Monday, June 30, 2014

The Value of Meeting Strangers
When dogs meet people other than their owners—especially children, if there aren’t any in your household—it sets a good foundation for being comfortable around humans. Puppies should meet men, women and children, as well as people of a race different from your own. Some dogs may seem “racist” because they growl or behave otherwise aggressively toward people who are different from those they’ve been exposed to at the breeder’s or your house. A dog will do this if he has not met a wide range of people—and whatever smells or looks unfamiliar will usually bring about a negative reaction.
Even though the pup hasn’t had all her vaccinations yet, you can go to a willing “dogless” friend’s house—if they have a fenced backyard, so much the better—at least until she’s had her second set of immunizations at nine or ten weeks.
Then, after ten weeks, you can have friends visit at your house—so much the better if they have immunized, gentle dogs and/or children (the children should be gentle ones, too—although their immunizations are not as relevant!). Before ten weeks there is no good reason to expose your little pup to other dogs, who, even though they themselves may be healthy and immunized, may have come into contact with ill dogs or bacteria that could compromise a very young puppy.
  New Situation Equals Treats.
Shower the dog with treats when he’s faced with new people, places or things. Make all experiences fun and positive. Expose him to lots of friendly humans: give treats while waiting on lines at shops or banks, and enlist strangers to hand the treats to the dog when possible.
When at home, keep a stash of tasty dog treats somewhere near your door (inaccessible to the pooch, of course) and hand a treat to anyone who comes around—visitors, the mailman, deliverymen, service people. Ask them to hand it to the puppy so she associates a good treat with anyone who comes to your house. The puppy should sit first for the stranger before getting the treat.
  Carry a Treat Tube.
Invest in a squeeze tube for cheese or organic peanut butter and try to keep it close at hand during the socialization period. These tubes are fabulous ways to give your dog a mouthful of something heavenly when there is something threatening coming his way—a big lumbering truck, shopping cart, bicycle, skateboarders, etc. Just open the top and squeeze a small amount directly into the dog’s mouth—no need to even get your hands dirty. A treat squeeze tube is an especially useful tool to help socialize a particularly jumpy, nervous, easily spooked dog. Everything is less scary when you have a mouthful of peanut butter!
NOTE: Skippy squeezable peanut butter in a tube sounds like a great quick food reward, but it is not a recommended food for dogs (it isn’t all that good for kids, either). Peanuts are one of the most chemically treated crops in America: unless they are grown organically they are covered with pesticides.
Furthermore, the sugar and salt content of Skippy and other commercial brands are not good for dogs’ teeth and digestive systems. They are also fattening and thus a poor choice for overweight dogs. For dogs with delicate stomachs and tendencies to diarrhea, peanut butter can act as a laxative.
  Borrow Children.
Find a friend who’ll “loan” you a small child or two—and then give the children bits of cheese to feed the dog. Accustoming a puppy to children is one of the most important steps in socializing a pup, because, let’s face it: children are everywhere. And the problem with kids is that they look, act and sound so different from adults: they are louder, faster, and higher-pitched and make unpredictable noises and motions. Some dogs have a really hard time getting used to the little humans, so the sooner they get started, the better for all concerned.
  Make Your Own Puppy Play Group.

If you can’t find any puppy classes near where you live, or you don’t want to do the legwork of finding an acceptable puppy kindergarten, you have the option of creating a do-it-yourself puppy social group. Many professional breeders recognize the importance of “civilizing” their puppies, but there’s no way they could take eight puppies to a class. Many of the more dedicated breeders have come up with their own versions of puppy education, and there’s no reason you can’t follow their lead. Come up with a plan that gives your puppy a good exposure to a variety of adults, children and other dogs.
Copyright © Tracie Hotchner – Originally appeared in The Dog Bible: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know by Tracie Hotchner 

Sunday, June 29, 2014


Pups that are denied play activity until they are twelve weeks old can develop strange behaviors such as self-mutilation (licking until there is a sore, etc.) to relieve their tension. The further price these puppies have to pay (besides missing out on playing!) is that they learn less well, are more insecure and antisocial, are often afraid of people, noises and other animals and are reluctant to explore.
Play activity during the socialization period teaches a pup to have a soft mouth (the “inhibited bite” learned from his littermates’ squeals when he bites too hard) and how to greet an unknown dog. If puppies don’t play with other pups at this stage, they may become too attached to people and be fearful of other dogs.

