Many of us consider getting a second dog, in the hopes that she will help keep our existing dog busy and out of trouble. However, if our resident dog is not well trained, it is more likely that our new dog will pick up on his bad habits.
In the end, we will have two furry terrors, instead of just one.
I got Husky puppy Shania, one year after my first dog, Shiba Sephy. I waited a year so that I had time to bond with Sephy and properly train him. Only after I had solved most of his behavioral issues, did I consider getting another dog.
One of the biggest challenges of getting a second or third dog, is the process of introducing her to our existing pack, and getting everyone to accept her. Here, we consider how to successfully introduce a new dog into our home.
1. Meal Time Ritual
Meal time is especially important in a multiple dog household.
Dogs are opportunistic by nature, and during meal times, I have observed that they will try to steal each other’s food. This can often trigger food guarding and food aggression behaviors.
I supervise my dogs during meal times, so that there is no stealing. They each get several interactive food toys to work on, and I make sure they give each other space, while working on their toys.
Often, Husky Shania will work diligently on her items, while Sephy will just lie around sunning himself. He will wait until she is done with her toy, and then pick through what she has left behind.
He is such a moocher! 😀
Sometimes, he will test coming in before Shania is finished, in which case I will step in and body block him away. Through this process, my dogs learn that I will enforce meal-time rules in a fair and consistent manner, so they do not need to do it themselves, with their teeth.
2. Attention, Affection, and Rules
After getting a second dog, it is natural to pay more attention and show more affection toward her, especially if she is a puppy.
However, we must resist that temptation, and try to treat both dogs equally.
If we give our new dog more attention and affection, we may create competition between our two dogs. This may later lead to conflicts and aggression. Instead, I make sure all my dogs follow similar rules, and get similar rewards for good behavior.
If we are too lenient with our puppy and let her get away with more, our existing dog will likely observe that, and pick up on those same bad habits.
I like doing group obedience training with my dogs. This helps them work together as a team, and be comfortable with each other around people, food, and toys. It also helps them to associate together-time with rewards and positive outcomes. I also do their grooming sessions together, including teeth cleaning and fur brushing.
Supervision is very important, especially in the beginning. I teach my dogs what the rules are, and what to do when under stress. In this way, they learn good play and interaction habits. In fact, I still supervise my dogs, but less so now that they are older, and know the rules around the house.
Still, Shiba will always try something from time to time to test his boundaries.
He is that cool! 😎
3. Play-Time Rules
In addition to meal-time rules, play-time rules are also important.
Since Shania is a three legged dog, Sephy may sometimes overwhelm her when he gets over-excited during play. I always make sure he does not get too rough with her.
I manage the excitement level of all of my dogs, by throwing in many play-breaks. During a play-break, I call one dog over to me (the more food focused one), get her to do some simple commands, and reward her well for it. This usually gets the other dogs to join in, so we do a brief group obedience session. These brief breaks help my dogs to calm down, refocus on me, as well as practice doing commands in the middle of play.
I also institute a no-humping rule, because it can be seen as a dominance move by other dogs (especially new dogs). I do not want my Shiba practicing these types of behaviors. The more he practices it, the more likely he is to repeat it; possibly in an inappropriate context. Shania also dislikes it, so humping is a time-out offense.
Some people prefer to let the dogs “work it out for themselves”.
Personally, I think it is best for us to set and enforce play-time rules and household rules. By doing so, I ensure that there is no bullying, and my dogs do not become fearful of each other. Since I am the one correcting their behaviors, my dogs are free to enjoy each others’ company, and need not use aggression. They learn to see each other as playmates and equals. If there is ever any trouble, they can come to me and I will take care of it. To me, that is what leadership means.
4. A Quiet Place to Rest
When I first got a new dog, I made sure that Sephy had a nice and quiet place to rest, away from the nibbles of a playful puppy. Like us, a dog may want some time to spend, in peaceful solitude. This is especially important if our resident dog is older, and tires more easily.
A puppy can be a crazy ball of energy and a big handful, not just for the people around the house, but also for the existing dogs.
I set up a consistent routine for my second dog, similar to what I did for my first dog. I make sure that she has a fixed schedule for meal-time, play-time, walk-time, and sleep-time.
When it is time for sleep, little Husky goes into her crate or puppy pen. In this way, my adult dogs get to rest, and so does my little puppy. Now that Puppy is older, it is no longer necessary to manage them so closely. Both dogs are able to regulate themselves, and give each other space when they need it.
