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!

img_0404

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.

img_1349

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.

img_0853

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!

Advertisements

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.

img_1369

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.

10 Vital Things to Check Before You Back Out of the Driveway with Your Dog

If you’re a new dog owner, you may not be sure what the protocol is for riding in the car with your pet. Things have changed since you were a kid and it was normal for people to throw Fido in the back seat or even ride with your beloved pooch on your lap. Take a look at this simple checklist to minimize risk for your dog and maximize comfort, too!

Image Credit: FreeImages.com/Danijel Juricev

catching-air-1377187-1280x960

  1. Buy and use a good, safety-rated harness. The Center for Pet Safety tested several harnesses and the Sleepypod Clickit Sport was approved with very high ratings, so I would start there. I’ve included the repot so you can check it out.
  2. Make sure your dog is wearing a collar with identification tags. If for some crazy reason your dog breaks away from you during a rest stop, tags will be vital. This brings me to number three, which should actually be number 1 for new pet owners…
  3. Microchip your pet, dog or cat, and register the microchip with a reputable monitoring company. There are many. Pet*ID and PetLink are just two. That way if your dog runs off and someone finds him/her, then they can contact the company and it will reconnect you with your missing pet.
  4. Bring water and a dish or dispenser. Car rides, especially in summer, dehydrate people and pets. Take breaks during long car trips and make sure Fido drinks plenty of water.
  5. Keep a leash in the car. One time I forgot Bitsy’s leash since she usually hops right into the car from the garage. I ended up having to carry her around rather than walk her until I could get back home for the leash. I was grateful she was a lap dog. Had she been a medium or large dog it would have meant either buying a new leash on the road or heading back home.
  6. Close the car windows or put riding goggles on your dog. If you prefer to drive with windows rolled down or you own a convertible, it is important to protect your pet’s eyes from flying dust and debris.
  7. Carry some extra food and snacks. This is a no-brainer for long trips, but what happens if you are out running errands or on a short excursion and your car breaks down? Snacks and food will prove an invaluable supply to help keep your pet happy while waiting for a tow truck.
  8. First aid kit for dogs. Again, you never know, so be prepared! This website Pet Education provides an extensive list. While I personally do not travel with all the items they include, I agree you will want to keep a few of these items in the car in the event of an emergency.
  9. Grab a few chew toys or favorite items. I do not recommend giving anything to your pet that could potentially pose a choking hazard or a distraction for the driver, but it never hurts to have a few tricks up your sleeve to keep your pet happy once you are at your new destination. That means if you do decide to give her something to gnaw on during the road trip it had better not squeak. And, if it falls to the floor, you had better be prepared to make a few stops to retrieve it or deal with the whining or yipping!
  10. Music. I love to sing with and to Bitsy when we are on the road. She seems to enjoy it so I always grab a few CDs to play. I had a friend whose dog would howl whenever it heard the friend sing opera. It was pretty funny. My dog can’t sing, but I wish she could!

Boost Your Health and Happiness – Adopt a Dog

Overcrowded animal shelters kill about 1.2 million dogs a year in the U.S. That’s roughly 60 percent of all dogs that enter a shelter. Why?

shelter-dog

Credit

Don’t even get me started. Just read the news any day of the week and you will see why. Humans are irresponsible to say the least. If we as a species practiced the same unconditional love as dogs do, the news would be filled with happy stories.

You can read more sickening statistics about unwanted dogs and cats on the ASPCA website. I just wanted to get your attention with a doozy opener.

There are millions of unwanted dogs across the nation representing every breed, age, size, health, and temperament. If you already own a dog, you already know the benefits of dog ownership. If you are holding back, let me share with you a few compelling reasons to find yourself a dog today!

Dog Ownership Improves Physical and Mental Health

dog-walking

Credit

I am not a doctor or scientist. But there are plenty of smart people out there who have been studying the relationship between dog ownership and its health benefits.

