppy tantrums are brand-new to us, I am well-versed at how damaging dominace-based theories can be and often result in an aggressive dog.  And who on earth would advise alpha-rolling a 10-week puppy?  There is seriously some awful advice out there.

But the interwebs didn't let us down.  I found this posting from a veterinarian in IL.  It not only reminds and reinforces what we knew about puppy mouthing and chewing but it also gave some great advice on dealing with tantrums.  The good old time-out. 

We also have two great resources for bite inhibition in our house - Maggie and Sadie.  While being incredibly gentle with him, both are attempting to teach him how to play gently in their own ways.  Maggie lets him climb all over her, biting at her until he chomps too hard, at which point he gets a gentle correction.  Sadie prefers to engage in bite play, during which she gently bites him as if showing him the proper bite play.  But then she runs away any time he bites back.  Sadie shows; Maggie corrects.  Great teamwork, girls!

So off we embark on the use of time-outs to curb his temper tantrums.  He seems to have the worst tantrums when being handled so we're taking a step back with the handling and slowly introducing our touch with lots of praise and treats. 

Lest you think Hurley is nothing but bite monster, I'm happy to report that he's mostly house-broken, has done fairly well being introduced to a leash, learned to sit in 3 short sessions over 3 days and is becoming a model citizen during his days in the store with me (we're still teaching the difference between his toys and merchandise but he'll get there!).  He's got a quickly growing fan club at NoPo Paws and this tantrum thing is soon to be but a fond memory of crazy puppy days.  OK...it might not ever get to "fond" status!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Three-Dog Household


It's been a week and I still can't believe this little ball o' fur is really ours.  And I'm not sure the girls believe it either. 

Sadie started night #1 by not leaving the puppy alone.  Literally, we had to make her go lay down, multiple times; she was so excited by the addition.  Day #2 dawned and with it went her interest; or so she would have us believe.  Secretly, she loves the little bugger.  But show that in front of Mom?  Heck, no!  If I pretend not to pay attention to them and she and Hurley are safely out of my line of sight, there is much cuddling and sibling play going on.  The minute I turn my head or show interest?  A sniff and quick walk away from the puppy.  She really does think she's being clever but this mom has got her number and is learning how to be super quick with the camera before Sadie has a chance to escape.



Maggie, on the other hand, had zero interest in Hurley the first couple days.  And by zero, I mean zip, nada, "excuse me, is there a puppy in the house? i hadn't noticed" lack of interest.  By Day #3, she was starting to thaw and a week in, she is the best big sister we could ask for.  She has learned that his toys are his, which is something I could never get her to accept with the foster puppies.  She even will pick up his toy, look at me, and drop it on his head, as if she's giving it to him.  She's super gentle, tolerates his incessant attempts to eat her tail and was the first to allow him to share her bed.   I'm incredibly proud of her!




So what are the major changes in being a 3-dog household?   Mostly me being hyper-sensitive to establishing good pack harmony.  With just the two of them, I didn't worry - Sadie was the attention-hog and Maggie the toy-hog.  And both of them have always been 100% OK with those roles.  Now, we've got a little bugger who's currently both attention and toy hog all rolled into one.   My goal is to show Maggie that she now has a playmate for tug and fetch and that another dog getting the toys isn't as bad as she thinks it will be.  So far, she has done really well with this - she even gently played tug with him the other day.  While Sadie currently prefers to hide her interest in Hurley, I know that as he grows out of ankle-biting stage and joins her in zoomies around the yard, she will come around.   Meanwhile, they each get solo walks with Mom, I am figuring out a new trick to teach them so that training isn't solely focused on the new puppy, and there is loads of praise and treats being doled out.  Goal?  To show them that the new addition to our family is the best thing ever to happen to them.

I am mainly going by instinct on how to dole out attention and encourage their interactions.  When we got Sadie, she and Maggie were BFF's from the moment they laid eyes on each other and with all the issues we've tackled in the last four years, intra-pack behavior was never a concern.  Can lightning strike twice in the same place?  Can we have the same luck with Hurley and harmony with the girls? 

How have you introduced a new dog into your family?