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Getting Another Dog

Getting a New Dog: Challenges to Consider with Your Home Dogs

Getting a new dog can present some challenges to you and to the existing home dog(s).

I received a Tweet from a gentleman in New York who has 2 existing dogs and is ready to adopt a third dog into the family.  His main question to me was: “How do we make sure we do the right thing?” 

Getting Another Dog

The mere effects of a “status quo” change with a new dog can potentially cause both you and your current home dogs to become stressed and anxious.

Home dogs may now have to put up with sharing all their stuff with the new dog. While some greet the newcomer with open paws, others take exception to their presence. Some home dogs begin to worry about their current pack status – if you believe all the pack leader theory angles.

 Here’s what I believe.

In general, if you consistently give your dog(s) rules and set boundaries and expectations, they will look to you for solutions – including the addition of a new dog.  However, if you do not require anything of your dog(s), they will make up the rules themselves.

As an example, many home dogs that felt pretty secure in their “sense of place” could now become insecure. Dog behavior problems will surface. Sometimes home dogs take to marking territory. This helps them to, at least for the time being, feel more secure. 

What dog owners don’t realize is that dogs are sensitive to change in their environment, to change in routine, and/or changes in family dynamics. 

Here are some examples: 

Change in Routine:  In many homes, dogs start having accidents in the home because family or friends come to visit and the entire normal routine for eating, walking, and training is out of whack. 

Change in family dynamics:  Another example is a new baby.  This could be a real “game-changer” especially when the In-Laws come to visit all at the same time for a few weeks. Yikes!  They’re just here to meet baby and help out the new Mom. They’ll be gone in a couple of days. Or, could it be weeks? All Fluffy tries to understand is “Now, where do I fit in?” 

With all the commotion, who’s thinking about what Fluffy might be stressing over? All interactions with Fluffy tend to be swept aside. Routines change. Fluffy begins to have accidents in the house. Many of you have seen or experienced this before with holiday visitors or new babies but might not have known why your Fluffy was peeing or pooping in the house. 

But you’re bringing a new dog home – not a baby. 

All dogs should get along, right? They’ll be just fine, right? Not so fast. 

There are things – safeguards – to do to help the newcomer make a more positive impression and it all begins with the very first introduction or greeting. What’s that old saying about a first impression being a good impression? 

Tips on first impressions: 

Meet on neutral territory: It’s always better to err on the side of caution and take your home dogs to a neutral place like a park for the first meet and greet – on leash. As you get close – but not too close to the new dog, sit your dog and click/praise and treat your dog with high value food treats to begin to associate positive things with the new dog. 

The first handshake/butt sniff: If necessary, have the new dog facing away from your dog so that your dog can come up to sniff butt first and then gradually move to the head and shoulders of the new dog as the home dogs get more comfortable with  the newcomer’s presence.  Click/treat for good butt sniffs or greetings. 

Walk and talk:  Dogs instinctively love to walk and explore. Even if your dog(s) haven’t ever seen the newcomer before, they still have this “instinct to explore” in common. It’s what dogs love to do.   

Walking and exploring, even though they are doing this independently on the walk, allows them to share a positive experience while knowing they are in the presence of each other. Add to this the occasional dog obedience commands – sits and/or downs – followed by click/praise and treat will enhance this great outdoor experience for all the doggies. 

Talking and laughing with a friend as you walk the dogs creates a relaxed atmosphere. All the dogs will pick up on your calm, relaxed energy and will become more relaxed. 

Now let’s go home!

You may find that the dogs are getting along just fine and entering your home poses no problem at all. But if there are some signs that the home dogs are beginning to “take exception” of the newcomer’s presence in the yard or at the front door, let’s do the “walk and talk” again – but around the neighborhood this time. It’s closer to home – their turf and territory.  Include sits and/or downs followed by click/praise and treat each time you require them to do a command. After 15 -20 minutes, return to the home and enter. 

Now what? You’re inside and all seems to be going well. My advice is, at least for the time being, keep the new dog on a leash until he/she gets accustomed to the routines. This will prevent accidental marking on your rugs/furniture (better safe than sorry.)  If you have the new dog on a leash it will help to gently encourage him to do the right thing. Do not leave the leash on the dog when unattended. 

What’s the right thing? Sit for food, sit for love and affection and stay with you and not go off and pee/poop. I was going to say sit to earn the right to get on the furniture with you. If your home dogs are used to just getting on the furniture, they may very well hop up and lay right next to you to guard your love and affection from the newcomer. 

This brings up the subject of guarding things.  Dogs often times begin to guard their food or food treats, space (dog beds, space on furniture, etc.), toys and your love and affection. Your home dogs could begin to display this dog behavior problem to reinforce what they think belongs to them. 

So now what? This is where we should begin to evaluate how you originally structured life with your home dog(s). If there are no rules to follow, boundaries to respect and expectations of what to do and when to do it, now would be an appropriate time to begin – with all the dogs. 

