So you’ve taken the plunge and adopted a dog of your own. Congratulations! But what do you do now? No doubt you’re excited and looking forward to forging a lifelong friendship with your new buddy. The key to helping your new dog make a successful adjustment to your home is being prepared and being patient. It can take anywhere from two days to two months for you and your pet to adjust to each other.
Prepare the things your dog will need in advance. You’ll need a collar and leash, separate food and water bowls, food, and, of course, some toys. We also recommend a crate. Hold off on getting a dog bed until you dog settles in and you’re sure he won’t tear it up. Use old towels for bedding until then. And don’t forget to order an identification tag right away.
Watch your new pet for signs of illness, nasal discharge, cough, vomiting, lethargy or persistent diarrhea. The incubation period for viruses can be a week or more, so a dog that is healthy on the day it’s adopted, could become ill within a week, especially puppies that don’t have fully developed immune systems and are experiencing major stress when they are separated from their mom, siblings and in your home, which is new and scary to a young dog. Vaccinations stimulate immunities which increase as puppies age, but they are not a guarantee to eliminate all illness. Adult animals are more resilient, but still living creatures that can experience health problems. New Pet Health Assurance is designed to protect you against costly medical treatment should your new dog get sick.
- Adult dogs (over one year old) should see a veterinarian at least once a year, twice a year to update their Bordatella vaccination if they are boarded while you are away or if they are regulars at a dog park interacting with other dogs.
- Puppies should have distemper boosters and require more than a yearly visit. Consult with your veterinarian to establish a schedule for visits during puppy’s first year.
- A puppy under 6 months of age that has bloody diarrhea needs to be seen by a veterinarian IMMEDIATELY.
Work out your dog-care regimen in advance among the human members of your household to avoid confusion once the dog arrives. Who will walk the dog first thing in the morning? Who will feed him at night? Will Fido be allowed on the couch, or won’t he? Where will he rest at night? Are there any rooms in the house that are off-limits? Kids can and should help, but remember, adults are the pack leaders and the ones ultimately responsible for taking care of the dog.
Dog Feeding Tips
Overfeeding your dog is the #1 cause of health issues in American pets today. Dogs do not die from being a healthy weight on the slim side, but they do die from obesity. Typically the recommended amounts to feed on dog food packaging are very generous and for some dogs can be as much as twice the amount your dog actually needs, especially if your dog is not highly active. Your best bet? Consult with a veterinarian about the proper amount to feed which is consistent with your dog’s breed, body mass, current health and activity level. Recommended feeding frequency is as follows:
- 8 weeks to 9 months – Feed puppy food twice a day. It is very important that a puppy gets the nutrition found only in puppy food, not adult food.
- 9 months to 1 year – Continue with puppy food, and reduce feeding to once a day, preferably in the evening AFTER the dog sees you eat (see the Training and Discipline section).
- 1 year and over – Switch to adult dog food and feed once a day, in the evening AFTER the dog sees you eat (see the Training and Discipline section). There are many types of food on the market designed to meet various needs, however as a general rule, we recommend premium brands of dry food such as Purina One, Iams, Pedigree, Eukanuba.
- You can sprinkle water on dry food to soften it and make more it aromatic and attractive to the dog.
- If the dog is finicky, you can use a spoonful or two of canned food to mix with the wet dry food. However, most dogs will eventually eat dry food without a problem if they know that is all they will get, and dry food is a healthier choice for them when it comes to caloric consumption and the condition of their teeth.
In a shelter environment, dogs are fed donated food and are not on a premium diet. People frequently want the best for their new dog, and so do we, however, if you immediately put him or her on a premium best food money can buy diet or canned food, those good intentions could lead to a severe case of diarrhea which besides being extremely unpleasant, can derail your housebreaking efforts and become a major problem.
- We recommend that you start a new dog on Purina Puppy Chow or Dog Chow at first which we have found over the years will get you off to a good start with less stress and mess. After a few weeks gradually begin to substitute a premium brand food of your choice.
- If your new friend develops gastrointestinal issues, please contact your veterinarian, who can prescribe a bland prescription died such as Purina EN for a short period of time to allow the stomach issues to resolve.
