Category: “Dog Tips & Tricks”

Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Separation Anxiety in Dogs, a Common Problem


Texas Animal Guardians - Bringing People and Pets TogetherSupposedly,  absence makes the heart grow fonder. However, the absence of an owner sends some dogs into wailing and barking, frequent house soiling, and self-destructive behaviors. These are all signs that a dog is suffering from separation anxiety.

The canines most likely to fall victim are second-hand dogs. Whether from a shelter, rescue group, or greyhound-track adoption program, dogs re-homed in adolescence or older are at greater risk of suffering separation anxiety than puppies. This is probably because it is more difficult for these dogs to accept changes in their routine and environment. They cling to their new pack leader and panic when that leader leaves home to go about his or her daily business. For similar reasons, unemployed companion animal owners or those who take lengthy at-home vacations or recuperations may find that their dog becomes disoriented when they return to work. These distressed pets need help.

Texas Animal Guardians - Bringing People and Pets TogetherSeparation anxiety is often a problem of over-bonding. It is not healthy for a dog to follow his caretakers’ every step, to be constantly in the same room, sharing the same piece of furniture, being in close contact all the time. Promote independence by teaching the dog to down and stay on his own bed while you go out of sight. Start with a few seconds, then build up to a length of time the dog can tolerate. Put up a gate and eventually close a door between the two of you. Get family members involved in dispensing the “good stuff” to the dog.

Texas Animal Guardians - Bringing People and Pets Together Walks, play sessions, and feedings should not be provided by only one person, for that person’s absence means the end of all that is good in the world to the dog. Panic can ensue. If you live alone, perhaps a neighbor or relative will share the duties, or hire a pet-care professional to assist you.

The worst of a dog’s hysteria is often during the first hour after departure. Diffuse the emotion of your leave-taking by heartily exercising the dog right after you wake up. Then, after feeding him, scale back your attention to the point of ignoring him during the last 15 minutes before you leave. Turn off the lights and turn on the television, radio, or white-noise machine—whatever you play most when you are home. And with no more than a whispered “Be good,” leave the house.

Some dogs will read the signs of imminent departure and begin to work themselves into a frenzy. If putting on make-up, packing a lunch, or shuffling papers in your briefcase distresses the dog, desensitize him to these or other actions by doing them frequently and at other times (such as before mealtime) so they lose their direct connection to the dreaded departure. Presenting a toy stuffed with goodies can draw the focus of less seriously afflicted canines toward cleaning out the item and away from your leaving. Buster cubes, Kong toys, Goodie balls/ships work well as canine diversions. Unfortunately, the seriously afflicted dog will not give the toy a second look until his pack is together again.

Texas Animal Guardians - Bringing People and Pets Together Separation anxiety can be severe and all-consuming to some dogs. I have known dogs to jump through second-story plate-glass windows, eat through sheetrock walls into neighboring apartments, and bloody their paws and noses trying to dig through wooden doors or out of crates. These individuals need professional assessment by an applied animal behaviorist or veterinary behaviorist, for they may need pharmacological aid while they undergo desensitization exercises. Some people choose to manage the problem by dropping off their dogs at day care or adopting a second dog so they are never truly alone.

Luckily, if the earlier suggestions are followed, the majority of dogs will be howling “I will survive” in no time.

Written by Jacque Lynn Schultz, Director, ASPCA Special Projects

Thanks to Jacque Lynn Schultz, Director, ASPCA Special Projects ASPCA for giving Texas Animal Guardians permission to use this article. Permission provided from the ASPCA.

Dogs are Scared of Fireworks and Thunderstorms!

Dogs are Scared of Fireworks and Thunderstorms!

Thunderstorm dog Dogs (and cats) are scared of Fireworks and Thunderstorms — in fact some are so frightened of these noises they become almost paralyzed with fear…

Dogs are scared of fireworks and thunderstorms. It’s only natural. Loud noises trigger a powerful flight or fight response in both dogs and cats. A loud clap of thunder is likely to send them helter-skelter in search of a good hiding place. That is as it should be. After all, an animal in the wild will naturally seek refuge during stormy times or if danger is approaching.

