Anyone Can Train Their Dog – December 2010

Anyone Can Train Their Dog

By Art Hess

Introducing A New Dog


When introducing and/or meeting new dogs, there two basic requirements: space and loose leashes, both of which most people fail to include. First, let’s consider space. Dogs aren’t a lot unlike people. They get along with most others of their breed but with some others they need a little more time.

If we put two people in an elevator, they may hit it off but most likely they would feel uncomfortable and prefer to be some other place. If we put these two strangers on a football field where only the food and water were in a common space, the chances are these same two people would gradually get to know one another and become comfortable sharing their environment with one another.

Dogs aren’t a whole lot different. If we jam them together in a small space like a carport or small yard for example and then shove them nose to nose and say “Here’s your new buddy,” there’s every reason for them to be less than excited about this forced meeting. To make matters worse most people will be nervous themselves and will wind the leash around their wrist until the poor dog has no wiggle room.

Dogs want the option to leave the area when things become strange and different and the problem is when we tighten that leash up like a fiddle string, we completely remove the flight option and poor peace loving Buddy’s auto pilot kicks in. His mind goes from flight to defense and when he can’t get any slack or maneuver space out of the leash he goes from defense to offense.

This is when he appears to become aggressive and the handler proceeds to yell and jerk on the strangulating leash and all hell breaks loose and the mutual gathering ceremony goes head first into the proverbial crapper. So lots of space, completely loose leashes so the dogs can get to know one another on their terms and take your time.

Okay, now the dogs decide they’ll give it a shot and you say okay this is going to work so new dog can stay and everything will work itself out.

It’s not uncommon when we introduce a new dog to a multi pet environment we will experience some difficulties with minor spats or anxiety situations like unusual urinating and marking in the house or the existing dog going off his food and sulking and a myriad of other problems. The first and most important thing is to focus ALL of your affection and attention on the EXISTING animal for 6 to 10 days if you can hold out that long. It’s the existing dog who is having his environment and his entire world invaded. He needs the assurance that everything is going to be okay and he isn’t losing anything.

Remember, the new dog doesn’t know you or the new environment so he has no preconceived notions about what to expect or what is expected of him. Don’t worry about hurting his feelings because he’ll get lots of loving and attention after the settling period passes.
Loose Leashes!

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