- Then gradually begin substituting back to either the Puppy or Dog Chow, or begin your gradual switch to a premium brand food of your choice as your dog’s digestion allows it.
Training and Discipline
Dogs need order. Remember, they are pack animals, so make yourself the “pack leader.” Let your pet know from the start who is the boss. A new adult dog, or a maturing puppy in your household is going to “test the waters” to see if just maybe, he can be the boss. From the start, it needs to be clear that YOU are the boss. Children can help, but the dogs know children are not leaders and the dog may attempt to dominate them unless the boss (you) makes it clear that bossy behavior on the part of the dog is unacceptable. Becoming an effective leader may take a bit of time with a new dog, but here are some tips to facilitate your leadership position.
- Food – feed your dog AFTER your dog sees you eat. The leader eats first. Also, feed at scheduled times and do NOT use self feeding food dispensers to feed a dog. This allows the dog to control when it eats and the leader should do that.
- The hunt – Otherwise known as a walk. Dogs need exercise and from a dog’s perspective, going for a walk is the hunt. The leader leads the hunt. A daily walk is a powerful bonding tool between owner and dog and the benefits go far beyond exercise.
- Love – The leader provides lots of love, attention and playtime. Others in the pack can do this too, and should. But if the leader leaves this to others exclusively, it sends mixed messages to the dog about who is the leader.
- Discipline – When you catch him doing something he shouldn’t, let him know immediately, in a loud and disapproving voice, that he has misbehaved. Leaders set boundaries. “NO” should be a loud, sharp and distinct command in a lower deep voice that means NO! Reward him with praise when he does well, too! GOOD DOG should be in an elevated friendly tone. Dogs pick up on low/high voice modulations and understand that a low voice means trouble, and a high voice is a good thing. You don’t have to be a baritone to make this differentiation, but it does help the dog understand what the leader is trying to communicate.
- Sleeping – Ideally dogs should not sleep in your bed. In the dog world the most comfortable place to sleep is reserved for the higher members of the pack. If a dog is allowed to sleep on the bed, the dog must be invited up and should sleep at the foot of the bed to reinforce who is the boss.
- Consistency – Dogs are creatures of habit and are easier to train when they know what to expect and when. Be consistent with feeding, going out, play time, bed time and discipline.
The hardest dog to train is any dog that lives his life as a yard dog, is kept in a pen or crate all the time, or tied to a tree. This dog is in charge of his environment for many hours each day. He tends to be environment centered rather than human centered. He typically has not had many social experiences outside of his environment and because he is not human centered, does not care what you think of his behavior and will do what he wants, when he wants, including using aggressive behavior to get his way and is on a fast track to becoming a vicious dog.
A dog which interacts regularly with humans and is allowed in their environment under the direction of a pack leader (you) is hard wired to be more prone to strive to please their humans, resulting in a better behaved social dog.
Humans are smarter than dogs and in order to be the leader of your dog’s pack, you must be smarter than the dog and be the dog’s leader. This means that if your dog is outsmarting you, pushing you around and behaving badly as he/she attempts to be YOUR leader, get help from a trainer. If your dog is engaged in unacceptable behavior, DO SOMETHING. When you ignore bad or anti-social behavior, you are basically sending the message to the dog to DO IT AGAIN! Verbally correct the dog (like you mean it), restrain the dog, consult a trainer, let the dog know you are the leader, be in control and don’t give up. Don’t allow the dog to rule your home. Dogs DO NOT discover good behavior unless they are LED to good behavior by their leader, and dogs are motivated to please their leader, it’s instinctual. If you have a small dog don’t fall victim to small dog syndrome which is when a small dog gets away with anything it wants because it’s cute. Don’t allow a dysfunctional dog/human relationship ruin your dog, make your life miserable, expose your children to danger and put your dog at risk of losing his home or worse yet, his life.
You can find additional training information, click here.
Regular grooming benefits your new pet in many ways, other than just keeping him looking his best. By brushing, bathing and performing regular maintenance on your new friend, such as cleaning his ears, brushing his teeth, and trimming his nails, you will build a strong relationship of trust and a level of comfort in being handled as well as help your pet stay healthy for years to come.
