Introducing a Second Dog to Your Home

Introducing a Second Dog to Your Home

 

I’m a proud dog dad to Bitsy and lately I’ve been considering adding second pooch to our little family. Prior to adopting Bitsy I did a lot of research about training dogs and adopting rescues; making informed decisions is important to me. This decision is particularly important because it affects Bitsy as much as it affects me. I reached out to friends and read up on the subject and I thought it would be helpful if I discussed it with my readers.

Bitsy the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Is Your Pet Ready for a New Dog Friend?

In the excitement of adding to your pack, this simple question is sometimes forgotten. Some dogs just don’t socialize much with other dogs or just prefer the company of humans. If you don’t frequently take your dog to the dog park or know how your animal interacts with other dogs, it’s time to find out! Find a friend with a very dog-friendly dog and introduce your animal in a safely fenced neutral territory. If the introduction goes well, you can move on to step 2!

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Pick the Right Pooch!

If your current dog is an aggressive alpha dog, it’s best to look for an animal that will defer to the “top dog.” Conversely, if your dog is more submissive, adding a dominant dog could be an ideal choice.

Also think about other common dog traits. Do you have an older dog or one that likes to lounge around? Adopting a high-energy playful puppy could be quite annoying to your current dog. Find an animal whose temperament matches your dog’s personality better.

Does your dog prefer playing with males or females? If you know your dog has a preference, considering adopting from that gender. Oftentimes, dogs will enjoy playing with the opposite sex.

Another consideration is the size of the dogs. Even if your big dog is really friendly, she could accidentally harm a much smaller dog. It is possible to have canines of two different sizes, but it takes extra management and awareness on the owner’s part.

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Making the Introduction!

Once you’ve determined that your dog is ready for a new friend and picked an animal that seems like an ideal fit, it’s time to make the introduction! It’s best to introduce the two animals before you make a firm commitment to adopt dog two in case things don’t go exactly as planned.

Enlist the help of a friend and bring both dogs into the space on leashes. Each of you should have treats and calmly enter the space with your respective dogs. Once the dogs notice each other, calmly begin feeding them and make sure they keep the focus on you. Once they start to notice each other, start feeding them more slowly until they are focused both on you and the other animal. Watch carefully for body language. The dogs may be anxious or hesitant, playful, excited, fearful, or aggressive. If either animal gets overly worked up, such as lunging, frenzied barking, or snapping, stop the interaction immediately.

If the dogs seem relaxed and happy, drop the leashes while still at a distance and allow them to greet each other. To be safe, leave the leashes on for a few minutes in case they get aggressive and you need to pull them apart. Once it’s clear that they are getting along, call them back so you can remove the leashes and allow them to interact without getting tangled.

Once you’ve observed them playing together safely, bring them both into your home. You must carefully observe their interactions over the next 24 hours so that you can stop unwanted behavior before it escalates into fighting.

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Set Yourself Up for Success!

You have done much to prep for the arrival of this second dog in your home so you are probably breathing a sigh of relief! It’s great to celebrate the success thus far but make sure you set yourself up for success in the future. Remain vigilant throughout the entire “getting to know each other” process.

Equip your home with baby gates or find a way to separate the dogs when you’re not home to supervise. Also make sure to feed them separately so there are no territorial issues over food.

Remember that your new dog needs more attention than an established dog, but it’s also important to spend quality time with each pooch individually and together.

At this point, I am not sure whether I will be adding another dog to our pack, but after doing the research I feel confident that I will be able to handle it if I decide to get Bitsy a playmate. What do you all think? Do you have experience with multi-dog households or other suggestions on how to make it work? Please share your stories of triumph or disaster. I would love to read your comments below!

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Is Your Pooch Prepared for Winter?

The northeast got a surge in warmer temperatures this fall, but I’m not fooled. I know frozen puddles are just around the corner and I’m already pulling out Bitsy’s winter sweaters for our morning walks.

