Managing Leashed Dog While Off-Leash Dogs Want to Visit

Dear Inquisitive Canine,

How do I handle the situation when I am walking my boxer on her leash and we are confronted by an off leash dog or two? It happens a lot in my neighborhood and my former street dog (she was rescued from a neglectful life of living on the streets of East Dallas) goes crazy and barks and lunges at the dogs. I have worked with her so she no longer lunges at dogs behind fences but she continues to go crazy at the off leash roamers.

Ellen G.

Dear Ellen,

Thank you for writing in! We appreciate questions such as these, since there are many in your walking shoes experiencing the same situation. The following are a few quick tips you can use to help with enjoying your leash-walks.

Poncho and Ferris Out for Walkies

Interrupt and redirect! It sounds as if you’re already initiating this dog training maneuver when encountering dogs behind fences – now you can take it a step further. An easy and fun game you can play is “Find it! All you have to do is say “find it” when she alerts to another dog, then toss a small treat on the ground in the direction you want your dog do walk. The intention of the game is to redirect her attention elsewhere while making it fun and rewarding – more than barking and lunging at the other dogs. (Using a treat she’d do backflips over would make an even bigger impact!) With proper timing and consistency she should begin to create an association of “other dogs” = “fun”! You’ll know she’s understanding the game when she sees another dog and then looks at you almost as if asking “Are we going to play now?”

If your inquisitive canine is more of an obedience expert, you can play the same game, but in leu of playing “find it”, you can run through her gamut of “tricks”. The principle is the same in that every time another dog appears life gets better for her!

Keep it loosey-goosey! Leashes can be restrictive when dogs are trying to communicate with others – dogs and people. However, they’re important when in areas he or she can run off and get hurt or harm something else. Plus, in many areas it’s the law. To allow your dog freedom of speech in her innate language with the other pooch’s, avoid tightening up on the leash. IF (and this is a big IF) it’s safe for her, for the other dog, okay with the other owner (if they’re around), the general public, an

Allow your dog to speak! Our domestic dogs have a language all their own. Allowing your dog the opportunity to speak her mind will help her convey her message to the other dog, and vice-versa. She might be using both her vocal and body language skills. Similar to when any two people are talking, especially in a language we’re not fluent in, it’s best to avoid interrupting. d you’re comfortable with it, drop the leash. Again, this allows her more control over her behavior – which we all want, right?

Learn to “speak dog”! In addition to allowing the dogs to communicate, you’ll want to take a foreign language course in “dog-talk”. This is helpful for watching your own pooch, as well as others you encounter – especially those who are unfamiliar. A dog whose body and face is relaxed and loose, tail wiggly-waggy in movement, mouth open with tongue possibly hanging out while walking towards you using a bouncy gait is more likely to be friendly. The complete opposite – body stiff, mouth closed with tense face, stiff gate, head downward but gazing towards you/your dog – is a dog you’d want to question – it doesn’t mean he or she would want to start a fight, but this type of language might be conveying more of a reserved greeting. When in doubt you can use the little trick of taking a handful of treats and tossing them at the other dog while you head off in another direction.

Paws and reflect: Make the experience fun and rewarding, versus stressful, and be prepared for what your plan of action is for those times you see another dog while on walks. Also, remember to allow your dog to speak her mind when other dogs are around.With time, practice and consistency, you can make the experience a walk in the park – or wherever your dogs leash takes you.

Building Trust with Your New Bashful Bow-wow

Dear Inquisitive Canine, 

Shy Puppy in Class

Our new Shih Tzu puppy hides from us, only coming out when no one is around. She also lowers her head when we pet her. I know it takes time, but I’ve heard some dogs will start interacting with their new environment after 1-3 days, and tomorrow will be her third day here. I just want her to be

a happy puppy. What should I do and how should I do it?

Renee T.

Dear Renee,

Poncho here! My certified dog trainer mom thought it best if I take this one. First off, allow me to say “atta girl!” for being inquisitive, aware of your situation and taking the time to ask questions about your new puppy. I’d also like to commend you for being such a keen observer of her body language and your ability to listen to what she’s “saying.”

Once a young pup myself, I can speak firsthand as to how learning to trust new people, places and situations takes time and practice. I’m happy to pass along a few simple dog training tips you can use to help your wallflower fido become the more confident canine you’d like her to be.