While dog’s coats vary tremendously, there are certain grooming needs that ALL dogs need on a regular basis – brushing to help control shedding, trimming the nails every 8 weeks or so to prevent the nail overgrowth from interfering with walking, as well as maintaining healthy ears and teeth with cleaning and brushing, if possible.
The keys to approaching any grooming need for your new friend successfully are:
- Slow and easy does it – make sure your new friend is comfortable and relaxed as you begin – they may never have had a bath before, or know what your intentions are when you approach with a brush – go slowly, calmly, and always reward with praise or a treat if he allows you to trim a nail (or even just hold the foot for the first time!) Go at your new friend’s pace, and take it easy and relaxed – before long, he will learn that you will not hurt him, and that a bath is not all that bad, and he will be a willing participant in the grooming process for you, instead of fighting it each time.
- Proper equipment is the second key to successful grooming – for example, a short-haired dog is going to need a different sort of brush than a long-haired dog, or a breed type with double or triple coat (like a Husky); we recommend consulting with your veterinarian or a competent professional groomer on what would be the best purchases to make in shampoos, combs, and brushes. With regard to doing some of the maintenance tasks, such as nail trimming or ear cleaning, again – we recommend that you have a professional show you how to do it first, so you can become familiar with where to cut the nail or what is best to use in the sensitive ear area before attempting to do it on your own.
- With regard to bathing, be sure to use a gentle shampoo made for dogs, and try not to bathe more frequently than once a week or you may strip the skin and coat of essential protective oils; ideally, once a month up to once every other month should be a good schedule to plan on for maintaining a clean pet and a healthy coat.
Lastly, if your new pet is of a breed type that requires regular clipping of the hair to maintain his coat properly and to keep it from being matted, plan on visiting your professional groomer as soon as possible to discuss what coat length you wish to maintain, and how often your pet will need to be groomed to keep it healthy. Even short haired dogs such as Labs or Dalmatians can be shaved to greatly reduce the amount of shedding they experience.
Most dogs shed, however excessive shedding is something that can be caused by a number of factors such as diet, stress level and the time of year.
- Diet – Make sure the food you’re feeding your dog contains essential fatty acids Omega 3 and 6. If not consider changing foods or adding a supplement to your dog’s diet.
- Stress level – High stress can cause a dog to shed more, and with a shelter dog a lot of shedding when you first bring a new adult dog home is a reaction to being in a new environment. It should improve with time.
- Time of Year – The typical formula of shedding to coincide with spring and fall is not necessarily the case for indoor dogs and they may shed at different times.
- In terms of dealing with excessive shedding, the tips in the grooming section are important to maintain a healthy coat and minimize shedding. However there are times when you may need some extra help and professional groomers can help with shedding problems, even with short haired dogs that would not typically need a groomer. If you have ever tackled this problem on your own, you know how you can brush, and brush, and brush, and the dog is still losing hair, it’s very frustrating. One tool that is very effective for deshedding a dog is called a Furminator. Think of the Terminator with an F. They are sold at Petsmart and Petco. The Furminator has a unique edge that grabs and removes the loose hair from the undercoat and is an invaluable tool to help when shedding gets excessive. Be prepared for a lot of hair to come out and use it in a place that is easy to clean up as it doesn’t catch hair like a brush, but pulls it out. Use of a furminator, along with a bath can help tremendously with shedding. A bath washes away oil and loosens the fur. After the fur dries, the Furminator very effectively pulls it out.
It helps to understand that housebreaking from a dog’s perspective happens as follows:
- Puppies are encouraged and taught by their mother to not mess in their bed. This is the foundation for housebreaking. You just need to teach the puppy/dog that your entire inside house is their “bed” and the place to go and relieve themselves is outside.
- Start by restricting puppy to a specific area of the house where you spend time (so he’s not alone all the time). As he learns that he’s not to mess in this area you can expand his world to include more of your house.
- Puppies figure out quickly once they are old enough to go outside that it’s a good and fun place to relieve themselves and it coincides with their understanding not to mess their immediate living area. Take advantage of this when housebreaking by consistently taking puppy out at consistent intervals and especially after eating and napping.