It made me wonder what other steps dog owners take to keep their furry friends warm throughout winter.

sherpa dog bed
Bitsy rests on her favorite sherpa dog bed.

Warm Bedding
Bitsy sleeps with me at night so she stays plenty warm, but during the day she is on the floor. I’ve tried different dog beds and she currently likes her fleece mat. Lately I’ve been looking at heated beds and stumbled across this self-heating product from The Lakeside Collection. The reviews are mostly positive and at less than $20 I will happily give it a try. I’ve seen others online that cost much more so I will test this one first.

Heated Dog House
As an indoor dog, Bitsy only scurries outside to join me. In fact she is kind of pathetic if left on the back deck alone. She peers through the door with eyes pleading for me to let her in.

I know some dogs like to hang outside for longer periods to sniff the air, listen to the sounds of the neighborhood, and protect their territory from squirrels and chipmunks. In that case, an insulated dog house may be a worthwhile investment. I cannot recommend any brand, though I think Wal-Mart has a pretty decent selection.

 

Dog Booties
I have friends who trained their dog to wear boots during winter walks. It took several sessions at home, a few minutes at a time and gradually increasing, to get him used to the feeling it created on his paws. He eventually warmed to the idea and I imagine was grateful when traversing icy sidewalks!

Bitsy’s little paws are pretty furry and we keep our walks shorter on those icy bitter days. I avoid walking her on salted driveways and sidewalks. If we come upon one, I just scoop her up and carry her to a safe spot. I found this small company called Hound & Tail that has a great entrepreneurial spirit I’ve considered buying from. However, there are plenty of companies that sell doggie boots with positive reviews.

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Bitsy poses in her new holiday sweater.

Sweaters for Warmth and They Look Good Too
My favorite way to keep Bitsy warm once winter kicks in is to put her in a sweater. She has several and is a good sport about wearing them. I think she secretly likes the positive attention everyone gives her whenever she gets dressed for a walk! Some folks say their dogs act embarrassed when wearing clothes, but it’s not like I dress her up in a tutu. And if you know anything about the spirited (and vain) Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, they love positive attention. Mine is a total camera ham.

What products do you use to keep your dog warm once temperatures plummet? Please add a comment below!

Do You Pass the Smell Test as a Dog Owner?

Do You Pass the Smell Test as a Dog Owner?

I’m a bit of an NPR addict. When not listening to WMPH 91.7 in my car I am on the app. I have a few favorite broadcasts, one of which is Terry Gross of Fresh Air. Imagine my delight last week when her guest was author Alexandra Horowitz to discuss her latest book, “Being a Dog.”

Being a Dog book cover

I have yet to read “Being a Dog,” but it is next on my list. Her interview was highly interesting and gave me a lot to think about as an indulgent dog owner myself! You can read the interview, or better yet, listen to it yourself.

The interview game me a lot to think about as a dog owner. Horowitz emphasized that dogs know their world first and foremost through smell, not sight. Since most humans are sight-dominant, we tend to force our pet dogs into a seeing world and suppress their active noses. It gave me pause. Am I guilty as charged?

Rushing Through Our Daily Walks
I think of our twice daily walks as an opportunity to get exercise and burn off energy. I had never really considered I am suppressing Bitsy’s instinct to smell every blade of grass or that I am unknowingly reprogramming her innate sense. Since my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is already so close to the ground, her desire to stop and sniff rather than walk is strong! While I let her tary here and there, I have certainly never allowed her nose to guide our walks.

Harowitz recommends taking “smell walks” to allow your dog to explore and nurture that part of her nature.

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Taking Our Sweet “Smell” Time
I tried it over the weekend and discovered how interesting our normal route became to us both. Bitsy was very happy to find I was not tugging her along every time she caught an intriguing scent. As I observed her actions, I found myself absorbed in musing why she would stop and pee on some scents, but not on others?!?! We made far less progress distance-wise, but I noticed she was just as tired when we got home as when we walk the full distance. Certainly her nose must have been exhausted from her sensory exploration.

