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The Multi-Dog Family


How To Introduce New Dogs Or Cats To The Family

Older Dog

Itís important that the family dog doesnít feel slighted by the new family member. Introducing the dogs in a neutral environment is always a good idea. You might keep the new dog outside on a leash and bring the family dog outside to meet him. At this time it would be good to take them both for a walk around the block to get them used to each other and see how they react to each other. What you donít want to do is bring a new dog onto the old dogís property too quickly.

New Puppies

A new puppy has to be protected from possible injury from a larger dog. I would recommend using a play-pen type of arrangement for the new puppy. Dog supply catalogs sell 4 x 4 portable pens that work great indoors. Some you can even buy a top for. Another idea is a large wire crate. Both of these arrangements allow the two dogs to meet and get used to each other while protecting the puppy. This type of arrangement also doubles as a way of confining the puppy while heís learning the house rules and being housebroken. When you do bring the two dogs together, be sure to supervise the encounter until you are absolutely sure the two dogs get along and the puppy will not be hurt. In all cases, NEVER leave the dogs alone together when you are not home.

New Cats

If you already have a cat and are getting a dog, or if you have a dog and are getting a cat you will need to consider a few things first. Cats need to do dog/cat introductions on their own terms. You will not be the one who decides how itís going to work. Here is a good way to handle this introduction. No matter who was there first, attach a leash to a piece of furniture in the room that the family frequents the most. Attach the dog to the leash several time during the day so the cat can move around the house freely and do his investigation of the situation. Put all the cat equipment, litter box, toys, food and water, in a separate room and place an expansion gate at the doorway so the dog canít get into the room. This will become a safe haven for the cat. He can come and go as he wants by jumping over the fence and he can go potty, eat and play without the dog bothering him. You will probably find the dog lying outside the room by the gate watching, and eventually you will find the cat lying on the other side of the gate watching back. When the cat is comfortable enough to approach the dog to sniff him and the dog no longer lunges at the cat when he sees him, you will be ready to let the dog loose. Be sure to watch the situation closely for a few days to be sure all is well with them. I would suggest keeping the gate at the cat room door so the dog wonít eat the catís food or rob the litter box of itís contents.
How To Live With Multiple Dogs

Give each dog some private quality time with you. This will help eliminate competition for attention. A good way to do this is to take each dog for a walk every day by himself. It doesnít have to be a long walk, maybe fifteen minutes, but you can play with him at that time and maybe even do some training. When you play with the dogs together, one of them will always dominate the games. If that happens, the one who always looses out may become disinterested in joining the fun. I see this a lot with submissive dogs. Itís important to make sure that both dogs get an opportunity to play with you by themselves, without any competition.

When you walk the dogs together, DO NOT use flexi-leads. That is dangerous and spells TROUBLE. What I suggest is to buy a one-inch wide 6-foot nylon lead for each dog. Lay the leashes out together and tie them together with a knot about 18 to 24 inches up from the hooks. You can tape the handles together with cloth tape to make one handle to hold. The dogs will have about three to four feet between them, plenty of room to sniff, and because they are tied together they will check each other and you wonít be pulled in two directions at once. The knot is a great thing to hold onto when you need to keep the dogs close to you - the equivalent of a four foot leash. IT WORKS. Iíve used it for up to four dogs at one time.

Feed both dogs in different areas or in their crates. This prevents food fights. DO NOT use the Free Feeding system with multiple dogs. Have regular feeding time and remove food when the time limit is up. ALSO, if you give your dogs a bone, be sure to keep them separate. There is always going to be a dominant dog and that will either cause a fight or cause the submissive one to loose out on his bone. That is not fair for either dog.

You do not want to create a situation that pits the dogs against each other. They will establish their own hierarchy and it is your job to respect that and not try to cause conflict. NEVER side with the underdog by scolding the dominant one for bossy behavior - that will only enrage the dominant dog and cause more conflict and possible fighting. Set up the environment so as to keep conflict to a minimum while respecting both dogs needs.




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