- If puppy doesn’t relieve himself outside, return him to his bed/crate. Wait a half hour and try again. He’ll begin to figure it out. Offer lots of praise for a job well done.
- If a puppy does mess in the house, give negative vocal feedback to the puppy at the site of their “mess” and take it outside. It may not go at that point, but if it does, it offers the opportunity for you to contrast the negative feedback that puppy got in the house, with positive feedback outside for a job well done.
- If there is an accident, never let puppy see you clean up. They are accustomed to seeing their mother clean up after them and once they see you cleaning up, the association may make housebreaking more difficult.
A puppy will be housebroken in a progressive manner of maturing, being able to control when they relieve themselves and realizing (with your help and encouragement) that ALL the areas of the house are their immediate living area. Plus, they’ll discover that going outside is more fun anyway.
Adult Dog Housebreaking
We are continually asked if an adult dog is housebroken. We will not claim an adult dog to be housebroken, unless we have had the dog in our own home and verified that it is indeed housebroken. But what exactly does it mean for a dog to be housebroken? People think that a dog which is housebroken recognizes that it should never relieve itself inside, but that is NOT how a dog thinks and to train a dog, it helps to think like a dog. A dog is housebroken when it recognizes that the inside of your home is their “nest”, their living area, which they instinctually want to keep clean. A dog coming from a shelter in many cases isn’t going to know that your house is their house right away; it could take a day or two for them to figure that out as they may not have had a home of their own for a while, or ever. Those first couple days are critical to make sure no bad habits are formed. To facilitate a smooth normalization:
- Make sure the dog has plenty of opportunities to go out and praise when the dog relieves itself outside and give negative feedback when accidents happen in the house.
- Until you are sure you can trust the dog alone, NEVER leave the dog home alone and not in a crate. See the Crates (add link) section for more information.
- An adult dog may urinate in a new home in order to “claim” it (especially if there are other animals in your home). And while males are more prone to this behavior, females do it too. This is marking behavior and not necessarily an indication that the dog is not housebroken. Usually this is a one time event, but negative feedback is ESSENTIAL to let the dog know that it shouldn’t happen again.
Some additional information on adult dog housebreaking:
- One intermediate step which can occur as a dog works towards total housebreaking is that an adult dog may go into a basement or another room that they don’t spend a lot of time in (like a dining room) and relieve itself there, thinking that’s not their immediate living area. You need to point out, again with negative feedback that these areas are their immediate living area as well as yours.
- Some adult dogs are extremely modest and will not poop while being walked on a leash. If you have a problem with the dog pooping in the house after walking on a leash, you may need to investigate ways to allow him or her in a fenced yard or on a staked leash to be outside without you there.
- An adult dog that persistently relieves itself in the house needs to be checked for any medical problems. Urinary track infections are frequently the culprit and easily treatable. If no problem is found, a trainer can give you directions on how to correct the problem. It is correctable, but the dog won’t figure it out on his own.
The good news is that adult dogs can learn very quickly if properly directed, given adequate opportunities to go out and crated when you are not home. Remember, they are hard wired to not mess their immediate living area, you have to help them learn that the inside of your house IS their immediate living area.
A crate may look to you like the canine equivalent of a jail cell, but to your dog, who instinctively likens it to a den, it’s a room of his own. It makes housetraining and obedience-training easier and saves your dog from the headache of being yelled at unnecessarily for problem behavior. Of course, you won’t want to crate your dog too much, or he will consider it a jail cell. Just a few, regular hours a day should be sufficient. The crate should be roomy enough to allow your dog to stand up, turn around, and sit comfortably in normal posture.
For a very young puppy, the following is helpful.
- It may be 6 months before a healthy puppy can make it through the night without at least urinating. The crate floor should be half covered with a towel and half with newspapers. A puppy will rip up a bed with filling, so use towels until he gets older. These are pretty small areas in a typical crate, but that’s OK. Puppy will be reluctant to use the newspapers right next to his bed as he’s been taught not to mess his bed by his mother. So when he uses the newspaper, it will be only because he has to.
