Monday, October 5, 2009

Introducing a New Dog to Your Other Pets

By Ruthie Bently

Have you ever brought home a new dog and had a battle on your hands? How do you go about introducing a new dog to your other pets or animals without that happening? It depends on the situation. I have had to go through it several times with three of my dogs, most recently with Skye. Introducing Skye to my other animals was probably the toughest, because although Skye was used to other American Staffordshire Terriers, she had never seen a cat, geese or chickens. Being a Terrier breed, she has an instinctive prey drive.

I have to admit I was a bit worried about Skye meeting the animals, because she and her cohorts were known for chasing after any animal that was unlucky enough to wander into their exercise yard at the breeder’s.

I am never foolish enough to let Skye loose outside her dog yard when the chickens are out. She has and will chase them if she can, and she does race along the inside of the fence when they are in my garden.

When she first came home, she was accosted by a gander that felt he had to let her know who was boss. Skye in turn, let him know she did not appreciate having her tush pinched by his beak, by taking off after him and giving him a run for his money. I knew how fast Skye was and realized she could catch the goose if she chose to. Skye just wanted to teach him a lesson, which he passed on because none of the geese ever bothered her after that.

I was blessed, because I was able to acclimate Skye into our household with a minimum of fuss. For the first several nights, we crated her and gave the cats time to get used to her. They could walk up to the crate safely and check Skye out without her being able to get to them and vice versa. I actually told my cat Munchkin (who had been pining since Smokey Bear passed away) that Skye was her new dog, and she should keep an eye on her. In fact, before we had the dog run installed I would leash walk Skye around the property, and Munchkin would frequently accompany us.

If you are introducing a new dog to an existing dog, the best way for them to meet for the first time is on neutral territory, which belongs to neither dog. Contact a friend or relative that doesn’t own a dog and see if they would be willing to let you use their yard for the introduction. Make sure that both dogs are leashed and introduce them gradually. Use a friendly voice and have treats like CANIDAE Snap Biscuit® or Snap-Bits™ treats on hand. Watch both dogs for any sign of aggression and separate them if you see any growling, hackles being raised, or any other sign.

Before adopting a new dog, you might want to provide them with a blanket to sleep on and bring it home before you bring them home. Dogs rely heavily on their sense of smell and in this way you can give your resident dog a new smell to get used to before the dog comes. Before bringing your new dog into the house, it is a good idea to remove any food dishes or toys that belong to your original dog. They can cause conflict and provoke a fight if your first dog is territorial. It is a good idea to segregate the new dog by using a crate or keeping them in another room, until both dogs can get used to each other. This process will also work if you are introducing a new dog to your cats.

For pets like rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, ferrets or birds, have an adult family member hold them and introduce the dog while they are leashed. This way you have some amount of control. Watch your dog for any signs of extreme interest, which could include lunging at the other pet, barking or even snapping at them. Depending on the dog’s response, age and breed, you may want to keep the pet in a room that the dog is not allowed in without supervision. If you have a puppy and get one of the above mentioned pets while your puppy is still young, you will have a better chance of them getting along. Some dogs are just so driven by instincts that you can’t unteach them.

Our household revolves around not only the humans that live here, but our animals as well. By using these simple methods of introduction, you too can have a harmonious household with multiple species as family members.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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