When returning home with the additional canine companion, here are some steps to take and things to think about:
1. Only adopt any dog when you have the time, energy, and resources to care for them properly. Adopting dogs during stressful times such as the holidays or personal stress is never a good idea.
2. The incumbent dog should have a skill set to a standard in basic training. Dogs will not know via osmosis or intuition what you want them to "not do". It is so much easier to have a way to tell them to do something. Two untrained dogs coming together is a bad idea.
3. Training the additional dog should start immediately and separately from the incumbent dog.
4. Total freedom for a new dog should never be allowed.
5. Start off on the right foot with boundaries and rules in place for both dogs.
6. Know how to read your incumbent dog's signals in body language and mannerisms. Observe and start to know the language of the canine addition. It may well be drastically different, and with time and care, you will begin to know this dog as well.
7. If you are not sure what you are looking at, assume the worst. Always better safe than sorry.
8. Do not leave them alone unsupervised. It's really important to fully know both dogs in the multiple dog context AND the ability of the dogs to resolve conflicts BEFORE even thinking of leaving them alone unsupervised. Some breed fanciers will not leave their dogs alone unsupervised.
9. Transporting home-Either pick up the next dog without your incumbent dog present OR be sure to have a crated area in the car for transport home. Nothing worse than driving along with two dogs that are not sure they like each other yet.
It is important to look for things that stand out and suggest that an amicable relationship is just NEVER going to occur.
1. Dogfights that show a total lack of bite inhibition or bites in dangerous areas.
2. Absolutely no signs of like or affection for the other canine. I am not talking about dogs that amicably ignore each other until the relationship is established; I am talking about where it's real obvious that there are going to be NO friendly interactions.
Special training considerations in multi-dog homes:
1. Commands-I use this general rule in my multi dog household. Commands not started with the dog's name, mean that all dogs in my voice range are expected to obey (or at least the ones that have been trained on this rule). Commands that start with a name, mean that specific dog needs to obey the command.
2. Release words-Release words that start without a dog's name first, mean all dogs within my voice range may release. Release words that start with a specific dog's name, mean that only the dog indicated may release.
3. Both 1 and 2 are things that must be taught to your dogs thru training exercises.
4. Remember a small altercation turns into large problems if not dealt with quickly. If you don't know what to do, seek professional help immediately. It will save you a lot of headaches and/or heartaches.
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