- If puppy gets up and cries during the night, DO NOT take him out. He needs to learn to hold it, or use the newspapers in his crate, which he will stop doing as soon as he is physically able and gives him an incentive to work on control. Taking him out at night when he cries teaches him that he can control you, delays housebreaking and will wear you out. The first thing when you get up, and you’ll need to get up VERY early for the first couple months, he needs to go outside immediately. In the long run the crate helps with housebreaking.
Crates perform three purposes.
- First, crates assist with housebreaking.
- Second, a crate confines your dog (puppy or adult) when you are not home and eliminates the possibility of the dog tearing your house up, something a dog will do out of boredom or frustration at being separated from their pack. This may be especially true of an adult dog that lost his first pack when he was brought to a shelter. Now he has a new pack and when you leave the house he becomes fearful that he has lost his pack AGAIN and can react in a destructive way.
- Third, some dogs will eat anything. Left on his own, a dog could tear up and ingest items that will at least cause great discomfort, great expense if surgery is needed to remove the items and in some cases death.
Once a dog is fully housebroken and behaves well around the house, you may opt to not put him or her in the crate at night. Also, as the dog matures and becomes accustomed to when you come and go, you may experiment with leaving him home outside of the crate for short periods while you’re gone and see how he does on his own.
There may come a time when you no longer need the crate, but some dogs never reach the point where they can be trusted to be home alone and not confined. It is not cruel to crate a dog as long as it isn’t in the crate all the time. Don’t be one of those people who tell us that it’s mean to crate a dog, but want to get rid of the dog because he tears up the house… like losing your home isn’t mean?
Puppy Bed Time
Puppies cry. They’re babies. In order to develop a peaceful coexistence with puppy at bedtime, the following is helpful:
- Try to keep puppy from napping for a few hours before bed.
- Take puppy out to relieve himself and put him in the crate about an hour before you want to go to bed.
- Let puppy cry his heart out for that hour. Don’t let him out of the crate or even go to see him. He’s GOT to get tired eventually.
- After the hour, if puppy hasn’t tired himself out and gone to sleep on his own, go to the puppy and clap your hands or make a loud noise that gives puppy a start. One thing that works well is to wave a plastic grocery bag through the air, catch the air and make it pop as loud as you can. This will startle the puppy and when startled, a puppy will instinctually become quiet and lay down. This quieting down frequently leads to sleep because remember, he’s been crying for over an hour. If it doesn’t work, wait 15 minutes and try again.
- After a few nights of this, he’ll still cry, but eventually he’ll quit on his own and go to sleep. Once he masters that, puppy can stay up until you go to bed.
- If he cries during the night, ignore him. Do not take him out. The CRATES section addresses the issue of him relieving himself at night. If he persists in crying, get the plastic grocery bag.
- Consistency and developing a routine is key in making this work.
Children and Dogs
Children under the age of 5 are not and do not have the capacity to be vicious criminals and likewise puppies are not and cannot be vicious dogs, but they can be active and lack manners. A puppy will try to play with you or your children or you like they played with their siblings, which is rough and involves biting. Training and socialization from the leader of the pack and others in the family will wean a puppy from this behavior, but it won’t happen overnight and children cannot do this on their own. A dog jumping on children is their attempt to dominate them and a child needs to know how to discourage that behavior with a firm “NO” or “OFF” as well as an adult enforcing that the dog is NOT ALLOWED to dominate a child. Also, if a child cries or screams and runs from a dog, it encourages the dog to continue and increase the behavior.
- Do not allow children to hug the dog or put their face anywhere near the dogs face. Kids think they are showing the dog affection, but in dog language it’s a threat and could lead to an aggressive response.
- Do not allow young children to walk or sit around a dog with food in their hands or chewing food. Puppies and adult dogs can bite at a child’s mouth (face) if they smell food on their breath or try to take food in their hands resulting in a bite.
- NEVER bother a dog while it is eating or startle it when sleeping.
- Do not allow children to approach, touch or interact with your dog while it’s eating or to take a dog’s toy away.