Did you know:

  • Babies who grow up with dogs are less likely to develop allergies.
  • Dogs help people meet other people more easily. They help you socialize. They can even improve your chances of getting a date!
  • Dog owners tend to exercise more often and more rigorously than non dog owners.
  • Dogs provide companionship for the elderly and give them a reason to stay active.
  • The calm and steady presence of a dog can help reduce stress.
  • Dogs are good for the heart. In fact, the National Institute of health funded a study that looked at 421 adults who’d suffered heart attacks. One year later, they discovered dog owners were more likely to still be alive than the non dog owners, regardless of the severity of the heart attack. You can read more about the study here.

Find Your Perfect Dog

pet-adoption

Credit

The right dog for me may not be the right dog for you. I chose Bitsy because the personality and traits of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel was a great match for my lifestyle. Every family has its own set of circumstances. There was a time when adopting a shelter dog was like shooting dice – you had no idea what you were getting. But so many shelters in the U.S. today take the time to really evaluate each dog, that you can find exactly what you are looking for. Even better, most no-kill shelters use a network of foster families to help these unwanted dogs adjust to family life before they go to a forever home. And unlike buying a pet from a breeder, you can adopt a dog on a trial basis to make sure it is the right fit.

There are a number of online resources for finding a shelter dog. I’ve listed three of the main ones. List your location and preferences, then patiently wait for your ideal dog to show up in search! Or you can attend a local pet adoption event and see adoptable dogs in person.

https://www.petfinder.com/
http://www.adoptapet.com/
http://bestfriends.org/

If you want to support a local no kill shelter in your area, you can find it here. http://www.nokillnetwork.org/

Still not sure you are ready to commit to a dog? You can always apply to be a foster family. This provides temporary homes to unwanted dogs and gives you a taste of ownership.

Please leave a comment below if you have a heart-warming dog adoption story to share. Make sure you include a photo of your new best pal!

Five Tactics to Teach Your Dog Manners

As a slightly obsessed dog lover, I want everyone else to at least like my dog. That’s why I spent so much time training Bitsy to behave like a proper lady. Jumping up on guests, stealing shoes, barking excessively, and begging at the table are pet peeves I cannot tolerate in someone else’s dog. I would certainly not tolerate that behavior in my own sweet Cavalier.

Don’t get me wrong. Raising a well-behaved canine is no easy feat. But if you don’t have the time and patience for proper training, perhaps a dog is not the best pet choice. Maybe you should consider a hermit crab instead.

FullSizeRender-2

Tactic 1: Find what motivates your pooch.

For many dogs, food is the most effective motivator. Luckily for me, Bitsy falls into this category. Treats should be small and healthy. Examples of good training foods include raw vegetables, bits of home baked biscuits, or dry food kibbles. Ice cubes can also be a no calorie special treat!

There are many reputable websites that include more comprehensive lists of foods you should not feed your dog, but here are a few to avoid:

  • Grapes
  • Avocado
  • Chocolate
  • Dairy products
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Raw meat
  • Raw eggs
  • Onions, Garlic
  • Mushrooms
  • Caffeine
  • Fat trimmings
  • Chicken bones

Praise is an excellent motivator, both verbal and physical. A calm, positive word of encouragement or a scratch behind the ears can get some dogs to do anything you ask! You can also reinforce good behavior by using a much-loved toy or activity. If your pup goes crazy over a favorite ball, kong, or ride in the car, use those things as training tools.

Tactic 2: Nip jumping in the bud.

It doesn’t matter whether Fido weighs 5 pounds or 85 pounds. When a dog jumps up on you, it scratches your legs, covers you in dog hair, frightens, and annoys even the most reasonable people. I’ve seen many tactics to combat this unpleasant behavior. I would start with these simple tips first.

IMG_4459

Train your dog from the very beginning to sit and stay when someone enters your home. Use the motivator that works for your dog. Start with short periods of time and increase that span in increments.

If your dog already acquired the “jump on visitors” trait, ask people who enter your home to fold their arms and turn their backs on your dog. When the dog finally figures out that jumping up will not elicit any affection, he will usually give up. When your dog returns all feet to the floor, try getting him to sit and stay. Once accomplished, hand over a treat or praise.

If the folded arms system does not take hold over time, you can try lightly stepping on the dogs back feet while his front paws are resting on the human legs (or chest). This will immediately prompt your dog to return to his own four paws. In time, he will associate jumping up with the discomfort of his back paws and cease the bad behavior.