Still, they each have separate crates that they can go to whenever they want, and they also have access to the backyard.
If I am not home, which does not happen often, Husky prefers to stay out in the backyard and Shiba likes staying in the house. I still do not fully trust them to be alone together, because their play can get pretty crazy, they may get over-excited, and end up hurting themselves.
5. Conflict Over Resources
When we get a new dog, there is a lot of uncertainty. Everyone in the family is learning how to interact with Puppy, and Puppy is learning how to interact with everyone else.
Conflicts may arise between our two dogs, when they both want the same thing at the same time; for example, food, toys, sleeping area, or our attention and affection. An effective way to keep the peace, is to be clear about resource ownership and teach them how to resolve conflicts without aggression.
For example, if one dog is chewing on a toy, I am there to supervise and prevent stealing. If I am not fast enough and some stealing occurs, I usually replace what was stolen plus an added interest. The thief has to either go to his bed or go to timeout, thereby temporarily losing his freedom. In addition, I also reward my dogs for staying calm together, and for working together with me.
In summary, I try to maximize positive interactions with the new dog, as well as minimize bad encounters. The more positive experiences my dogs have with each other, the more they will accept each other as part of a team. The opposite is also true.
If we establish clear dog-to-dog interaction rules, our new dog will quickly learn what is expected of her, and our existing dogs will also know what to expect from the new puppy. This reduces uncertainty, reduces stress, and helps everyone to relax and enjoy each other’s company.
Second Dog – Double Trouble or Double Fun?
So which is it?
Is a second dog double the trouble or double the fun?
I think if properly handled, a new dog can be a big enhancement to everyone in the family.
I am very glad Shania joined our family. Everyone has a happier, much richer life, because of her spirit, exuberance, can-do’ness, and overall awesomeness!
However, she was a lot of work, especially in the beginning, and the dog bills are much heftier.
Still, Shania gives a thousand-fold more than she gets, and Sephy will be the first to say that he loves her more than words can say. When she is away, he just spends his time moping around the house.
Thanks to Colleen and Reptar for bringing up this fun and important topic.
I HAVE A 5 Y/O KOREAN JINDO AND 6 MONTH OLD JINDO PUPPY. THEY BOTH ARE FINE ON WALKS, CAR RIDES AND GOING PLACES TOGETHER. I GOT THE PUPPY A COUPLE OF MONTHS AGO. ITS ALREADY ESTABLISH THAT THE OLDER ONE IS THE ALPHA AND THE PUPPY TAKES HIS CORRECTION WELL. WHEN THEY”RE IN THE YARD THE OLDER ONE LIKES TO BARK AND CHASE THE PUPPY AND CORNER HIM BUT THERE IS NO AGGRESSION INVOLVED. I AM VERY CONFIDENT THAT HE WON”T HURT THE PUPPY. ANY ADVICE ON WHY HE KEEPS BARKING AND CHASING THE PUPPY FOR NO REASON.
When my dogs play, they often chase each other and may sometimes bark/vocalize. The more excited they are, the more rough play gets, and the more they vocalize. However, dog behavior is very context dependent so each dog and situation are different. Barking and chasing can be part of play or something else. It is not possible to say without seeing things and knowing more about the temperaments of the dogs, surrounding environment, etc.
In general, I set the rules for my dogs and I do whatever “corrections” are necessary. I do not allow my dogs to correct each other. It is my rules, so I enforce them in a fair and consistent way.
I want to set my dogs up for success and maximize positive time together, so that they learn good social manners, and learn to trust and relax around each other. If I see that my puppy is getting overwhelmed or uncomfortable during play because my other dogs are being too rough or getting too excited, then I make sure to stop play. I manage my dogs’ excitement during play by throwing in many play-breaks. I talk more about what I do during play-time in the article above.
A puppy may allow an older dog to correct him early on, but as he grows and gains confidence, he may decide he does not want to tolerate it anymore.
I make sure my dogs get along by creating positive experiences, minimizing negative experiences, and creating certainty. I do this by setting routine, rules, and structure. I supervise my dogs, teach them my rules, and make sure to be consistent and fair with corrections. In this way, they know exactly what to expect from each other, what to expect from me, and what I expect from them in return. This creates certainty and certainty helps to reduce stress and conflicts.
