Posts Tagged With: Bonding

I is for Introductions

IAny time you welcome a new pet into your home, you’ll want to take time to properly introduce them to any other pets in the home as well as to learn the best ways to introduce the new pet to people. You probably wouldn’t feel very comfortable having a total stranger stay the night in your house, right? That’s how your existing pets will feel if you force them together before they have a chance to get to know each other.

Believe it or not, Tessa and Charlie didn’t get along all the time when we first got Tessa. Granted, some of that was hormonal, because Tessa was pregnant at the time (unbeknownst to us at first). Hormonal surges in pregnant dogs can lead to some aggressive outbursts periodically. If you happen to adopt or foster a pregnant dog, be very careful to supervise interactions with any other animals in the house, and be aware that even the gentlest mama dog can lash out at humans or other animals when pregnancy brain kicks in. She’ll get back to normal after the pups are weaned, honest!

It’s best to make first introductions on neutral space. If you’re adopting an animal from a shelter, ask if you can bring your existing pet there for supervised introductions. If this isn’t possible, try introducing the animals to each other in a yard or at a park, while both are on leash. Without making a fuss, have the dogs pass each other on leash, without stopping walking. Correct any lunges or aggressive posturing immediately, and only try another pass if both dogs are calm. If they can pass each other well, have them approach each other slowly and allow them to sniff each other.

Try to keep out of this process as much as possible, but do correct them if they show undesired behavior. Sniffing, licking, and yes, mounting each other is normal dog behavior. Growling or snapping is not. When you’re satisfied that the introductions are going well, take the dogs on a long walk together. Joint walks are a great way to help dogs bond with each other and see each other as part of the same “pack”.

Don’t rush these introductions. Be sure to supervise all interactions between the animals for at least the first few weeks. Make sure to give each dog some separate play time and training time with you during this transition phase, both to offer reassurance and to make sure that they both still see you as top of the pecking order. And try not to overwhelm your new pet by introducing them to lots of people right away. One-on-one interactions are best, especially with an animal that might be fearful of strangers. Always have a kennel or room ready as a safe haven for your dog should they get overwhelmed.

With patience, most dogs adapt very well to their new environments. Taking time to allow all the animals in the family to work out their place within the “pack” will make for a much happier group in the long run. Tessa and Charlie are now utterly bonded to each other, and spend most of their time cuddled up, despite having had a rough start. Ginny hadn’t been socialized much at all before we got her, and now she loves to play with the other dogs, especially Tonks. It took work, of course, but the happiness of our pets is worth it!

Categories: Adoption | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

G is for Ginny

A-to-Z Blogging Challenge 2015--GNearly a year ago, I was volunteering at a 5k to benefit our shelter, Unleashed. It was a dreary morning, pouring rain, and I was exhausted from setting up tables, filling and handing out race packets, and hauling donations for the silent auction while soaked from the torrential downpour. All I wanted was to go home, dry off, and get warm.

Then I got a text from Josh. He was working at the shelter at the time, and sent me a photo of a scruffy-looking corgi. The text that followed was a sarcastic, “I can adopt her, right?” I think I surprised him when I said I’d think about it. But as soon as the race was over, I volunteered to take supplies back to the shelter so I could meet this lovely girl.

Josh has wanted a corgi for as long as I’ve known him. So it would be up to me to be the voice of reason if ever there was going to be one in our house. When I got to Unleashed, Josh had me go in one of the adoption rooms, and brought “Natalie Cook” (named after one of Charlie’s Angels, hilariously enough) into the room.

Her coat was in rough shape, matted and shedding like mad. She seemed a little over-excited, but ran right up to me and leaned her head on my knee. As I petted her, whole handfuls of fur fell out. I asked Josh to find a brush for me, and proceeded to spend nearly an hour and a half brushing her and playing with her. I filled an office wastebasket with the fur that she shed. It didn’t seem possible so much fur had come off of one dog. Josh had left me in the room since he was working, and every time he would walk by the door or he talked outside, “Natalie” would run over to the door and paw at it, looking back at me with the cheeky corgi grin.

At some point during this time, Josh told his co-workers to mark her as unavailable. We took her into foster that day, and officially adopted her at the end of August 2014. We named her Ginny, after Ginny Weasley from the Harry Potter books–because with all that red hair, she must be a Weasley!

Ginny’s journey with us has been a challenging one. She was heartworm positive, had not been well socialized with other dogs, and was frightened of fairly common household sounds. It’s taken a lot of time, patience, and just plain work to integrate her into our little pack. And it’s been worth every bit of it. We’ll share more of her story throughout the remaining A-to-Z posts, but for now, just enjoy some pictures of our quirky girl…

Ginny photo collage

Categories: Adoption | Tags: , , , , | 14 Comments

B is for Bonding with Your New Pet

BAdopting a new pet is exciting. You can’t wait to take your newest family member home. But what happens if things don’t go quite that smoothly once you get home?

It’s normal for a dog to have an adjustment period when arriving in a new home. Even dogs who are already housebroken may have accidents in the house. Your dog may act scared of its new surroundings, or overly excited at meeting new people. This transition period may be longer if you have existing pets at home. (I’ll have another post later in the month on introductions.)

One of the best ways to help your dog bond with you is to spend plenty of active one-on-one time with them. The most basic way to create a bond is to take your dog on walks. Go far enough so the dog gets tired, and try to keep them moving rather than stopping every three feet to mark or sniff. This helps build discipline, while still letting your dog get to know the neighborhood. Tessa was fairly unsure when we brought her home, but she really started coming out of her shell when we would take her for walks. She would constantly look up at us with the most adoring look you ever saw.

Charlie loves his fox!

Charlie loves his fox!

Play time at home is crucial, too. Find a toy that they really like and they will get excited to play with you. Charlie had one of the toy foxes without stuffing, Tessa and Tonks love any sort of ball, and Ginny adores soccer balls (especially these stuffed ones from IKEA). Remember: a tired dog is less likely to get into trouble around the house!

Of course, most dogs will bond well with anyone who feeds them. Reward them with healthy treats for good behavior. We like the little training treats that are just a few calories each. Make a game of it. Engage their minds as well as their playful nature. If your dog has had a few too many treats prior to entering your home, you can always just use bits of their dry food to entice them.

Showing your new best friend lots of affection and patience will go a long way toward making them part of the family. Do you have stories of dogs who took a bit of TLC? Share them in the comments! I look forward to hearing about your fur babies!

Categories: Play | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

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