Pearl Learns to Play

Introducing a new dog or cat into the family can be a tricky process. It’s not a one-and-done sort of thing that’s accomplished the first time everyone meets. It’s more like a training period in which the new animal learns the family rules and the established family members learn how to treat the newcomer.

Pearl (the puppy who showed up under our porch just after New Year’s) has been doing really well, but she still has things to learn. Especially since our household is changing. With Natalie moving to Hawaii, we’ve had to make adjustments too. She’s preparing to put her house on the rental market, so she has moved in with her two dogs and two cats. They’ll be going with her, but not right away, because we have to find her a place to live and get her settled first.

Pearl has established herself in our family’s pack. She’s the baby, subservient to all the other dogs. But Natalie’s smallest dog, Juniper, is nearly the same size as Pearl, so Pearl things she can wrestle and dominate Juniper. In the few days since Natalie and her dogs arrived, Pearl has been worrying the liver out of June, so much so that June doesn’t want to be in the same room with Pearl.

Teaching Pearl to play nicely with June has been a challenge, especially since Pearl was denied the chance to play with her siblings long enough to learn that biting hurts, and getting jumped on is no fun. Pearl starts with what I call the drive-by, charging at June and then blasting past to coax June to chase her. When the drive-by is unsuccessful, it is quickly followed by the pounce.

I’ve been using behavioral training by stopping Pearl’s bad behavior as soon as it starts.

But what’s really moved the needle is explaining to Pearl telepathically that playing rough isn’t going to turn Juniper into her new best friend. In fact, quite the opposite.

It’s taken three days, but Pearl showed me this morning that she finally “got it.” When June came downstairs, Pearl did her usual drive-by. I got Pearl’s attention by saying her name. When she looked up at me, I reminded her telepathically what we’d talked about: If she want’s June to be her friend, she needs to play the way June likes to play–with a ball or a toy.

Pearl immediately went and found a ball, then dropped it at Juniper’s feet. Success!

Using telepathy along with vigilance in redirecting bad behavior the second it starts, I’m turning Pearl into a pretty good little dog. She’s potty trained now, she doesn’t chase cats or chickens, and she’s playing nicely with her new friend.

Next up: teaching her that horses and donkeys are our friends too.

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