Treats, Love and Understanding

Let’s start with a few knowledge nuggets regarding the topic of fear. I’m talking about fear as it relates to her feelings, her emotional state and her ability to make her own decisions.

The primary stage of your dog’s life when she’s most open to new people and situations is 0-3 months — a very narrow window in which sociability wins out over being afraid. If your pup wasn’t introduced to a variety of people and situations during this time, then chances are it’ll be tougher for her to adapt, since the fear response starts to win the race as she ages. However, not all hope is lost. You can certainly teach her anything she is physically and mentally capable of doing, including trusting and enjoying her new life with you and all that’s in it!

Here are a few steps you can take:

  • Keep It Simple. During this crucial teaching time, you’ll want to keep things simple and fun. All you have to do is pair something your bashful bow-wow might be uncertain about with something she already loves! For instance, since we animals must eat, you and others can provide extra-yummy goodies for her, such as pieces of grilled chicken or steak (I love when my mom does that!), allowing her to approach you. If she’s still hesitant, try tossing pieces toward her, building the trail of trust till she is confident enough to approach.
  • Adjust Expectations, Little by Little. Believe me, you’ll want to take baby-steps when working with her. As long as she continues to advance toward you, accepting your kindness and that of strangers, you can keep forging ahead at a slow-and-steady pace. If and when she decides to back off, respect her wishes and allow her to make that choice.
  • The Triple-P of Giving Treats. Once she begins to show signs of confidence, coming toward you and being close to you, begin hand-feeding her. Others in your home can do this as well. As she gets more comfortable, you can begin the Triple-P Treat Training Plan: Pet, praise, then present the treat. Petting should begin with light touches under her chin, working your way around as she gets more comfortable. And — this is really important — all petting should be followed with a yummy nibble of treat goodness. I recommend making the top of her head the last location, since hands reaching over will cause her to pull back.

As for additional situations and locations, repeat the same steps in places you want her to enjoy hanging out. Over time, she should learn to believe that her new world is a fantastic place and her confidence should build, making it easier for her to accept and believe that novelty is the spice of life!

Paws and Reflect

Fearfulness is a normal reaction across many different species. Your pup is responding in a way that is innate — avoiding in order to survive. It can be difficult to not take it personally, but keep in mind that developing a relationship with strangers, especially those of a different species, is more about building trust and not about liking. With a caring dog-mom like you being patient, allowing her to set the pace, giving her control over her environment and being able to make her own decisions, your bashful bow-wow will begin to enjoy her life with you in time and blossom into that self-assured pup you want!


Dear Inquisitive Canine is written by Joan Mayer and her trusty sidekick, Poncho the dog. Joan is a certified professional dog trainer and dog behavior coach. Poncho is a 10-pound mutt who knows a lot about canine and human behavior. Their column is known for its simple, commonsense approach to dog training and behavior, as well as its entertaining insight into implementing proven techniques that reward both owner and dog.

Joan is also the founder of the Inquisitive Canine and developer of the Out of the Box Dog Training Game, where her love-of-dog training approach highlights the importance of understanding canine behavior. If you or your dog have questions about behavior, training or life with each other, please email them directly.

Training Tips for Teaching Your Dog Not to Speak

Dear Poncho,

My dog barks enthusiastically, very loudly, over and over. He does it at many different times, including the morning when I’m taking him outside, when I come home from being away, or when we arrive home together from a car ride. He barks in the car, out of the car, and everywhere between!

I don’t know how to stop him. I tell him “No,” but then he usually barks at least two to four more times!

Do you have any suggestions?
Tj’s owner

Dear inquisitive canine parent of TJ,

Your dog barks, you give him attention by saying “no”, he barks again. Hmm, sounds to me you’ve done a great job at teaching him to “speak” – nice work! I have a feeling that wasn’t your intention though.

TJ sounds like one happy enthusiastic pal. But I totally understand about it being annoying when another living being can’t seem to appreciate the sound of silence. Believe it or not, you’re barking up the right tree. I myself am one inquisitive canine who enjoys his own voice now and again, and I’d be happy to share some of the training tips my own mom uses with me.

