Bonding the puppy to a secondary Alpha human, who travels for work
by Alex Wallis
My girlfriend and I recently decided to get a puppy to be a companion for her 8yr old Husky (almost purebreed). I've wanted a puppy for a long time, and we came across some puppies available close by of the breed we were looking for.
She picked up Chalca, an 18 week old husky/shepard cross.
She got her home last night, and is experiencing all the signs of a puppy who was not very well prepared for re-homing. Separation anxiety (velcro), and she has very little, or no leash experience, and is not yet housebroken. However, we are confident we can work through those problems with time and love, and using the helpful advice you have here on your site.
The question I would like to pose is to see if you have any advice that would help us with bonding her with myself. The problem is that I travel very frequently for work, and am gone for 3-4 weeks at a time, and only home for 2-3 weeks before I leave again. We know already that this is going to make it difficult to create a strong bond with the puppy, and we've accepted that the puppy will most likely have a very strong bond with my girlfriend.
Unfortunately the puppy just came home, and I am at work for just under 3 weeks, and though we have skype to communicate, I feel the sound of my voice will not be enough to create that strong bond.
I will only be home for 2 weeks when I get there, but we've arranged for 2 private puppy training courses with a professional friend of ours, with 1 private course before I arrive to instill the basics and practice before I get home.
It was the intention to try and get the puppy to form a primary bond with me, but we know that would be very difficult to do. This summer is the best opportunity for us to try, as I have arranged to be home for 3 full months (with only 1 short 3-day break for a wedding), and this is the only opportunity we see in the forseeable future to try and create a strong bond with a puppy.
We feel that her age, coupled with my relatively lengthy stay at home will help to form a strong bond between her and I, but we were wondering if there were any techniques or tips you might have that would help us.
I can't wait to get home and spend all my time with the puppy. Hopefully the skype chats we have will at least allow her to recognize my voice from a distance, and I am negotiating with my company to change my schedule to 3 weeks home, 3 weeks away, and try to have a more structured schedule.
Apologies for the lengthy/rambly email. I hope you have a chance to respond.
It sounds as though you've thought this all through very carefully and with the level of commitment you both have to making sure your new pup bonds with both you and your girlfriend, I don't think you're going to have too much trouble.
As your girlfriend is the one who spends most of her time with the dogs, then obviously they are likely to be closer to her overall, but that doesn't mean you can't build a good relationship with the new puppy over time.
I'd recommend that when you're at home, you take over the day-to-day care of the pup in terms of feeding, grooming, training, exercise, play etc. Don't cut your girlfriend out entirely, but you become primary caregiver. This will help Chalca to see you as a provider and that builds respect (and a certain amount of dependence)which will help.
When you are away your scent will still be in the home and she hears your voice regularly so will feel familiar with you to some extent even before you get to spend more time with her.
As your schedule will hopefully become more stable in the future, and you have a long period of time with her during the summer, I wouldn't worry too much about this.
I hope this has put your mind at rest some and I wish you all lots of luck. Enjoy your new pup and try not to worry too much, I'm sure she's going to settle in and love her new home and family very much.