Introducing your New Dog to your Other Pets
The way you introduce your new dog to your resident pet is very important. It takes time for everyone to accept one another.
The best way to introduce two dogs is to take them for a walk together in a “neutral” area, making sure they walk parallel to each other. You should walk them together for at least 45 minutes as soon as you arrive home from the shelter. You will have to proceed very slowly and understand that this may be a long process. To ease the transition, put your new dog’s crate, food and toys in a designated area behind a baby gate. Giving a new dog free access to your whole house can be overwhelming to him. It gives him too many things to get used to at one time and may cause him to act out inappropriately. Also, keeping him confined allows your resident pet(s) time to adjust to having a new friend in the house without having to meet in a confrontational situation. Keep meetings brief and be sure to pick up any toys or bones that may be lying around the house because these are common things for dogs to fight over.
When introducing a dog to a cat, make sure the resident cat has a place to hide where the new dog cannot go. You can expect barking, growling, hissing, and spitting. If a meeting becomes too intense, separate everyone and try again later. With understanding and patience you will usually see a friendship—or at least tolerance— develop between your animals.
Establishing a Relationship with Your Dog
From day one, talk to your dog. It will make your pet alert and responsive to you. Offer treats for rewards, but don’t let him snatch it out of your hand. Handle your dog a lot. For example, gently massage his ears, run your hand down each leg, pick up each paw and softly touch his toenails as you give him a treat, all the while talking happily to him. Monitor your dog’s activities in the house and the yard. Also remember to provide lots of exercise. A tired dog is a good dog. Be sure not to scold or punish, as this will only make him more afraid and turn into a contest of wills. Dogs are like young children and need to know who’s in charge, what their limits are, and what’s expected of them.
Socialize your dog. This is the most important thing you can do to help him to have a great life. If you don’t do this, he can develop behavior problems like aggression or shyness. As long as your dog has had all his shots (at 4 months of age or older) you can take him to the park, the store, and to visit your friends. Get him out and about and he’ll feel like part of the family.
If he doesn’t like the car, start by just sitting in the car with him. Once he’s comfortable being in the car, start taking him on short trips and work your way up to longer ones. If he gets carsick don’t feed him before going in the car.
When you introduce him to a new place or person, if he’s afraid at first, let him take his time to get used to things. Don’t force or rush him. Use treats to reward him for approaching new people or situations. Even when he gets older, don’t ever stop socializing your dog. It will make him happier and more confident.
If you plan to housetrain your dog, do not paper train. It will only confuse him and prolong the housetraining period. Instead, teach your puppy/dog to go outside from the moment you bring him home. Your pup won’t ask to go out, so you need to remember to take him out often. Puppies under the age of 12 weeks should be taken out every 2 hours, and adult dogs may have to go out every 4 hours. At the very least, take out your adult dog first thing in the morning, after each meal, after a nap or playtime and last thing at night. More frequent outside visits will help him to understand the system even better.
You should put your puppy or dog on a leash when you go out with him. Plan to spend no more than 5 minutes outside and don’t play with him. Puppies are easily distracted, so if they think they are going outside to play they won’t bother going to the bathroom. Playing should be done indoors or in a completely separate area from his “bathroom” so he understands why he is going outside. During housetraining, always take him to his designated outdoor spot to relieve himself. Consistently use a key phrase, such as “hurry up” or “do it,” so that your dog learns to associate the command with the action you expect. Be sure to praise him when he goes!
Inside, confine him to a small area at night and whenever you cannot watch him. A training crate is an excellent tool because dogs don’t like to soil the place where they sleep. If you can’t use a crate, confine your dog to a hall or bathroom with a baby gate. He’ll be happiest if he can hear, smell, and/or see you. He shouldn’t be isolated or banished to the cellar or garage.
At bedtime or when you leave the house your dog should be in his crate. If you do catch him in the act of messing in the house, scold him sternly but briefly. Say “NO,” and take him right outside. Do NOT hit the puppy with your hand or a newspaper or rub his nose in his stools. None of these techniques works and it destroys the bond you are trying to establish with your dog. This is important: Do NOT scold him if you didn’t see him have an accident—he won’t remember what he did wrong. There is no benefit to yelling if the act was done 5 minutes or 5 hours ago. If an accident occurs, because you weren’t there to keep an eye on him, quietly clean and deodorize it with a product for this purpose. Don’t use an ammonia-based product—it smells like urine to a dog, and he might return to the “scene of the crime.”
If your dog keeps having accidents, have your dog’s stool checked by a veterinarian. A dog with intestinal worms may have accidents he can’t control. Worms are common and easy to cure. Most dogs are 90% housebroken by 4 months of age, but they cannot be expected to always let you know when they have to “go”. It is still your responsibility to anticipate his needs.
