Posts tagged #colorado dog trainers

Integrating a New Adult Dog into the Family

The decision to add a second (or third, etc) adult dog into the family should be weighed carefully. Hopefully, the prospective owners are in a position to pick the perfect dog for their growing pack.

If you are on the hunt for the perfect doggy addition, you should consider the size and energy level of your current dog and look for something compatible (not too small, not too tall) in size and similar in temperament. The resident couch-potato-of-a-Bulldog may not appreciate the company of the new high-energy-bouncing-Labrador, by example. Your boisterous German Shepherd may be 'too much dog' for your new Italian Greyhound. If your resident dog is female, look for a male of compatible size and temperament and vice-versa. Opposite sex pairs usually get along better than same-sex, especially over time. They naturally create a stronger bond.

Sometimes, however, a new dog enters our lives in the most unexpected of ways. Perhaps there was a death in the family, or you found a stray in need of help.

Whether your new dog is a planned addition, or a pleasant surprise, there are steps you can take to be sure that your new dog meshes well with the existing dogs and humans in your household.

1. Give the new dog time to figure out his surroundings. I love the use of Ex-pens for this purpose. The new dog is confined in an area where he can observe the going's on of the household, but doesn't need to physically interact (or defend themselves) from the existing dogs or humans. Remember that dogs learn most through their sense of smell, then their eyes, then their ears. Physical contact is not necessary for dogs to gather information about each other or their surroundings.

2. Don't rush the interaction between your new dogs and existing dogs.Watch your dog's body language carefully. Notice if there is any tension, nervousness or anxiety among the existing dog and the new dog. If there is, continue to follow protocol number one. Rushing the introduction process is a sure way to cause conflict between the dogs.

3. Sometimes less is more. Don't over do it with petting and attention. It can make the existing dog jealous, and make the new dog very nervous and anxious. Again, give your new dog some time to settle in.

4. Establish a routine (Sleep, play/train, eat). Now that you're dealing with a new dog, all of the dogs have to get used to a new system.  Dogs are much more content when they know what to expect.

5. After you have observed good vibes between the existing dog and the new dog, take them on a long walk together. Again, no need for physical contact at this stage. Have you ever wondered why dogs love walks so much? It's because they simulate territorial patrols, and pack hunts. What better way to communicate to both dogs that they are now part of the same pack? 

6. Be sure your dog understands what is expected of them. After your dog has been comfortable in his new home for a couple of weeks. Enroll them in dog training. Teaching your dog obedience skills is the best way to form a healthy lasting relationship with you and your human family members. Obedience training will also ensure that the dogs understand that you are in charge of the family, and they should look to you for information. This will greatly reduce the possibility of dog fights, or resource guarding behavior.

The bottom line is, if you introduce your new dog to your family in a slow and structured way, you are much more likely to achieve success! Check out my previous blog about Common Mistakes New Dog Owner's Make. There's lots of additional tips and tricks in that post that will help you settle your new dog in. 




Stop Nuisance Barking

Barking, barking, barking! Stop the barking! Nuisance barking can be SO frustrating. It bothers you, it bothers your neighbors, it bothers everybody. 

Nuisance barking is different than barking due to stress, like being left alone. In this post, I'm specifically addressing dogs who bark at other dogs and people when they come near their home. 

Some dog breeds are more likely to be nuisance barkers due to their genetic heritage. Guarding breeds like mastiffs, German Shepherds, Anatolian Shepherds, Great Pyrenees, etc are more likely to bark because they honestly feel it's their job. Other breeds of dogs learn to bark to get their way. They key to stopping nuisance barking is to understand it from the dog's perspective.

Think about the different scenarios in which dogs typically bark. By example, most dogs bark at the mailman, or other people at the door. Every day, the mailman comes to deliver your mail. The dog doesn't know that's why this person in a strange uniform is at your door. He simply thinks, "Intruder! Sound the alarm!" He barks (and barks and barks) and the mailman leaves. The dog doesn't know that he was going to leave anyway. He thinks the mailman left his territory due to his impressive barking display. The dog feels a sense of satisfaction as he has protected his domain from this intruder.

This same principle applies to people walking past your yard. The neighbors are out for a stroll, and your dog runs the fence, barking up a storm. The neighbors continue on their walk. Your dog snorts and stamps his foot once last time, proud of his big accomplishment. He doesn't recognize the fact that those people were going to leave anyway. He loves that he did his job!

These scenarios are repeated, and of course, practice makes perfect. Dog barks, people leave. Except, what happens if they don't leave? Maybe your neighbors are barbecuing in the back yard, or playing with their kids. And of course, the dog is going nuts. They have been reinforced with the people leaving when they barked, and now they just won't go. So the dog ramps up the barking, wondering why these humans won't comply.

To correct this behavior there are several things you can do.

1. Don't let the behavior develop in the first place. I know what you're thinking... It's too late for that! But this is for those new puppy owners out there who recently acquired one of the 'barky' breeds. Address the problem immediately and teach your puppy to be quiet.

2. Eliminate your dog's access to their 'guarding post.' Most dogs have a favorite spot they like to perch on to look for potential threats. Close the front window curtains. Place opaque film over the front glass door. Don't let your dog run the fence line. In other words, don't let your dog rehearse the behavior. It only makes it worse.

3. Don't yell! Yelling at the dog to 'be quiet' only makes them think you are joining in the territorial patrol.

4. Teach the quiet command. Get a handful of your dog's favorite treats, and enlist the help of a friend, family member or neighbor. With your dog on a leash, have your helper pretend to be coming to the front door (or walk past the house/yard). Once your dog notices the helper and starts to look concerned, quietly say your dog's name and "Quiet." Praise when they turn towards you and give them several treats in a row. Repeat this scenario several times. Start small, meaning, don't have your helper charge up to the door and start banging and ringing the door bell. Instead, have them approach and stop at distance that the dog notices them, but doesn't fully freak out. It's important that we have an opportunity to reward the behavior we want, which is no barking. Repeat this process until the helper can get closer and closer and eventually knock on the door, ring the bell, or jog past the fence.

If you give this the honest college try and you are still having trouble, don't worry. We have other training tricks up our sleeve! Contact us. We're here to assist you!