Hi I have 3 staffordshire bull terriers, mum dad and son, I have recently rescued another staffy but think he may be a cross, I have had him since 10weeks and is now a year old. He has attacked my eldest (12) and has now attacked the 9 year old but has caused 450 pounds in vet bills. We r dog lovers and don’t want to get rid of him but we also don’t know what to do
Dog behavior is very context dependent, so when I need to change my dog’s behavior, the first thing that I look at is what triggered the behavior is the first place. What were the dogs doing before the fight? Were there toys, food, or other resources about? What were they people doing? What are the dogs’ daily routine like? What type of interactions do the dogs have? What type of training are the dogs used to?
Given that fights have already occurred, it is best to get help from a good professional trainer. Dog fights are dangerous not only to the dogs, but also to the people around them, especially when they intervene to try and break up the fights.
I help my dogs get along by-
1. Setting up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules. In this way, each dog knows what to expect from each other, what to expect from me, and what I expect from him in return. This creates certainty, and certainty helps to reduce stress and conflict.
2. Supervising my dogs very well so that I can redirect behavior before things escalate into something else. I want to try and maximize positive and rewarding interactions between my dogs, and also minimize negative interactions and events. When I cannot supervise, I keep the new dog separated until I am very sure that there will be no issues.
3. Managing my dogs’ environment so that I set them up for success. For example, if there is any object guarding behavior, I remove all high priority objects from the environment that may cause conflict. Then, I do training and desensitization exercises to slowly change that behavior.
I talk more about the things that I do with my dogs in the article above.
However, dog behavior is very context dependent so each dog and situation are different. Things become even more complex in multiple dog households. Therefore, especially in cases of aggression, I would get help from a good professional trainer.
However, given what you describe, I would get help from a good professional trainer.
I have a year and a half old ACD. I got her as a puppy so she’s been the only dog until a month ago. Me and my fiancé found a dog chained to a tree left to die and rescued it. I am trying to learn how to give both the attention they need. When they are in the house together all they do is extreme wrestle. We can’t get the ACD to leave the rescue alone or done times vice versa. We have a trainer coming to help with the ACD training but that’s still 2 weeks away. In order to stop the wrestling we seperate them but our poor ACD is getting the brunt of it. We kennel her to give the rescue some peace and time with us but when it’s time to switch we can’t. When we kennel the rescue and bring out the ACD the rescue looses it. She howls and barks and has even broken out of the kennels before. As we are in an apartment that can’t happen so we have to give in. I’m really hoping the trainer that’s coming in 2 weeks can help us get our ACD to leave the rescue alone so they can be out together that’s our goal is to have them relax around each other so we can all enjoy one another. Until she arrives do you have any sugustions for a happy mingling home? I don’t want to be dividing attention unfairly as the ACD was here first but other then going for walks all together she’s not getting time with me
Merry Christmas and four paws up for rescuing a dog in need.
It sounds like the rescue may have separation anxiety, which is not too surprising considering the situation that you found her in.
In terms of managing my dog’s excitement during play, I throw in lots of play-breaks. I talk more about how I do this in the play time rules section above.
I also set up a fixed routine and a consistent set of rules for all my dogs. I apply the Nothing in Life is Free program to teach my dogs to follow rules and so that they work for the things that they want most.
In the beginning, I find it useful to put a drag lead on my new dog. The drag lead allows me to more easily control my new puppy, while I am teaching her the rules of the house and rules of interaction. I only use a drag-lead under close supervision, and only with a flat collar or harness. Absolutely no aversive collars. I want to make sure that if the lead catches on furniture while my dog is moving/running around, she will not get hurt in any way.
More on how dogs learn.
More on how I trained my puppy.
I have an ackbosh marama cross 3 and a Rottie 4. we rescued rottie razor last year. everything was going good the odd fight would break out for no apparent reason. They both play with one another and do there job well. We live high up in the bush where grizzly bears and cougars live. They look after the horses and the farm and kids great. On a few occations they have chased a bear off when was hanging around to close to my four kids. They keep the coyotes away from the farm as well. They work well as a team but then they will attack each other.. To the point they are going to kill one another they both seem to be alfa material. For me they both listen to me really well. Very well behaved dogs. The other dog thor if they are fighting I yell he quits but Razor sees the opportunity to attack more. Razor bites to hurt where as thor has never left wounds. But is looking like its going to change. I can’t break them up nothing works. I can’t keep them separated. penned or chained for the wild life will kill them have had that happen to a dog already. These two really need help. I understand all to well about jobs and exercise and pack leader and that dose not seem to matter they both look at me as there leader but then they do fight more and more. any suggestions.
