At Hooligan House, we believe in creating positive relationships between dogs and humans, one relationship at a time. You won’t see this technique on television, but we have tremendous success with it.
GG was afraid of everything and everyone when she first came to us. She had to be helped into a car and picked up and carried out of it. Her tail was constantly tucked tightly under her belly and she walked crouched down low to the floor. She wouldn’t eat her dinner or do her business if anyone was watching her. She shivered when she was touched and she wouldn’t look directly at other dogs.
We kept her away from our dogs for several days. We spent time showing GG that human touch is a good thing, and that every time we say her name it means that something nice is about to happen. Soon she would walk to us as soon as we said her name, and she learned that coming to us meant she would get a bacon-flavored treat. After about 6 days, when she had learned to trust us, we introduced GG to Jack.
He’s thirteen years old, a retired therapy dog that used to help me teach puppy obedience classes. He welcomed GG and then basically ignored her. He was courteous but not boisterous, and she learned that he wouldn’t run and play with her, but was a pleasant companion.
Two days ago, we brought Sissy outside to meet GG. Jack and GG had been hanging out for a few minutes beforehand, and when Sissy came out, she just walked up to GG, sniffed her, and that was that. They played chase for a few minutes, drank water together out of the bowl, and did a perimeter patrol together.
Last night we fed Sissy, Jack and GG at the same time. Their bowls were placed so that GG’s bowl was approximately six feet away from each of the others. In the following photos, you’ll see that Sissy’s and Jack’s tails are up while GG’s tail is still tucked. That’s a good signal for her to be sending at meal time. By tucking her tail when she’s eating, GG is telling the other two that although she is concentrating on her own bowl, she isn't taking ownership of it and she isn’t thinking about their food.
Sissy and GG
GG and Jack
In a few days, GG’s tail will go up while she eats. At the moment that occurs, she’ll be telling Jack and Sissy that she’s confident they aren’t presenting a threat to her food. All three of them will finish their dinners and then they’ll swap bowls to see if there are leftovers their pals may have overlooked. Bowl swapping after eating is a dog community thing. When it happens, GG will be positively integrated into a pack with Jack and Sissy.
While this is happening, we’ll introduce her to some other carefully chosen well-mannered dogs. This way GG will learn that it’s fun to be friendly with dogs outside your pack. It’s all about relationship. GG is learning how to build positive relationships and she is developing good meeting and greeting skills to help her in the future.