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Matilda: Week One

What does the first week with a new dog look like? And the subsequent weeks? What are the little things people forget that make or break future training for their dog?

I thought I’d do a week by week breakdown of Matilda’s first weeks here at the ranch and walk you guys through how I live with a new dog and begin to shape behavior in my favor right from the start.

So, day one and two were all about meeting the other animals and dogs on the property. Because my pack is fairly large, I broke meet ups into small bite sized pieces.

The night Matilda arrived she rode home (in a crate) with Tagg. Tagg ignored her, but can be a bit snippy, so with her it was important we use a lot of space for introductions.

When I got home I pulled Matilda out on a leash while Billy (who loves everyone, but whose size can be intimidating especially to softer pups) said hi, and Tagg briefly greeted her, then carried on with her own stuff.

Two dogs is plenty for one night. I brought Matilda in and set her up on her own fluffy bed that smelled like her former home in the crate upstairs in my room.

It was late, so I fed everyone, put everyone somewhere else and let Matilda have a last out on leash with only Billy at large.

That night she slept upstairs with Dice and Cody, who showed mild interest and revulsion, respectively, but never approached the crate.

In the morning Matilda went out on a leash and met Ruby, Dice, and Cody one at a time. Then we went for a walk down to the stock.

After everyone briefly investigated her, Matilda got to check things out at her own speed. My dogs aren’t especially interested in strange dogs, and a sniff to introduce themselves is about all they’ll really offer. This allowed Matilda time to learn about everyone without feeling crowded or overwhelmed. All greetings happened outside with my current dogs free and Matilda on leash. Because my dogs are stable, this worked.

It was all about settling in for the first two days. Learning where water was located, where to potty, which dogs love to play and which don’t, and setting up basic rules.

Observations on day one and two: Matilda is playful and pushy. She demand barks for everything, a bone another dog has that she wants, attention, out of her crate, inside the house, play, etc..

Her recall is nonexistent, she does not come when called and actively avoids capture. She is suspicious of being called and instantly plays defense.

She is unsure when meeting new humans or animals. She hangs back and is worried when faced with strangers, but then warms up pretty quickly. She thought the geese were sketchy, the rats dangerous, the chickens plotting, and the sheep, if they stared at her, intimidating.

She pulls on leash as a matter of course.

She’ll play with a human for a few seconds, but steals the toys, doesn’t return the ball well, and targets hands during tug. She would also quit tug if she got worried about me for any reason.

She worked for food for maybe 30 seconds to a minute, then wandered off. Same with play. Sustaining any play that wasn’t fetch (which I’m not a massive fan of) usually ended with her wandering off or taking the toy and taking off to play by herself.

She’s also very handler soft. She was very wary of me in her space, a little reticent to approach, worried about my actions, etc...

So, where do we start? ...

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