A breakthrough…again

As I have repeatedly mentioned, sorry about that, Zephs got a thing for other dogs. Or more precisely doesn’t have a thing for other dogs. Coupled with my anxiety about it all, sometimes I feel like we aren’t making any progress at all. Well, this morning, a friend of mine offered to bring along one of her dogs, who is the same age as Zeph, to go for a walk and to see how they got along. I agreed but was nervous about how Zeph would react and a little worried as my friend is quite far along in her pregnancy. I had the muzzle in the car as a back up. It has been such a long time since Zeph had other dogs around him that were friendly that I had no idea how he was going to react. I was sensible though, we went what can be a busy park, but we went to the quieter end, and I had Zephy on his halti and collar. I didn’t want to start with the muzzle etc incase it made it all worse. Well, since Zeph isn’t used to other dogs approaching us, he went mental at my friend and her dog and she was amazingly calm (just what I need) and stood back with her dog to let me calm Zeph back down. We walked a little bit next to each other to let Zeph see that Louie wasn’t going to attack him, and they calmed down. There is a small dog enclosure at the park in a quiet corner so we headed for that. We decided they were calm enough to let them off lead and almost instantly they went for each other. It was a disaster! or so I thought. I just went between them and grabbed Zeph and pushed Louie away and again we calmed them both and they were rewarded once they had sat down and relaxed. Here’s what happened next:

My friend said, just let them go and move away. I had a few tennis balls so Zeph played fetch. The two dogs although, not playing directly with each other, managed a full hour in each others company and ran about:

They even lay down near each other and I also managed to get them to sit next to each other for treats. I haven’t stopped smiling about it. A wonderful experience considering I had my doubts particularly considering how they started out. I don’t want anyone thinking I just threw them in together and left it at that. I was always close enough to break up any potential fights, there was a lot of positive reinforcement (a whole box of sausages) and both dogs were encouraged to behave and sit, return etc when they got a little too excited. It was a very calm experience over all and I cannot tell you how happy I am that Zephy managed this. Proof that he isn’t an aggressive dog, he is just anxious and scared of new dogs (which is every dog). We still have a long way to go to get him nice and chilled out around other dogs but he behaved amazingly. Even at the end of the play time, they both walked out to the cars beside each other and not a sad face at all. All waggy tails and smiley faces. We plan to meet a few more times with just the two of them. Between us we have 4 dogs and that’s just a little too much at the moment. You may recognise Louie, He is Bella’s half brother – from some of the earlier posts. Lovely dog and mad as a brush. Perfect for Zephy.

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