Brian was terrified of so many things when he arrived. So in the first two weeks I just focused on making him feel secure, providing safe environment and routine, trying to build trust.There’s been no formal training yet. However, every action causes a reaction, every decision has consequences. If I let myself forget about it, I’d fail my dogs. I do think carefully how I interact with Brian, how I introduce his new world to him.
Each of my dogs has a ‘portfolio’. I make notes about what they like, dislike, what is unusual about them, how quickly they respond to various stimuli. Time is precious, the more information I have, the easier it is to prevent problems or solve them if they occur.
I’ve made sure Brian knows his name-it’s never used for anything else, but to get his attention. It will never mean ‘I’m annoyed with you’. He’s slowly learning people are not a threat. He probably wasn’t exposed to people for the first few weeks of his life, so it might always be an issue. It might also be that his mother had taught him to run and hide whenever a human is approaching. Romanian dog catchers are notorious for killing stray dogs in most horrible ways, so fear of people is vital for survival. Unfortunately, it didn’t save Brian’s mum, she did get killed the day she got captured. Brian gets better with strangers every day-when we walk we ignore them, I make sure he can hide or walk away, I pet him and make Lily play with him for a bit.
I never punish him for chewing stuff. If I liked material objects more than dogs, I wouldn’t have dogs. I simply take away the thing he shouldn’t chew and give him something else, a toy, a kong, a chewable treat.
Even though I haven’t started training, Brian comes when called. I wouldn’t trust him to do it 100% of times, so when he runs freely, he’s dragging a long, light training lead behind. It’s important to make him come to me every time, I have to be the biggest reward, the one that is ALWAYS worth coming to. I’ve said it numerous times and I will say it ad nauseam: ‘come when called’ can save a dog’s life. So, from day one, Brian was rewarded every time he did it.
Lily’s patient, she gets lots of attention to make sure she doesn’t feel her position is under threat. She’s also ‘work in progress’ because of her fear issues, but she seems to cope really well with the additional burden of being a role model for a tiresome puppy.