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? 


  1. I think the best thing for you to do is make sure that you remain the pack leader. Right from the beginning it needs to be taught that you are the boss and you are not going to tolerate jealous or negative behavior towards the new puppy. Keep in mind, you should also try to make sure the puppy understands that the other two dogs were there first. He should learn to mind his manners and respect his elders. Simple things like feeding the other dogs first and then feeding the puppy will help him understand he comes last in the pack. You wont have to do this forever it's just until you think he has the idea. One other thing that works really well is enforcing the pack ranks when going through any doorway. You first, then the oldest or more dominant dog of the other two. Make the puppy "stay" until you all have gone through in the correct order and then tell him its ok to follow.
    On a more positive note when the dogs are playing and you see something you like, immediately award them with a treat and say "good girl/boy." Consider using a clicker and do some clicker training. This has always greatly helped me in training my dogs. Just remember to always keep the clicker on you when at home that way you are ready at anytime and are more likely to award good behavior more times. Make sure you do some research before starting clicker training. Its not as easy as it seems, it takes technique and repetition.
    Training takes a lot of patience and a lot of work but it is all worth it when you finally have an obedient and harmonius pack. =)

  2. While we likely won't be going the puppy route we have contimplated at some point bringing a third dog into our home. We know Katy would never tolerate living alone and that means we will need to introduce another dog as Bailey ages to make sure we do not drop below two.