A puppy that is isolated at any point during the socialization period will have an impaired learning response: his ability to learn is damaged for the rest of his life. Studies have shown actual  changes in the growing brain of a puppy that is cut off from his littermates and people for even one week. Puppies should not be left alone for long periods. They should not be shut away in isolation as a form of punishment when they are developing, because it will stunt their emotional growth.
Copyright © Tracie Hotchner – Originally appeared in The Dog Bible: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know by Tracie Hotchner 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Dogs reach maturity at different times, ranging from one year up to four years depending on their size. The smaller the dog, the sooner he enters each phase of maturity. Until dogs are four months old they all follow pretty much the same growth patterns. After that the periods of development vary slightly, with smaller dogs graduating to the next phase of development before the larger ones.
Once a dog reaches full maturity, there is a reorganization of the pecking order: during this final phase of growth the dog tries to show her identity within the pack once and for all. The way your dog reacts when she reaches full maturity will be the sum total of how you and she have handled issues and perhaps confrontations in the stages that led up to full maturity. If you have allowed a dog to reach a “high rank” during the first stage of classification (twelve to sixteen weeks), then you now face the ultimate test: any challenge between you and the dog over who will ultimately have “alpha status” can become aggressive.
The alpha figure in a wolf pack disciplines all lower-ranking individuals who try to take benefits they did not earn. If your dog acts aggressively when you challenge him and you have had him since puppyhood, his personality is a result of how you allowed him to mature. Whether or not there are confrontations between you and the dog at this juncture depends entirely on the type of dog you are dealing with and how you have responded in the past to his demands. If your dog’s instinct is to be passively defensive, then when you confront him he will display total submission—or he may display silly puppy behavior.

If you have a dog who, when challenged, responds with aggression, don’t think of him as being a “bad” or “difficult” dog—he is a high-ranking dog behaving in an aggressive style, protecting his turf. But if he respects you as the pack alpha figure, then you’re home free.
Copyright © Tracie Hotchner – Originally appeared in The Dog Bible: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know by Tracie Hotchner

Monday, June 23, 2014

Between nine and twelve months may come the first sign of aggression, which develops in stages with puppies. Aggression usually emerges in a puppy after nine months and before a year, which is when sexual maturity begins, along with all the hormones that make it happen.
Then, when the dog hits eighteen months and late adolescence, there’s another round of assertion, independence (which you may view as disobedience) and aggression. By about two years of age, many dogs have reached the full extent of whatever aggression they have in them, and there may be a dogfight or biting incident around this time.
You need to be on alert for the emergence of aggression if your puppy has already shown signs of being aggressive—because it takes very little time for him to go from disobedience, to growling, and then to biting. And unless you pay close attention to the signals that he gives off, you can go from a having a darling little puppy (aggression comes in all breeds and sizes) to having a tragedy on your hands.
Aggression problems do not “just happen”—they usually brew for a while, like a volcano before it erupts—so you have to know what markers to look for and how to deal with them. If you ignore the first growl or any other aggression, you can be certain it will escalate to the next level. A growl is a warning—you have to take it seriously. You can’t make excuses for it or hope it was a one-time thing. A growl is the first symptom of an aggressive pattern that will inevitably escalate and have a terrible outcome if you don’t nip it in the bud. But dogs will sometimes develop aggression in a tidy progression, while at other times they may show only a minor warning sign before erupting into full-blown aggression. So no matter how your dog expresses that aggression,  take it very seriously and deal with it on the spot. The bottom line is that if a puppy is born with aggression, there’s not much you can do about it. Some breeds have an inborn tendency toward aggression. If a puppy six months or younger growls or snaps or bites, then he’s either got a strong genetic tendency or has been badly abused. Whatever the case, puppies like this often have to be euthanized because you can’t safely keep them and it would not be moral to try to give them away.
Showing aggression before six months old means that the puppy has got it “in his blood,” and sadly, these puppies do not have a high probability of becoming safe, reliable pets. If you have a puppy who is leaning in this direction, get a professional trainer right away because training can’t start too young—even at two months of age. You have a dog who may become a dominant, assertive adult who will need obedience training to put him in his place.
Aggressive behavior and attitudes are not things that a puppy outgrows—in fact, if you don’t curtail those instincts, the puppy will grow into a dog who feels free to act on aggressive impulses. A puppy has to learn that you will not tolerate any aggression by him against other dogs or smaller animals. Your puppy must be raised to understand that every human is above him in terms of “the pack.”
  Teen Fears
Don’t be surprised by sudden changes in your dog’s reactions. The “fear of the familiar” is not an uncommon syndrome: suddenly, something the dog has seen many times seems frightening to him. Your dog may suddenly develop “teenage shyness,” or what seems to be a phobia, in which he growls or barks at a new object. This is probably a result of adolescent hormones galloping through his system.
Teenage shyness can lead to fear-driven aggression in some dogs, so you need to continue his socialization education so that he can overcome a cautious, worried attitude toward new experiences.
  Your Reaction Matters.