Here are the four tenets of my Mutt Model:

Know Your Animal!
Guess what? TJ is a dog! And guess what else? Dogs bark. Yep, that’s what we do. Well, at least most of us. Some more than others of course. And similar to humans talking for a variety of reasons, dogs will bark for a variety of reasons. For instance I’ll bark when:

  • Someones knocks at the front door
  • I’m excited
  • Patrolling the yard
  • I’m wanting attention
  • Annoying diesel trucks drive by (I’m a hybrid fan myself)

And the list goes on….Please remember that barking is a main form of communication for us canines. If you didn’t want to live with an animal that barks…well, then you might want to find a roommate of another species. But you’d probably end up with having to deal with other irritating habits and noises. Plus, I’m sure the love you have for TJ outweighs the annoying barking so we won’t discuss that option.

Whaddya Want?
It’s time to hunker down and figure out exactly what it is you want from TJ. Do you want him to bark only at certain times, such as when someone is at your front door? Do you want TJ to be quiet when he’s in the car, when you come home, and when you take him outside?

Once you have your list compiled, you’ll need to take the time to teach him when and where you want him to be silent. Start small and work your way up. Having realistic expectations will make the process easier on you both.

Reward. Reward. Reward.
Now it’s time to begin acknowledging TJ when he makes the choices you want him to make. For you this means any time he is quiet – especially during the more exciting times. Suppressing enthusiasm can be very difficult for us pooches, so using a reward that is more motivating than the reasons he wants to bark is key.

A few ideas that might work for you specifically are:

  • Practice coming and going in and out of the house and car, with TJ in tow, as well as on your own, rewarding with chin scratches, yummy treats and a “good boy” at those moments when he is quiet. Even if it’s just a brief second while he’s coming up for air is better than nothing. Take what you can get when you can get it.
  • Hang out with TJ in your car while it’s parked at your home. Read a book – or the latest Edhat edition. Then while TJ is just chillaxing, reward him for being quiet. This way he learns that being quiet in the car gets him the attention he wants. If he barks, send him inside and take off in the car on your own.
  • If and when TJ barks for attention – that doesn’t involve having to go outside to potty or a stranger is on the property – ignore it! Walk away if you have to.

Know Yourself:
If you’re having one of those days where you don’t feel like dealing with TJ and his being a chatty-Kathy in the car, then leave him at home. If you’re at your wits end and you don’t feel like training him, then redirect his energy to a different outlet. A scavenger hunt in the yard, play-date with another doggy friend, an outing at the local doggy daycare or date with a dog walker can help give him the attention he wants while expending energy, leaving him relaxed and wanting to rest.

Paws and Reflect
Keep in mind that any type of attention is still attention – even if it’s negative attention. So if you’ve been interacting with TJ whenever he barks, even saying something like “no” will increase the risk of his barking more often.

So instead of focusing in on the negative, concentrate on the behaviors that you want, teach TJ in a way he understands, and reward him heavily for making the better choice.

*****

Poncho Mayer is a 10-pound inquisitive canine who knows a lot about human and canine behavior. He and his mom work together running the family business that services other inquisitive canines. For additional dog training and behavior tips, subscribe to their blog. You can also follow Poncho on Twitter and head over to his Inquisitive Canine Facebook page, “like us” and upload pics of your own inquisitive canine. You can also ask us about dog behavior, just email us directly.

Resolve to Help Keep Dogs in Homes and out of Shelters

Dear Inquisitive Dog Parents,

The new year is officially here. For many, this means creating lists of resolutions with intentions of modifying one’s behavior. In honor of this tradition, my sidekick, Poncho, and I have decided to join in, talking about resolutions to help dogs stay in their homes and out of animal shelters. We encourage you to team up with us and add the dogs of your community — whether your own or someone else’s — to your list of personal achievements.

Solutions Start with Preparation

According to a study conducted by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy on Reasons for Relinquishment of Companion Animals in U.S. Animal Shelters, the top reasons dogs are sent to shelters have to do with living situations, cost, time, owners having personal problems and behavioral concerns of the dogs themselves.

