You thought you were doing a good thing for your mature dog when you adopted a new puppy. She'll love him!" you assured yourself. "It will keep her young and active." Rather than loving him
We currently have three dogs. We lost our Scottie a few months ago to cancer, and our Australian Shepherd last year to old age and failing health. This is the fewest number of dogs we've had in our family for as far back as I care to remember, and while I grieve Missy and Dubhy's absence every day, a part of me feels some guilty relief that the canine chaos and caretaking load has lightened somewhat. Still, while I know it won't be for a while yet, another part of me contemplates the next potential pup-addition to the Miller pack . . . which leads me to contemplate the complexities and challenges of bringing home a new dog.
It's fairly common for dogs to be placed for adoption with a caveat that there should be no cats
It's feeding time at the Miller household. All is calm until I pick up Scooter's bowl to carry it to the laundry room where the little Pomeranian can eat without harassment from the larger dogs. As I lift the bowl from the counter, Scooter erupts with high-pitched barking and spinning, and Lucy the Corgi joins in with her deeper-but-still-sufficiently irritating vocals. It's more of an annoying bit of ritual than a dangerous or disturbing one, but it's annoying just the same, and one that would be nice to extinguish.
Knowledgeable dog people are quite aware that not all dogs get along with each other, despite the fact that canis lupus familiaris (domestic dog) is a social species. Hey, we humans are a social species, and we certainly don't all get along! Dog-dog aggression is unhappily common in our world. As a professional behavior consultant who works with aggression cases, I probably see more than my fair share of it. By far the most difficult and most distressing presentations of dog-dog aggression are intra-pack aggression cases: dogs in the same family who aren't getting along with each other. I've had a spate of these clients in recent weeks. Even our own Lucy and Missy, a Cardigan Corgi and Australian Shepherd who don't always get along seamlessly, seem to have experienced an increase in relationship tensions this winter.
Can older dogs and younger dogs live happily together? Will a puppy bounding around (and possibly on) the arthritic body of an older dog encourage her to be more active, bringing energy and vitality during senior years? Or will the perfectly normal antics of a young dog aggravate and stress what should be a time of happy retirement for a senior dog? If you've lived with an older dog, you've probably heard someone at some point recommend getting a puppy or younger dog. The advice may be something like, "It will keep your older dog young," or "The new puppy can learn from your older dog." While you will likely find some truth in both statements, the opposite may also hold true. Your older dog could be stressed or exhausted by a younger dog. Your young dog will certainly learn from your older dog, but the lessons may not be those you would like to be passed from one generation to the next.
You're contemplating the addition of another canine family member to your pack. You've thought it through and are convinced that it's the right time. However, if you already have dogs in your home, you'll need to prepare for the potentially stressful process known as new dog introduction." There are a number of factors to keep in mind that can increase the likelihood of a positive outcome when introducing a new dog into your home. A peaceful first introduction sets the stage for long term relationships. The more heavily you can weigh the odds in your favor for that first encounter
You've no doubt heard the phrase fighting like cats and dogs." The media likes to play up stories about personality differences between "cat lovers" and "dog lovers
When asked whether it's a good idea to add a second dog to a family, my answer is always an unequivocal "It depends!" If you're adding a second dog for the right reasons and your first dog gets along with others, it may be a fine idea. Here are some things to consider when you're thinking of adding a second, third, fourth (or more) dog to your pack.
If your dog is reactive to other dogs but you are thinking about getting another dog anyway, read the following for both a sober warning as well as cautious encouragement. It’s a wonderful case of a seriously dog-reactive dog improving enough to be able to live with another dog – but it took tons of the kinds of work described by Pat Miller in the previous article to get there, and the dog’s training and mangement is ongoing.
The decision to add a new dog to the pack shouldn’t be taken lightly. Don’t expect to be able to use the same methods on every dog you own. Every new pup requires individualized training and management. Bringing a new dog into the family can be fraught with unexpected developments, no matter how experienced a dog owner is, how well her home is prepared, and how good-natured the dogs are that she already owns. However, with preparation, flexibility, and dedication to principles of positive training and behavior management, most dog owners can get through the adjustment period with peace in the pack.
A friend copied the article, “Monkey See, Monkey Do?” from the July issue for me, knowing I would want to subscribe, which I did.
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