The way you react to any inexplicable behavior on your dog’s part has a direct effect on his developing personality. You will only serve to reinforce his bizarre fears if you are solicitous and reassuring. When the dog is acting out this new terror, your positive attention for a negative action is a reward for it. Instead, just go about things as normal. Use a pleasant, conversational tone to tell him to knock it off if he barks or whines at some familiar object. Your casual attitude neither punishes his irrational behavior nor rewards it with comfort or praise. Dog owners need to ignore the canine melodrama of puberty and look forward to the return of normalcy.
Copyright © Tracie Hotchner – Originally appeared in The Dog Bible: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know by Tracie Hotchner

Sunday, June 22, 2014

This is the time when a puppy’s body is still growing, and for many breeds the time of greatest physical development. But the process is ongoing, even past the pup’s first birthday. Do not think that a puppy’s social education stops at any point. There’s no stopwatch for when a puppy has grown up, or when he has learned all that he needs to know. As with children, there are differences in how individual puppies develop and mature, but you should not doubt that your input is making a positive difference.
During this period, puppies can learn basic commands if you teach them in a relaxed and cheery atmosphere. Think of this as “puppy kindergarten” and make it fun. Consider how important it is for children to enjoy and look forward to school when they first start—the same is true for teaching dogs. Make the process entertaining and satisfying and you will have an eager student for life.
For the whole first year of life, a puppy is being socialized and is maturing. If he is one of the giant breeds, he won’t mature until around eighteen months, so his juvenile stage may last a lot longer.
  Instinct to Run Off (Four to Eight Months)
At some point during this period, most puppies develop the urge to take off. Until this stage, most puppies happily come back to their owners when they are called. Now you may be shocked to discover that your obedient little pup suddenly has wanderlust and is deaf and blind to your calls. The puppy’s desire to hit the road and explore may last a few days or even as long as a month, but it is a natural part of growing up and an important part of canine development.

There is one problem, however. If your dog should get away and have a terrific time while she’s out and about, that memory will stay with her a long time—and that happy memory can influence her readiness to respond to your calls to her in the future. This natural inclination to take off is something you need to be on the lookout for at this age. When you’re walking her during this period, pay attention to whether she’s acting differently, whether she seems oblivious to you and ready to run off. If you have any suspicions about whether she is feeling newly emboldened, put her on a long line or retractable leash until she settles back down again, whether that’s in a couple of days or weeks. You do not want to let your dog take charge of the situation and run the risk of her having such a fun time being out and about in the world that she thinks twice about obeying your commands later on.
Copyright © Tracie Hotchner – Originally appeared in The Dog Bible: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know by Tracie Hotchner

Friday, June 20, 2014

Hormonal changes take place in both the male and female during this time that are similar to the changes that human beings go through during puberty. The surge of hormones can be as dramatic for some dogs as it is for some children. The body has to cope with the changes brought on by the new hormones, while the mind has to cope with the side effects that often accompany the physical upheaval. Like teenagers of any species, the puppy will have mood swings and will at times be distracted, confused and difficult to communicate with. There’s nothing wrong with your dog—he’s just a normal teenager.
  Showing Independence at Eighteen Weeks (Four-and-a-half Months)
By this point, the emotional umbilical cord that has kept the puppy quite tied to you—and willing to stick by your side—begins to break. By five months the pup is ready to take off by himself, often without a backward glance. Obviously this is a generalization, and there will always be individuals who do not fit this age-related description.

This is why it’s important that you train your dog before eighteen weeks to follow you, to be aware of where you are. Think of it as “looking over his shoulder to keep you in his rearview mirror.” Unless you already have this thought process programmed into the puppy’s busy little brain, by the time he has reached five months he may well be oblivious to your location when he’s ready to have a good time. By the time he is eighteen months old, a puppy is going through big physiological changes—if the puppy is not neutered, then the testosterone level in a male starts to rise and, with it, the dog’s attitude can become bolder and more feisty.
Copyright © Tracie Hotchner – Originally appeared in The Dog Bible: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know by Tracie Hotchner