What were they doing before the fights? Were they playing, and then play got too intense? Was there food, some object, a sleeping area, etc. that both wanted? Were there people around? Where were the people? What are the common elements in the surrounding context of each conflict?
Dog aggression can be the result of many different things, and dog behavior is very context dependent. This is why in cases of aggression, especially serious aggression, it is best to get help from a good professional trainer. Breaking up a dog fight is extremely dangerous because a dog that is in the throes of a fight can redirect that aggression onto nearby people, especially when we try to physically restrain him.
This ASPCA article has some good information on breaking up a dog fight –
With my dogs, I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules and I supervise them very well, especially in the beginning. Rules create certainty, and certainty helps to reduce stress and conflicts. Supervision is important to that I can teach my dogs the rules, and make sure they are followed. I can manage their excitement level by redirecting their focus and doing play-breaks. I can identify common points of conflict and redirect their energy before things escalate. By identifying common triggers, I can also do desensitization exercises, to teach them to relax and be more comfortable around each other, in the presence of the trigger.
When I cannot supervise, I keep my dogs separated until I am very sure that there won’t be any issues. I want to not only maximize positive, calm experiences, but also minimize bad interactions. The more negative experiences they have, and the more fighting they do, the worse things will become and the more likely it will happen in the future.
I agree that chaining is a bad idea, even when there are no wild animals around. Chaining can lead to more stress, more frustration, and increased aggression.
With my dogs, I have them inside the house a lot of the time, so when I need to keep them separated, it is safe. A good local trainer, who is familiar with open properties and the location can probably provide more suggestions.
margaret higgins says
I have a seven year old westie and two cats who all get on very well together, however while I was volunteering at a shelter I meet a gorgeous 1 year old dog (breed is unknow but is the same size as my westie) the rescue dog is very good with cats and dogs but I worry about my dog. She is only ok with other dogs and likes her personal space will this new dog be too much for her and would she be happier the way she is now. She adjusted to the cats very quickly with little trouble but the rescue dog is getting depressed so I would like to rehome him. Thanks in advance margaret.
When I was looking to adopt a dog, I brought my Shiba to meet potential candidates. We did meetings in a controlled and neutral environment, and under the direction of a trainer from the rescue.
Have the two dogs met? How did things go with the two of them?
Hello Shibashake:)!My family and I are planning to get two dogs and I have a couple of questions. We plan on getting a Lab and golden retriever mix first and then a shiba. My first question is will they get along? Lab/golden mixes are very calm and eager to please and shibas are the opposite. BTW isn’t it strange that I like two dog breeds that are polar opposites:)? Anyway, my next question is how do I introduce them to each other? Should I wait a week or so before letting them meet each other? A new home is hard to adjust to and so is a sister.
That is going to depend on the temperament of each dog, and on their training. After I got Sephy, I waited for 1 year before getting my second dog. I took that time to properly train him and understand his temperament, the types of dogs he likes to play with, what he doesn’t like, etc. Then when I got my second dog, I made sure to pick one that is compatible with Sephy.
More on how I picked my second dog and some things that I do during initial meet and greeet.
Yes, 99% of the time, Bear will attack Fozzie when there is no food around and it is just my husband and myself in the house. I could understand this much better if there were resources around that could be causing this but there’s not.
We simply cannot afford any more trainers and I did spend time talking to both the behaviorist and the trainer we had beforehand but my conclusion is that behaviorists and trainers cannot solve real problems like this.
I agree wholeheartedly that the dogs pick up on our emotions and even though I have become less tense, the tension between Bear and Fozzie has not diminished. I still very strongly believe that it was something in the way Bear and Fozzie were raised/treated by their first owner (the man who had them until they were 9 and 11 months old respectively). I have had multiple dogs almost my entire life but I have never had a problem like this ever before.
We absolutely never let them be loose together anymore. The only time we have them in the same room together is when my husband holds one on a leash as I hold the other. When Bear attacks, it is too fast to stop before it happens if they are loose.
Of course I realize it is unrealistic for me to think anyone can truly help without actually seeing them but since those who have seen them couldn’t help, I thought I’d try anyway.
