Puppies and The Pack Effect

In June of 2016 I adopted Huckleberry, an 8 week old Chihuahua mix. The other dogs have always helped any newcomer regardless of age learn the routines, but this time I decided to let the other dogs play a more significant role in raising a puppy.  I knew that they could model behavior for him much better than I could. They are dogs after all, and who better to teach a puppy how to be a dog than a pack of dogs?

                             Baby Huckleberry

We can get a feel for how the pack dynamic works when observing a momma dog raising a litter of pups. Puppies learn invaluable information from their mother and litter-mates, but that usually ends when the pups are old enough to go to their own homes. Then it’s up to us to continue their “education” about the world. Sometimes the new home has one or perhaps even a few adult dogs, who depending on their own experience with other dogs, may or may not engage with the puppy or share in helping to raise the pup.

Witnessing a puppy becoming part of an established pack made up of dogs of multiple ages, sizes and breeds, which is what I was doing, is not a common experience. Probably the closest thing for most people would be watching groups of dogs or puppies interact at the dog park or doggie day care, but I still wouldn’t consider the dogs in these situations an actual pack, as the group members change on a regular basis, and don’t live together 24 hours a day. They get together for the expressed purpose of running, and playing. I have a rather unique situation living with my own established pack, and believe me they do most of the work with any new dog, and puppies in particular.

       Huck with Rudy

When I met Huck, I knew he had the right kind of energy for our pack. He was calm and sweet, not fearful or timid, and pretty laid back in general. Overall I’d say that he was a really good, easy puppy. He learned the daily routine, manners, and doggie etiquette from watching the other dogs and modeling their behavior.  He had plenty of playmates and disciplinarians among the other dogs, and they did a great job of raising him. He has grown into a wonderful little guy, still sweet and calm, friendly, happy and overall just one of the gang.

                                         Napping with his baby toys.

I was recently made keenly aware of just how well mannered and grounded Huck is with the adoption of Cubby and Sox.  I adopted them shortly after Huck’s first birthday and they were approximately a year old as well – so basically the same age as Huck. But, as I explained in the post “Newbies” these two brothers were a VERY different experience… they were fine with the other dogs for the most part, but as far as house manners they were (and sometimes still are) quite naughty! They are also very shy with new people.  Now that they’ve been here with the pack for a few months they’ve learned a lot, but I doubt they will ever have great house manners, or run up to greet strangers – which is fine of course. Several of the adult dogs who live here have “issues” that’s why they ended up here with the rest of us misfits! We accept everyone for who they are here, and I’ll admit it isn’t a completely fair comparison since all dogs are individuals, but I do feel it is evidence of how effective the pack has been in raising Huck.

                 Huck & Rex                                                                                        Huck & Nemo                              

My two best all around dogs by far are Nemo and Rex – I adopted them both as puppies, and took them through multiple classes while I was working as a trainer. Without a doubt the other dogs were also quite instrumental in raising them as well, but at the time I just kind of took their input for granted. With Huck it was more deliberate on my part to allow the pack to do most of the work for me.  Socializing him with people was the only thing I made sure to do.  As you can see from the pictures below, when he met my brother Tim, and a few months later my niece Mia, socializing was a breeze.



 Here he is today all grown up!

You may think that I’m I’m a glutton for punishment, but I adopted another puppy last week. Once again I will take full advantage of the pack’s input in raising this new baby too. The new puppy’s name is Ferris – more about him coming soon.



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