Thursday, June 19, 2014

We tend to view dogs in this age group as still being puppies—which can be a big mistake. If you demand too little, that’s what you can expect from your dog. We continue to cut a lot of slack to a dog in this age group, permitting her liberties that her own mother and siblings never would if she was still living with her “original pack.” Even though your dog is still puppy-cute, don’t smile on misbehavior and let it slide. You can’t laugh off poor behavior in your puppy any more than a responsible parent would tolerate a prepubescent child “copping an attitude” and thinking they can get away with it. Anything you wouldn’t want a full-grown dog to do, don’t allow your puppy to do—or you will live to regret it or work yourself ragged trying to undo it.
The pup’s personality can go through big (although usually temporary) changes during this period. For a week or two at a time he’ll suddenly seem shy or unsure. You need to be the rock: stay predictable, be consistent in what you expect of him and how you expect him to behave. Just as your parents survived your teenage years and all that they entailed, so you will live through your puppy’s adolescence.
Obedience Training Now! Puppy Classes from Twelve Weeks
As the puppy enters the “juvenile period” by end of the twelfth week, he is ready for obedience training. Dogs mature at a much faster rate than humans: if you view this age-group as representing the early teen years, you’ll know by comparison how firm and clear you need to be with a puppy at this age. Some people believe that the twelve-to-eighteen-week age is an optimum learning time for a puppy, who will develop into a better dog by participating in puppy classes. If such classes are offered in your area, it may be a good investment in your dog’s future and in your relationship with him.
Most puppy classes encourage the whole family to attend so that everyone can be aware of basic health-care issues and simple training. Children can be guided in how to handle themselves and their puppy, getting that relationship off to a good start.

The classes should be aimed at having fun and meeting other puppies and their owners—a training system based on positive praise and rewards will make the class enjoyable for both of you. Getting used to other dogs is an important part of the puppy’s socialization, and doing so in a group under a watchful eye is a good place to start. This is the age when most puppies should have gotten all of their vaccinations, which makes it safe to mingle with other dogs.
Copyright © Tracie Hotchner – Originally appeared in The Dog Bible: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know by Tracie Hotchner

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


The first vet visit should fall within the formative weeks during the fear-imprint period (eight to twelve weeks), which will give you a good chance to let the puppy have a positive experience with the vet, who you hope will be especially warm and gentle with a little pup. If you aren’t happy with how the doctor treats you or the puppy, then this is a good time to find another health provider, before there is a medical emergency.
This is the precise period when the closest bond is formed between dogs and their people. If your behavior with the youngster is that of a loving, sensitive and reasonable leader, it will have a positive influence on how he turns out. Your effect on your pup is enormous: you are your puppy’s world. Puppies are fascinated by their human family and everything in their new home; they also have a strong desire to play.
  Kids Compared to Dogs

People often compare children to puppies, which is a mistake in my view, because few of the similarities are actually relevant and the dissimilarities are numerous. But if making a comparison is appealing, you can get a rough idea of the equivalent maturity between puppies and children by translating “weeks” into “years.” That would mean that this puppy developmental age of twelve to twenty weeks is like human adolescence—a time in human development when kids act out, test boundaries and do all the things that require adults to set limits and enforce them.
Copyright © Tracie Hotchner – Originally appeared in The Dog Bible: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know by Tracie Hotchner

