It’s been a challenging week. I think a scorecard to help keep track of the dogs involved would be a good idea.
Bear is staying with me for an extended time while a friend attends to some important matters. Yule arrived on Sunday to board with me this week. I wrote on Sunday that we introduced Bear and Yule and it didn’t go well. This meant I had to keep them separate. But I couldn’t put anyone in my kennels because Teddy, the Homeward Bound dog I am working, is, shall we say, not very welcoming. So Bear would have to stay in the bathroom off the hallway. It’s a 10′ x 10′ room with a dog gate so he wasn’t completely cut off from the rest of us.
We repeated the Bear-Yule introduction on Monday but still no luck. But the 3rd time was a charm on Wednesday and we were able to drop leashes and let them interact. But I still had to be very careful becasue Bear and Yule didn’t exaclty become bosom buddies over the course of 30 minutes. So when I took them home Bear still went in the bathroom until after supper. About 7:00 I let Bear out and watched over the three dogs carefully. It was an exhilarating moment but it’s critical to project calm so I paid close attention to my breathing and manner around the dogs. Yule was clearly anxious — there was some growling and a few short lunges (I had Yule on a leash). Then the barking started. Yule. So I put him in the back bedroom until he stopped about 30 minutes later.
I brought Yule out to join us and he was better but still anxious. After a few minutes I got him up on the couch and held him while we watched TV for a couple hours.
Over the next couple days I could see Yule getting increasingly comfortable. But there were still the occasional fits of barking so we weren’t out of the woods yet. By Friday I had stopped watching the three of them every second. But I felt compelled to investigate when I heard some extended barking from another room. I found Yule and Bear in the living room exchanging loud threats. Except … they weren’t threats. Yule looked at me and grinned and they fell into a 30 minute wrestling match that rambled over four rooms. After that I tried to get them to play outdoors. Here’s what that looks like:
I had hoped that Yule and Bear would take to each other right away. I was surprised that it took us four days to get them interacting. And then another couple days for them to start playing. But I’ll take it. This is huge for Yule. Now he has two dogs that he can roughhouse with. I hope to keep introducing him to new dogs. That will help him shed the need to react to dogs he sees while out for a walk with his Mom. And it will help him achieve a fuller and more balanced life as a dog. Way to go Yule!