As a certified professional dog trainer, I can attest to this, as I commonly hear similar complaints. As for Poncho, he used to live in a shelter, so he knows firsthand the reasons he and his buddies landed there. Together, he and I have compiled the following tips to help dog lovers everywhere do what they can to reduce the shelter dog population: Continue Reading “Resolve to Help Keep Dogs in Homes and out of Shelters”

Before You Adopt a Dog, Preparing for Your New Pooch

Dear Inquisitive (& Expectant) Dog Guardians,

If you or someone you know intends on spending the pawliday season giving or receiving the gift of a puppy or adult dog, then yippee and woohoo! As a dog mom, I know how meaningful the human-animal bond is. I’m truly thankful each and day for the relationship my sidekick (Poncho) and I have.

Speaking as a certified professional dog trainer, I can attest that being proactive and planning ahead before bringing a new puppy or adult dog (or any pet, for that matter) into your home, can help ease the transition and reduce stress — for everyone, including the dog. So for those who are in pet-parent-to-be mode, we’re here to assist you in making the transition a little easier by providing a few simple tips to help start you out on the right paw.

Planning to Succeed Leads to Success

Health and Wellness:  Similar to human health practices, prevention is key! So we encourage you to schedule a wellness exam for your dog, to be sure he or she has been evaluated, and is receiving all they need to maintain good health. This goes double if you have zero health history about your dog. If you feel your dog doesn’t need a full exam, ask if you can bring your dog in just to say hi, meet the staff and get a treat. This will leave a nice impression the next time your dog has an appointment (FYI, this goes for any dog, not just newbies).

The Right Resources: If you’re in the market for a groomer, dog training services, dog walker, petsitter or daycare facility, you’ll want to start investigating for names and places sooner than later.

For day-to-day needs, look to local pet supply stores, garage sales, thrift stores, friends cleaning out their garages (checking expiration dates on products) and, of course, the Internet. When hiring someone who provides such services, an Internet search, along with word of mouth from friends and neighbors, is a great way to begin your hunt. As for those you’d hire, we feel interviewing two or three is a sensible approach. If possible, have your dog meet each provider as well, since your dog is the one who’ll be spending the most time with the person.

Start with the Basics. There are thousands of pet products on the market nowadays. For sure you’ll need a collar with ID, as well as food, water bowl and leash. Depending where you live, a license might be required as well. Check with your county animal services department. Microchips are optional, but quite handy; ask your vet for information regarding the insertion of a chip. If your dog came with a chip, the facility or person you got your dog from should be able to provide you with what you’ll need in order to update the contact information.

When it comes to toys, beds, treats, and games you can play with your dog, we suggest you test out a few you think your dog might like, at least until you get to know his or her preferences. Then you can go nuts and start spoiling them silly. (Guilty!)

Social Director Extraordinaire: Depending upon the age, breed, temperament, and likes and dislikes of your dog, you’ll want to plan activities that enrich your dog’s life — both physically and mentally. The following is a list of things you can do with your dog (most all are budget-friendly):

  • Neighborhood walks for fun and to show your dog his or her new neighborhood. Until your dog learns to stay with you and has a good recall, staying on leash is highly recommended. (Plus, it might be the law). Bring along treats to reward behaviors you like, and when introducing your dog to new people and other dogs.
  • Field trips to places you frequent. Many dogs love car rides and running errands. Make sure your dog is kept safe while going for rides. Seat belts and car seats are easy to find, inexpensive and help protect your dog from injury.
  • Meet-and-greets with friends and neighbors. Allow your dog to set the pace as to how quickly he or she wants to socialize. It might be overwhelming with all the new changes, so be patient.
  • Dog training classes. No matter your dog’s age or skill level, classes with emphasis on manners or sports are enjoyable activities for having fun, learning new skills and enhancing your bond.
  • Yard play. Playing games in your own home and yard — fetch, tug, hide ‘n’ seek, scavenger hunts or just chillin’ with each other and giving belly rubs — is quality time and enjoyable for everyone, and often the best part of the day.

Huddle Up: No matter how many people will be caring for your dog, delegate responsibilities and how they’ll fit into your current schedule.  Feeding, walking and exercise, potty outings, clean-up, vet appointments, grooming and training are just a few general responsibilities that make up your dog’s daily agenda. Make sure everyone knows the routine, his or her list of duties and that maintaining consistency is essential to your dog adapting and learning what you want.