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Some Breeds of Dogs View Cats as Potential Snacks.
These are technically known as “prey-driven” dogs, meaning that when a smaller animal takes off, they take off after it. It would be foolhardy to consider bringing a grown dog like that into a home that already has a cat. If you are a cat owner, you need to find out as much as you can about a dog’s attitude to cats before you bring such a dog home.
Dog breeders generally know whether this hunting aspect is true of their breed and will usually be honest about it. They don’t want an interspecies tragedy to happen. If you are adopting a dog, the shelter or breed-rescue may have information about the cat-friendliness of a dog whom you are considering for adoption.
You can consult the chart below to at least eliminate any dogs that are strongly prey-driven. However, keep in mind that just because a dog breed is not on this list doesn’t necessarily mean it is cat-friendly, either. Remember that every dog is an individual and may not fit any particular mold. Don’t assume anything—negative or positive—until the dog has been watched (on a leash) around a cat over a period of several days.
The breeds mentioned are just a sampling, and being on the list does not mean that these breeds are vicious or bad—they are just following an instinct to chase prey. Prey-driven dogs are basically hardwired to chase anything small that runs away from or past them—look at racing Greyhounds, who run like the blazes after a fast-moving mechanical rabbit. Some breeds also have the instinct to kill that prey if they do catch it. However, all dogs have a prey drive, it is just stronger in some breeds and some individuals. Most terriers were bred to chase and kill rodents, so any smaller animal is fair game for them. Many of the hunting breeds are also prey-driven, and those that have been bred specifically for fieldwork have it to an even higher degree—although there are many working field dogs that live lovingly with cats.
You can help determine whether your dog has a strong prey-drive by referring to the chart below: if your dog has more than one of these qualities, there’s a good chance she will go after a moving cat.
Signs of Prey-drive in a Dog
• Excited by moving objects
• Sniffs the air and/or ground frequently
• Stalks birds and small animals
• Shakes and “kills” toys or other objects
• Hunts or bites at your feet when you walk
Some Dogs Incompatible with Cats
 • Pit Bulls
• Weimaraners
• Most terriers
• Greyhounds
• Akitas
• Field hunting breeds
More Than Two Dogs Spells Trouble.
There is a terrible phenomenon that can happen with dogs and their behavior toward cats (and other prey) when there are more than two canines around: a bloodthirsty pack mentality can take over. Unfortunately, human beings are vulnerable to this, too: when people are in groups they will do horrific things that they would never even contemplate if they were on their own or with only one other person.
So nobody else suffers the horrible experience of jeopardizing your cats’ lives, it’s worth telling how my two dog-trusting cats were almost killed when I added a third dog to my canine family. I had previously had a Golden Retriever and a Cocker Spaniel with several household cats—there was peace on Earth—but when the Golden died, I went to Friends for Pets, the Golden Retriever rescue in Los Angeles. I wound up adopting my first Weimaraner, Lulu (because it was also the Weimaraner rescue) and even though I said I had cats they did not dissuade me from taking the dog. However, when I got Lulu home I didn’t like the expression with which she regarded the cats: licking her chops with narrowed eyes. The usually trusting cats were on guard. When I called the rescue to report this worrisome behavior, they did acknowledge that some Weimaraners were cat-chasers, and that I’d just have to see if this was true of Lulu.
Fortunately, with close supervision and obedience work, I got to the point where Lulu learned to ignore the cats and I felt the kitties were not in jeopardy. So then I got a second Weimaraner from Friends for Pets as a companion for Lulu. It turned out that Billy Blue did not pose a threat to the cats, because all he lived for was meals and he was not interested in food unless it was already cooked and in a can. The trouble started when I rescued a two-month-old Rottweiler puppy who had been thrown away on the roadside in a cardboard box. From the moment the Weimaraners accepted the new youngster into their pack, the older dogs began to harass the cats, chasing and cornering them. Within a week both cats had made emergency visits to the vet and two dear friends each gave a new home to one cat—who, by the way, have outlived two generations of dogs in my home.
The point is this: if you have three or more of a laid-back, non-prey driven breed, it’s probably not going to be an issue, but otherwise, either live a feline-free life or wait until you’re down to fewer than three dogs and then see what you want to do.
Put Your Cat’s Food and Water Up High on a Counter.
Some people always keep their kitty’s food up high so there is nothing you need to change when a dog arrives, but if it isn’t already there, then you need to move it up. Even the most cat-loving, respectful dog in the world cannot pass up that delicious, smelly cat food that goes down the hatch in two quick gulps. If you are going to change the location of the food and water, then do it a few days before the dog arrives so the cat gets used to where her things are before the dog walks in and she has everything else to adjust to.
  The Dog Has to Be on a Leash for the First Introduction.
If the dog is not restrained there’s a good chance the cat will bolt, the dog will chase, all hell will break loose and the future of their relationship will be grim. If the cat does take off at the sight of the dog, the dog’s natural instinct will be to chase. That’s why you have a leash on him. By the way, just because he chases does not mean he is necessarily “prey-driven,” which is something more intense than the general canine instinct to chase.
  Expect a Traumatized Cat When the Dog Is First Introduced.
If there has never been a dog in the household before, be prepared for your cat to freak out when you bring in the dog. The cat will probably hiss and spit, her hair will stand on end and she’ll take refuge in some unreachable spot. She may hide under a bed. She may even go on a hunger strike and not show up for meals, either. Being a cat, she’ll show up again when she’s good and ready.
  Have Some Treats in Your Pocket to Reward the Dog for Not Chasing.
Do not yell at your dog or use an angry, harsh tone to correct his natural impulse to chase. One of the first commands you’ll want to teach the dog is “Leave it.” Use the command at a time like this, then give him a treat for turning his attention to you and away from the cat.
  Don’t Worry about the Cat—She Can Take Care of Herself.
A cat with claws can go on the offensive and take a swipe at the dog’s face, but even a declawed cat can escape unscathed. A feline is rarely in serious jeopardy, because she can usually jump up onto something to get away from a dog or hide underneath furniture where the dog can’t reach her. However, there is still the possibility that this can be traumatic for the cat. You really don’t want to let the dog develop a chasing/hunting habit.
  Your Dog Might Get Scratched in the Face If He Doesn’t Step Back.
It shouldn’t take long for a dog of even average intelligence to learn that the “Flying Furball” can be dangerous and should be shown some respect. If your cat does have a face-to-face with the dog she will appear quite fearsome—she’ll arch her back, hiss and lash out with a clawed paw. Most dogs will back right off when a cat does her display. Puppies might not get the cat’s message if they are still too sweet and dumb, but a swipe of the paw across the nose will smarten them up real quick. However, if you have a grown dog who does not shrink from the cat’s display—who  shows no fear and wants to keep on coming—you may have a possible cat-killer on your hands. This might be a situation in which you want to bring in a professional dog trainer to evaluate the situation.
  Keep a Gentle Leader or a Short Leash on the Dog.
When the dog is loose in the house with you in the first few days, have him drag a short leash at all times so you can grab the leash or step on it should he decide to take off after the cat. A sharp verbal reprimand of “No!” as you step on the leash should get the idea across. If you prefer, you can keep a Gentle Leader on him with a hanging tab. With luck, any chasing behavior can be nipped in the bud.
  Don’t Leave Them Alone Together in the Beginning.