Unfortunately, more dogs escape from their homes and yards during storms and fireworks than at any other time. On the day after the Fourth of July county animal shelters fill up with “stray” dogs. Cats, on the other hand, are far less prone to run away from their home base. Instead, they choose to burrow into a good hiding spot inside the house or yard area. Also, it appears that suburban and country dogs are more prone to this form of noise phobia than their city cousins.

Noise phobia is not breed specific so even sporting dogs can display anxiety during fireworks or thunderstorms. Dogs that are scared of fireworks (or thunderstorms) often have their own coping strategy such as seeking refuge in a windowless room or a bathroom or under a table. Others go into an all-out panic attack with displays of whining, howling, barking, shaking, trembling, urinating, or defecating. Some resort to chewing on furniture while others try to escape by jumping out a window or scratching their way through the door.

How can a pet parent help their dog overcome this type of anxiety? Most of the time dogs will ride out the storm and return to their normal selves again. However, do not overcompensate by feeling sorry for your dog or comforting him excessively. Comforting your dog will only give him temporary relief and it will further the anxiety the next time. Your body language and your confidence will do far more to stabilize your dog than words of sympathy.

Fortunately, there are several methods you can use to help keep your pooch comfortable. If your dog has a coping strategy such as hiding, by all means accommodate him by allowing him access to that area. If your dog does not have a preferred hiding place, then place him in a windowless room or a room with darkened blinds. This will alleviate the visual clues of lightning. (Keep in mind that small spaces, like a bathroom, are preferred over large ones.) If your dog is crate trained he can be placed in the crate and you can drape a blanket or other cover over it. In addition, background noise from a television or a radio can also help mask the noise of thunder

For more extreme cases, some animal behaviorists recommend reducing sensory overload created by static electricity and barometric pressure. This can be achieved by dressing your pup in a “thundershirt”, or a tightly bound T-shirt and massaging his ears. If that doesn’t work there are many products on the market designed to keep Fido calm. One behaviorist recommends buying an “appeasing pheromone” that plugs into a wall outlet, such as Comfort Zone. It emits the chemical simulation of a lactating dog and helps the dog feel safe and secure.

Afraid cat There are also homeopathic products for anxiety such as Rescue Remedy made by Bach Flower Essences. Also, Calms Forte works well. Both are safe for dogs and there is no danger of overdosing. For Calms Forte` use the dosage recommendations for children on the product label. Give these to the dog right before a thunderstorm.

The hormone Melatonin can also reduce anxiety levels in dogs and has health benefits for both dogs and humans. But, please check with your veterinarian before administering, particularly if your dog is on other types of medications. A dog’s dosage for Melatonin is .5 of 1 mg for small dogs, every 8 hours. For large dogs give 3 to 9 mg when needed.

Last but not least, is a method of sound desensitization used to treat noise phobias in dogs and cats. It is a rehabilitation treatment that exposes your pet to the noises that he fears, over and over again. At first the noise levels are low, gradually increasing in intensity. Two veterinary surgeons in England have developed a highly effective program and their Sounds Scary high definition CD has produced remarkable results. The reward is a calmer more confident dog and cat.

Note: The link included in this article can provide you with free downloads to help your pooch or kitty become desensitized. For other audio tracks visit this web site Scared No More.

Introducing Your New Cat to Your Dog

Introducing Your New Cat to Your Dog

Introducing Your New Cat to Your Dog

You added a new kitty to your family! Congratulations! Now comes the challenge of introducing your new cat to your dog. There are many factors to consider before making the new cat to current dog introduction: Is you resident dog a young pup? Is your resident dog already cat friendly? Does your resident dog have a high prey drive? Is your new kitty “dog friendly”? Is your new kitty a small kitten? Is your new kitty nervous, high-strung or generally afraid? Keep these questions in mind as you continue to read.

