Saturday, May 20, 2006
Jazz officially met Baloo today, without leashes or other restraint. They have been interacting safely since Baloo came home, but always supervised, and always with one or the other under control. It has been a bit tense at times, but the long "getting aquainted" period is paying off. When bringing a new puppy home to an older, reserved dog it is important to take it slow. When Baloo first came home, we immediately went to a nearby park (neutral place) to allow the first interaction. Ideally, we would have taken the dogs to a completely neutral place (since the park "belongs" to Jazz), but it worked pretty well. Jazz was very apprehensive and growled a bit. I didn't scold her, and concentrated on remembering to breathe (my tension always sparks increased tension for her). Since bringing Baloo home 19 days ago, their interactions have been allowed to progress as it seemed appropriate (no rushing, no forcing the issue). Since Baloo is being crate trained, there have been opportunities for the two to safely interact between the wire crate. Outside in the back yard, Baloo has been walked on a leash. Jazz has progressively gotten more interested and typically investigates. I always praise her when she gives a tail wag to Baloo, but watch carefully and somewhat disinterestedly. Jazz picks up cues from me that I am not even aware of. At least I'm aware that I'm not aware, so I keep my eye contact and breathing in check knowing that if I hold my breath or make too much eye contact I can really escalate any budding tension. I can see that the less of a big deal that I make of the situation, the better. I don't put myself between the two dogs, because that might also create a situation where Jazz feels the need to assert herself. There has still been a little tension, and I know that Jazz has concerns about whether she is still top dog or not. It is important to let an alpha dog know she is still the top dog and reassure her of her position. Of course, it is also important that she know that I am the true alpha of our little pack, and if she gets out of line I let her know. But growling at the puppy doesn't cross the line, so I have to be prepared to only step in when the line is crossed. This morning I took Jazz for a walk and then fed her. While she was eating I took Baloo for a long walk to wear her out a bit. When we returned I prepared the water hose, deciding that would be my best tool if things got out of hand with the dog meeting. The meeting went pretty well. Baloo was very submissive and Jazz's actions were relatively benign. Now begins the process of supervised backyard interactions. We're making progress. The goal is to feel comfortable about them interacting, hopefully that will happen within the next 30 days.
Friday, May 19, 2006
Today Baloo went on a "socialization field trip" to my office. Since I work with a lot of really cool people who love animals we were welcomed. All were happy to get a puppy fix on a Friday. Baloo did very well and liked showing off her long ears and perfect ridge. Afterwards she slept for hours. Meeting new people is exciting but also tiring. Since some of my other dogs have had certain hangups, I'm taking a different approach with Baloo. I guess it's the scientist in me. Being a biologist, I can hardly help but be a data-driven sort. So we have our list of things to do to expose her to a variety of people, cats, dogs, tortoises, activities. A well-exposed dog is a well rounded joy to be with. That's the plan anyway.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Little Baloo is getting bigger. Last night and again this morning she met some new people as we walked around the neighborhood. Tomorrow she will go on a "socializing field trip" to my office where she'll meet several adults. So far she is doing great when she meets new people. Tomorrow is a big test. It will be the first time Baloo and Jazz (my 12 year old alpha dog) interact without restraint. It's time. Jazz has gotten accustomed to Baloo's presence and I don't think she'll overreact to Baloo...plus I plan to wear Baloo out a bit before the official unrestrained introduction. Hopefully all will go well, because keeping Jazz and Baloo separate is time consuming. I don't expect them to be best buddies yet (though Baloo already idolizes Jazz from afar). Tolerance is what I'm hoping for.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Meet Baloo. She's probably about 17 lbs. and will be 9 weeks old tomorrow (May 15). She's a purebred rhodesian ridgeback, my first experience with the breed. But I did my homework, talked to several people who have rhodesians, and knew what I was getting into. She's almost been a part of the family for 2 weeks now, and the alpha dog in the house, Jazz, is still unconvinced that a new puppy was a good idea. We're taking it slow so everyone can get used to the idea. Baloo is a bounding, energetic hound. She loves to play, but is also very content to rest in her crate. She is very smart! She is learning to walk on a leash, and we've already been on several long walks. She has experienced many new things over the last couple weeks. She's met three cats and two tortoises. Blogging Baloo's adventures is going to be a lot of fun.