How Do You Introduce A New Or Strange Dog? – Dog Training – Dog Trainer – Behaviorist

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Sam Basso
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What things should you consider before introducing one dog to another? If you do things right, then things normally go well and the dogs get along. If you do things wrong, then a bad dog fight can erupt – people and dogs can be seriously injured.

Evaluating The People

In order to be a good dog trainer and behaviorist, you need to be able to size people up. I look at how the person is with their own dog. I look at how they live, their lifestyle, what they wear, how they talk, and how they think. I evaluate the temperament of each person in the family, too. How they carry themselves, and I try to predict how they will behave. Dogs will act differently around different people. I have called off lessons when I think the people are not suited for what we are proposing to do. After making an assessment, I judge what kinds of instructions I am going to need to give to them before we do the introduction. I’ve worked with so many dog owners in so many circumstances that I can usually make a good decision as to what to do. I also know what kinds of warnings to issue prior to commencing any kind of procedure such as introducing dogs to one another. There’s no way a novice dog trainer can do this kind of thing. And even some very experienced dog trainers are better with dogs than they are with people. I’ve seen some pretty bone headed dog trainers over the years. People can get hurt. Only adults should attend the introductions, and they need to accept the fact that they could be injured if they do something foolish, and even if they don’t do something foolish. Animals are animals, and can’t be reasoned with. They live by their instincts and feelings.

Evaluating the Situation

It is important to stage the introduction properly. An introduction is more than just what happens during the first meeting. It includes the interval of time between the introduction and the point where the dog is fully integrated into the home. That period can be anywhere from a week to a year of time. It also involves choosing locations, evaluation of the layout of the home, and the ways the people live in their homes and the circumstances when they take the dogs in public. Just because a dog introduction goes well the first day doesn’t mean it is going to go well over the next two months.

Evaluating the Dogs

I have developed a number of techniques of getting to know a dog, and have also developed ways of introducing dogs. I have taught seminars on how to do this to veterinarians, breeders, and rescue volunteers. I developed a Shelter Temperament Test which I still use to get to know a dog. It is a step-by-step procedure for safely evaluating and handling an unknown dog. Also, by working for 3 years as the Head Trainer for a doggie daycare and kennel, I was able to develop and participate in creating procedures for introducing dogs to one another. Some dogs are mismatches, because of size, temperament, and even how closely they bond to the owner. Evaluation is NOT an exact science, however. It is always an educated guess, based on gathering information and comparing it to what you know about dog behavior. It also requires years of experience, something you can’t get out of just reading a book. There were dogs that passed the initial tests, only to later develop unresolvable issues with certain dogs in play groups. That can also happen in a home. Friendly dogs are more likely to be friendly. Fearful, suspicious, game bred, dominant, and or certain breeds are less likely to mix in well with other dogs they don’t know. There is no set formula for deciding which dogs will like other dogs.

Putting It All Together

My belief, when it comes to any dog activity, is always: People safety first, animal safety second. I go overboard sometimes prior to putting dogs together. That’s why I won’t print here exactly how I do it. I don’t want you to go and do something just because you read an article. No article will give you the knowledge and experience in order to be prepared for what might happen. I know you are going to be disappointed reading this, because people are often surfing the web for free tips, usually as a way of not having to spend any money. However, as a general overview, I will tell you a few things. I make sure that the people attending the initial introduction, and those who will go home with the dogs, have instructions. I also make sure they understand that they need to stay in touch with me until they are confident that all is going well, for at least two months. Next, I pick a set up for the introduction. This includes where we are going to do the introduction, what procedures we are going to follow, safety precautions, who needs to attend, and keeping minor children away from the action. Then, I do a variety of tests with the dogs, leading up to them finally meeting, and then living together.

None of this is guaranteed. Things can go right. Things can go wrong. Seemingly friendly dogs can sometimes not like one another. Or they like one another, but they don’t like someone in the home. It’s not just as simple as opening the front door, bringing the new dog in, and letting the dogs work it out. My best advice is this: hire a professional to help you, and follow their instructions. Don’t get too attached to the new dog until that dog has truly integrated well into your home, because some dogs won’t do well and will have to go back to the breeder or shelter. That’s the truth. And keep a watchful eye out for trouble until you are sure everything is going well.