Old And New

Yesterday at the beach we ran into a very nice woman with her Sheltie pup.  He was a gorgeous tri-colored sheltie; six months old and very sweet.  Elsa quite enjoyed him but he was interested in Luke.  I kept Luke back a bit until he had a good chance to watch and get accustom to the youngster.  The puppy had very good manners; he was not jumping on Luke or in his face.  Luke stood on his tip toes which is customary and let the young dog check him out.  In only a few moments Luke seemed to like the little guy and wagged, even play motioned to him.  It was a great young and old interaction.

Not all puppies act appropriately around older dogs.  The interaction can go very wrong if it is not supervised.  The older the dog, the less tolerance to puppy shenanigans typically.  I remember asking people in the park if their dog was puppy friendly?  This was when Elsa looked like an adult to many but was not.  They would say that their dog was friendly and then I would ask, puppy friendly?  Many people changed their mind when given this information as they should.  Not that Elsa was a bad puppy, she was always very respectful, but still a puppy. This means fast movements, barking and general crazy stuff that many adults or older dogs do not want to deal with.

Some puppies are just downright obnoxious.  Add a senior to the mix and it can be really horrible.  So we need to teach our puppies how to act appropriately if they don't do this on their own.  The biggest issue with an interaction is on the puppy; how do they respond to feedback.  There are puppies who are very good readers and respond to the slightest signal all the way up to the block heads that don't care how much growling or snapping an old dog does.  The latter are the ones that need a whole lot of work.

Not only do you need to help your puppy learn how to interact appropriately; much care needs to be given to protect the older dog.  Puppies can knock old dogs down or injure them simply by their excited approach.  Old dogs should not be subjected to the constant onslaught of a puppy.  It needs to be a slow and positive approach; especially if you are trying to create a relationship between the two.  If it is just a chance meeting in the park; go with "short and sweet."  A quick hello and off you go.

This past weekend Luke and Penny had a good interaction.  Typically Penny gets herself so excited around Luke that it turns negative.  Luke has been trying to let Penny know that he is not interested.  Of course he is interested but not when she becomes a bowling ball tornado.  She is obsessed with getting to know him but in the process she gets so excited that she cannot control herself.  She also ignores most of his growls, snaps and bites.  Luke is not aggressive at all; he is merely trying to convey how he feels which she typically ignores altogether.  But this weekend she was able to control herself somewhat and they had a great interaction.

On first approach Penny looks at Luke and he stares at her.  She has her body posture down to a T.  Tail low, ears back, squinting eyes, pulled back lips and lowered body.  

This hard stare was enough to cause Penny to avert her eyes.

But not enough to stop her approach so Luke has to speak louder.  

The teeth display and growl is understood and she tests the waters again.  Notice her very low body posture, ears back, eyes squinting and low tail wag.

But as she crosses the invisible line that Luke has he must turn up the volume of his disapproval.  

Penny waits to see if the teeth will come again or if she can move closer.

She opts to lower herself even more by commando crawling on her approach.

The tactic worked and she lays still for a moment before acting further.

Feeling that she is not close enough yet she turns to see Luke.

Then falls in complete submission.  

Luke allows the groveling to continue but she is not allowed to get any closer.  

There is an old way of thinking that says to let them work it out.  If I allowed this to happen, Luke would be hurt without a doubt.  He is not strong now and can easily be knocked over by Penny's sheer strength.  Nor should he have to endure the onslaught of her desire.  She is desperate for his approval but in the process she becomes a whirling maniac of excitement.  This interaction was a good one.  It was highly supervised and I was ready to step in at any moment.  I have had to pull Penny off many times and I will continue until she can learn to be calm around him always.

Many people would step in and discipline the older dog for showing teeth or growling.  This is one of the biggest mistakes that owners do which can cause a huge turmoil in a home.  As the older dog and senior of the house it is his right to discipline her and communicate his displeasure.  If I took that away from him then Penny would turn into a dog with no boundaries.  Feedback is essential.  Of course if he meant her harm I would stop him but there is no harm meant by Luke's communications.

She'll get it, it might just take a while.  Enjoy, I sure did.