Dear Miss Behavin’: Our older dog, Josie, was recently injured and had to get stitches. Our younger dog, Jimmy, is very rambunctious and keeps pestering Josie has she rests. We want to keep the peace but don’t want to banish Jimmy to the back yard. Any tips to help us manage them until Josie recovers?
Not all dogs are intuitive enough to sense when another is injured or not feeling well. Jimmy likely needs some guidance and training from you to help him understand how to appropriately interact with Josie as she recovers. He will also need plenty of exercise on his own to help him relax more when he is around Josie. Josie, on the other hand, needs to be assured that she is safe and won’t be bothered by Jimmy.
Start by setting up an area for Josie where she can relax comfortably, like a bed or a crate, and don’t allow Jimmy to approach her in this space. That may mean leaving a leash on Jimmy for a little while until he learns the rules. When he approaches her in her safe space, call his name or pick up his leash and lead him away, and engage him in another activity like tug or practicing basic obedience. If he has trouble staying away from Josie, try putting an x-pen up to visually define her area.
Help Josie feel more relaxed around Jimmy by doing calm activities they both enjoy when they are together. For example, practice basic obedience training side by side. If she is not very mobile, you can work on things like “watch me” for eye contact or “touch” where she touches your palm with her nose. If she does still have her mobility, go on leisurely strolls together. Make sure each dog has their own handler, so that Jimmy can be kept from trying to play with her while you’re out.