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Your Dog Training And Behaviour Questions Answered

Emma asks:  I'm bringing a Havanese puppy home in two months and I'm struggling to find any information regarding the best way to introduce the puppy to public transport?

Image courtesy of Robert Stuhldreer

As soon as the pup is old enough, I will be bringing him to work with me. This will involve a short bus or tube ride.

With the other pups I have trained, I have always found that introducing them to a new situation or to new people is most successful when they are able to meet people sitting down or slowly walk into a new place and assess the situation themselves. Unfortunately, I can't see this as a option on the underground or a busy bus.

I was wondering if you have any tips on how I can make the journeys as calm as possible for the pup (I will of course avoid peak rush hr!).

Thank you so much for your time.

Debbie Connolly answers:

There's a lot you can do in the initial period when the puppy is waiting for vaccinations.  Start with noise desensitising.  Download bus and train sounds and also loud chatter and shouting.  Play very softly at first, building up with plenty of praise and treats but don't mollycoddle, act like it doesn't bother you, either.

Do not move on to more loudly until the puppy is totally happy at each level.

Next, when puppy is totally happy with the sounds, hang about bus stops.  Don't get on yet, just approach, stand and leave, lots of praise.  Same with train stations.  Just entering is scary.  See if there is anyone local with a clam dog that does this already and see if they will go with you.  Even just one stop and back, dogs get a lot of encouragement from an older, calm dog.

I would give the puppy a drop or two of Bach Rescue Remedy before and possibly during the first couple of trips to help her relax. Start with noise, move on to approaches, then go for it with Bach Remedy back up.

Jean asks:  Why won’t my dogs play together?


I have four love bugs [2 Westies 1 min pin 1 Yorkie x] but I am really concerned that they do not play around together especially since our new addition [ex-puppy farm] as she does not understand what they are doing and barks at them which stops them pronto! They do sleep a lot and we are out for 1 hour every day in the big park....even then they do not play together...I am feeling guilty, but do not know what I have done!!

Would taking our new addition to classes help?

Debbie Connolly answers:

I'm not sure if you got this dog through a rescue? If so, didn't they give you some advice about integrating her and what to expect?

Puppy farm dogs do not live with or socialise with other dogs. They can only see, hear and smell them which can be terrifying. She won't have any idea what dogs are or what they do and their behaviour is worrying her.

You must not force her to play, she needs time to understand what they are doing, occasionally they never learn to play or interact, just observe. Her barking is worrying the others, so they stop.

Ideally she should have a safe den, such as a cage covered over with the door open. When she is overwhelmed she should be encouraged to go into it, leaving just the front uncovered. Remember she is used to a small space and although sad, it's her den.

She is likely to be very stressed too and I would recommend that you give her Zylkene, a natural milk protein used as a stress remedy. You can get this from your vet or online as it is not a drug. This may well make her relax a bit, but overall, it's a question of time and patience and don't push too hard.

Regarding taking her to classes, I would get her started on Zylkene first and see the results. Once she is feeling better you might reconsider this option.

Just go along and walk around, you don't necessarily want to join in. In fact I'd go alone first and work out which are the calmest, gentlest dogs, speak to the owners and see if you can come the following week with her and then you know which dogs to start with.

In the meantime, cover her cage, as she's used to it.  This is a good idea.  Just quietly encourage her in if the dogs are a bit much at times.

Good luck with her.

If you have a dog training or behaviour question please e-mail us at info@londondogforum and we will answer you as soon as possible.  We will not publish your problem on the site unless we have asked your permission and, if we do publish your question, you are welcome remain anonymous . 

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