It has been 4 weeks since we brough home Zephyr. It has been tough going; it is so easy to forget how much hard work a puppy really is. Although, saying that, both my dogs are currently sleeping which is lovely 🙂
Week 1: The first week was all about finding a routine that worked for all of us. Zeph isn’t the easiest puppy I’ve had in terms of getting him to sleep through the night and he is a very chatty dog, always making some kind of noise which I don’t mind except at silly O’clock in the morning! We spent the first week making sure the dogs experience of each other was friendly happy. Echo was a bit confused by the puppy but also amazingly excited at having a new buddy.
Zephyr was not able to manage a whole night asleep without needing out at least twice. With both Ben and myself working full time it has been a tiring few weeks. I have been getting up at half 5 in the morning so that I have time to get them both fed, walked and tired out again in time for us going to work. In the first week, as I mentioned previously, Zeph hated being left alone (which is understandable being from a litter of 10!). I called in the help of Lori (our dog walker) and my friend. They took it in turns to stop by the house, while I was working, to make the periods of time that Zeph was alone much shorter for him. It made a massive difference and really helped the separation anxiety.
All in all, Zephy did manage surprisingly well in his first week. He is a very laid back dog generally.
Week 2: By this time, with a lot of training and effort, Zephy was starting to get used to being left alone. He was still having a wee cry but it lasted a few minutes and then he went to sleep. I knew we were getting somewhere when I came home at lunch time and he was sound asleep:
I found an old Rotti toy I had as a child and I put that in his cage and I have to say that it was a magical toy! He was obviously needing a buddy to snuggle up to and this toy was it. Whenever I leave I put the toy in the cage and he goes straight in and lies cuddled up to it. I didn’t realise the power of this toy until I had to wash it (it was covered in pee!) and it wasn’t dry in time for bed time. Zeph started off just sitting crying and crying and I knew it wasn’t because he needed out. I took a chance at him missing his toy so I took another of my childhood toys, a bunny rabbit which is roughly the same size as the other toy, and gave him that. As soon as the toy went in the cage with him he instantly went to sleep cuddled up. It was magical. My big fierce Rottie needs a cuddly toy to sleep. It is ever so sweet.
Week 3: Zeph was 11 weeks old by week 3. He had his second vaccinations and was ready to start exploring the world. I haven’t been very far at all with him, just small short walks in the park. He is a big scaredy cat when it comes to almost everything so we have been using gentle encouragement and praise to get him over his fears. He is very popular with the other dog walkers and so has had lots of fuss and cuddles from other people and he has met lots of dogs.
Week 4: Zeph is not far off Echo in size now, he is growing so fast! The two dogs have mostly been getting on, we have had a few ‘fights’ where I have intervened to stop them getting carried away. Zeph is now able to be left alone for upto 4 hours at a time, which is perfect for going to and from work. The boys are settling down faster after walks and are able to play better too. I still won’t leave them alone together as I don’t want to risk any injuries. As they get older I hope to be able to let them settle down together when we are out but for now they are in their crates and they seem quite happy with it.
Echo has always been a very possessive dog, particularly if he has stolen something. We didn’t introduce toys to the dogs when they were together until week 3. We initially tried giving them a toy each and sitting on the floor with them to stop any aggression but Echo was so focused on the toy that Zephy had that he was getting carried away. If we hadn’t been sitting with the dogs I am certain there would of been an injury. It was very clear that this approach would not work as it gave a very limited selection for the dogs to focus on. So I tried the approach of overwhelming them. I put out all the toys the dogs had, some 15 toys, and although we still had to keep a check on Echo, it seems to have worked. If there are enough toys that they can’t hoard any particular one, they seem to accept that there is enough.
Zeph is also holding his own now and if he is happily settled with a toy and Echo tries to steal it, he gives a warning growl which Echo mostly listens to and backs off. This approach has also made it easier to take things back from Echo when he steals so all in all, we have success so far!
Both my dogs are very cuddly and it is so nice that they are working out it is ok for them to cuddle up for a nap and long may the acceptance continue.