If this last straw tactic fails, then contact a dog trainer.

I want to add here that I am not a professional dog trainer. I love dogs and have taken the time to train my own. Dog training takes time, patience, practice, and a calm spirit. Don’t expect miracles overnight. And never lose your cool.

Tactic 3: Stealing the Three S’s – Shoes, Slippers, Socks

Have you ever wondered why some dogs take your house guest’s shoe the moment they leave it at your front door? Or why she runs through the house with your bedroom slipper hanging from her mouth? Does your pooch confiscate more single socks than your dryer?

Could it be she gets your attention every time she takes something you’ve forbidden? In my opinion, dogs just want to love and be loved. If you make a big deal out of chasing her down when she steals something, it becomes a game and a source of attention. Use treats to reward her for not taking shoes, slippers, or socks when you put them within easy reach to tempt her. You should also ensure your dog has her own toys for entertainment.

Confession: Bitsy loves it when she finds one of my dirty socks. She does not chew it, but relishes in running away when I see it dangling from her mouth. Funny, but she never takes the clean ones!

If your dog is taking your shoes and chewing them, that is a more serious behavior issue than poor manners. I recommend reading Cesar Millan’s website for shoe chewing and other problematic behaviors.

Tactic 4: Halt Excessive Barking

It is difficult to speak with a house guest or talk to your neighbor through the back fence when your dog is overtaking the conversation with loud, obnoxious barking.

DSC_0517

As with jumping up or stealing slippers, never reward your dog with attention for unacceptable behavior. Remain calm and ignore an overly excited dog. Affection and attention should only be paid to an equally calm dog. This is much more difficult to achieve if you’ve rescued a dog that already developed the barking habit. Don’t get frustrated. Remember what I wrote at the end of Tactic 2!

I am not a fan of those barking collars. I’m not passing judgement on anyone who successfully uses them to train their dog. It’s just not my personal preference.

Tactic 5: Do Not Teach Begging!

Here is where I am going to pass judgement. If your dog begs at the table, you are one hundred percent to blame. It is an owner-created bad habit. (On my soapbox now.) If you only feed your dog dog food and healthy snacks as training aids, your dog will not beg for people food from the table. I’m not sure how I could explain that more simply or explicitly! This is a hard habit to break, so don’t go down that road in the first place. If you inherited a dog that begs at the table, then work with her to overcome the habit by ignoring it and not feeding her from the table.

Dogs are much easier to train than children, or so I’m told! Be patient. It takes time to break bad habits. Be positive. Your dog only wants to make you happy. Most importantly, start your dog out with firm boundaries and good manners from the start. That way, your family, friends, and guests will love your prized pet as much as you do. Well, almost!

12 Ways You Know You Are a True Dog Lover

12 Ways You Know You Are a True Dog Lover

My dog is my family. A few of my friends would probably say I go a little overboard. But honestly, Bitsy gives me so much love in return, that a little overboard is warranted, don’t you think? There is a fine line between being a dog lover and being doggone crazy! I am positive I am the former. But which one are you?

1. You’ve provided for your dog’s lifelong care in your will.

will

Actually, shame on you if you have not established plans for your pet in the event you go first. In many cases, surviving family members choose to euthanize their loved one’s dog or cat. What a horrible way to honor the memory of your dearly departed!

Seriously, ask friends or family members if they would take your pet into their home in the event of your untimely demise and then get it in writing! Create a folder with all the pertinent details about your furry friend like name of caregiver and contact info, diet, vet, shot records, license, etc. Contact your lawyer and update your Will to name the caregiver and set aside the money needed to undertake that duty. (Just make sure you include that the money is to be used for your pet and not their vacation to Hawaii.)

2. You can name every hotel chain that accepts pets.

kimpton

There are countless websites that list pet-friendly hotels. One of my very favorite ways to search for pet-friendly travel  is the TripAdvisor website. I have the app on my phone. Simply type “pet friendly” into your search and you’ll see restaurants, hotels, and attractions where my little Bitsy is welcomed at any destination. It’s a great app!

