Not-So-Great New Pet Introductions

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In a perfect world, the lion really would lie down with the lamb (or the wolf with the rabbit), but our world isn’t perfect, and introductions don’t always go as smoothly as we might hope. 

If either party displays a strong arousal response or strong fear/stress response, you’ll need to incorporate more significant behavior modification protocols into your introduction scenario. The careful introduction process described in the main article  will prevent any disasters, but if you see significant distress or arousal behaviors from either animal, abort the introduction and rethink your position:

• Am I truly committed to making the effort that will be necessary for this new animal companion to live safely and happily in my family?

• If so, are all members of this family also in agreement and willing and able to do the behavior modification and management necessary to accomplish this?

• If behavior modification is not successful, are we prepared to very carefully manage this environment for the remainder of our animals’ lives?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then the prospective new family member is probably better off returning from whence she came, or being uber-managed until you can rehome her, if she came from a neglected or otherwise undesirable situation. 

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WDJ's Training Editor Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, grew up in a family that was blessed with lots of animal companions: dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, goats, and more, and has maintained that model ever since. She spent the first 20 years of her professional life working at the Marin Humane Society in Marin County, California, for most of that time as a humane officer and director of operations. She continually studied the art and science of dog training and behavior during that time, and in 1996, left MHS to start her own training and behavior business, Peaceable Paws. Pat has earned a number of titles from various training organizations, including Certified Behavior Consultant Canine-Knowledge Assessed (CBCC-KA) and Certified Professional Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA). She also founded Peaceable Paws Academies for teaching and credentialing dog training and behavior professionals, who can earn "Pat Miller Certified Trainer" certifications. She and her husband Paul and an ever-changing number of dogs, horses, and other animal companions live on their 80-acre farm in Fairplay, Maryland.

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