WHY IS OLDER PUPPY JET SUDDENLY AFRAID OF YOUNGER PUPPY ABBEY?
by Diana Dove
(Fort Worth, TX, USA)
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ANSWERING MY QUESTIONS BACK IN JUNE '08 BEFORE I BROUGHT HOME MY BELOVED STANDARD POODLE, JET.
STANDARDS ARE LIKE LAY'S POTATO CHIPS; YOU CAN'T HAVE JUST ONE...YES, WE GOT ANOTHER ONE. HER NAME IS ABBEY; SHE'S A COUPLE OF MONTHS YOUNGER THAN JET.
THEY TOOK TO ONE ANOTHER INSTANTLY; THEY WERE LIKE PEAS AND CARROTS FOR WEEKS. THEN A FEW DAYS AGO, INSTEAD OF TAKING TURNS CHASING ONE ANOTHER ABOUT, JET BEGAN RUNNING AWAY FROM ABBEY, TAIL TUCKED, OFTEN HIDING BEHIND ME TO GET AWAY FROM HER.
HE DOESN'T EVEN WANT TO GO OUTSIDE WITH HER ANYMORE, HE NO LONGER APPROACHES HER TO INITIATE PLAY. AT FIRST WE THOUGHT HE WAS ILL, BUT HE IS NOT. WHAT HAPPENED? I MAKE SURE THAT THEY HAVE 'SEPARATE' LIVES BECAUSE AT FIRST IT OCCURRED TO ME THAT THEY MIGHT BE BONDING EXCLUSIVELY WITH ONE ANOTHER, AS COMPARED TO INDEPENDENTLY BONDING WITH US.
WHEN I MAKE HIM STAY OUTSIDE WITH HER HE LAYS IN FRONT OF THE DOOR WAITING FOR ME TO LET HIM IN. WHAT HAPPENED? NEED WE BE CONCERNED?
WE ARE BAFFLED; ANY INSIGHT WOULD BE GREATLY APPRECIATED.
Yes, I know what you mean about not being able to have 'just one'! I don't have Poodles, mine are Rottweilers, but I have several - and they're all adorable.
What's happening with Jet and Abbey could be something to do with their ages, with personality differences, or something could have happened between them that you didn't see, or aren't aware of and it shook Jet's confidence.
Puppies go through fairly rapid developmental stages, and 'fear period' are fairly common. During these times, a puppy seems suddenly afraid or nervous around people, places or things, that they were previously fine with. This is one of the reasons that on-going socialization is important in a puppy's life. Last week the trash can may have been nothing more than a big, green, plastic container to your puppy, whereas this week it may be a huge, terrifying monster. It's quite unpredictable.
If Jet is going through a fear period, and Abbey is a tad more dominant than him, or maybe hurt him by accident when playing, it could scare him quite a bit. It's important not to 'coddle' him about this though, as this tends to reinforce fear based behavior.
It sounds as though you're doing everything right, and this is most likely just a 'phase' that they're going through. It most cases the dogs work it out for themselves, and you may find that there's an almost continuous fluctuation of their behavior/relationship as they both grow and mature.
Although Abbey is only a few months younger than Jet, that makes quite a bit of difference in terms of maturity and development. As you had Jet first, he is likely to be more closely bonded with you than with Abbey, which is not a bad thing. You definitely want them the strongest bonds to be with their human family, especially as they are still developing and there's going to be some training and other interactions to work on.
I would just make sure that they both gets lots of love and attention, both individually with you and your family, and jointly. Try to take some fun outings with them both, so that they enjoy the good stuff (such as the dog park, play sessions, cuddles on the sofa etc.) together. I have a feeling that this will work itself out given time.
Enrolling them in a Obedience Classes would probably be a good idea too. It helps to build and strengthen the relationship between human and dog, and is a great socialization experience for them.
Best of luck with both of them!