They are treasured members of the family. They are also the subjects of a series of children’s books (that’s a whole other story). Their safety is of utmost importance, as many of you know, who have “friends” in your house who are no match for a new puppy or a bored dog.
Just to know TC is a gray wolf and Wags is a floppy mutt dog. They are best friends. TC and Wags live on the bed, where many hours of canine fun and sleeping happen. They exist peacefully along with two humans and three dogs (real dogs), not that TC and Wags aren’t real, (that’s a whole other story again). Along with living beings, the bed at any time can contain an array of dog toys, books, tennis balls, TV remotes and cell phones.
It wasn’t always like that. In order to have this happen TC and Wags live on a top shelf for a few months whenever there is a new dog. It’s the rule: every time a new dog from a shelter or a new puppy come to live with us, they move to a shelf. Here’s what it looks like.
On the first day of our new dog, TC and Wags move up to the top shelf of the bookcase in the bedroom. All new dogs in the house sleep in crates, anyway, in the bedroom, so therefore, TC and Wags they can come down at night. First thing in the morning, back on the shelf. One of the first things to teach the new dog is “leave it”. This is the key cue for TC and Wags’ survival.
Teaching “Leave it”.
Hold an extra yummy treat in your closed hand or under your foot. Present it to your dog and just wait while he sniffs your hand or foot. As soon as he takes his attention away from the treat, most often just for a second while he re-groups, click or use the verbal marker (YES!) and reward with a different treat. Even the slightest movement of his head or body away from the treat, reward. As soon as he “gets” that turning away from the treat gets him the different one and he starts to do it often, you can add the cue ‘Leave it.” “Leave it” is an invaluable lesson in your dog’s toolbox of “cues.” You can use it for many different scenarios, most importantly making sure your dog doesn’t eat something dangerous. “Leave it” assures that your dog can turn away from any tempting item when you ask him. Whether that item is food, people, children’s toys, or a great big muddy puddle after a bath, it’s invaluable for your dog to know. The turn away from the object gets the reward.
TC and Wags come down from the shelf after they are assured that the new puppy has some impulse control and has a pretty good idea of what “leave it” means. Whenever the dog shows interest in them we say “leave it”, and when the pup looks up or away we reinforce the cue with either a treat or a toy they CAN play with. One way I try to make it easier for the dogs is to NOT have any dog toys that resemble stuffed animals. This may or may not help, but their toys don’t have arms and legs and tails. No ears and eyes. I stayed away from the material used for stuffed animals, but my current dogs are lovers of the plush, so I get them plush but still no arms and legs or faces.
- We keep all toys on the floor at the beginning of their time with us..
- TC and Wags are never on the floor.
- TC and Wags are never part of the first series of “things that are acceptable to chew”
- For the first several months TC and Wags are “under supervision only” when the dogs could have access.
- Have enough “appropriate” toys around for your dog’s entertainment.
TC and Wags have lived safely in my house for over 15 years with multiple dogs and canine visitors. When Lhotse’ came they thought they would live on the shelf forever. Impulse control can come even with the most impulsive dogs and now Lhotse’s “leave it” is the best in the house. TC and Wags live on for another adventure. More later.