Do not leave the dog and cat loose and alone together in the house until you are certain that they have developed at least a grudging mutual respect and can fend for themselves. Dogs and cats can learn to share the same space in friendship or at least a truce, but the peace needs to be negotiated by you from the start. The cat can fend for herself, but what you can help with is setting boundaries for the dog and gently correcting him for any aggressive tendencies toward the cat or for encroaching on her territory.
Copyright © Tracie Hotchner – Originally appeared in The Dog Bible: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know by Tracie Hotchner

Monday, June 16, 2014

You know the expression “It’s raining cats and dogs”? If you’ve never stopped to wonder what it means, just remember that it does not refer to a gentle spring drizzle but a torrential downpour.
On some level your cat will probably never fully forgive you for polluting her world with a canine. (If, on the other hand, you already have a dog, then introducing another one to your cat may simply be an increase in the same torture she’s already been enduring.) There are some rare cats who actually like dogs, but more frequently they will come to accept one dog—usually with comments on the side—but probably not the canine species as a whole.
Cats can even go past tolerance to actual friendship with a dog, but that is pretty rare. Anyone who has had a mixed dog/cat household can tell you that cats are discerning about their interspecies friendships. They definitely know one dog from another—you only have to see one go from sharing a bed with “their own” dog to flying up a tree if a strange dog comes into view to understand this.
  Take It One Cat at a Time.
Cats are at least as unique in their personalities as dogs are, so each one will have his own tolerance level and timetable for coping with a dog entering the household. Of course, how that goes will have a lot to do with how the dog handles it—whether she is respectful and lets the cat call the shots, or whether she is spring-loaded to take chase as soon as the cat jumps off the counter. One thing is for sure: it is usually a very slow process, and it may be months before your cat accepts the presence of the new dog sufficiently to walk around without looking like he is being hunted.

Just don’t expect to come home some evening anytime soon and find the kitty and pooch snuggled together on the couch watching Seinfeld reruns.
Copyright © Tracie Hotchner – Originally appeared in The Dog Bible: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know by Tracie Hotchner

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Don’t be surprised if you discover that one of the dogs is peeing in the house. You probably can’t be sure which dog it is, or even if it is only one of them—although the most likely occurrence is that the new dog is having trouble adjusting to her new environment. In all likelihood, a break in house-training is only going to be a temporary problem.
  If Either Dog Has an Accident in the House, Don’t Make a Big Deal of It.
In fact, don’t show any reaction at all if you find urine anywhere in the house, or even a “bigger” accident. Under the pressure and excitement of the new arrangement, accidents can happen to either dog.
However, if either dog starts urine-marking in the house, you have a more complicated territorial issue that is probably best handled by a professional. In the first day or two you may not be able to distinguish between an accident and purposeful urine-marking. However, since the anxious/confused accidents usually stop after the first day or two, it will be clear if urine is reappearing in one location, or there are signs of several wet spots after that.
You might consider contacting a dog trainer/behaviorist as soon as you become aware that this is a urine-marking problem, because you want to stop it before it becomes a habit that is much harder to break.
Clean Up the Urine with an Enzymatic Cleaner.
You should have on hand any of the liquid products—such as Simple Solution or Nature’s Miracle—that clean bodily fluids and are marketed for house-pet accidents. These products neutralize the urine (or feces, blood or vomit), rather than simply cleaning superficially. Do not use any product containing ammonia, since it smells like urine.
  The New Dog Needs Time to Get Used to Her New Surroundings.