Remember: Relationships take time to develop. Never force introductions! Your resident Fido might LOVE new kitty but new kitty could HATE Fido. And vice versa. Your job is to be their mentor, to supervise their interactions, to help them forge a positive relationship. This means all their encounters must be associated with POSITIVE experiences. Positive experiences include: 

  • Food/treats
  • Play
  • Attention/Praise

 Be patient and calm: Throughout this phase speak calmly, be generous with praise. Reinforce positive behavior with treats. Provide resident Fido special attention. You don’t want him getting jealous of new kitty. New kitty can receive special cuddles in private. Avoid scolding, speaking in a nervous voice — even if the first meeting did not go well. 

Texas Animal Guardians New Cat/Dog introductions

Baby kitten needs to be kept safe at all times!


1. Never introduce a tiny kitten to a full grown dog or even a puppy without holding the kitten: Little kitten bones can be easily broken and internal injuries can result from a quick swat of a dog paw or worse death can result if dog grabs kitten by neck and shakes it.

2. Never leave the new kitty and dog unsupervised: A dog can kill a cat very quickly. Even if you think your dog LOVES cats, be very cautious about leaving them alone together. ALWAYS give your new Kitty an escape route, something high to jump up on or a small cat door that he/she can run into (and dog can’t) to hide in safe area.

A Primer on New Cat and Dog Introductions

First!: Give new kitty a “safe” space of her own. A small room is preferable, perhaps a half bath or even a seldom-used closet. Place kitty’s box, food, a scratching post, a comfy bed and blanket in her room. Give new kitty a chance to “decompress” in this setting for a few days before making introductions.

Second!: Give new kitty a chance to explore the home (with Fido out of the way). Start with one room first and gradually expand this to other areas of the home. Give her a scratching post in one of the primary rooms of your home (living room, family room, etc.). The scratching post will help trim her claws while releasing pheromones from her paw pads. These pheromone scents will provide her tranquility.

Third!: Give Fido a blanket to sleep on and in a few days swap out the blankets between the two. That is, give Fido new kitty’s blanket and give new kitty Fido’s blanket. The idea behind this is to co-mingle their scents. Scents that are familiar are far less threatening. Continue swapping the unwashed blankets back and forth over this crucial introductory phase. 

Fourth!: Purchase these items to help the meeting go smoother between the two: calming collars or sprays. A specifically designed gate with an opening for cat to go through (to prevent Fido from following new kitty into her “safe” area).

Fifth!: Set up a supervised meeting between Fido and new kitty.

Let Kitty approach Fido on her own.

1. Select an area of the home where both new kitty and Fido are familiar.

2. Place a leash on Fido.

3. Do not use a leash or harness on the kitty — or anything else (such as a crate or carrier) that will cause the new kitty to feel trapped.

4. Have another member of the family or a friend hold Fido’s leash.

5. Bring Fido in first, then new kitty. (Place them far enough apart so they will feel comfortable.)

6. Allow them to set the pace about approaching each other. (Give Fido plenty of treats and praise for good behavior. If Fido knows basic obedience place him in a sit or down position.)

7. Let new kitty approach Fido if she wants to but don’t force her.

8. Keep this meeting short! After a few minutes put Fido away.

9. Let new kitty continue sniffing the area where Fido has been. Put new kitty away.

10. Bring Fido back into the room and allow him to sniff the area where new kitty has been.

11. Repeat this several times a day for a week (perhaps longer) or until the new kitty approaches Fido on her own.

12. Once they have touched noses, sniffed each other without incidence you can begin increasing their time together. Repeat these short visits until both Fido and new Kitty are comfortable with each other. Continue to keep a leash on Fido while they are in the same room together until you are certain they are comfortable with each others company. Always keep them separated when no one is home to supervise their interactions. 


A few suggestions: Separate an area for new kitty for her litter box and food. Fido will often indulge in eating kitty’s food and the litter box is a huge temptation for Fido. Place kitty’s food up on a high counter. Place litter box in a room with a propped open door (or better yet purchase a specifically designed gate that gives her access but keeps Fido out).


