Sunday, December 4, 2016

Barley and Rye: Day 1 (Part 2)

Yesterday, I wrote about the preparations for introducing my Barley girl to her new sister. Today is the actual introductions.

We brought Rye's crate out into the living room--a more neutral, open area than either of the bedrooms where the dogs sleep. We put Rye in the crate and then it was time to get Barley. Barley and I heeled down the stairs to keep her from coming out full speed and then we rounded the corner and they saw each other. Barley sat and wanted hot dogs and string cheese.

Rye lost her mind. That's right. Barley was the good dog.

Our trainer stood by the crate and when Rye calmed down, she'd get a treat. Barley got treats while she sat nicely and ignored the tiny terror.

Eventually, Rye calmed enough that we released Barley to go check out the crate. At first, Barley didn't want to go sniff her sister. She just wanted snacks. When I put my hands in my pockets, though, she walked over and sniffed Rye. Rye barked. Barley looked at her like she'd lost her mind. I called Barley back and gave her treats.

For a while, we just went on like that. Our trainer would give Rye snacks when she was calm, eventually waiting until Rye sat before giving her the treat. I'd give Barley treats for staying calm.

Every few minutes, we'd move Barley a little closer. Once I was close enough to give both dogs snacks, I'd give Barley one and then Rye one as long as she stayed calm.

When both dogs were to the point where they'd sit calmly and wait several seconds before treats were dispersed, we took them for a walk. Our trainer took Barley and a handful of snacks and I got the tiny terror.

Rye is still not good on leash--she's fine for going out to potty, but if we go past our yard, she pulls and leaps and circles and lunges at squirrels and leaves. We just got our Halti head collar yesterday, so I haven't had enough time to convince her it's awesome yet. With Barley with us, we had our best walk yet.

We walked on opposite sides of the street at first and Rye pulled a bit, but she kept looking at Barley and then looking back at me--which earned her a treat. Pretty soon she wasn't walking loosely, but she wasn't pulling so hard that she was wheezing, either.

Gradually, our trainer and Barley moved closer. Rye did a good job of checking in with me for treats after looking at Barley.

Once, Rye bounced a little too close to Barley and Barley does not tolerate nonsense--she knows that dogs are supposed to walk nicely and that was not good leash behavior--and she snapped at Rye. Rye was being playful, but Barley doesn't like bouncy play and corrected her. She didn't make contact and she backed away from Rye when Rye turned back to me, and our trainer said it was a perfectly appropriate response to Rye's silliness.

When we got home, we switched places so Barley was in the crate and Rye had a chance to come up to Barley freely. Nobody barked. Everyone sat and took treats nicely, so we upped the difficulty a bit. Both dogs had to down to get a treat. If I was looking at Rye for a down and Barley did it in the crate, she got a treat instead of Rye. Rye learned pretty quickly to get down fast.

Rye was stressed, but look at my Barley girl not even looking at her sister!

We'll be doing this in stages with their meals for a while. Rye will be in the crate and then we'll swap. Barley is always supposed to get the first treat (so Rye will fit into the pecking order with Soth being fed first, then Barley, then Rye).

We're also going to be practicing just being calm and ignoring each other while I relax and watch tv. One will be loose and the other in the crate with a cover. If the crated dog is quiet, they'll get to stay uncovered and get a treat. The other dog will get a treat for relaxing. If the crated dog loses her mind, she'll be covered and no treats until she's calm again.

When all that goes well, we'll be moving to the kitchen gate like we did with foster pup Sal (who is struggling with vertigo right now, so send his new mom some good thoughts!). Then we'll repeat everything with the gate between us. When we've got that down, our trainer will help us move on to the next step.

Barley catches on to things quickly--it only took her a week to fully master her first lessons in reactive dog training as a solo dog and Rye has been catching on to those same lessons in our solo training, too, so I'm hoping we get a chance to work with our trainer one more time before our holiday travels. Wish us luck--we will definitely keep you posted.

(And I'm sorry for the lack of pictures! Training two wild ones doesn't leave enough hands for taking pictures, so I could only take a picture after everyone had calmed down enough that I had a few seconds between feedings during homework).

10 comments:

  1. This sounds like great progress! Who knew Rye would be the one to react more? I think that just shows how much all of your hard work with Barley is paying off. With the same work with Rye I'm sure you'll get where you need to be! Staying patient through it all has to be the most difficult part for you.
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

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    1. Who knew I'd be the one to get two reactive dogs?! (Rye also reacts to the neighbors' trash cans--but not ours--bikes, loud cars, birds, the tree in the front yard.) Rye seems to be taking a lot of cues from Barley and following her lead, though, so that's nice. Patience is definitely the hardest part! It's so tempting to rush it because I just want us all to be able to hang out together.

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  2. Great plan! I hope it goes smoothly and as low stress as possible for you all!

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    1. Thank you! It hasn't been 100% smooth, but Barley has been showing so much tolerance and Rye's learning to calm down more quickly, so it's going well!

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  3. It sounds like it is going well. It is excellent training for Rye to learn to be calm.

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    1. Calm is definitely not a word that was in Rye's vocabulary! She's working so hard on it, though!

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  4. So glad they are learning! I'll keep my fingers crossed for speedy progress :)

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    1. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed for progress--even if it's slow :)

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  5. Bringing a second dog that is not a tiny puppy into a home is much more challenging often times. You will do great and everything will settle down when the reality that she is staying settles in with everyone. Bailie still doesn't always walk nice on a leash, but we are used to that and just accept it. Mom doesn't mind too much.

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    1. Loose leash walking is not an option at our house--Barley would flatten Rye if she didn't follow the rules on a walk, so we have some work to do :)

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