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Introducing PetsSee also: Interspecies Introductions
Dog Meets DogsHere's the scenario: I am moving and cannot take my German Shepherd of 8 years with me. She is going to live with my boyfriend who she adores. The catch is that he already has 2 Dalmatians. His dogs are primarily house dogs, my dog is outside in the day time and inside at night. How should we go about introducing our dogs? And is it fair to leave my dog outside when the other are inside or will that insight resentment?
Thanks for your input.
First of all, I'll answer the easy question. I don't think it's cruel that one dog stays in most of the time while the others stay out. In my experience, some breeds of dogs (German Shepards included) actually like to spend more time outside than other breeds. If your dog is used to staying outside all day, he probably won't give it a second though. Yes it would be cruel to stick a little Chihuahua out for 12 hours a day but I've been told by a breeder that her Siberian Huskies, for example, hate being inside. I think it depends on the dog. Some veterinarians may disagree (outside dogs are exposed to more illnesses and sometimes they are ignored, however that's not always the case and I don't think that should be assumed) but you asked my opinion.
Just be sure to give equal attention to all the dogs. Don't pamper the dogs inside while the one outside has to suffer and only gets the occasional "hey boy". You should have time set aside for them all. You also have to remember the dals are going to feel "new baby" syndrome. Since they have each other, they might not get as jealous but be sure to let them know that daddy doesn't love the new baby more. Your dog is also going to feel a little abandoned and unsettled if you're not around as much and he has a new person (who I assume he probably already knows well) to live with. Best case scenario: the new siblings will make up for it. Worst case: boyfriend is going to have to deal with a depressed dog and really lay the attention on.
To answer the next question, to introduce them you need to get into the dog's heads. I'm sure among the two dalmatians there's a dominant and that dog will have to "fight" your dog for his position. By fight I don't necessarily mean they'll physically hurt each other, but among dog groups there's always a dominant. Dogs are pack animals like wolves. Their is a leader and then their are followers. When you get a group of dogs (and I count 3 as a group) they display pack mentality.
You can probably expect some snarling and growling when they first meet (especially if all are males) and maybe even some territorial marking. That's normal. Just watch them closely and make sure they don't actually fight or hurt each other. In order for them to get along, they have to set up their own hierarchy. Once they do that, they shouldn't fight so much. The submissive dog might get snarled at if he steps on the dominant's territory but no major fights. Your boyfriend needs to recognize the dominant dog's dominance though. The dominant dog eats first, for example. This page is helpful in understanding how dogs think. It's from a humane society. It deals with how to establish yourself as pack leader and some ways to deal with problems in multi-pet households.
You should try to introduce them the first time off either dog's territory. Try a neighbors yard or a park or something similar. This will let them be on equal terms for the first meeting at least. Put them on leashes so just in case you can pull them away from each other. Let them sniff each other, maybe snarl a bit and just be dogs. If they start to act aggressively toward each other, pull them apart and try again when they calm down. Be sure you can handle all 3 if you're going to introduce all 3. If you can't or if you're having trouble, introduce them 2 at a time (one of the dals and your dog and the other dal and your dog) and then bring them together. Dogs are like kids, they get a lot braver when a friend is around. If they are the types, the two dals will "attack" together more than they would separately. They'll kind of feed off of each other. If this is the case, it could work better to introduce them one on one and then bring them all together.
Once they meet outside you should have your boyfriend set up a special place for your dog in the house (or outside if that's where he's going to eat and sleep) that's all his own. He should be feed and sleep away from the other dogs at least at first (unless they get along like brothers right away). Keep the dals situation the same so they won't feel their schedule is upset. You should always avoid feeding dogs (males especially) together unless you know there is no aggression there. Dogs get especially snippy when food is involved. Follow the same advice I gave the others. Let the new dog slowly get the run of the house (and since he stays outside the majority of the time, he won't have to be crated or anything while people are gone, he can have the run of the yard. He can even be fed outside.).
If the dogs get along well enough, you can even play some group games. Take them outside and play fetch with the 3 or let them play tug or war and chase each other around. Playing with all of them together will help them get used to each other and help them make a long lasting friendship. Hopefully all will go well!
Good luck and I hope you soon have a happy family over there!
The Truth About Cats and DogsWe have recently moved 2 declawed cats (one male and one female) into our home and I have a minature Pek and a minature Chihuahua. We have a child gate in the hall to block off half of the house. Right now the cats stay on one side and the dogs on the other. The dogs hear the cats and every now and then see the cats and run to the gate barking. The cats run away. We would like them all to be able to get along in the house. We are not sure we should mix them when the dogs seem to run at them. How do we introduce them to one another without having the cats attacked. The male cat is larger than the dogs but he is more fearfull at this stage. Do we have to keep them seperate forever? Should I scold the dogs for runing and barking? We have the gate up to give the cats a place of safety should it stay up always? Help with ideas would be appricated ! Vanery
I wouldn't scold the dogs just for barking. They are just following their natural instincts. What you need to do is positively reinforce them when they act civilly towards the cats (I know, when is that? Sometimes it takes time). Sometimes smaller dogs like yours tend to be more hyper and less tolerant to new additions. I'm assuming they've never been around cats before and they probably don't know what a cat is. You might want to give them a blanket or a towel that the cats have been laying on to get the used to the cat smell (you can do the same with a dog blanket for the cats). Sounds like they are really just confused as to what they are sharing their house with. Eventually the novelty of the cats will wear off. That's not to say you will definitely be able to make them friendly towards one another. You may always to have to watch them and separate them when you're not home. Some dogs will never like the idea of sharing a house with a cat but most can at least be taught tolerate them being there. It just takes a lot of time and patience.
If I were you, I would confine the cats to just one room so they can be kept away from the dogs completely for a while. When they are walking all over, you can't control the situation as easily. In just one room, you have complete control over when they dogs and the cats get to meet one another. It will make your job much easier.
After the dogs get kind of used to the smell of the cats (the towel), you should slowly start letting them see just a little bit of the cats from far away (maybe just slightly opening the door to cat's room for about a minute. Since your dogs are small, you could even carry them to the cats room, stop, let them have a quick look and keep walking) and tell them how good they are if they don't act up. Don't forget to stop praising the minute they do act up (even in mid sentence).
When they can stand them for a minute, let them see the cats for a bit longer. Maybe five minutes this time. Then a bit longer. Just keep introducing them for longer and longer. Eventually you should be able to let the cats wander around in the half of the house on the opposite side of the gate from the dogs without being harassed. That's when they might be ready to meet face to face. Since you have two dogs, it will probably be easier and safer to introduce them one at a time (dogs in pairs can display pack behavior and listen to each other's cues more than yours). Bring one out to where the cats are (on a leash just in case), play with it, pay big attention to it, keep a close watch and see what happens. If the dog shows aggression towards the cat, put him up and try again some other day. Just keep it up until they are either friends or deathly bored of each other.
Good luck and don't give up. It can take months for animals get used to each other. If you can't get the situation to work out on your own, have a professional animal behaviorist come out and access the household. Normally, a behaviorist can pick up subtle cues that the animals might be giving off and get to the root of the problem.
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