Gate with separate “cat” door keeps Fido out of kitty’s safe room.

Calming Collars Dogs

Calming collars can help introductions.

Calmming Collars Cats

Crate Training your Dog

Crate Training your Dog

Crate train at an early age

Crate Training Your Dog

With proper introductions and training your dog can learn to accept the crate as a safe place

Why Should You Crate Train?

Crate training is necessary for many reasons. It limits the dog’s access to areas of the home until she learns the rules. It prevents her from chewing up your furniture or eliminating inside the home. It keeps her safe while you are absent. With the proper introduction and training your dog will accept the crate as a safe place. Please keep in mind that the crate is not a place of punishment or extended confinement. Crate training is an intermediate phase for a dog. In other words, once the dog has reached maturity and is completely house trained, past the puppy chewing phase and fully trust worthy in the home the crate will be phased out completely.

What Type of Crate Should You Use?

By far the best type of crate is the wire type. Plastic and fabric crates can be chewed through. Choose a crate large enough for the dog to stand up and turn around in. In addition to the crate, purchase spill proof bowls that can attach to the crate (for later). Once your dog is acclimated to the crate these bowls will provide fresh water or food during your absence.


The Crate Training Process

The length of time to acclimate your dog to the crate can be as short as a few days or as long as a few months. A lot depends on your dog’s previous experiences with being confined in a small space. Puppies are generally easy to crate train, mainly because they haven’t developed issues with small spaces. This is why it’s advisable to crate a puppy from an early age to acclimate them to the crate. Adult dogs can be more of a challenge. For this reason, the training process listed in this article will be focused on adult dogs or puppies over the age of 5 months, not young puppies.

Texas Animal Guardians receives a number of adult dogs and puppies from a variety of backgrounds into its adoption program. The first step towards helping them transition from the shelter to a home is crate training. Many dogs develop phobias surrounding confinement and being shut up inside a shelter doesn’t help. Humans react the same way to being locked up. It really isn’t pleasant to be confined in a small space with no escape route. Not to mention there is no outside stimulation or companionship. This is why the crate must only be used as a temporary tool during a dog’s adjustment phase when entering a new home.

First, set the crate up and place it in an area of the home where the dog can see you and/or other family members. The last thing you want to do is make him feel isolated. Next, secure the crate door into an open position with a bungee cord or some other fastener to prevent it from accidentally closing. You don’t want him to get freaked out by a crate door closing on him. Then put some favorite toys and a chew bone inside the crate.

Introducing your dog to the crate

Hopefully you have already the article Helping your Rescue Dog Bond and Adjust — if not please do. This process is a reward-based one. It involves lots of praise and treats. The same applies to crate training. In the case of an extremely fearful dog, just take your time. Place all feeding bowls by the crate, not inside. Initially, every feeding will occur outside the crate, but next to the crate’s door. You will place yummy treats inside the crate. When he enters the crate to grab a treat, praise him. Always sit nearby while your dog is becoming acquainted with the crate.

Feeding your dog meals in the crate

As your dog’s comfort level increases, slowly begin trying to feed him inside the crate. Place the food bowl and his water bowl at the front of the crate first. Gradually begin to place the bowls further and further towards the back of the crate.

Once your dog has adjusted to receiving feedings and treats inside the crate, begin closing the crate door while he eats. Do NOT leave him. Stay with him and immediately open the door again, give him a treat inside the crate and using your “happy” voice praise him. Continue doing this over and over again (as many times as possible each day) for the next few days until he becomes comfortable being in the crate with door closed.

Confining your dog inside the crate 

At this point the next phase will begin. This phase involves leaving him for short periods of time. Feed him inside the crate, put a nice chewy toy in it. When you place the treat or food inside the crate use a voice command such as “kennel up” for him to associate with the action. Close the door and leave the area for a few minutes and return. Open the door and praise him in your happy voice and let him back out. Continue this exercise several times a day, over the next few days. You can repeat this exercise by using treats, a filled chewy toy or a new toy — anything to distract him (see note below). Always use the same voice command each time. Gradually increase the length of time you leave him. Always return with treats and praise.