Can you tell me very specifically what we might try to help this situation? We can spend quite a lot of time with them in the same room when they are on leashes but our goal is for all of them to be able to have the run of the entire house – together.
It’s funny in that when we got Fozzie, we were only worried that he and Stuffy would get along – we never dreamed that it would be that he and Bear would not get along since they had lived in the same home from 8 weeks of age until we got Bear at 9 months of age.
I have spent (no exaggeration here) hundreds of hours on sites, looking for ideas on this and have tried many things but absolutely nothing has helped. I think I mentioned in my previous message that Bear does not react this way to other dogs he sees when we go for walks or the neighbors’ dogs – it is only with Fozzie. And I still have this feeling that Bear, although he is the one who always starts the attack, is actually afraid of Fozzie and is trying to “prove” that he’s not, if that makes any sense to you. If fear is the motivator, what would the best approach be?
You said that the first thing that you do with your dog is try to figure out where the behavior is coming from. That makes total sense to me. However, I have been trying to figure that out for over a year now and still have no idea. And as for what is happening around him when he does this – the answer to that is – nothing. As for location – the location is wherever Fozzie is. Of course, it’s been almost a year since we’ve tried having them together loose but that is how it was when we were trying to get them together. The main reason we stopped and started playing musical dogs and only having them in the same room on leashes is our fear of a fight that we might not be able to stop.
If we have to, we will live like this for their entire lives (playing musical dogs). Or possibly as they get a little older (they are 2 years, 3 months old now), things might calm down on their own?
Dog Day Afternoon says
Newer dog to our 2 dog home is often aggressive toward our dogs at home & certain types of others when out at the local dog park.
Our existing dogs are a blue merle male & a red merle female. The new dog is a pound pup female that was about 6 months old when we picked her up about 6 months ago.
Usually the aggression starts between the new dog & the male at various times be it over hoarding of chewies or toys inside any unknown reasons outside in the back yard. This has already moved past a couple expensive vet bills.
The larger concern is over the open range. When out at the park the new pup is largely fine with most dogs. There inevitably comes a time when one of the few other dogs show up and the problems ensue. The other dogs are always labrador types dark brown or black. There is immediate charging, no matter the distance, and the engagements begin.
The issues have taken place since she first saw any of these dogs an resumes when / if they meet at another time.
Her greeting growl sometimes is playful and other times seemingly otherwise.
Not sure how to alleviate the dog at the park issue or the home problems with our pack. The new dog and the male never back down once a possession challenge has been issued no matter whom initiates.
For my dogs at home, I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules – one of which is the no-stealing rule. This helps my new dog understand what is expected of her, what to expect from my other dogs, and what to expect from me. I talk more about what I do in the article above.
For this to work,
– I need to be around to supervise my dogs closely,
– I need to exercise them, manage their environment, and set them up for success,
– I need to have good control of them when necessary, and
– They *cannot* be aggressive toward people.
For more serious aggression issues, it is best to get help from a good professional trainer. A good trainer can help us get started on the right foot, and help us manage the environment so that everyone stays safe.
As for dog parks, my Shiba Inu does better in smaller, more structured play groups, where I supervise and manage his excitement level. Here is a bit more on our dog park experiences.
We got an 8 week old chow puppy in February 2012 (Stuffy). We then got his brother Bear in September 2011. The same person who had Bear had the other brother, Fozzie, and we got him, also, in November 2012. Stuffy was neutered in June 2012 and Bear and Fozzie were neutered in November 2012. Bear and Fozzie lived in the same home from 8 weeks of age until we got Bear in September. I don’t know just how they were treated in that home. I have strong feelings that they were not treated well and left on their own a lot.
Stuffy gets along fine with both Bear and Fozzie. Bear attacks Fozzie – rarely, we have been able to see what triggers it (Fozzie eating, me petting Fozzie) but the majority of the time, Fozzie isn’t even looking in Bear’s direction and Bear will out of the blue attack him. I have pulled Bear off of him when this has happened.
We now play “musical dogs” in that either Bear or Fozzie is in the living room with a baby gate in the doorway while Stuffy and whichever one isn’t in the living room is in the rest of the house. We alternate each time they go outside to go potty and we alternate each night while we sleep. Each day we spend some time with each of them on a leash while we are in the same room. They can sometimes be laying down mere inches apart with no problems. But sometimes, again, Fozzie not even looking in Bear’s direction and Bear will try to attack him – however, because he is on a leash, we are able to stop that from happening.