Environmental Management: No matter the age of your new dog, he or she will need to learn about, and settle in to, your environment. Puppies will require additional guidance on house-training, which includes rewarding desired behavior, tighter management and observation. Older dogs still need to be taught where the bathroom is, and get rewarded for using it. For a step-by-step plan on how you can house-train your dog, check out our free eBook.

Puppy- and dog -proofing your home will also set your dog up for making better choices. Take the time to section off off-limits areas,  safely putting away those things you don’t want your dog to get to (lead your dog not into temptation, and not into danger). As you learn more about each other, you can slowly increase your dog’s boundaries, allowing more freedom.

Sleeping arrangements: You’ll need to decide where your dog is and isn’t allowed to sleep. Will your dog slumber in his or her own bed? Crate? Your bed? Floor? Couch? There’s no right or wrong answer. Just make sure you’ve approved it, it’s safe and you’re able to monitor your pooch — at least initially, until you know his or her sleeping patterns.

Pet siblings: If this is a second dog or second pet, you’ll need to take the necessary steps to introduce your new dog to the seasoned residents. Allow each of them to set the pace on how fast they want to establish a relationship. Keep the vibe positive and easygoing, while at the same time safe. Read more tips on introducing a new dog to a resident dog.

Tracking down resources, gathering supplies, delegating responsibilities and establishing a dog-friendly environment are key components in setting you and your new canine companion up for success. We encourage new pooch parents to begin developing a plan of action to help your dog feel welcomed!. By doing this, you’ll make the adjustment easy on everyone, which leaves more time for fun and games (and belly rubs).

Happy Pawlidays
On behalf of Poncho, myself and The Inquisitive Canine, we wish you and your family a joyous and pawsitively reinforcing holiday season. Your readership is the ultimate gift, and we thank you for being part of our family. (Want to see the official Mayer Family holiday photo? Check out our Inquisitive Canine Facebook page where we’ll be unveiling it mid-December).


 

Dear Inquisitive Canine is written by Joan Mayer and her trusty sidekick, Poncho. Joan is a certified professional dog trainer and human-canine relationship coach. Poncho is a 10-pound mutt that knows a lot about human and canine behavior. Their column is known for its simple, common-sense approach to dog training and behavior, as well as its entertaining insight into implementing proven techniques that reward both owner and dog.

Joan is also the founder of the Inquisitive Canine, and developer of the Out of the Box Dog Training Game, which highlights her love-of-dog training approach and the importance of understanding canine behavior. If you or your dog has questions about behavior, training or life with each other, please email them directly.

Training Tips for Dog-Eat-Dog Sibling Rivalry

Dear Inquisitive Canine:

I have two male Yorkshire terriers, Smokey and Charlie. They are about 2 years old, half-brothers (same father), and up until four months ago they slept together, played with each other and even ate and drank from the same bowls.

After breeding Smokey (in our home), we noticed that he started to become upset at various times toward Charlie — especially when Charlie was around my husband or our son. We’d give Smokey a five- to 10-minute timeout, and then both dogs would be fine.

Over time, we started to notice that Charlie would hide under the dining room table until Smokey would walk away from the food bowl — then Charlie would come out to eat. On occasion, Smokey would come running back, prompting Charlie to run back under the table, so we decided to use separate bowls.

We’ve tried desensitizing them (as our trainer put it), by placing each in their own crate, facing toward each other, barking and going nuts trying to figure out how to get out of the crate to get to the other dog. We’ve taken them to our vet, who says there is nothing physically wrong with either dog.

It has been nearly four months, both dogs are living in the same house but in separate areas, they no longer can be in the same room, nor can one actually see the other without wanting to charge at it.

I’m about ready to give up. Please help!

— Smokey and Charlie’s Mother

Dear Smokey and Charlie’s Mom:

Wow, this is indeed quite a doggy dilemma you have on your hands. I’m sure it’s a scenario you never imagined would happen.

I have to commend you on your keen observational skills. It seems you have become an expert in reading Charlie and Smokey’s body language. Bravo! I’d also like to acknowledge your efforts by having both dogs examined by your veterinarian. That’s a very important step to rule out medical issues when behavioral problems transpire.