- Do not allow children to give dogs treats and yank their hand away. The dog may think the treat is being pulled away and accidently bite at the hand.
- Do not chase, tease, taunt, hit, kick, or run away from a dog.
- Do not pet or grab at a dog without letting him see and sniff you first.
- Never leave babies or young children alone with dogs.
- Never allow children to play tug o war with a dog and his/her toy. Dogs don’t understand the concept of where the toy ends and a hand begins.
- Screaming or uncontrolled behavior can scare a dog, putting a child at risk.
- Playtime between dogs and young children must be supervised by an adult.
A dog becomes a watchdog to keep watch and protect their food source and shelter (including their leader, others in their pack and immediate territory). Spay/neuter has no effect on a dog’s ability or motivation to bark at intruders since their immediate concern is to protect their food supply, shelter and other pack members. This arrangement was worked out millions of years ago between dogs and humans and has nothing to do with sex or procreation and a dog does not need to be vicious to be a good watchdog. The dog protects the food source and is guaranteed a steady flow of food, and he protects his territory to have shelter and a warm place to sleep. A simple contract.
Here’s how the dog sees the situation.
- The dog is, for instance, in the yard. It sees somebody walking by.
- The dogs barks, and the “intruder” does not come into the territory, steal all the food or kill anybody.
- The dog thinks, “Hey, we’re all safe and I still get to eat, that barking stuff works!”
You now have a watchdog. However, remember, a leader sets limits on excessive barking and aggressive behaviors beyond barking should be discouraged. If somebody comes into your home, the dog takes his signals from the leader and calms down once he sees the leader is not in distress or the leader lets the dog know there is no danger. The leader always sets limits, and it’s why being a leader is so important. Also, note that a dog should NEVER be allowed to run to the door to check out visitors under any circumstances but, ESPECIALLY with children. Children are not leaders, children are frequently loud and move quickly which raises the alert level of the dog, the dog assumes leadership in protecting their territory and their children and someone is likely to get bit. When this happens, the dog always ends up getting blamed and frequently losing his home when in fact he’s doing what dogs do when a leader is not in control.
Adopting a dog when you already have one
Living in a pack frequently involves welcoming new members into the pack. The leader determines who gets in and the followers are expected to accept that, although there is frequently competition to define the relationship of the new pack member within the pack. The leader (that’s you) will intervene if the competition becomes disruptive. Dogs can be dominant or submissive with submissive dogs obviously being easier to manage. When considering adding a new member to your pack when you have an existing dog, keep the following in mind:
- Dogs that are spayed / neutered will display less gender related behavior with other dogs, but it is never eliminated. One reason the Humane Society requires that existing pets are spayed/neutered is that it promotes a more successful integration of a newly adopted pet into the pack/household.
- A dominant dog can make the introduction of another dominant dog a challenge. One or the other will end up more dominant, however the process may be more or less painful based on the sexes of the dogs involved.
- Two dominant females will typically always be at odds with each other and compete for the leader’s attention. Dominant females do not easily give up their top dog status. They can be very stubborn, always looking for a new opportunity to get the upper hand and never, ever, give up.
- Two dominant males will also be at odds with each other, but after a fight or two males tend to be more prone to compromise and peaceful coexistence, although there are exceptions and those exceptions can turn into bloody, dangerous situations.
- Opposite sex dogs typically get along better, but if both are dominant there will still be competition and somebody will end up more dominant than the other.
Introducing a new dog into any household, whether the existing dog is dominant or submissive typically will have some rough spots until the top dog status is confirmed without question. That may involve a fight or two before everyone settles down, but as a strong pack leader, YOU need to set limits on excessive competitive or aggressive behavior, not only to reign in a dominant dog, but to protect the submissive one. You are the boss, not the dogs. Even if both dogs are submissive, one will rank above the other, it’s how dogs operate.
Adult dogs usually do not interact with puppies and many run away from them or growl to warn the puppy to keep its distance. This is instinctual behavior designed to protect puppies from disease and protect the adult dogs from getting a whoopin’ from a mama dog who may not be far behind. As a puppy grows and your dog realizes the puppy’s mama is not going to show up, interaction will increase, and when puppy reaches his or her teen months, expect a few challenges for dominance.