Bear is not inherently an aggressive dog – he sees other dogs when we go for walks and he doesn’t even bark at them and he gets along with Stuffy just fine (although we do have to be careful with our 2 cats that he tries to chase – we now have them in their own room when Bear is the one out in the main part of the house). I swear it seems like Bear would probably be okay with any other dog (although this has never been put to the test) – except for Fozzie.
We have spent much more money than we could afford on a certified behaviorist in August of last year and a trainer 2 times in November. The behaviorist came to our house and without even observing Bear and Fozzie in the same room (the closest she even came to seeing Fozzie was from 2 rooms away), she said her primary recommendation would be to either euthanize Bear or rehome Fozzie. (I will not give up any of my boys.) With the trainer, our first appointment was at his business where we talked to him in a relatively small room, he had us drop their leashes and there were no attacks in almost an hour. The next time he came to our house and said we needed to let them “fight it out”. Against my better judgment we did that while the trainer was here for about 15 minutes. Bear attacked Fozzie, then Fozzie attacked Bear – there were no injuries from one another but Bear cut the pad of his foot on a cabinet and it cost a few more hundred dollars at the vet to fix that. The trainer told us to let them fight at least once each day and that within a week or two things should be settled. We did not let them fight anymore after that one fight – I totally don’t feel that is right. The trainer did tell us that he believes that it is actually Fozzie who is the dominant dog, not Bear. That didn’t totally surprise me as I’ve thought that Bear is like a child who gets picked on by a bully at school but tries to act like he’s the tough one. Yet Fozzie has never been the one to start anything ever. Needless to say, I will never look for another trainer or behaviorist after having thrown away so much money for absolutely nothing.
We tried having a muzzle on each of them, thinking we may be able to try getting them together that way to start, but neither of them acts like himself with a muzzle on so that went nowhere. So we are back to having them together as my husband and I hold each of them on a leash and we can do that with very few problems. If Bear tries to lunge and attack, I quietly and calmly take him in the bathroom and have him sit in there for a 10-15 minute “time out” and when I bring him back out, he usually makes sure he sits or lays down with his back to Fozzie. We have also taken them for walks together (I take one, my husband takes the other) and they don’t even look at one another as we’re walking. I was told that should help them bond but it hasn’t helped – it hasn’t hurt, but it hasn’t helped either.
As for the “recommendation” to euthanize Bear – yes, there are times that I cannot force issues with Bear because I get a little scared of him myself but nothing that would EVER make a death warrant suitable! He even got ahold of one of our cats one time (VERY scary) and had her in his mouth and was shaking her – I ran up to him, grabbed him by the extra skin on his back and shook him until he let her go – and just like with Fozzie – no blood, just fur. There have NEVER been any wounds but I just worry that all it takes is once.
Yes, we have had to re-arrange our lives a lot – however, Bear has actually come a long way since we first got him. He was absolutely terrified of a collar and leash when we first got him – he now walks as if he were trained for years. We used to have 2 gates up so they were high enough that Bear and Fozzie couldn’t touch one another – we had gotten down to having just 1 gate up but have had to go back to 2 since the fight it out incident in November. Bear is a very loving dog 99% of the time and he is probably the most intelligent dog I have ever had in my life. He can have impulse control when he wants to (if I have a short lead on him, I have already seen him run towards the gate to growl, then have seen him think to himself “No, this lead is on me and she can get me away very fast so I am not going to do it.”) He taught himself that when he comes in from going outside and it is time to bring Fozzie out, he didn’t like being held – so totally on his own, he started going in the bathroom, looking at me as if to say “Yes, I know you have to bring Fozzie out – go ahead and close the door and I’ll be fine in here.”
I’m sorry this ended up being such a long message but it has been about a year and 3 months now and we are just getting nowhere and I am looking anywhere and everywhere for any possible help for this situation. We have tried the nothing in life is free system as well as we can. I do make sure he sits at the door and allows me to go first at all times, I have him sit before he is fed, etc., etc.
Any suggestions would be appreciated more than words can convey.
I am not sure I understand. So sometimes, Bear will attack Fozzie even when there is no food or no people around?
With my dogs, conflicts can arise over resources. This can include obvious things such as food and toys, but it may also include less obvious things like space, sleeping area, affection, and more. Aggressive behavior can also be the result of other things, including over-excitement, fear, frustration, and more.
