How to help dog guests and new adoptees get off to a good start with your resident dog.
The Behavior of Your Dogs Might Change As Time Goes By
It’s trainer lore that the behavior of an adopted dog changes as he settles in to his new home. Many people have been thrilled when Newby doesn’t bark for the first week, then faced sad disillusion on Day 8 when it turns out he’s got a voice like every other dog, and the doorbell reliably gets him to use it.
As for dog-dog changes, you may see Newby claim some space for his own, or begin to guard his toys or food from Dogalini. Or the reverse may happen, of course. Whether the evolving relationship reflects changes in the dogs’ relative rank, who knows? We humans are often inclined to interpret dog behavior in terms of who the so-called alpha is, but the fact that we’re prone to such explanations doesn’t make them correct. Fortunately, it doesn’t matter.
Reward the Good Behavior
Our job as the humans in the household is to reward the behavior we like, and prevent the behavior we don’t like. If Dogalini and Newby are fighting over a toy, we can play with them separately, put away the toy, or call a behavior consultant to help us teach them better manners. If Dogalini pushes Newby away every time Newby tries to get some love from you, well then, Dogalini needs to learn to share. If Newby and Dogalini are hell-bent on barging out the door at the same time, both dogs should learn to wait for your okay. Whatever they do or don’t think about their respective ranks, you set the rules for how they behave.
For a great guide on living with multiple dogs, see the resources below. And talk to me! Call 206-600-5661 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit my Facebook page. Your questions and comments may appear in future episodes. That’s all till next week!
The best guide for living with more than one dog, hands down, no contest, is “Feeling Outnumbered? How to Manage and Enjoy a Multi-Dog Household,” by Patricia McConnell and Karen London (Dogwise, 2008).
Saunders, Kim. The Adopted Dog Bible (HarperCollins, 2009). This brand-new book impresses me with its wealth of information and sound training advice.
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