IF he starts to cry or howl DO NOT enter the room. Instead wait until he subsides (even if it’s just a momentary stop) and then enter the crate area. Regardless of his behavior always praise and treat. (Note: If he does whining to be let out you might have increased the length of time inside the crate too quickly.)

Confining for longer periods of time

After your dog is comfortable being left in the crate for about 30 minutes without developing anxiety, you can being to crate him for short periods while you leave the house. Put him in the crate using the voice command, such as “kennel up”. Place treats and toys in the crate for him. Keep departures and arrivals low key. Be matter of fact about it. Continue to crate him for short periods of time while you are home. Vary your patterns for getting ready to leave by placing him in the crate 5 to 10 minutes prior to leaving. This period of conditioning can take a few days or a few weeks.

A word about chew toys

It’s always a good idea to give your dog some type of safe chewy toy to keep him occupied inside the crate during this time. Kong makes a good one that you can fill with all kinds of yummy stuff such as peanut butter, cream cheese or even ground style dog food. You can place the stuffed Kong in the freezer and it’ll give him something to occupy his mind with when you leave the room.

 Potential problems

Please keep in mind that the kennel is not a place of punishment or extended confinement. A dog or puppy should not be crated for long periods of time. A long period of time would be considered anything over 6 hours. If you work and you MUST crate your puppy or young dog for extended periods then please arrange for a neighbor, a friend or a relative to let the puppy out of the crate to exercise and go to the bathroom. A young puppy does not have the ability to hold its bladder or bowel movement. It adds extra stress to the puppy when it messes in its sleeping and eating area. (Please see our potty training section for more information on this subject.)

The crate IS NOT a cure for separation anxiety! Any dog that exhibits this type of behavior will need further counter-conditioning. An anxious dog can and will injure itself by trying to claw its way out of the crate, chew through the metal (and break a tooth) or panic to the point of salivating.

DO NOT confine your dog or puppy for over 6 hours in a 24-hour period of time. Confinement in a small space for extended periods of time is not natural, normal or desirable for a dog or, for that matter, a human. Consider what the consequences are: neurotic behavior, anxiety, space sharing issues and aggression. If you are tempted to crate a dog for extended periods of time you could actually create aggressive behavior in your dog. The dog will view the crate as its domain and react aggressively towards anyone approaching it. A crate confined dog will develop resource guarding behavior and it will not be well socialized. 



Potty Train a Puppy Fast!

Potty Train a Puppy Fast!

Here’s an easy trick to potty train your puppy fast.

You can potty train your puppy quickly using this method.

potty train your puppy fast Potty training your puppy relies on an easy trick. All you need to do is mimic what a mother dog would do. But first, let’s clarify what potty training a puppy really means. So, the first question would be: Is it possible to potty train a young puppy? Yes, in a way, and no in another way. The “no” portion of this statement is due to physiological barriers. It’s impossible for a puppy under the age of 14 weeks to hold its bladder for 3 to 4 hours. The muscles of the bladder are not developed enough at this age so you can’t expect her to hold it all day or even for 4 hours. Besides, it’s not normal or natural for them. The “yes” portion of this statement is easy. Regardless of how young a puppy is she will “get” the idea of the appropriate elimination area very quickly.