The brief explanation is to put all the dogs on an earn-to-learn or no free lunch program. That means nothing in life is free – anymore! They must sit for everything: food, treats, access to furniture when you are on it, toys, your love and affection, access to the back yard to go potty or to take a walk. 

To have a more in-depth understanding of why this is important and how and where to implement these rules, boundaries and expectations, follow this link to my article entitled, “Fixing Dog Problems – It Begins with the Relationship.” CLICK HERE

 

Please comment below and tell us how you’ve introduced a new dog to your older dog and how it sent.

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“Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”

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Jim Burwell is a “thanks for making the impossible, possible” professional dog trainer having trained 20,000+ dogs and counting and serving more than 7,000 clients.  Jim’s easy to follow, common sense, and positive methods have made him the “dog trainer of choice” for 30 years.  One of his clients says it best: There are people who are so good at, and passionate about, what they do, that in their presence, one can’t help thinking that they have found their true calling and are doing exactly what they should be doing on this earth. Jim is one of these rare people. His quiet and understated manner, his effective technique for training dogs (and their families) is something which I feel fortunate to have witnessed and in which to have been an active participant.  Jane Wagner

(c)Jim Burwell Inc.

Dog Walking Leah Pulling

Dog Walking – Leash Pulling

Dog walking can be fun – and without leash pulling. Yes, both you and your dog can enjoy a fun and relaxing walk without all the hassles of pulling. Someone had asked – actually chatted with me on FaceBook, complaining about their dog pulling on leash. So, I thought I’d expand a little more about walking your dog and how to actually enjoy it at the same time. Can you imagine wanting to stay out to continue walking with your dog instead of thinking, “I can’t wait to get home because my arm is getting yanked out of its socket?”

Let’s face it – Houston is a great place to be with dogs. Subdivisions are being planned with greenbelts which include walking and running pathways. There are places to go even if you live in a high rise or apartment: Memorial Park, Herman Park, The Arboretum and I recently found a paperback book at Barnes and Noble Book Shop that lists all the hiking and biking trails and marks the ones best suited for you and your dog. There’s no better way to get out and enjoy the companionship of your best friend – with the emphasis on enjoy.
Dog Walking Leah Pulling

There are a lot of schools of thought out there about the “proper way” to walk your dog. Some would have you always walk you dog at heel by your side with no flex time for dog fun. I think even with that there can be some room for compromise so that your best friend gets to enjoy at least part of the walk.  After all, dogs love to sniff and explore with their noses and can’t do that if they are require to always walk by your side.  

Then there’s all the concern about – if your dog is out in front, you’re not the leader. Some even think that if your dog is out in front all the time, you have no relevance and your dog won’t listen to you.  How do you walk your dog? What should the rules be for your dog? Well, let’s take a look at it bit by bit:  Why dogs pull, humane equipment that makes walking your dog easier and styles of walking.

 Why dogs pull

Dogs naturally walk faster than we do and attaching them to a short leash (even 6 feet can be short for some dogs) can cause leash pulling problems almost immediately. Dogs naturally pull against any pressure they feel on the leash. This natural instinct is called “opposite reflex action” (there’s a fancier word for it but I forget) which simply means that if a dog feels leash pressure (pulling back on leash) he will pull in the opposite direction. Most have experienced this with their dogs. The same sensation may be experienced when you try to push a dog down into a sit and he locks his legs and doesn’t want to go down.

Leash pressure causes pulling. How can you relax the pressure on the leash and prevent pulling? You can train your dog to walk on a slack leash. This can take a while – to get your dog to pay attention to you and walk slower than he naturally walks to accommodate you. Let’s look at options that will help you to better control your dog on leash.

 Humane equipment that makes walking your dog easier

There are a few options out on the market that work great to prevent most pulling. Some of these are the Gentle Leader, Head Halti, Easy Walk Harness and Sensation Harness. The good thing about the harnesses is that the leash connection is on the breast plate of the dog – right in front – which really gives you much better control. The use of food treats “initially” to shape the behavior you want on a walk is also recommended. Most doggie owners don’t think about taking treats on walks but it really helps in maintaining attention at critical times.

Styles of walking

Here’s where many trainers take exception to how people walk their dogs. Aside from doing some kind of “leash pulling dog training,” here’s how I walk my dogs. My wife and I walk our dogs on Flexi-Leads – that’s the retractable leash. Now this is a personal decision that everyone gets to make. Why do we walk our dogs on Flexi-Leads? We do it because they are good dogs that obey our commands.  We don’t have behavior problems with our dogs. So they get to “have fun” on walks. To balance our walks we do frequent recalls (come command) get a sit and then release them to run  sniff and play.

