Last year it was a big adjustment for me to welcome a dog to our little homestead. I am a cat person, but my husband is a dog person. Besides being a dog lover, he wanted a dog on the homestead that could be a good watch and guard dog. We also wanted a dog to help protect our chickens. We brought home a bully pit (American bulldog/Pitbull mix) and he turned out to be way too friendly for a watch/guard dog, but he does keep predators away from the chickens. He still has a place in the family, but we decided he needed a friend.
Our Bullweiler Hadassah. Photo by Faithful Homesteader
After some discussion about what breed we wanted, and some research, my husband thought that a Bullweiler (American bulldog/Rottweiler mix) could fit the bill of what we were looking for in a dog. They are known to be good guard dogs and quite smart. I was reluctant to get a second dog, but I did like the idea of a playmate for our dog Nuddie. (Learn more about to choose the best farm dog for your homestead.)
I had so many growing pains with Nuddie, and I certainly lost my patience on many occasions. It has been my goal to do better with our new dog. We had a boy so we decided on a girl this time. We named her Hadassah. When we first brought her home she was a lot more laid back than Nuddie. He is what we call a velcro dog, but she is more independent. Right away we could tell she was going to be the boss of him.
Hadassah and our bullypit Nuddie. Photo by Faithful Homesteader
When we first brought her home, we put Nuddie outside and let Hadassah meet our cat Abigail. We let them be around each other for a time and let them acknowledge each other in a calm settled environment, loving on both of them during this time. Then we brought Nuddie inside and let him meet her. He can be so excitable, so we did have to watch him closely. He was so infatuated with her right away. It didn’t take long for them to become playmates.
Since we want Hadassah to be a guard dog, we are socializing her differently. We expose her to people, but we do not have people pet her or really interact with her. We want her to be more standoffish. We take her places so she gets exposure being around people, but we don't let people love on her. So far she has done quite well.
Nuddie is a help when it comes to training her because he already has all the commands down. If he gets to be too much, we put him in the crate for a time, but usually we leave him out during training sessions. Hadassah looks at Nuddie and copies him when it comes to commands. Before getting a second dog, my husband told me that a first dog can be a big help with a second dog because they can help teach the new dog how to behave. I have found this to be true and a big help. Since we want to make sure the dogs listen to us, and only us, we have trained Nuddie to know his commands in a mix of two foreign languages, as well as sign language. We don’t use English and we're doing the same with Hadassah.
In the area of play, it certainly takes a load off of us to have two dogs. They do well with entertaining themselves. I like to make sure that both dogs get enough love and attention from both of us though. When we take Hadassah outside on her own, Nuddie sits at the backdoor whining. He is just a year old, and he is still such a baby.
Nuddie is pretty good with the chickens these days and he helps teach Hadassah how to behave. Broody chickens stand up to him pretty well and kind of put him in his place. We are working on exposing Hadassah to the chickens, and teaching her to not go after them. We hold the chickens in the dogs' face and scold them if they go after the chickens.
Hadassah got chased by one of our moody, broody chickens. Maybe that will help her get the message not to mess with them. We want her to realize they are a part of the family and to afford them the same courtesy as anyone else. We do make sure to spend time in the yard with the chickens from a distance. I will be glad when she is too big to go under the deck where the chickens have their safe haven. I am looking forward to getting through the training stage and having two good, adult dogs as part of our little homestead family.