When you embark on the puppy potty training adventure, keep in mind that what you are ultimately trying to accomplish is teaching the puppy where to potty. Your puppy will pick up on this real quickly as long as you follow the easy-to-follow potty training tricks listed here. What you can expect to learn from this article is how to teach your puppy where to potty. And, that’s what potty training it is all about: teaching your puppy where she is allowed to “go”. The attached guide “How to Potty Train your Puppy in 14 Days!” will provide you with a step-by-step guide on potty training your puppy and help you through this process. This potty training guide was developed and written by an experienced puppy foster who has house broken hundreds of puppies before placing them into homes using this exact method. But before you jump into it please read this introduction article. It will give you the exact tricks needed and these aren’t mentioned directly in the guide.

potty train your puppy fastThe first trick to teaching your new fur baby about proper house rules and potty training is to show them. Dog’s learn by actions and watching others. That’s what momma dog does. She teaches her little ones where the bathroom area is by leading them away from the sleeping area to a potty spot where she squats down and urinates. Each puppy in turn repeats momma’s action. By doing this she essentially potty trains them. You are going to do the same. Of course, you can’t actually squat down and urinate but you CAN lead the puppy to the appropriate potty area. Like momma dog you are going to choose a potty zone. Make certain that this potty spot is a safe place, in a secure area (preferably a fenced backyard), away from a busy street and free from distractions (puppies have about a one second attention span).

The second trick, choose a door in your home to access this area. Use this door consistently EVERY time you take her out to potty. Take her to that same outside area EVERY each time. Think of it like this: Do you need to go hunting and searching for your bathroom door? No, you know exactly where it is. What if someone moved the door or bathroom every time you needed to “go”? It would be confusing, right? Well, it’s the same with the puppy. That’s why you must decide which door to use and which area to use as the potty area. (Make certain that every member of the family knows.) Then use that door all the time. Not some of the time, but ALL the time. Use that same potty area ALL the time, not some of the time.

potty train your puppy fastThe next trick involves speech. We have a language, dogs do too. Their language is primarily body language with vocal cues. Puppies understand a lot more than you give them credit for. They are equipped from birth to learn quickly, their survival depends on it. Your puppy will pick up on the word/action association. Therefore, you are going to give puppy her first English lesson. Each time you bring the puppy through that door you will say the word “outside”. No exceptions. This is IMPORTANT. The puppy will learn what the word OUTSIDE means.

Note: A young puppy might need to be carried from the crate to this outside area because the moment you open the crate door, she will squat and pee. If you pick up the pup, you’ll avoid this. Gradually the need to pick her up and carry her will decrease. Regardless of whether or not you need to carry the puppy or the puppy can walk on a leash to the door you will need to say “outside” each time you go through the door.

Next, show the puppy where to go outside. The outside potty area must be established. Place the puppy down and say “potty”. STAY there until the puppy goes. The moment she squats to urinate or she has a bowel moment praise her. In your “happy” voice say “GOOD POTTY!” Give her a chance to urinate AND have a bowel moment. But don’t stay outside too long. The moment she has finished going potty bring her inside.  As you bring her through the door you will say the word “inside”. No exceptions. This is IMPORTANT. 

Soon your puppy will understand what’s expected from her when you bring her to the potty area. She’ll look at you when you praise her. She might even begin to do a “fake” potty and look to see what you do. She’s testing to see if this is the action that wins your approval. By all means, praise her! This means she’s “getting” it.

potty train your puppy fastDuring the potty training phase do not bring her to the potty zone for any other reason except to potty. This is IMPORTANT. You want to establish that the OUTSIDE is to potty in AND the inside is to eat, sleep and play in. You will not be using the outside for any other reason except to potty in. No playing outside with the puppy, no leaving the puppy outside unattended. Why? The key to this system is to teach the puppy the difference between the outside and the inside. She’s smart. She’ll get it! Inside is NOT potty. Outside IS potty. Repetition. Repetition.

Please download the FREE Potty Train your Puppy in 14 Days! guide and all the best to you and your new puppy.


Copyright  © 2015 by Texas Animal Guardians, all rights reserved

If this FREE book has helped you please consider a small donation. Many of the animals received into our adoption program need expensive medical care. Your tax deductible contribution helps pay for this. Won’t you please consider a small donation to help needy animals get well? This gives them a chance at adoption and a new life. Thank you in advance!






