Abby was very excited when I arrived to pick her up. She recognized my car, and as soon as I got out, she started whining and lunging with excitement. Then, she saw my friend, Tanya – but, instead of full-on barking at her, Abby huffed at her a few times and then stood back to observe her. She did make a few attempts to sniff Tanya, but if Tanya moved even a little, she immediately reacted with barking and huffing. She was very nervous and kept her tail slightly between her legs whenever she approached Tanya.
Abby is very anxious about getting into vehicles. Cindy has to pick Abby up and put her in their truck; then, Abby is fine. To help Abby burn off some of her anxiety, excitement, and general pent-up energy, I took her to my car and started the process of conditioning her to the doors being opened and closed. I was taken by surprise when, after only a few minutes of working her, Abby climbed into the back seat on her own. She was scared and shaking, but she didn’t try to bolt out; instead, she curled into a ball at the opposite side and stayed there. I verbally rewarded her, and then I got her buckled in. Then, I closed the doors [windows were open just enough that she could get her nose out but not her head] and went to talk with Cindy for a couple of minutes.
Abby was calm and quiet on the drive to my home. When we arrived and I went to get her out of the car, Abby was very hesitant and nervous and refused to be guided out. However, her hesitation was very brief, and then she came out slowly and cautiously.
I gave Abby lots of time to sniff everywhere she could reach on the leash. She was doing really well… and then, she saw my husband. She immediately reacted by barking and growling at him and pulling hard on the leash. I saw her tail was tucked deep between her legs. I instructed him to be still, be quiet, and to avoid making eye contact with her, and I moved her away and then brought her back around to try again. The best I was able to achieve with her was to reduce the volume of her growling, ease up her lunging, and change her bark into hard, heavy huffs.
Abby was slowly moved forward, into the main yard. Once we reached the back yard, she was given several minutes of sniffing and exploration time while my husband and Tanya talked. After about 15 minutes, it was time to take Abby into the house. Glimmer was waiting for her at the door; Abby was surprised, but then she reached out to sniff, and almost right away, she felt better. Glimmer invited her into the house, and though she was hesitant, Abby followed.
Abby was slowly introduced to the various areas of the house. She was on leash the entire time. When we reached my bedroom, she was introduced to the kennel she’ll be sleeping in. She was very nervous about it, but then she smelled her bed liner. Before I could blink, she was inside the kennel, as far back as she could get herself. I removed her leash, closed the kennel door, covered the windows and half of the door with a light blanket, and Abby laid down and went to sleep. She slept for just over an hour.
Abby took her supper very well. She was hand fed in my office, with the office door closed. The first lessons she had to learn were that she was not in control of the food, and, in order to receive the food, she had to give me eye contact and she had to take it gently. She did really well with the exercise – and she ate her entire meal. Afterwards, I took her out to the back yard so she could explore and smell more, and to do her business. She did her business, and then she went back to exploring and smelling everything for a few more minutes. I let her decide when she’d had enough, and then I took her back inside.
Abby will be on an umbilical lead this first week to help her adjust to the new environment. To help with that, I have her in my office with me – with the door open to allow Glimmer and Violet to come and see her if they want to. Because she is always on high alert and she can’t relax, Abby has to learn how to do nothing. Having her on an umbilical lead prevents her from wandering around on her own, while at the same time, teaching her how to become calmer and more relaxed.
Abby went down for the night with no problems. She had no in-house accidents, and so far, she has been very responsive to Glimmer’s cues. She has been reasonably respectful of Glimmer’s boundaries, and she has already learned to give Violet space and leave her alone. Abby wants to make friends with Violet, but she seems to understand that she has to be patient and wait for Violet to come around – which she will, when she’s ready to.
Abby’s pick-up and arrival was very stressful for her. She has very high separation anxiety; combined with all the changes that took place in a matter of hours, this intensified Abby’s stress. However, although she was completely overwhelmed, she handled the entire situation better than I expected; she trusted me just enough to allow me to guide and direct her.
All things considered, Abby’s arrival into the Happy Dawgs household went very well. Aside from her intense reactivity towards my husband, Abby had a successful arrival and first night. Stay tuned for the coming update about her first night…