Many hotels take up to two pets. A few of the chains that are most accommodating to our four-legged companions are LaQuinta, Wyndham, and most Hilton properties (you’ll need to check each location for their policy). But there are tons more out there. A few of the pricier options where pets are really pampered include Kimpton Hotels, Loews, W Hotels Worldwide, and The Ritz-Carlton.

3. You took your dog on your honeymoon.

dog-wedding

Okay, this is bordering obsession! But I know there are people out there who do. If you are one of them, please post a photo! After all, while I’m not married, I know many friends who wouldn’t be happy without their furry friend in tow.

4. You refuse invitations that do not include your dog.

rsvp

I do this sometimes. If someone invites me away for a weekend, I’m either taking Bitsy or staying home. I’m at work five days a week. I’m not leaving my dog in a kennel over the weekend. Period.

5. You host a neighborhood pet party each year for your dog’s birthday.

https:::www.flickr.com:photos:gizzypooh:539662773:in:photostream:

Credit

Bitsy and I have been to a few birthday parties so I feel qualified to offer some advice here. First, don’t have it at a dog park unless you bring enough treats for any uninvited guests that happen to be at the park that day. Really, it’s just rude!

Second, make sure those treats are actually dog-friendly. You can make your own using wholesome ingredients. (I’ll include a recipe or two of my own below.)

Third, bring extra water bowls and clean water.

Fourth, paper birthday hats are fun for your memory book, but some dogs find them humiliating. If you see a party guest’s tail go between her legs as soon as the hat is plopped on, don’t force the issue!

Fifth, know your guests. Though your dog might be on friendly terms with your neighbor’s pooch, make sure all invited canines are dog friendly with all others. There’s nothing worse than a playground bully at a dog party.

6. The only dog biscuits in your pantry are home baked.

dog-biscuits

Credit

I like to make Bitsy her biscuits because that way I know they are not loaded with fillers, plus it is way cheaper. Her faves are the peanut butter ones, though she likes the sweet potato too. One word of caution when making your own doggy treats…keep them wholesome. Bacon is loaded with sodium, so skip it. When is brown sugar ever recommended for a doggy diet? Skip it. Actually, the ASPCA has a great list on their website of people foods you should not feed you pet. If you see something on the list, keep it out of your dog cookies!

Bitsy’s Peanut Butter Biscuits
2 cups whole wheat flour (or other if Fido has an allergy to wheat)
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup natural peanut butter
1 1/4 cups hot water
1 Tablespoon flaxseed
Mix dough. Roll out to ¼” thickness. Use cookie cutter.

(Here’s a link in case you don’t already own a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel cookie cutter.)

Lay out on cookie sheet using parchment paper. Base at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until golden around the edges. Cool completely. Store in airtight container for up to a week.

Tip:  You can turn this basic recipe into pumpkin or sweet potato treats by switching out the peanut butter, cutting back on the water to about a cup, and adding an egg. Make sure you use pure organic pumpkin or bake your own sweet potato.

7. You have more posts featuring your dog on your social media accounts than any other member of your family.

pinterest-dogs

8. Your dog is included in all your professional family portraits.

pet-portrait

Credit

9. Dog toys have their own line on your annual household budget.

PlayDate-05

Credit

I can’t help myself. Every time I walk through a pet supply store like PetSmart, or even a regular store that happens to carry dog paraphernalia like Target, I pick up another toy for Bitsy to try out. I’ve ordered my share of “stuff” from Amazon too! I am eyeing this new pet camera in a ball as we speak! Please, could someone talk me out of this one! 

10. You bought a bigger bed to accommodate your dog.

sleeping-dog

Credit

I am wondering if there is anyone out there who hasn’t done this? I finally succumbed to a king sized bed so that my tiny (but expansive while sleeping) Cavalier King Charles Spaniel has room to kick her paws while dreaming. Full disclosure: This is not Bitsy. I do NOT sleep on polka dot sheets!

And two bonus clues I nearly forgot:

11. Your veterinarian is on your Christmas card list.
12. All the clerks at PetSmart and PetCo know you by name (first and last).

Yes, and yes. Guilty as charged!

So, are you a dog lover or dog obsessed? Maybe I am somewhere in between! What qualities would you add to my dog lover list? Leave a comment below. Pictures welcome!