Your resident dog takes your lifestyle in stride and anticipates what is going to happen, but keep in mind that the routines and schedule of your house are mysteries to the new dog. Because she will be disoriented as she tries to figure them out, give her more chances to relieve herself outdoors, either by taking her out or making sure she knows how and where to exit on her own, if there is an open door or a dog door.
Copyright © Tracie Hotchner – Originally appeared in The Dog Bible: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know by Tracie Hotchner

Friday, June 13, 2014

Food is a volatile issue between dogs, especially dogs that are strangers to each other. You may have two dogs that are getting along fine, but when a dish of food or even a hand-delivered treat comes along they may go after each other.
  No Free-feeding during the Introduction Period.
If you have been “free-feeding” your current dog—leaving a dish of dry dog food out at all times—you may have to change that routine at least for a while. The new dog may not be used to having unlimited access to food and may be greedy about the “free” food and want to eat all of it. Your resident dog may be possessive of his food dish and not want the new dog to go near it. It’s easier all the way around to just remove the provocation for now.
  Keep the Dogs’ Food Bowls Separate.
When you serve the dogs their meals, put their dishes down at a distance from each other. Stay with the dogs while they eat so that neither dog tries to go to the other’s dish. It only takes a few minutes for most dogs to eat, so you staying there as a silent monitor is the best insurance against “food fights.”

A dog is not usually possessive about his water bowl, but if you see your dog acting in any way possessive of his water dish (standing by it and guarding it in a defensive stance, growling when the other dog comes near it), find another spot to put down a second water dish so that the new dog has an alternative.
 Copyright © Tracie Hotchner – Originally appeared in The Dog Bible: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know by Tracie Hotchner

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The way that dogs work out their issues is that they first use eye contact and body language signals to each other—but if these are ignored or challenged, the issue can escalate into growling, showing teeth and sometimes using teeth. The hard thing for many people is to not interfere with dogs when they’re trying those earlier, nonviolent ways of working out who is going to be where in the pecking order. But the best rule of thumb is to back off: control your misguided impulse to “fix” things by intervening (which will only exacerbate and escalate problems) and let the dogs do it their way. Unless you’re trying to protect a very young or very old dog from a dangerous situation that he himself does not comprehend, trust in the natural canine process of communication.
Do Not Get in the Middle of a Squabble.
If a dogfight starts, or there is a standoff with teeth bared in which neither dog moves, you need to step back. Anything you do could trigger a worse outcome than what might have happened without your provocation. If a conflict is broken up too soon—or before one of them emerges as the victor—it will leave unresolved tension between the dogs, which can brew into a bigger problem down the road.
When dogs start growling, it may sound worse to you than it really is. These moments usually blow over in a matter of seconds, at which point the issue is resolved between them. You need to back off, no matter how scary it seems, unless it is a full-fledged battle and one dog is really getting hurt. If you must do something, resist the instinct to reach between the dogs (which could leave you with hands like Swiss cheese). Turn a garden hose on the dogs at full pressure (if you are inside and in the kitchen, use the sprayer attachment from the sink), or get a pot or bucket of cold water and dump it on their heads.
  Let the Dogs Work It Out on Their Own.
Everyday life will present inter-dog issues we don’t even recognize; the dogs will be guided by whatever power balance they work out now. Depending on your personality and how compulsive or controlling or dominant you are, it may take some self-control for you to let the dogs work it out unimpeded by you. Stepping aside is easier for some people—for others, it’s agony not to monitor or arbitrate any potentially nasty moments between the dogs. However, it may be easier to keep yourself out of the middle of it if you trust that the dogs have their own language and will sort it out themselves.
  When the Conflict Is Over, Pay Attention to the Winner First.
This may seem unfair, unless you remember that dogs don’t abide by the human concept of “fairness.” Your attention to the winner will reinforce the dominance hierarchy that the dogs have just established. Once that hierarchy is in place, there should be no more fighting.
  Continue to Reinforce the Balance of Power.
Once the dogs are living together, you must maintain the power structure that they’ve established. You should always greet and give affection to the dominant dog first; her food should always be served first; she should be allowed first into the car; she should have her leash put on first and be allowed out the door in front of the other dog. These are the natural “perks” of being Top Dog; both dogs will feel best if you respect that hierarchy.

