I have a new foster pup staying with me. He’s an eleven week old Old English Sheepdog puppy named DaVinci. He’ll be staying with me for some training and then he will be rehomed through the rescue group that I work with. DaVinci’s previous owners made the decision to rehome him because he was already displaying some serious aggression and resource guarding type behaviors. The owners had been bit multiple times and were becoming increasingly scared to interact with him during certain types of activities, such as at feeding time or when getting him in and out of his crate.
For example, DaVinci will growl, snarl and snap if a person tries to go near his food bowl. He will display the same kind of behavior if he has a very fun toy or chewy treat and someone tries to take it away or even tries to come near him. As well, he will sometimes react defensively and aggressively if a person wants him to do something and he does not want to do it. The intensity of his behavior is not at all typical for a puppy of this age.
The owners had fallen in love with DaVinci and were heartbroken to have to given him up, as he is a sweet, happy puppy the majority of the time. They were ready to do the intensive training that he needs to overcome his aggression issues. However, the family’s other dog had decided that he did not like DaVinci at all and there had already been several scuffles between the two dogs during the short time that DaVinci was with the family. Although they wanted to keep him, they ultimately decided that their home was not a good fit for a puppy with such special training needs.
DaVinci has been with me for almost a week now, and we’ve already been working on all sorts of different things. DaVinci is eleven weeks, so he needs lots of puppy socialization and encounters with new and interesting things during the critical socialization window. So far this week, he’s met several of my friends and a few new dogs, gone to work with me, walked around the park, taken several short walks around the neighborhood, and even accompanied me to pick up a friend at the airport. (We even got to ride up and down in an elevator, while at the airport!)
We’ve also spent quite a bit of time hanging out in the front yard. I live on a moderately busy street, which gets a fair amount of automobile traffic, bicycle traffic, and pedestrian traffic. DaVinci was a bit unsure about the city cars and some of the noisy buses at first, but he has gradually grown accustomed to them and for the most part doesn’t even pay attention now. However, I have noticed that DaVinci often seems to lack confidence in new, unfamiliar situations or in situations that he does not understand. So, we will be working hard to help him grow up to be a happy, confident dog.
DaVinci and I have also gotten started on some training this week to teach him that he doesn’t have to feel defensive or behave aggressively if I approach his food bowl. He’s learning that he can be calm and relaxed, even when I am in close proximity to his food. We have also started working some on drop, leave it, and other basic commands, all which will help a lot to teach him more appropriate manners when interacting with people.
I’ll be sharing more updates about his training as we get to know each other better and work on even more training tasks!