Help Your Rescue Dog Bond and Adjust

Help Your Rescue Dog Bond and Adjust

Help your rescue dog adjust to your home and lifestyle

A Few Tips to Help Your Rescue Dog Bond and Adjust


October is National Adopt-a-Shelter Dog Month — Here are a few Tips to Help that Rescue Dog Adjust to his New Life!

It’s October and National Adopt-a-Shelter Dog Month and you’ve taken the plunge to adopt a rescue dog. Congratulations! You will be rewarded with a lifetime of friendship and love. You are eager to get the “baby” home. And you are probably wondering how to help your new family member adjust and transition from the shelter environment (or foster home) to your home. Let’s face it, a shelter dog doesn’t come with a whole lot of background information. Except for an estimated age and possible breed there’s very little to go on. If the dog has been in foster care there’s a bit more available, such as personality and behavior traits. Right now you just want to help him adjust and bond with you. Here are a few tips to help your rescue dog adjust to his new family and home.

The primary key to helping your new dog adjust to your family and home is patience. Try not to have any false expectations. Your new friend is probably feeling slightly disoriented: new sights, sounds, smells. Not to mention new people! Give it time. Your companion’s cortisol levels (stress hormones) are elevated right now and they will stay up for about 7 to 10 days. During this “adjustment” period your new dog might experience a variety of emotions (stress can do that to humans too). He may sleep a lot, he might become hyperactive, he might whine, he might chew, and he might appear overly anxious and nervous. This is all normal. So please do not worry. Try not to rush the relationship. Keep in mind that all relationships are built on trust, including the canine/human bond.

After about 7 to 10 days his true personality will begin to emerge. He’s going to feel much more comfortable in this new environment once he knows he can trust you. Building trust means establishing a bond. That bond will help him adjust to his new home. To adjust quickly and bond completely with you (and your family) it’s important to gain his trust. The best method to do this is to hand feed him. Instead of plopping the food bowl down in front of him, feed him a mouthful of food at a time from your hand. While you feed him speak softly to him. Food stimulates the pleasure center of the brain and he will quickly begin to associate your voice and your smell with pleasant things. Do this for the first week that he is with you, at each feeding (if possible). Repeat a few times a week after that until he gets the idea that all good things come from you!

There’s an old Rodgers and Hammerstein song that goes like this, “getting to know you, getting to know all about you” and that’s exactly what the two of you will initially be doing. Make the time to get to know each other by taking nice walks together and engaging in fun activities such as playtime. This is particularly important If you have adopted a high-energy dog or a puppy. If that’s the case plan on getting in a few games of fetch or other form of play each day.  Play and walking are important forms of bonding behavior. These activities will accelerate the pup’s ability to adjust in a positive manner to his new home and family. Keep in mind that your current pets (and perhaps human family members) may feel slightly neglected with all the attention the newbie is receiving. So please don’t neglect them! In fact, including them in these activities is a great way for the whole family to become involved.

Adjusting to a new environment also hinges on a routine. The pup’s ability to know what is expected provides him with a sense of comfort. He wants to please. He wants to know what’s going to happen next. Establish a routine as quickly as possible, setting house rules that your dog or puppy can understand. Arrange with other members of the family what these rules are so there is a consistency in the daily schedule and the rules. Determine who will feed the dog, who will walk the dog, and if Newbie is allowed on the couch, or in the bed at night. If he is to sleep in another area, then where will this area be? Most important establish what areas are off-limits.

Every canine likes order. They want to know that you are the “parent.” This actually takes a tremendous burden off the dog because he can relax while you make all the decisions. Let your new pet know from the start that you are the leader. Establish leadership in a variety of ways, but first and foremost have him earn what he gets. No freebies! Have him sit before he goes for a walk; sit before playtime; and sit for treats. Help him understand that you direct the show. Always praise good behavior, never withhold love, never scold. Redirect bad behavior with a toy or some other activity.

Most important, enroll your new dog in an obedience class as soon as you can!  A well-mannered dog is a joy to be with!


A well mannered dog is a joy to be with










Copyright  © 2015 by Texas Animal Guardians, all rights reserved

New Dog Introductions

New Dog Introductions


Question: Doctor Mark, what’s the best way to bring a new dog into the family?