Depending on what your goals, you might want to consider the following:

  • If you haven’t done so already, check with your vet on the option of having Smokey and Charlie neutered. There is a higher incidence of interdog aggression between intact males, especially those living under the same roof. There’s no guarantee, of course, but it could help.
  • Continue to keep the dogs separated until you can work with a professional certified pet dog trainer or veterinary behaviorist who has experience with aggression cases such as yours. For help finding a qualified professional, check out these resources for dog owners.
  • Each dog should still have walks, outings and play time with each family member. The only change in their routine should be that they are isolated from each other, unless you’re in training mode.
  • Another management tool is a plastic basket muzzle for Smokey, to help prevent biting. However, this should not take the place of training. A muzzle won’t train Smokey to like Charlie, but it can help prevent an actual bite incident.

You mentioned that you’ve worked with a trainer, but it sounds as if he or she suggested you use a technique called “flooding,” as opposed to “desensitization.” Depending on the individual animal, the anxiety-producing trigger, and timing of your rewards or punishments, can — often inadvertently — make matters worse.

The type of training steps will definitely revolve around the counter-conditioning and desensitization path. This is another type of “exposure treatment,” but one where the anxiety-producing trigger — in this case each dog — is delivered at very low intensity, while at the same time being paired with something each dog loves, such as steak. In a nutshell, the presence of Smokey will predict fabulous and wonderful things for Charlie, and vice versa.

Right now, the mere sight of the other causes emotional turmoil. To reverse that, you need to pair each dog with something the other dog loves, then they’ll learn to once again love each other.

It’s often best to follow a “slow and steady wins the race” plan. Think of it as learning to swim: looking at a picture of a pool, baby toe in the kiddie pool, sitting in the shallow end, wading in the shallow end, walking around the shallow end, face in the water for a split second, etc. As opposed to being pushed off the high-dive into the deep end with no lifeguard around. It’s not the most effective way for humans to learn, and I’m sure you’d agree that dogs don’t learn well this way either.

You’ve done the right thing by managing your environment. You certainly don’t want your dogs practicing behaviors you don’t want, or being subjected to more stressful situations than they have already. Because this scenario has gone on for some time, it doesn’t seem to be getting better and it appears to have put both dogs and humans at risk of injury, I would highly recommend seeking professional help so you can restore your happy canine home. To help find a qualified certified dog trainer, check the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers website for a one who can offer services that pertain to your situation.

How to Play Matchmaker, Introducing New Dog to Resident Dog

Dear Inquisitive Canine,

Several years ago, I brought a new puppy into the family “to keep my older dog company.” The older dog was a male Yorkie, and the puppy was a female Cockapoo. I intentionally bought a female because I knew that the male was territorial and thought he wouldn’t be threatened by a female. Wrong!

I fed them separately. I gave lots of attention to the older dog, just as I always did. But I had to keep them apart because they fought constantly. It wasn’t “play fighting,” it was vicious biting, snarling, and turned out to be a disaster. It was a terrible two years.

The Yorkie passed away a few years ago from cancer. I’d love another dog in my family, along with the Cockapoo who is now four years old, but the last experience was so terrible, I’m afraid.

What should I do? What is the best way to introduce a new puppy into a family with another dog?

KG

Dear KG,

What a devastating experience for you and your dogs. It’s a shame the situation didn’t work out as you had intended. I’m also sorry to hear about the passing of your Yorkie. Although it’s been awhile, I’m sure there’s still an emptiness in both your heart and home.

As a certified pet dog trainer , I’ve helped many clients assimilate new pets into their existing families. And when it comes to bringing a new dog into a home with a resident dog, first impressions are key!

You’ll want to concentrate on creating a situation where both dogs are enjoying themselves, each other’s company, and the overall situation, which in turn leaves them wanting more…of each other! As opposed to a disaster where they end up never wanting to see each other ever again.

I often say, it’s best to have your own dog choose their new “sibling,” as opposed to just “setting them up.” Therefore, when determining which dog would be a good choice as the second dog, it’s best to “ask” your resident dog – or at least, take into consideration your dog’s likes and dislikes.