Since food time is the single most important event in a dog’s day, take steps to feed dogs separately so that there is NO competition for food. It will reduce competitive dominant behavior significantly if there is no chance for one dog to take another dog’s food, or for any dog to fear that their food could be taken.
Remember, the leader determines who gets to be in a pack. If your dog absolutely refuses to accept a new dog in your household, you have to question who is really the leader of your pack. It might be appropriate to consult with a trainer.
Introducing Dogs to Each Other
When your existing dog is meeting another dog, the following can be helpful:
- When the meeting occurs, have each dog on lead with a calm, relaxed adult handler who knows how to tell the difference between dogs getting to know each other and dogs who don’t like each other.
- Keep the dog under close control on the leash but avoid pulling the leash too tight as you might communicate to the dog that you are fearful or anxious about their meeting.
- As the dogs approach each other, watch their body language closely. The dogs may need to do a little posturing, make a little noise or have some hair standing on the back, that’s typical behavior that lets the other dog know that they’re no pushover.
- A proper dog greeting involves at some point sniffing the behind, each getting a turn. That’s dog etiquette and after this step occurs, dogs will generally relax. Some dogs go to that step immediately and some take a bit to be able to trust the other dog and there could be some stressful times until that happens.
- If one dog falls to the floor and rolls over, he/she is displaying submissive behavior and as long as the other dog does not attempt to harm the submissive dog, it will probably be OK.
- If they try to play by pawing or play bowing with their legs stretched out in front of them, they may want to be playmates and it will probably be OK.
- They may check each other out and turn to you with a look of, “I met him, let’s go” or just look for something else to do. Or they may alternate between checking each other, checking you, checking the room, etc. In that case, they’ll probably be OK.
In all these instances, allow them to sniff each other, and give praise for a nice greeting. If they are allowed to interact freely, some dominant/submissive behavior may emerge in terms of rough play, wrestling, humping (which females will do as well as males). The leader (you) needs to restrain them from any excessive or overly aggressive behaviors. Some aggressive behavior from a dog getting pushed around or annoyed by another isn’t all bad as it is part of the process to define the relationship.
However, if one or both stiffen their bodies and stare into each other’s eyes with their hair up and their teeth bared, they probably aren’t going to become fast friends. If one or both of them lunge at each other and try to fight or bite at the neck, separate them and make sure you assert yourself as the pack leader to discourage that behavior by a firm “NO!” with tight control over the leash. Try having them in the room together for a while but separated and not interacting with each other and try some limited contact a bit later. If that still doesn’t work, you may be looking at a difficult relationship at best and perhaps an unworkable one.
You may have a dog that appears very aggressive towards dogs on the other side of their fence, but that is not necessarily indicative of how they’ll react with a dog that they meet face to face. Don’t let this discourage you from trying your dog with another dog should you wish to add a new dog to your household. If your dog is defying you in terms of attacking another dog, especially if the other dog is not attacking back and you are unable to discourage that behavior, you should consult a trainer for assistance to assert yourself as the pack leader to avoid further problems.
Dogs need an active life. That means you should plan plenty of exercise and game time for your pet. Exercise for your dog not only improves muscle tone, avoids obesity, heart ailments and bone disorders, but it results in a better adjusted and well behaved pet. Most dogs will not exercise by just being left outside by themselves. The dog will lay around waiting for their pack to come out and play with them. Enjoy jogging or Frisbee? You can bet your dog will, too. If running around the park is too energetic for your taste, try throwing a ball or a stick, or just going for a long walk together. When you take a drive in the country or visit family and friends, bring your dog and a leash along. If your dog gets carsick, don’t let him look out the window as you travel, have him lay on the floor of the car. It’s watching the world go by that induces the sickness usually, not the motion of the car.
A Friend for Life
Finally, be reasonable in your expectations. Life with you is a different experience for your new companion, so give him time to adjust. You’ll soon find out that you’ve made a friend for life. No one will ever greet you with as much enthusiasm or provide you with as much unqualified love and loyalty as your dog will. Be patient, and you will be amply rewarded.