Today, in addition to having Technician appointments and Doctor appointments, I went into a patient’s room with Dr. Kris. The client had just adopted a new Golden Retriever puppy (whom she named Jagger), and she brought Jagger in for his first checkup as well as to ask Dr. Kris questions about his behavior and relationship with her other dog (named Jake). Jagger is about 8 weeks old, and his owner said that if he isn’t sleeping, he’s extremely hyper (like a normal puppy). She said that most of Jagger’s energy is directed on her, which has been wearing her out lately. She also stated that recently, Jagger has started to focus a lot of energy on Jake as well, and she’s worried about how their relationship is going to play out. Jagger has been taking toys from Jake and starting to snoop around/eat from Jake’s food bowl, but other than that he’s been fairly mellow (i.e. he’ll be hyper one minute and then sleeping the next), and Jake hasn’t retaliated yet when his toys or food have been taken. Dr. Kris said that of course, all of this can obviously still change; Jagger is still a young puppy and could become even more hyper, and Jake can still decide one of these days that he won’t tolerate Jagger taking is things anymore. She said that when Jake decides that, he’s most likely to do a warning snap at Jagger to get him to back off, and usually, that will work and Jagger will stop what he’s doing for a little while. Right now Jagger doesn’t really understand right from wrong/what he can and can’t do, and the fact that his owner and Jake and his only playmates make it more difficult and tiring for them as well. The owner said that she is going to take Jagger to a doggie day care for half a day for twice a week so he can be socialized with other dogs. On a health note, Jagger looked perfectly healthy after Dr. Kris checked him over; he has already received his distemper and parvovirus vaccines as well as his booster shot, and he received his Kennel Cough vaccine today.
One of the major that Dr. Kris focused on during this puppy conversation/explanation was food. Since Jagger is hanging around Jake a lot (and his food bowl) and taking his toys, Dr. Kris said that this could cause Jake to get very protective of his food (she said that dogs get more protective over their food rather than anything else because they know/realize food is a scarce resource). Therefore, not only will he get protective of his food when Jagger is there, but whenever anyone is by his food bowl (again, there aren’t any problems so far, but if this behavioral cycle between Jake and Jagger continues, Jake’s behavior could change to something like this). Of course, Jake is on adult food and Jagger is on puppy food. Dr. Kris said giving a little bit of extra-yummy food with their regular food will help both dogs understand that it’s a good thing when someone is by their food dish, rather than making them feel like they have to protect their dish. She also said to leave them alone while they eat, and then take their dish away after eating for the same reason; so that they don’t ever get the feeling that they need to protect their bowl. Since Jagger is a pretty new member to the family, she told the owner to start having Jake and Jagger eat in separate rooms for a while so that again, they don’t get protective of their food, and therefore don’t hurt each other. Once both of them are on dog food, she said that they can eat in the same room again. All of these steps can help prevent conflicts and ill-feelings between the two dogs, but Dr. Kris also warned and said that if they do have any conflicts or spiffs, not to interfere and let them sort it out themselves because they will then need to learn how to deal with and understand each other. The only time the owner should interfere is if it looks like one of them (more so Jagger, since he’s the puppy) is going to get hurt, but since Jake knows Jagger is just a puppy, he shouldn’t try to do anything to harm him other than to warn him to stop whatever he’s doing; therefore, Dr. Kris simply advised to her to keep an eye on them just in case, but to not interfere unless it starts to get serious.
Jagger, the Golden Retriever puppy.