Monday, June 9, 2014

Both Dogs Should Already Be Spayed or Neutered Before They Meet
For both males and females, the tendency to be aggressive is linked to sex drive, and neutering lessens or eliminates that sex drive. Neutering also eliminates the hormonal scent, which can trigger a variety of reactions in other dogs of both sexes.
  Try to Bathe the New Dog Soon Before the First Meeting.
There is an “unfamiliar odor” aspect to new encounters between dogs, and by eliminating it, you lower the tension level a few notches. The other dog will be less threatening to your existing dog, because a recent bath will have washed away her personal odor.
Bring Treats in Your Pocket.
Have super-delicious goodies in your pocket or “bait bag” (see chapter Thirteen, “Nutrition”). You want to have a way to reward the dogs right away for anything they do that shows acceptance of each other, and little bits of cheese, small pieces of cut-up hot dog or strips of beef jerky made for dogs (which you can break up into small pieces beforehand) will all inspire them.
Plan ahead to reward all good behavior between the dogs—whether it is tail-wagging, playfulness, face-licking—and remember that when you see it, you need to give the treat immediately so that you precisely reinforce the good behavior (see “The Learning Process” on page 236). As soon as the dogs wag their tails and display body language showing that they want to play, give each of them a food treat to encourage that attitude.
You should be aware that neutral behavior is also a sign of acceptance between them. Anything that is not hostile is good—so neutrality should be praised and well-rewarded, too.
  Concentrate on Staying Mellow Yourself.
The dogs will pick up any anxiety or excitement you’re feeling. Remind yourself beforehand that you need to keep a cool head, because you’ll be setting the example for everyone involved—the dogs and any of your family members who might be there. If you feel frightened or panicky at any point during the introduction, a good way to calm yourself down is to concentrate on your breathing and take in deep, slow breaths.
Speak calmly and do not raise your voice, no matter what the dogs do. Your own dog is already able to read your emotions from even the slightest change in your tone of voice—you certainly don’t need to raise it for him to notice. You especially need to avoid getting loud or shrill in a way that sounds frightened or angry. Your dog could read your distress as a cause for alarm—and turn on the new dog. Or your agitation could frighten the new dog.
  Stay Aware of Your Part in the Dogs’ Interaction.
Don’t think of yourself as an “innocent bystander” in this meeting between dogs—you are very much a part of it. Don’t underestimate how influential you are. Stay conscious of your voice and body language, both of which send messages to the dogs about how to behave.
  Meet on Neutral Ground.
Unless you feel really sure that your dog will warmly accept an unknown dog on your own property, plan to make the introduction on a friend’s fenced property or in a quiet public park, beach or wooded area, or even in your front yard if your present dog is always in the back—whatever is available to you. This will remove your current dog’s territorial protectiveness from the equation.
If your dog is territorial (also known as “turfy”) he may not be very welcoming to other dogs on his territory. This makes a neutral meeting-ground even more important. If you were to have the first meeting in your own yard, there’s a good chance your dog would act defensively or aggressively on ground he considers his own.
Meeting on Your Own Property
If you want to use your fenced yard, first give the new dog a few minutes outside in the yard with you to get oriented. Then let the other dog(s) out. You should keep the new dog on a leash, for his safety. A leash may actually make him feel more secure because it’s attached to you, and this way he won’t bolt if he gets spooked when your dog(s) comes outside to meet him. By doing the introduction outdoors, you give the animals more room to maneuver, rather than bringing the newcomer directly into a house, which is a more cramped space and can also stimulate more territoriality in the resident dog.
  Two Handlers May Be Necessary.

You should be the one to bring the new dog to the neutral meeting point. Your attachment to the new dog will be influential in your current dog’s reaction. Ask a friend or relative who is savvy about dogs in general and, if possible, knows your other dog well to bring him to the meeting point.
Copyright © Tracie Hotchner – Originally appeared in The Dog Bible: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know by Tracie Hotchner

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