Dog Sniffing Not Rude
Horowitz opened my eyes to another notion. My dog knows me first by smell and secondary by sight and sound. It is also how she knows the other living beings in our lives. If I discourage her from smelling my house guests or other dogs she encounters then I am stifling her ability to connect with the world around her.

From now on I will make a better attempt to forewarn visitors that my dog will be giving them a onceover. If they are not dog people and are uncomfortable around my little friend, then I will crate her. When we encounter other dogs I will no longer tug her away from butt sniffing unless I notice it makes the other dog uncomfortable. Bitsy usually just sits herself down when she no longer wants to participate in the ritual!

I look forward to reading the book to unearth any other tidbits which would improve Bitsy’s happiness. Our pets lavish such love on us, I am happy to nurture her nature!

Do you already go for smell walks? I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic!

Should Dogs Matter More Than People

I’m VERY frustrated by a situation happening right now in my dog-friendly neighborhood. I hope you will chime in with your thoughts.

Let me lay the back story first.

Living in a Dog-Loving Community

Just about all my neighbors have dogs. It’s a great place to be a dog owner because we all know one another by what kind of dog owns us. We walk our dogs, buy overpriced specialty food for them, and commiserate over vet bills.

But there is always a bad apple or two in any bushel.

dogfight
Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jganderson/

Multiple Dog Attacks

A few streets away, on my usual walking route with Bitsy, is a home with two aggressive boxers. Keep in mind, I have no problems with a well-mannered boxer.

At least one of the boxers has escaped its house and/or back deck to charge and attack two different dogs in our neighborhood, a Westie on one occasion and a mid-sized mix on three different instances. I do not believe either family of the attacked dogs ever reported the attacks. (Big mistake if you ask me.)

Last week both boxers escaped and attacked my elderly neighbor’s golden retriever during the gentleman’s daily walk. His retriever immediately laid down and curled up in submission. While the boxers bit the golden, two dogs from the adjacent property broke through their electric fence and piled onto the attack.

The wife who owns the boxers ran out during the attack and tugged her dogs away while the retriever’s owner hollered for help to get the other neighbor’s two dogs off of his.

golden-ret
Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/gpoo/

Attacked Dog Is OK, But Her Owner Is Not

The golden retriever was taken to the emergency veterinarian and found to have several puncture wounds. They placed her on antibiotics and she appears to be ok.

My friend, the golden’s elderly owner, did not fare as well. He is emotionally traumatized. His trauma was made worse when he called animal control and was told that unless he hires a lawyer and presses charges, there is nothing they can do.

The boxers that have attacked at least three different dogs in our neighborhood are still living in the home. I now carry a baseball bat when I walk Bitsy to ensure she is safe.

Should The Family Keep Their Aggressive Dogs?

No one adores their dog more than I do, but I am perplexed as to why these neighbors have not re-homed their dogs. What if my elderly neighbor had suffered a heart attack that day? What if a small child is bitten while walking a dog? How can anyone put fondness of their pets over the welfare of neighbors? It boggles my mind.

What do you think? Should that family take their boxers to a no-kill shelter? I find it impossible to believe the boxers will never again escape to injure, or even kill, another dog.

You’re Never Too Old to Love a Dog

You’re Never Too Old to Love a Dog

I live in a big neighborhood and like so many other people who live in the suburbs, I know neighbors by their dogs. Lately, I’d noticed the absence of an older retired Army veteran and his Lhasa Apso while out walking Bitsy.  I would always see them a couple of streets over.

At first I assumed it was the heat since this summer has been a scorcher. Then I thought perhaps the gentleman was on vacation. But when I saw him last weekend he was walking a different dog, a little mixed fluffy breed, and I asked him about his Lhasa. I was sorry to hear the little dog had passed away earlier in the summer. What surprised me was his response when I asked about his new dog.

