It Takes One To Know One
Yesterday we brought a new dog home to see if she's a good fit for our family. So far, so good!
As a trainer I generally see worst case scenarios. Bites, fights and aggression...oh my! I have some pretty strict rules around bringing a new dog into our home so everyone stays safe. I know well how overlooking, not noticing or not taking seriously a dog's signals can turn into heartbreak when a family falls in love with a dog that ends up making bad choices.
We are also a busy family, probably a lot like yours. If we're going to successfully and honestly open our home to a new dog that new dog needs to be able to show she can fit into our lifestyle without a ton of extra time. Will she need some extra time for learning & training? Yes. It just needs to be a doable amount of extra time.
With all that in mind I have strict 2 week protocol I do with all my new dogs. I keep play off the table for the first couple of weeks while the new dog gets comfortable & learns the rules. Lucky for me play is one of Loretta's superpowers. She know when to initiate play and how to adjust to the other dog's preference. She can read a dog's readiness and has the confidence to try. She can "unlock" a dog so they can unleash that playful side of themselves & enjoy all the benefits of play. I've seen her do it over and over.
She did it again this morning and got a dog that was awkward with her dog communication to feel safe enough to let loose.
I will still keep some strict protocols & have the new girl earn her way to all the freedoms that Loretta has earned. But, she has made leaps & bounds because of the power of play and Loretta's ability to create the right environment for it.
No matter how good any of us humans are at reading dogs, we'll never be better than dogs themselves.
Stay tuned to see how the new girl does with us & what her new name will be :)