Little Betty isn't quite so little any more and at six months of age, is a very sweet natured young lady, full of energy, curiosity and fun. We've been going to obedience school for the past couple of months and training is going pretty well in the main, the only real issue being her tendency to pull on the lead like a mini steam train. Betty has a natural zest for life and wants to do everything at a hundred miles an hour!
So, my vision of Polly and Betty walking calmly side by side on lead walks has gone by the board for the time being and instead, I've had to make time to take Missy Steam Train on short training walks on her own, using clicker, treats, praise and fun training, to encourage her to walk at a pace I can actually keep up with! We receive odd looks from passersby as we weave through bollards, change direction unexpectedly in the middle of paths and walk in circles round trees, but who cares, Betty enjoys her local training sessions and they have started to help her focus attention on me. She is making good progress in short puppy spurts, so with consistent training, should hopefully become easier to walk with ... eventually. I seem to remember Polly was also very hard work in those first months, but these days is a delight to walk, so there's still hope for little sis!
Taking on a puppy has made me aware of the need to review routines regularly to make sure both dogs are provided with the training, fun and exercise they need. It's a time consuming process and I often nod off on the sofa in the evenings because I'm so tired, but I believe the extra effort to ensure their individual needs are met is definitely worth making. Polly and Betty have separate training classes at the moment - Betty does formal obedience training and agility work and Polly has moved on to working with a guide dog trainer, to fine tune her obedience work in real life situations. My husband and I also walk our girls together on their leads in the evening, to work on improving Betty's lead walking when she is out with Polly, then during day time I either walk both girls individually (one after the other) to give them off lead play and sniff time as well as lead walking, brave the 'splitter lead' and take them out together, or I pop them in the car and drive somewhere they can run, forget about leads and simply enjoy being sisters together.
So if you are thinking of adopting a puppy and already have an older dog, don't believe anyone who tells you two dogs are just as easy to manage as one! In my experience so far, two dogs are definitely twice as much hard work and there's no doubt in my mind they make twice as much mud and twice as much mischief!
Thankfully though, eight paws aren't just about mud and hard work.
Double the dogs also equals double the doggy fun!!!