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Photo Credit

Charlie is the fluffy little new dog. The gentleman does not know Charlie’s breed or age. He was paired with the little guy by an organization that matches senior rescue dogs with senior people.

After the loss of his previous dog my neighbor had started to sink into depression. He lives alone and his social life pivots around walking his dog. I’ve seen him at all times of morning, afternoon, and evening. He can usually be spotted on the side of the road, dog in toe, talking with one neighbor or another…anyone who has the time to chat!

After the loss of his Lhasa, another neighbor recommended the gentleman adopt a senior dog. Older shelter dogs are not as easy to place as puppies. But for an older adult, a calm, trained dog is the perfect companion.

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Photo Credit

I’ve passed Charlie and his new owner 20 times since last weekend. Most of the time Bitsy and I keep walking. We’re out to get our exercise. But Charlie is out with his Army Vet to meet and greet, providing companionship and a reason to get out of the house to someone who thrives on the socialization.

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Photo Credit

It makes me smile every time Bitsy and I pass them. I am adding a few links to organizations which pair senior dogs with seniors. I hope you’ll share the story with your elders. Who knows, maybe one of these organizations can provide a happy ending to someone else’s story!

Senior Dogs 4 Seniors
Paws Seniors for Seniors
Senior Pets for Senior People
The Senior Dogs Project
The Sanctuary for Senior Dogs
The Pets for the Elderly Foundation
Pets for Seniors

If you know of other similar organizations and would like them added, please leave a comment below!

Note: None of these images are of my neighbor or Charlie. I want to respect their privacy.

How Much Vocabulary Do Dogs Really Understand?

Turns out our dogs can understand us better than we think. This article goes more in depth into the research and science, but all I needed to hear was that dogs can understand the meanings of words and intonations in very much the same way that humans do. I’ve known for years that Bitsy has a vast vocabulary. Ask her to go for a walk or say dinner time and you can see her visibly perk up and head for the door or her dish. I’m just glad there’s some research now that shows me I’m not crazy to think my dog understands me! What words does your dog know best? A friend of mine’s dog actually knew her four family members by name. I always thought she was just very well trained, but now we know she knows them!

Can Social Media Help Save More Dogs?

Can Social Media Help Save More Dogs?

I happened across an older blog post recently that sparked some controversy over how people should or should not use Facebook for pet rescue. Heather, of Dog Hair & Bourbon, shared some very valid points in her article, The Love/Hate Relationship of Social Media and Rescue.  The article was picked up on Petful and garnered an equal response of opposing views arguing for and against the points Heather made.

Will Anyone Act on Your Social Plea?

The comments made me remember a really interesting interview I heard a couple years ago on NPR with social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam on supporting a cause. Research by psychologist Paul Slovic of the University of Oregon showed that people reduce giving when they feel like their contribution would not make any difference in the long run. According to the research, you are more likely to help one starving child rather than contribute toward feeding a much larger population.

Understanding how the brain responds to giving, pet rescuers can use social media to paint a picture that illustrates their cause, but doing it one dog or cat at a time. Those same rescue organizations can harness social media best practices to help boost their visibility, but in a way that supports their end goal and does not dilute efforts.

Craft Social Messages that Prompt Action

Individual stories about each foster pet could include suggestions on how the general social population can help. For example, “Fido is a 5 year old lab/chihuahua mix who is in Omaha. We cannot afford to transport Fido, but if you have connections in Omaha, please share this post.” Fido is heartworm positive, but will live a long, healthy life with heartworm treatment. The treatment cost is only $xx. If you cannot adopt Fido, please pay for his treatment. Email …”

Social media is a powerful tool, but you need to tailor it to meet your goals. That said, if you are using social media as a rescue organization, make sure you establish your goals, define your target audiences, and create your social plan accordingly. And remember, research shows we humans are more likely to contribute if we think it will make an actual difference, so don’t overwhelm us with huge statistics or seemingly unsolvable problems.