I have a lady client that was having an extremely difficult time walking her 9 month old Labradoodle  that was not making her walks fun. She struggled with constant pulling on leash because she thought she had to keep her dog by her side. I introduced her and her puppy to the Flexi-Lead and the difference was night and day. Once her dog got out beyond the 6’ leash distance she didn’t continue to pull. We worked on doing frequent comes and sit to be released again.

For the longest I would walk my dogs on 20-25’ long lines and do frequent recalls. The long lines were not retractable but the dogs did well, always came when called – distracted at first but then would finally ignore distractions and always come. They thoroughly enjoyed their free walks with the come command sprinkled in here and there – always a surprise. They learned to turn on a dime and come immediately.

This style of walking may not suit everyone but I recommend you give it a try. Balance free time away from you (on the end of the Flexi-Lead or long line) with frequent recalls back to you, get a sit then release your dog again for more fun.

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Jim Burwell is a “thanks for making the impossible, possible” professional dog trainer having trained 20,000+ dogs and counting and serving more than 7,000 clients.  Jim’s easy to follow, common sense, and positive methods have made him the “dog trainer of choice” for 30 years.  One of his clients says it best:

There are people who are so good at, and passionate about, what they do, that in their presence, one can’t help thinking that they have found their true calling and are doing exactly what
they should be doing on this earth. Jim is one of these rare people. His quiet and understated manner, his effective technique for training dogs (and their families) is something which I feel fortunate to have witnessed and in which to have been an active participant.  Jane Wagner

(c)Jim Burwell Inc.

Thinking About Getting a New Puppy?

New PuppyNew puppy on your mind?  I know it’s hard to believe – and it’s the last thing you want to think about right now but……Christmas is just a few months away and I am always reminded of the thousands of Christmas Puppies (probably even more) that will be snuggled up in Santa’s big ol’ bag waiting to go to a new home this coming Christmas Eve.

More importantly, their wish is that they get a home where they will be taken care of and not forgotten. Raising a puppy is like raising a child. The difference is that kids grow up and eventually leave the nest. Puppies on the other hand, stay with you forever. So it is important to plan your lifetime with your new puppy. Think about the following before you get your new puppy:

If buying a pure breed puppy, make sure you buy from a reputable breeder.  They usually guarantee eyes, hips and heart. Good breeders also begin desensitizing all the puppies to noise, human handling and all things that go “bump in the night.”

While most breeders release their new puppies at around 7-8 weeks of age, critical socialization extends through 14 weeks of age. This important uninterrupted time with their litter mates and Mom helps them to become better puppies and well adjusted dogs. This gives them time enough to learn their social graces like bite inhibition and how to play nicely
with other dogs.  So wait as long as you can before taking your new puppy.

When getting your new puppy from a shelter, you may not have the luxury of knowing the puppies’ past. Remember that the window of socialization closes between the ages of 3 ½ to 5 months of age.

This means that to the extent that you can, desensitize and socialize you pup to as many new distractions as you can to assure that he will be okay with people, noises, things, etc…You can do that even if they have not received all their shots.  Have people come over with their “good dogs” have the puppy around repairment, yard guys, kids etc.

Whether you get a pure breed puppy or a rescue puppy of questionable heritage, they all still need the same rules, routines, expectations and boundaries.

The second you bring your new puppy home you should gently guide him through your rule book.

Let him know where he can and cannot go. Setting rules and boundaries immediately will help him feel very secure in his sense of place. You do this with leadership – nothing harsh at all.

Plan on devoting enough necessary time for potty training – this takes times.  Be sure to set your puppy up to succeed at this and not continue to set him up to fail.  Also begin  fun puppy obedience training which will allow him to earn the things he wants by giving you a sit.

Later, once your new puppy has had all his shots, join an obedience class and begin his more formal training and socialization with other dogs.

You can keep it very simple by consistently providing your puppy with an “earn-to-learn” program that will keep his expectations in the correct perspective – he works for you, you don’t work for him :-)

Everything he gets from you requires a sit and down. This will help to balance his work for the love and affection you will be giving him now and in the years to come.

Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are with the teacher of your children.

“Together we can raise a happy an obedient dog.”

 

Jim BurwellJim Burwell is a “thanks for making the impossible, possible” professional dog trainer having trained 20,000+ dogs and counting and serving more than 7,000clients.  Jim’s easy to follow, common sense, and positive methods have made him the “dog trainer of choice” for 30 years. 
 
One of his clients says it best:

There are people who are so good at, and passionate about, what they do, that in their presence, one can’t help thinking that they have found their true calling and are doing exactly what they should be doing on this earth. Jim is one of these rare people. His quiet and understated manner, his effective technique for training dogs (and their families) is something which I feel fortunate to have witnessed and in which to have been an active participant.

Jim’s  Nose to Tail Puppy Training is the culmination of these years of training into an easy, step-by-step process so that your puppy understands what you expect of him because you know how to teach him.  You empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you empower him to be successful at living in a human home.  The result – one awesome puppy and one happy family. 

© 2011 Jim Burwell Inc.