BRINGING HOME YOUR NEW DOG
What you do in the first few weeks your dog is home is important in how well your current pets adjust to their new friend, and can prevent future squabbles and scuffles between your pets.
If you already own a dog and are considering acquiring another, one of the best things you can do prior to adoption is to bring your current dog with you to meet his potential new buddy. Introductions are always completed best on neutral territory, where neither dog feels threatened or feels the need to defend his "turf". Ideally, find a fenced yard or other large area where the dogs can be slowly introduced while on leash. If all goes well, then they can be released to play freely off-lead. By using this method of introductions, a lot of snarling, growling and hair-raising is easily avoided. Provided both dogs seem to approve of one another, they can both go home as pals as opposed to being introduced on Resident Rover's property where he may feel the need to be defensive and protective.
If the above scenario is not possible, then you'll need to recruit a volunteer. When your new dog arrives home, arrange to have someone walk him down the street. You, of course, will need to take Rover on a nice little walk where he can be introduced to his new friend. While not all dogs require such effort for introductions, it is definitely the easiest way to encourage a smooth transition for both dogs.
It's perfectly normal for your own dog to feel a little overwhelmed with his new friend. At first you may see some posturing behavior, or even a couple of snarls as the dogs decide who is going to be boss. It's important to let the dogs work it out amongst themselves, and only intervene if the scuffle turns into a true fight. (Use a hose, water, or a chair to break it up - to prevent getting bitten, never grab the dogs by their collars.) Most dogs have worked through any conflicts within a couple of weeks; however, sometimes it may take a bit longer before the two dogs have decided who is going to be Top Dog. If you have more than one dog at home, you may notice that one dog may be boss to another, but subservient to the second dog.
The most common sources of fights among dogs are food, treats and favorite toys. While free-feeding your dog is never a good idea, it is especially critical to never leave a bowl of food out when you have two dogs together that have not established their pack hierarchy. Feed twice a day, in separate rooms with doors closed to prevent arguments.
Dogs will also fight over special treats. Pigs ears, rawhides, chew hooves, bones, and other treats should be put away for a few weeks until the dogs have decided who is boss and you are sure there will be no fights over these highly sought-after snacks. Limit treats to those which can be fed directly from your hand. Give them directly to the dog, and do not place them on the floor or in any other place where the dogs may argue.
Does your own dog have special toy? It might be a good idea to tuck this item away for awhile until the dogs have established their routine. Dogs will often defend their favorite toys, which can be another source of conflict.
Now that the canine intros are completed, what about introducing your new dog to the feline family member? The method that you use for this will largely depend on your dog's previous exposure to cats.
If your new dog has lived with cats before or has been "cat tested," you will still want to keep him on a leash while allowing him to greet your cat for the first time. This will give your cat a sense of security, and will also allow him to exit the room if necessary without being chased.
Keep in mind that certain dogs, especially large breeds, have a very high prey drive. While they may not intend harm to your cat, they will often be intrigued and will attempt a game of chase. Do your best to prevent this from occurring, as this behavior is reinforced each time your cat flees and your dog sees.
If your new dog is overly interested in your cat, keep the dog leashed when your cat is around. Praise him lavishly and provide treats for ignoring the cat. Likewise, when he engages in chase or barks at the cat, make your displeasure known with a loud "NO KITTY!" A very good deterrent when used consistently is a spray bottle filled with 8 parts water and 2 parts vinegar. Spray the dog in the face when giving the "NO KITTY!" or "LEAVE IT" command. It make take a few days or a few weeks before your dog realizes that the cat is not a walking woobie. Be consistent and you'll eventually see results.
One simple and economical tool to assist in promoting a positive relationship between your cat and your new dog is the use of a baby gate. Use the gate to separate rooms of the house, allowing the dog to visualize the cat but not giving him access to the kitty. This will also allow your cat to join you in the remainder of the house, but if the dog begins to chase, your cat will have a means of escape into a dog-free room. Of course, if your dog is aggressive towards your cat (as opposed to simply interested in play), seek the advise of a local trainer or behaviorist and DO NOT allow your cat and dog to remain together unsupervised.
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