[Gpdd] Care: Linda: Adjusting your dog to the piggies

Carla Martinez cmartinez36 at houston.rr.com
Sat Mar 11 21:40:32 EST 2006

Linda was asking for advice on how to get your dogs to adapt to the piggies.
I got some great advice from a friend when we got our dog, so I want to pass
it on. In our case, we had the gpigs before the dog. Since dogs follow a
pack hierarchy, our dog, being the sensible boy that he is, could probably
see that as the last arrival he was at the bottom of the pack. And since his
orientation, has always treated the pigs with the respect they deserve.

This friend of mine, her advice worked. Our dog is a young active
mischievous dog, who is a large wheaten terrier mix. (Terriers were
originally bred to catch rodents.) I don't know what the prey instincts of
Shih Tzus are .... and whether to try this with only one or both at the same
time. I think with both would be more natural.

But what she advised us to do was to put the dog on a leash on one side of
the room with another family member and some treats and a toy. Then the main
guinea pig caretaker is on the other side of the room interacting with one
of the guinea pigs. The dog maybe wants to see the pig up close, but the
person taking care of the dog is giving the dog lots of attention and
petting and play and does not let him go over. The dog is distracted. 

Meanwhile the person taking care of the piggie is treating the guinea pig
with the care and love of a human baby, cooing and whatever. This sends the
dog the message that the piggie is highly valued by you, and is in fact a
family member. But yet the dog does not get too jealous because he is
getting lots of attention. Just like with siblings!

She told us to do this quite a few times over a period of days. Over time
you let the dog gradually get closer to the pig. I did this until Fluff the
dog would walk right up and sniff the pig with great curiosity but not do
anything aggressive. I would tell him protectively "This is my baby." 
She also advised not giving the dog any cuddly toys to tear up or snacks
that may whet their appetite for live prey. Fluff actually has one stuffed
toy, a green alligator I chose with great care to not resemble our gpigs in
tone or shape. I call it his "baby" if he gets too rough with it and I call
the guinea pigs "babies" to him too. He has never torn up his baby!

 And still I remained on alert for two years. Until recently we always
confined Fluff into the bedroom with us at bedtime, because I didn't know if
he could just go bonkers one night and go on a rampage. I still do not let
the pigs be unguarded out of their enclosure with Fluff. He has to go
outdoors when the piggies are on floor time or napping alone on the sofa.
When he comes in he likes to eat their poos. They are like pep pills for
him. If he wanted to, Fluff could easily jump up and pull Snowball's
enclosure over in order to get himself a snack, but he doesn't.

Something curious is that I observe Fluff working to control himself at
times. If Snowball is in my arms Fluff might look at the piggie intently for
a few moments and then look away, go get a toy or even take himself
outdoors. Fluff reminds me of a gentleman that would avert his eyes if he
came across a lady undressed, to avoid impure thoughts, LOL. I'm so proud of
him for adjusting, and I credit it to my friend's advice overcoming his
terrier instincts. Plus he's just a darn good dog.

Good luck and let us hear how your pack adjusts! 

Carla and the Fairly Peaceable Kingdom

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