Answer: Getting a new dog is an exciting time for the family. However, too much excitement can create issues with new dog introductions. Be aware of what you are doing and saying and try to remain calm. You should set aside ample time for the initial introduction. Do not rush! Set aside the entire day if you have to. It is best to have two people involved.

Dr. Mark Nunez, DVM

It would be preferable to get both dogs used to a Gentle Leader face harness before the new dog introduction. This training tool gives you much better control over the muzzle of your dog. It makes it easy to guide your dogs gaze either towards you, or away from an over stimulating situation.

The very first thing that should be done is to have both dogs adequately exercised. A vigorous walk (at least an hour) and playtime are a must. Running around in the backyard does not count. Your dog will be much calmer once it has released excess energy.

The introduction should take place on neutral ground. Never just bring a new dog directly into the territory of another. Doing this can decrease the chance of the residence dog accepting the new comer. Have both dogs on a leash and have them meet on a walk. Have treats handy to reward your dog for good behavior. Watch your body language. If you are anticipating problems, or are nervous about the introduction, your dog will pick up on that and it will affect his behavior. Do not start to wind the leash up in your hand and place tension on the leash. Tension on the leash will create tension in your dog. Try to remain relaxed.

Start on opposite sides of the street, on the sidewalk. If/when there is no reaction by either dog, reward the good behavior and start to close the gap, IE move one or both dogs from the sidewalk onto the street. Don’t get too close too fast. Close the gap slowly and reward non-reaction. If your dog reacts negatively, go back to the distance at which there was no reaction. DO NOT tell your dog that it is “good” or “it’s okay” and pet him if he is barking, lunging, or otherwise showing aggression or nervous/anxious behavior. This will only serve to reinforce the state of mind that the dog is in at the moment, essentially telling him that you want him to react this way.

Once you are able to have them walking together, keep them walking together for about 20-30 minutes and head back home. Once home, head straight to the back yard and drop the leashes. Leave them attached in the beginning just in case you need to separate them. Watch for pushy behavior, such as nose-to-nose greetings with a stiff body posture. This can be a challenge and lead to a problem if one dog decides not to back down. A nose-to-butt greeting is much more appropriate. Don’t forget to reward good behavior. Once things are settled in the yard, move indoors.

Expect a period of adjustment and transition. Some dogs will readily accept others. Some may just avoid any interaction. If the latter is the case, do not force the issue. Avoidance is a better outcome than a fight. The dogs may bond, but they may also just sort of tolerate each other’s presence. Let them decide how intimate the relationship is going to be. Do not project how you think things should be.

If one, or both of the dogs, seems nervous about the situation, do not give in to attention seeking (barking, pawing, jumping up on you, etc.). Reaching to him, even looking at him, at this time will only serve to reinforce his anxious state of mind. Ignore that behavior and give attention to him when he stops.

Even if the introduction goes well, the new friends should be kept separated when not supervised. The original dog should be given access to all the areas of the house that it had previously. The new comer should have access restricted at first. It is important that the new comer is not placed in a highly valued area, IE bedrooms and the area your dog chooses to stay when he is alone.

Be on the lookout for subtle behaviors that may indicate things aren’t going well. These behaviors include piloerection (hair lifting on the scruff, neck, or back), staring, snarling, stalking, side-by-side posturing with growling or lip lifting, and pinning the other dog by grabbing his neck. If these happen it is best to separate them. Having them on leash with a Gentle Leader make separating them easy.

NEVER PUT YOUR HANDS OR OTHER BODY PARTS BETWEEN THE DOGS. If you can identify the aggressor, banish that dog to neutral turf. If you cannot identify the aggressor, all dogs get banished to neutral turf. If there is any question as to whether aggression will be an issue, use a muzzle (either fabric or basket).

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Mark J. Nunez, DVM
The Balanced Canine
Westbury, NY 11590
(516) 414-2084