I've brought in a lot of dogs over the years, and that experience has helped me to refine some techniques. First, before going to get the new dog, I will crate my other dogs in a separate room. Then, when I drive home with a new foster dog, I first take it immediately on leash from the car to the exact spot in the yard where I will want it to urinate and defecate. That will be the dog's *spot.* We amble about the yard together for a few moments, before I bring the dog indoors. I take it immediately to my office, where I have a dog crate and a raised canteen doggy diner, with food and water bowls, as well as a couple of chew toys. I close the door to the office and stay there with the new foster dog for a while. Gradually I open the door to the dog crate and encourage the foster dog to go inside the crate. If it's able to settle, then I leave the room briefly. At that time, I go to take my other dogs out of their crates and let them out into the fenced yard for a while. I immediately return to the foster dog, and let it out of its crate in my office to just wander around the room, hand it a dog cookie to chew, while I read or work at the computer.
In about fifteen minutes, I take the foster dog outside again on leash to its spot. Over the next several days, I play "musical dogs," letting some out and some in, but keeping every dog away from the foster dog. While the other dogs are outside in the fenced yard, I bring the foster dog into the kitchen with me or into the family room for a few moments, before returning with it to the office. This will be the room where the foster dog eats and sleeps for many, many weeks. It will be a safety zone. No other dogs permitted here. Now in only a few days, my resident dogs will become accustomed to the fact that a new dog is here. They will smell the scent from its footfalls on the carpet and in the yard. The foster dog will learned that other dogs live here, too. And it will *learn* who they are, from the scents of their individual footfalls on the carpet and in the yard. Do you know what happens when a dog learns to recognize the scent of another dog? It seems to identify the other (new) dog as "not a stranger." By about day four, I let my other resident dogs out into the fenced yard to romp. Then I take the foster dog on leash out of the house by another door, just to amble with me in the yard outside of the fenced dog yard. We walk on by the fenced enclosure, say at a distance of ten feet or so. All the other dogs are eager to see the new one, but we just walk on by and enjoy a stroll on our own. There may be one or two happy barks, "Hey, hello there, dog!," but no terrified or aggressive displays at the fence, simply curiosity. I learned this technique of slow introduction many years ago. I refined it a bit when I took in a foster dog who was recovering from illness. I tried this slow introduction to keep the stress levels down for each dog, the new one and my resident dogs. You can do that, too. Give each dog a safe place to sleep, preferably in secure dog crates in separate rooms from each other. Feed them in separate rooms, too, for quite a long, long while -- many months. By your careful management, your resident dog will learn that he has no need to compete for scarce resources (food, family, toys, space). Then he will be less likely to become overprotective of these resources. Shortly thereafter, the owner's job becomes one of helping the resident dog(s) form a positive mental association with the new dog. I realize that you don't expect immediate mannerly behavior. But just as soon as they are becoming civil to one another, you can start doling out the treats to each, doling out the toys to each (many more treats and toys than dogs). Keep the atmosphere jolly, happy, relaxed and calm when you do this. Each dog will learn that you are in charge of the resources, and that you're inviting them to participate. They'll take their emotional cues from you. Keep these first few *together* moments very brief, say two or three times a day for five minutes. Over the next weeks, increase these together times to ten to fifteen minutes each time. Gradually then you may start to take walks on lead together in the yard.
Get a local dog trainer to assist your effort, one who will involve the entire family in the instructions. After you read the messages on this list* for a while, you'll realize that we recommend dog trainers who have experience in motivational, lure-reward or clicker training methods. How can you tell? Ask, when you make phone inquiries. Ask if they can help you learn how to use food treats for training and no choke chain collars. A good place to begin to find a dog trainer is to inquire at your veterinary clinic. I hope you'll both stay with the list, and read the other messages, too. You'll learn a lot here about how dogs interact with one another.
Copyright, February 2001.
Barbara D. Brill
President, Collie Humane Care, Inc.
P. O. Box 234,
Dundee, NY 14837
No further reproduction is permitted without express written consent.
*The list that Barbara is referring to is the Aggressive Behavior in Dog list, an excellent resource: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/agbeh/