M is for Mentoring

The M in DREAM stands for Mentoring, and it’s important to us to help people who need a little assistance with their dachshunds to help them keep their dogs instead of turning them over to rescue. It’s also really important to us to stay in touch with our adopted dogs, so that if issues arise we can help the family to help their new doggie adjust.

This came up last week for a recent adoptee. (names have been changed to protect the innocent).

Oliver (not his real name) came to DREAM after he was found stray. He was a very submissive and shy boy who would always back down from a tussle with the other dogs at home. He got used to being in a “pack” and, to the security that a pack offers.

Oliver was adopted by Anastasia (not her real name, but she’s the type of gal that could pull off a name like Anastasia). He moved into her new condo, just the two of them, and life was great.

However, Anastasia was a first time dog owner and, let’s say, not a real dominant type person. She’s a very nurturing person. What Oliver started to do was to protect Anastasia when they went on walks, trying to beat up every dog that came their way. That led to Anastasia acting nervous whenever they went on walks (and especially when they saw other dogs), which just reinforced Oliver’s opinion that walks were scary for her and he needed to protect her.

So, here’s what we advised Anastasia, who loves Oliver very much and wants to help him be a good dog.

The biggest thing to remember is that Oliver needs to see Anastasia as a confident leader, so that HE doesn’t feel he has the responsibility of leading, or protecting her.

When they go on walks, she should walk quickly and with confidence. If they see another dog, she should switch direction and walk briskly in the other way, showing no indication of nervousness. She should never try to comfort or hold him when he is doing something she dosn’t like — it reinforces the behavior (also good advice for storms, btw).

At home, she needs to follow the prescriptions of Jan Fennell, The Dog Listener (fantastic book for ALL dog owners). She eats first – he gets nothing until after she has eaten. He doesn’t get on the bed or furniture without her permission. When they leave the house, she goes through the door first. (I also advise that Oliver not sleep with her in the bed for a period of 4 weeks, but she’s reluctant to do that because their snuggling is an important part of their relationship).

Stay tuned for more on Oliver and his new home, and many thanks to “Anastasia” for being such a great mother and learning what to do to help her new little boy.


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