17 days ago, Cynthia and I went to pick up Candie, now renamed Bella, from BARCS, and the progress she’s made so far is amazing. At the beginning, Bella wanted nothing to do with Alex and we did not force her either, but rather took them both for walks, and runs around the neighborhood. Bella’s body language was that of a dog in shock of being outside. More details in another post. Anyway, as time went by, Bella stopped staring and wanting to go for Alex.
But look at Bella now. She is sunbathing on our deck with Alex and Dexter. Does this take time? Yes, it does. And a ton of patience. Today, Monday, was a nice day so we went out and stayed hanging out on the deck for a while. What is the point of doing this? I want Bella to get used to just relaxing around other dogs and I also wanted to observe her body language towards Alex and Dexter, and the squirrels around our backyard that always get her attention.
This is one of my regulars, Dexter, a boxer mix. Dexter loves to sunbathe indoors or outdoors. He is a bigger sun worshipper than my daughter, Alex. Bella was not very good at dealing with other dogs once we were inside the house, but…
this is Bella now. Bella was already on that spot. Dexter came over and decided that that was the right spot for him and proceeded to fall asleep without a care in the world. I was looking at their body language to see if there was any signs of aggression to come, but nothing. I know this may sound ridiculous to some people, but I wanted to cry. Why? This is progress for Bella, being able to get along with other dogs indoors, and I was over the moon.
As you can see, Bella is about to fall asleep too. Is there anything in particular we did to get her to this point? No, it was a combination of many things such as:
- Exercise – a mix of walks and runs twice a day
- Feeding – once she is finished eating, she is to wait patiently until all the other dogs finish their meal and then all of them go to bed to relax and take a nap
- Sleeping – she sleeps in her crate after we give her some loving
- At home – she is not allowed to roam around the house on her own. She is either with Cynthia or I so we can monitor her body language and interaction with other dogs
- Outside – we are working on getting her to walk properly, and she is doing better. Her body language during our walks went from afraid to more relaxed as time went by, although squirrels still drive her nuts
- Structure – she gets all the love she can handle, but she must earn it. She has to sit before she gets anything, she has to wait before going out the door, and so much more
Bella is even getting more comfortable with Alex sniffing her and being close to her. For those pet parents and foster parents that just got a new dog to add to their pack, my advice would be to do the following: have patience, appreciate the progress your dogs are making regardless of how small they may seem, do not leave them unattended, provide structure for them, exercise them, and work on teaching them basic training and good manners. Understand this though, your dog will not change overnight. You will see progress and change in your dog as time goes by, so arm yourself with a lot of patience and do not feel discourage when there are setbacks, and there will be set backs. Our foster furry kid, Bella, is an amazing girl and little by little we are starting to see a more relaxed and balanced doggie. Enjoy your holiday with your furry children.