The first thing that I do with my dog is try to figure out where the behavior is coming from. This is important because it will determine how I help him to overcome the problem and retrain the behavior. Dogs are fascinating to me, so I am always observing mine. I try to read their body language, and try to understand them better. This is not easy to do because people rely primarily on verbal communication, and we are not as practiced when it comes to reading body language.
I try to think about what is happening around my dog when they show a particular behavior. For example, are there any resources around, are there people around, what are the people doing, is it usually in a particular location, is it during a particular time, etc. Understanding the surrounding context helps a lot with understanding the behavior and where it is coming from.
Getting help from experienced outside people can also help. I had a difficult time in the beginning with my Shiba Inu (Sephy) and I visited with a fair number of trainers. Like you, we also got some bad ones, but there were also some who were helpful. It took time before I started to see changes in Sephy, but some of the trainers offered good information which helped us on our way.
With trainers, I make sure to talk to them over the phone first and ask them a lot of questions. In this way, I can filter out the ones that don’t know what they are talking about. Here is more on how I went about looking for a trainer. The Association of Pet Dog Trainers also has some good information on choosing a trainer.
I also started reading up a lot on dog behavior and training. This helped a lot in my trainer search and also helped with understanding Sephy. Here are some places that I go to for dog information.
Here are some things that helped Sephy be more calm around other dogs. However, it is important to stress that Sephy’s reactive behavior was mostly due to over-excitement. In addition, I tailor my training to suit his particular temperament. A different dog has a different temperament, routine, past experiences, and more, and training will need to be tailored for all of those things.
1. Dog to dog desensitization exercises.
It is important with desensitization to always start small and never push the dog over his threshold. The goal is to teach Sephy alternate behaviors and to help him re-associate a previously “bad” stimulus with something positive. More on what I did with Sephy for dog-to-dog desensitization.
2. Calm energy
Sephy is very sensitive to the energy of the people around him. If he senses that I am worried, stressed, frustrated, or otherwise not-calm he will pick up on that, get stressed himself, and that will trigger his reactive behavior. With Sephy, I try to stay very calm at all times, and I always have a plan of action so that I can be decisive and stop things before they escalate.
3. Clear dog-to-dog interaction rules at home.
I set up clear dog-to-dog interaction rules. If there is a new dog, I slowly teach him those rules so that he understands what is expected of him and what he can expect from me and my other dogs. I *do not* let my dogs correct each other or “work it out” for themselves. I set the rules, I supervise, and I enforce the rules in a fair and consistent way.
I try to create as many positive experiences as I can between my dogs. This helps them to see each other as allies rather than as competitors for resources. Here is more on what I do with my dogs at home.
Additional care will have to be taken in cases of aggression to always keep things safe for everyone.
Dog behavior is very context dependent and temperament dependent, therefore when changing behavior I always-
1. First identify the source of the behavior and then
2. Tailor things to suit the particular dog and situation.
This is why, especially in cases of aggression, it is usually best to get help from a *good* professional trainer.
hello! so, me and my family are currently in a crisis! we have just brought home a rescue dog to our rambunctious little yorkie-poodle. we just got this dog because he was found on a rural road alone, and no name or anything. seemed to me that she was just left there to die. but our dog we have at home, who is 4, is C-R-A-Z-Y. when we first tried introducing them we just walked our new dog in and just wanted to see what would happen. the new rescue is a 2-3 year old female lab-cross who is very calm. when we walked in, our small dog, Harley, went completely crazy. he barked all day today. and the new rescue would just sit there calmy occasionally grunting or growling while Harley would be yapping, and barking and nipping and everything you can think of. we do not know what to do, because the rescue is the most beautiful well behaved dog but our dog is just so crazy that we don’t know what to do. help would be GREATLY appreciated. email me, or comment back as soon as possible. thanks so much:)
Large changes to the home environment can cause a lot of stress for some dogs. How does Harley usually react to new dogs outside the house? What is Harley’s routine like?
When I bring home a new dog, I usually set up a fixed routine and a consistent set of house rules (including interaction rules). This helps to create certainty, which helps to reduce stress for everyone.
Here is a bit more on how I help my dogs get along.
Dog to dog desensitization exercises were also helpful for getting my Shiba Inu to be more comfortable and calm around other dogs.