The Irish Blue Cross,
© The Irish Blue
A NEW DOG IN THE FAMILY
Introduction to children, other dogs and cats in the family.
First impressions do count and how you make introductions will set the scene for future interactions.
Even if your dog has been used to children in the past,
he will not be used to yours and will need time to get to know them. Prevent
your dog from feeling overwhelmed at first by insisting that he be allowed
to approach the children rather than the other way around. This will prevent
the dog from feeling threatened and he is less likely to snap in self-defence.
Dogs are not primates like us and do not always appreciate being hugged or cuddled unless they have been familiarised with it from an early age. It is a great temptation for children to do this, especially if they have been to doing it to a previous dog. You will need to slowly find out what your dog will accept from the children, supervising them constantly to ensure that no unacceptable behaviour occurs on either side.
Even if your new dog lived with a cat in its previous house, he will not know your cat. If they are to become friends, it is essential that the dog be not allowed to frighten your cat. This means having the dog on a lead and under control when they are introduced. Let the cat have the freedom to get out of the way or approach if it wishes. Your cat will probably need time to assess the dog before it gets brave enough to approach and make friends. For this reason you will need to supervise all their encounters for a number of weeks to ensure a successful outcome. Keep the dog on a lead whenever the cat is present for a while if necessary. DO NOT allow the dog to give chase at any time since this will upset the relationship and it will be much longer before they become used to each other. Your cat will get to know the dog in its own way. This can sometimes take months, but you will do more harm than good by attempting to speed up the process. Care should be taken not to leave them alone together until it is obvious that they have become friends.
It is best to introduce dogs on neutral territory
so take both dogs out for a long walk together. The interest of the walk
will make the introduction less intense and they can get to know each
other as they walk. If you need to use a car to take them home keep them
separate until you arrive home. When you arrive home, take them into the
garden, allowing the new dog to go in first and let them run around together
for a few minutes. Before allowing them into the house remove anything
that they are likely to fight over, such as toys, bones, beds, bowls etc.
Allow the new dog to go in first ahead of the existing dog. (Once your
new dog has been introduced, it should be your existing dog that goes
through doorways first. However, for the first day only, allow the new
dog in first so that your existing dog does not stand on either side of
the door and prevent the new dog from entering.) Attention from members
of the family may also be a resource to fight over, so ignore both dogs
initially until they have settled down. Try to ignore any small disagreements,
but if you see both dogs stiffening up and staring at each other try to
distract them by pretending something more interesting is going on elsewhere.
If they look, as though there will be a fight, attach sort leads to both
collars so you can use these to break up an incident. Or try a sudden
surprise like a bucket of water thrown on them and isolate them from each
other until they have calmed down. Try to avoid situations, which may
cause aggravations between the two. i.e. feed them apart. Care should
be taken not to leave them alone together until it is obvious that they
have become friends.