If you’re like me I love to have a gazillion doodles running around (warranting someone who can help scoop the poop). But the reality of being a doodle hoarder doesn’t work. But having 2 or maybe 3 sounds more reasonable. Walter’s mom shares what it was like adding him to their family where his big brother Cody wasn't so quick to welcome him with open paws.
Thank you to Walter’s mom for sharing their story and be sure to follow him for more of his adventures @walterthegentlegiant
How many dogs do you have? How old are they? What breed are they? Where are you located?
We have 2 dogs in our family -- Cody, our 13-year-old blind chihuahua mix, and Walter, our 5 month old sheepadoodle puppy. Together with my husband Ben, our family of four live in Atlanta, Georgia.
What made you decide to get multiple dogs? How did you introduce them?
Although Ben has been a part of Cody's daily life for the last few years, Cody is still primarily my dog who is fiercely loyal to me since I raised him as a pup. We decided to add Walter to our family because Ben and I wanted to experience raising a dog together and at the same time, have a dog that would also match our active lifestyles. When introducing Walter, an energetic and large puppy, to Cody, our very reserved and docile senior dog, we wanted to be mindful of Cody's sensitivities so we knew we wanted to go very slowly to ensure it was a positive, stressless experience for all involved. The first couple of days that we brought Walter home, we let them sniff each other through a gate and that was it. Slowly, we progressed to having them in the same room by placing Cody on the couch and Walter on the rug and now, they're comfortable enough to share the same bed or couch! Walter has been obsessed with Cody since day one, always trying to cuddle him even if it's only with the touch of a paw. Most recently, we are so excited that Walter's constant love has helped Cody to come out of his shell a bit more as his fondness for his big little brother continues to grow.
Training Walter? Was it easier or harder ?
It's taken a lot of practice and patience to train Walter to be gentle around Cody but because sheepadoodles are an intelligent breed, Walter understood the concept of being gentle much more quickly than we expected. We were lucky that Walter was so food motivated that we could simply use his regular kibble as treats for good behavior. Not all dogs are the same, however, and I think the key to training is not only consistency but also identifying what really motivates your dog so that you can reward them with things that are truly rewarding to them.
Would you do anything different?
We brought Walter into our family at the beginning of March right before our country went into quarantine due to COVID, which meant at least one of us was home with him pretty much all of the time. As the lockdown restrictions became more lenient and we started to venture outside together, we found that Walter had a bit of separation anxiety when we had to leave him alone because he had never been left at home without us for his entire life. We have been working on leaving him in a secured area for increasing amounts of time and can now leave him alone without worry or stress for a few hours at a time. Looking back, we would’ve saved all of us a bit of trouble had we started leaving him at home alone for even short amounts of time through the quarantine.
The only other thing we would have done differently is investing in a small doggie lawn sooner to help with potty training! When Walter was very young, he had to use the restroom every 15-20 minutes. Because we live on the second floor of an apartment, it was truly a never ending circus of walking to the elevator, waiting on the elevator to go down, taking him out, waiting on the elevator to go back up, etc. only to have 5 free minutes before we had to do it all over again! The day we got the doggie lawn, which we left on our balcony with the door ajar, was the day Walter started making leaps and bounds towards being fully potty trained. It really made a world of difference.
Any big surprises?
The biggest surprise was how much energy Walter has around other dogs. He is pretty relaxed at home but around other dogs, he has absolutely no chill. If they let him, he will play for hours on hours. Even when we watch him through his doggy daycare cameras, he is the only dog who doesn’t nap for even a minute just in case he misses cues from another dog who wants to play. Another surprise was how quickly Walter grew! We knew he’d be a big boy because his dad is 80 pounds and his mom is 65 pounds but he grew like a weed his first few months with us. He quickly outgrew his crate within the first month and we had to upgrade him to one that’s large enough for even me to climb into!
Tips you would give families contemplating bringing in their 2nd dog?
Take your current dog with you to help you pick his or her sibling. The addition of a second dog can be stressful on all family members so it’s nice to include all family members in this decision!
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