At the same time, regardless of who’s on top, it is considered wise to continue giving the resident dog at least the same amount of affection that he got before the new dog came along, regardless of which dog won the position of Top Dog. You would not want to give your first dog reason to be jealous or resentful of the newcomer. If there are no power issues between the resident dog and the newcomer, then your first dog should remain first in everything—sort of the first-come, first-served theory. The resident dog gets treats first, goes out the door first, gets his dinner bowl set down first and is greeted first by you.
Copyright © Tracie Hotchner – Originally appeared in The Dog Bible: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know by Tracie Hotchner

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Food, toys and the attention of their master are the pivotal issues that the dogs will be negotiating for at least the first few days. Your best bet is to remove yourself from the process of sorting out who will wind up on top—the dogs have to work it out in their own way. Think of yourself as a neutral “UN advisor.” Only step in between the dogs if it looks like it’s leading to war.
  It’s Quite Natural for One of the Dogs to Be Dominant.
The dog world (the whole animal kingdom, really) is not a democracy. Dogs do not have our human ideas about “fairness.” Yes, you can teach them to share—you can even teach them to take turns or wait their turn for your affection or treats. But at the end of the day, one dog will come out on top as Numero Uno: it’s the way dogs are wired. It is not helpful to your dogs if you project human ways of thinking onto them. Perhaps to you “dominant” means something good, like “best” or “the winner” (and, by inference, those who aren’t dominant are automatically “losers” or “inferior”). Or, for you, “dominant” may have a negative implication—it may mean pushy or bossy or greedy. But in the dog universe “dominant” has no value judgment, it just means that one of them has been elected “Top Dog.”
  What If Your Dog Is a Dominant Female?
A strong female may do best with a submissive type of either gender—a “whatever you say, boss” kind of personality. In this situation, the dogs should meet on neutral turf twice before the homecoming to give them ample opportunity to iron out any differences—and then they should return home together.
  The Resident Dog Will Probably Be in Charge.

It’s likely that your resident dog will be dominant over the new dog, but if it doesn’t turn out that way, leave the situation alone. If you try to keep your resident dog on top, imposing your idea of “fair play,” it will only increase any conflict that the dogs would otherwise have worked out naturally. Canines have their own way of holding elections; we cannot interfere and try to stuff the ballot box.
Copyright © Tracie Hotchner – Originally appeared in The Dog Bible: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know by Tracie Hotchner

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

If the new dog is still a little puppy, you can imagine how the homecoming might feel to the dog you already have. Compare it to the arrival of a new baby into a family that already has a toddler. His parents bring home a newborn and present her with a triumphant flourish. The little one who was there first may share his parents’ beaming delight—or he might burst into tears for the number-one position he has just lost. It’s quite normal for children to respond negatively when a new baby comes home—they are jealous of all the attention the infant gets, especially from what used to be exclusively their parents. If you can empathize with that kind of hurt/displaced human scenario, you know it can be a transition that’s fraught with emotion, and you can be compassionate toward your existing pets. If the new puppy gets lots of attention—and what puppy doesn’t?—the resident dog may feel jealous on top of feeling invaded or displaced.
If you’re bringing home an older puppy or more mature dog, both the resident dog and newcomer are likely to have “issues.” In order to understand what the canines are going through, compare it to what it can feel like to both children when a foster child joins a preexisting family. There are often rough patches in which everyone involved feels awkward and unsure of where they fit in the new picture. Insecure about their place in the family hierarchy, they can have a bumpy ride until things get sorted out. Since the animals will be looking to you for leadership, it will make the transition smoother if you are clear about how to handle the issues that arise between the dogs.
To make the transition smoother, it helps to maintain a realistic expectation of how your existing pets will react to the newcomer. If you know what to expect, you won’t be alarmed or discouraged. Don’t worry that you’ve made a terrible mistake in bringing home a dog, or that the mistake is the one you chose to bring. Avoid feeling annoyed or disappointed in either animal.
Reactions to the New Dog

• Jealous
• Threatened
• Offensive/aggressive
• Frightened/intimidated
• Withdrawn/depressed
• Possessive of you
• Territorial about bed/toys
• Suspicious/ anxious• Urinating/defecating in house
• General disobedience/ ignoring commands

If you anticipate some of these normal adjustment reactions, and understand that they are generally short-lived, then the transition will be less stressful for you. It can be frustrating to feel so happy and excited about bringing home the new bundle of joy, only to be met by growls and hisses from the resident pet(s). But what can you do? You can accept your resident dog’s behavior without judgment, because the crabby attitude will pass. As a friend likes to say in defense of her dogs: “Hey, they’re only human.”
Copyright © Tracie Hotchner – Originally appeared in The Dog Bible: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know by Tracie Hotchner