A crate is one of the kindest things you can do for your dog or puppy. It is a training tool that provides a safety zone and an undisturbed place for the dog to have his own space. If you use a crate, you can leave your dog at home alone for a few hours with complete peace of mind knowing that nothing in the house can be soiled or destroyed. Your dog will be comfortable and secure in his crate, without an opportunity to develop behavior problems.
New crates can be purchased at pet supply stores. Used crates may be found at yard sales and in bargain hunter ads. A crate should be large enough to permit the dog to stretch out flat on one side, with legs extended, and to sit up without hitting his head. If you have a puppy, buy a crate that will be large enough for him as an adult. You can block off one end of it with a box until he grows larger. This will prevent him from having enough room to go to the bathroom in one end and sleep in the other.
The object is to help him understand that the bathroom is outside in a designated area, and the house and training crate are off limits for “doing his business.” If the pup is under 10 weeks, he isn’t capable of “holding it” more than 3-4 hours so if you must leave him longer than that, or at night, it is wise to allow him access to a small area outside the crate so he won’t have to soil the crate. You might want to put the crate in the bathroom and leave the crate door open so he can relieve himself outside the crate if he needs to go. Puppies usually accept the crate within a day. An adult dog needs a gradual introduction with pleasant and positive associations.
Encourage the dog to enter the crate with tidbits of food. Let him walk in and out of the crate at will for a day. Coax him to lie down and relax. Shut the door briefly while you sit with him. Praise him enthusiastically. His bedding and a chew toy should be placed in the crate. Even if things don’t go smoothly in the beginning, don’t weaken. He will adjust.
Put the crate in a “people” area. The bedroom or the kitchen is ideal. Remember, the crate is not a substitute for human companionship, it is a training tool. Your dog still needs plenty of attention and exercise. Use of the crate should be limited to a few hours at a time.
If your dog is housebroken and is not being destructive, let him sleep in the bedroom with a family member. This won’t spoil him. Dogs are pack animals and do not like to be alone. If you can’t trust him, consider having a second crate upstairs in your bedroom for nighttime. This also gives him two places to call his own.
Obedience, Exercise and Behavior
All dogs should learn basic commands. As early as is possible, take your dog to an obedience class. MCSPCA strongly recommends that every adopter take his dog to a professional training class, even if you have previous dog experience or your dogs seems to already “know” basic commands. The experience helps to strengthen the bond between you and your dog, and helps your dog learn how to interact well with other people and dogs. While there are many excellent books on dog training, it is still important that you and your dog get “hands-on” experience with a knowledgeable trainer.
We cannot emphasize enough the importance of exercise for the physical, mental and emotional well-being of your dog. Playtime lets him blow off steam, frustration and energy, as well as teaches him important lessons on interacting with others. Puppies especially need a lot of exercise, but usually fall down exhausted after about 20 minutes. Young puppies should be allowed to exercise until they are tired. Older puppies need more. A walk around the neighborhood is great for socialization, but doesn’t meet your dog’s exercise requirements. Running after a ball or another dog is the exhausting kind of interaction he needs. Lack of exercise is the number one cause of behavior problems in dogs. Remember – a tired dog is a happy dog!
Puppy nipping is common. If your puppy is nipping, give him a chew toy. Praise him immediately when he stops nipping. Never encourage tug of war games because this only teaches aggression. To prevent destructive behavior, puppies and dogs should be provided with no more than 2-3 toys that are safe. If he chews something inappropriate, say, “leave it” and substitute it with one of his toys.Then praise him for taking the correct item. If your dog is destructive or not housebroken, he needs to earn his freedom step by step. Don’t leave him loose in a room before he can handle such freedom. Instead, he should stay in his crate whenever he must be left alone. A chew toy in the crate will keep him busy.
You shouldn’t leave your dog unattended in the yard for long periods of time. Don’t tie him outside all day. Besides being unnatural and cruel for your dog, this leads to boredom, nuisance barking, and aggression. He wants to be with you. You are his family. If you have to leave him for a long time, hire a dog sitter.
If your dog has serious behavior problems that won’t go away, don’t give up on him—find an experienced trainer or behaviorist. With commitment and hard work on your part, your dog’s behavior will improve. There is no magic age when your dog will suddenly become a well-behaved dog. There are many issues that can affect his development, including age, breed, and experiences in life. If you pass your problem dog on to other people, he will just repeat his behavior in his new home. Working with him will help increase your bond to each other and the rewards can be wonderful. If you need help finding a trainer, feel free to call us for suggestions.