When getting a new dog to add to the family teaching tolerance is a huge part of the transition going as smooth as possible. This has never been a strong suit for Luna when it comes to other dogs. Wyatt has been an integral part of making our Vizsla girl more tolerant…
I think it’s safe to say tolerating her new brother Wyatt is a lesson well learned. How did we get there???
Believe it or not, in the beginning play sessions like the one above were rare for these two. Luna was hesitant to let her guard down with this mouthy sharp toothed (rather forward) puppy. She has never been asked to share her home with another dog this young. We have cared for several of her friends but they were older, and more respectful of her, so this whole puppy thing was new. For at least the first 6 months we were very adamant about doing one on one play with each of them. When we did let them together to interact it was strictly supervised and only was for about 10 minutes. Wyatt had his separate puppy pen to play in so they both could hang out near each other with no pressure to interact. We did take them on frequent walks together since outdoors Luna was less touchy about him. She would just do her thing, hunting for critters and she was content to let him tag along. I think all of this was important in letting each feel a part of the family, and it allowed for a smooth integration of the two.
Giving appropriate corrections to the puppy was a hard lesson for Luna to learn. If we felt her correction was too strong for whatever misdemeanor Wyatt did we corrected her, and sometimes it had to be pretty serious. But she got the message after a couple times, and began to warn him more and simply snap (not the former snap, pin, freak puppy out) at him and then pause to see if he was going to continue with his antics. We wanted the puppy to feel safe in our home too and with her, so we made sure to integrate him back next to her even after they had just had an incident. And we did not move on until both were calm and relaxed. And because of all the work we did in the beginning with them separate and together we have two dogs that are content by themselves, but who are also responsive to us. I find that if you let dogs interact, hang out, play too much in the early stages of the relationship they can quickly become what we call “dog’s dogs.” Basically this means they much rather blow you off for the pack, and they are not all that into the humans.
And now they have play sessions like this… I hardly ever hear Luna have to correct wyatt, and usually she recognizes it was an accidental grab by him and will do a simple vocalization. We can give a chew/bone to each and they do not fight over them at all. One will wait till the other leaves, and if they want to keep playing the swap game we step in and reassign and they usually mind their own business then. And Luna has become very tolerant of Wyatt stepping, sitting, laying on her (especially in the car, though I have begun to tell him to get off so it does not push her to a limit). They do not seek each other to sleep near, and don’t know if they ever will. But I don’t require that of them either, I am okay having two dogs who are independent enough to not need each other. In fact I probably prefer it. I will occasionally find them laying near each other but I think it’s mostly on accident.
How do you integrate new members into your families?
PS. pardon the video quality of these, some were shot with phones, and old ones at that.