This is what I call it when the owners of a lovely dog decide the time is right for a second dog – and the second dog bonds to the first dog, not the owners.
The bond between dog and owner is lovely to see, and it’s essential for training purposes, especially if you want to take your dog off the lead for a run.
Before I explain any more I’ll tell you about the incident that gave me the idea for the blog.
A walk in Thorndon Park, on a weekend, so it was a busy day, lots of owners out with their dogs, and lovely to see. We walked past a couple with a Greyhound and a young white Lurcher. We’d seen them before, and the lurcher had a run round with my dogs before heading back to his owner as we increased the distance between us. This time though, I had another dog with me, and they made friends and had a play together as we walked. The owners of the lurcher started whistling for their dog, but he decided he was coming with us. In the end we got quite far apart, with their dog showing no interest in returning. So we stopped walking so they could catch up and get their dog.
Five minutes later, still no owners – they haven’t moved and are still whistling. I’m now left in an uncomfortable position, because I’m not just out for a walk – I’m working and on a timetable. I could carry on walking, with their dog still with us, and effectively create a ‘lost dog’ if it stays with us all the way to the car park and I drive off, or I can make myself late for the rest of the day by walking back to the dog’s owners with their dog. Neither of which I am very happy about. Luckily, another family with a dog went past – they had also seen the lurcher on previous walks enjoying the company of everyone but its owners – and they swept the dog along with them as they were heading that way.
What the owners have inadvertently done was allow their young dog unlimited, 24/7 access to their older dog, while limiting its access to them (going to the loo, to bed, out shopping, possibly working etc), so all the dog’s social needs were being met by a dog. The result was what I say that day in December. A dog who wanted to play and be with other dogs, and because the owners kept up a constant whistle, the dog was able to cock his ears every few minutes, check the whistling was still within his comfort range, and carry on. Owners are still near enough to return to when he was ready. By the time I stopped walking though, he’d stopped checking in. He was quite happy being with my dogs and obviously saw no need to go back. He had no real idea he was suppose to go back to his owner when called.
My dogs have no real interest in other dogs after the initial sniffing and greeting rituals. Their social needs are met mostly by me, with a smaller amount of time playing with each other at home. Had my dogs also been playful, I might have lost them too – or worse, the lurcher might have decided he wanted to move in with us!
So please, when you get a second dog, or even your first dog, ensure YOU are the most important thing in your pup’s life from early on – if you need professional advice, it’s out there for the taking, just call a good local trainer.
The poor lurcher has been on a lead every time I’ve seen him since then, which is a sad thing for a breed that just loves to run.
What are your views on having a second dog and problems with recall?