The Irish Blue Cross, 
15A Goldenbridge Ind Est,
Tyrconnell Road,
Dublin 8.
Tel: 01 416 3030
Fax: 01 416 3035

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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.
Children can encourage the dog to come to them by sitting down and offering a titbit or a game with a toy. (They will need to wash their hands afterwards). Ask them not to stare at the dog, which can be threatening. If he goes to them they can stroke and fuss as much as they like. Ask them to stroke him under his chin to start with rather than patting him on the head. Remember that a dog at face level with young children may seem huge in the eyes of the child and quite frightening so be prepared to move the dog away if the child becomes overwhelmed of if the dog is about to jump.

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.

Other Dogs in the family

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.


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