Ever since we got our Great Dane, Kai, so many people have asked us, "how is Tyrza doing?"
If I'm being honest, I was nervous about getting a new dog, especially with Tyrza being a bit older, I was nervous about whether she would respond in a positive way, or quite the opposite. After all, our girl is going to be TEN years old this coming Saturday. But, truly, the biggest thing I was worried about, was "how am I ever going to love another dog the way I love Tyrza?"
My heart has grown two sizes bigger since having Kai, but there's been quite a few adjustments. I actually almost imagine it being like having a baby...but not quite, lol. Kai is way different than Tyrza in every aspect. We get up multiple times a night, I haven't gotten a full nights rest since having her, and the race to train her is on since she's going to be getting big fast, so my time right now is pretty tied up.
Tyrza, on the other hand, didn't take it too well when we first brought Kai home. We brought Tyrza with us to the breeder's when we went to pick Kai up. I think it really hit Tyrza when we brought Kai into the car with us. It was as if Tyrza was saying, "ok that was fun and all, but when are we giving her back?". The first week or so, Tyrza wanted absolutely nothing to do with Kai. She didn't want to lay next to her, she didn't want to share her bed with her, and she would snap at Kai when Kai started trying to nip at her...which, as long as Tyrza doesn't hurt Kai, we are ok with that. We want Kai to know that Tyrza should not be messed with.
Slowly, but surely, they've been getting closer, and here are a few of the things we have done, and will continue to do until they become besties:
1. Designate a place specifically for Tyrza to go, where Kai cannot.
This special place for Tyrza is the entire right side of our bed where Tyrza sleeps. She and Kai know that Kai is not allowed over there, or anywhere near her bed, so this is a safe place for Tyrza to escape to, knowing that she won't be bothered. The same is true for Kai. We are crate training Kai right now for the time being and her own special place is her crate.
2. Feed, and play Separately.
We always make sure we feed Tyrza before we feed Kai. We also let Tyrza drink water before Kai gets to drink (they eat out of separate dog bowls, but drink from the same two bowls). At first, Kai would just push Tyrza out of the way and Tyrza is not the type of dog who is very territorial, so she would just let Kai walk all over her if we didn't control it; but it's important to us that Tyrza knows that she's still VERY loved by us, and she is still our baby. We also say hi to Tyrza first when we come home, and if Tyrza and Kai both do something good at the same time, we reward Tyrza first. Another thing I do during the day is if Kai is sleeping in her crate, I'll make sure to take Tyrza out on a walk all by herself, and she really enjoys that.
3. Never leave them in the same room unattended.
This could leave Tyrza feeling "defenseless". The dogs spend most of their time upstairs in our bedroom/office/master bathroom (the space is huge!) and I work from home all day, but if I have to go downstairs to grab something, or make a bite to eat, I make them both come with me, or allow Tyrza the opportunity to stay upstairs if she'd like.
4. Reward Tyrza when she sniffs Kai, or lays next to Kai.
We want Tyrza to eventually be comfortable enough to where she feels like she can lay on Kai, or visa versa, or if Kai touches her, she doesn't snap. Obviously, Kai needs to learn to give Tyrza her space. But when Tyrza is close to Kai, or happens to let Kai climb on her when she's laying down, we reward Tyrza, tell her she's a good girl, and give her lots of snuggles.
5. Be a strong and firm leader for your dogs.
If your dogs are looking to you as their leader, they don't have to worry about competition with each other. We are very firm when Kai or Tyrza do something wrong, and also very good at rewarding them both when they do something right. Establishing boundaries in the beginning can go a very long way.
Obviously, I am not a professional, but I do have lots of experience spending all day with Tyrza and now Kai with what works. And being that these two dogs have completely opposite personalities, and I've had to take different approaches when house breaking/training Kai, this experience has taught me so much!
Have you ever had to introduce an older dog to your puppy? Did you do these things or something completely different? Let me know in the comments below!