Ask yourself, does my household dog:

  • Like other dogs? If not, then do you really want to push this relationship? Maybe he or she likes to hang out with cats instead.
  • Have lots of doggy playmates? Just a couple? None at all? If it’s the former, this gives you more choices. If it’s the latter, again do you want to spend the time training your dog to like other dogs? Our domestic dogs adapt much more easily than us human-folk do. You might just need to be pickier when finding that perfect match.
  • Like a particular type of other dog? Breed? Size? Gender? Age? Consider the potential pros and cons of bringing a puppy into a home with a senior dog versus bringing home a dog who is closer in age, temperament, and play style to the resident dog. If I were setting up a friend on a date, I would choose someone they would find interesting and want to hang out with – not someone that was completely opposite in every way.

After narrowing down the best possible choice for you, your dog, and the rest of the household, you’ll want to take proper steps to help ensure a successful encounter:

  • Be a cheerleader! It’s all about creating pleasant associations for both dogs. Use your happiest voice, praising both dogs, cheering them on about how exciting the situation is that they’re both around each other. You can also use yummy treats, rewarding any behavior you like. Not only are behaviors reinforced, but both dogs will start to associate great things with one another. “Hmm, whenever that other dog is around, great things happen for me. I can’t wait to have that other dog around again!” 
  • Location-location-location: Provide a safe, non-threatening, neutral location where both dogs are most comfortable. An area where your own dog has a history of fun times meeting and playing with other dogs would be a good choice. At the very least, have it be any area where both dogs have room to move around, and where there would be less risk of any type of “territorial guarding.”
  • Keep it “loose”: If dogs are on leash, do all you can to keep the leashes loose. Tension on the leashes can increase tense behaviors. Avoid other methods of restraint such as holding one dog while the other dog investigates. Dogs communicate through body language. If you keep one from communicating, messages can get misconstrued. Watch your own behavior. Keep a happy tone and posture. This helps relay to both dogs that all is right with the world. “Hmm, whenever she has that look on her face, good things happen for me.”
  • Allow dogs to be dogs: Have the dogs set the pace regarding wanting to meet, sniff, and play. Learn to recognize what dog play is and what is appropriate. Encourage and reward desired behaviors, but don’t force the issue. Better to take it slow, with multiple pleasant meetings, allowing for a relationship to form naturally, versus forcing them to like each other. Think of it in human terms: arranged marriage as opposed to meeting someone at a social gathering, hitting it off and wanting to see each other again.
  • Allow both dogs to display customary canine greeting skills: including sniffing both ends, and performing the ‘circle-dance.’ Avoid any type of punishment if part of “greeting” appears more like conflict – low growls, a snark or two. This is part of normal canine greeting, where dogs assess one another, determining where each one fits within their canine social scene. Just like us humans forming a “chain of command” in group environments, dogs will do the same. Allow for dogs to communicate to each other what the best “pecking order” is for them. It could be either one, and it could change depending upon the situation.
  • Prevent disasters: You’ll want to watch carefully for any type of threatening postures that could escalate into a fight – stiff body, tense face and mouth, raised hair on their back, growls, snarling, hard stares, T-ing over (one dog places chin/neck over other dogs neck/shoulders, which other dog does not tolerate). If this does happen, intervene by calling their names, creating a ‘startling’ noise to interrupt their behavior (clapping loudly, banging two pots together), and luring them away from each other. Ask them to do something more engaging with the humans instead of provoking one another.
  • Maintain a happy home: Once you bring the second dog into your home to stay, make sure you (and other humans) continue to supervise interactions for at least a few weeks before leaving the dogs on their own. You’ll want to:
  • Continue to encourage and reward desired behaviors of both dogs.
  • Maintain your resident dog’s regular routine, as much as possible.
  • Provide individual attention for both.
  • Continue to allow dogs to set the pace of their own relationship, establishing their own canine boundaries.

Just like us humans not wanting to be friends with every other human we meet, dogs don’t necessarily get along with, or enjoy the company of every dog they meet either. It’s unfair for us to assume that just because they’re dogs, they should like every dog they meet.

Sometimes it’s best to decide what is best based upon the dog’s wishes and desires, not the human’s, especially when it’s the resident dog who is the one spending the majority of the time with the new pup.


Dear Inquisitive Canine is written by Joan Mayer and her trusty sidekick, Poncho. Joan is a certified professional dog trainer and human-canine relationship coach. Poncho is a 10-pound mutt who knows a lot about human and canine behavior. Their column is known for its simple common-sense approach to dog training and behavior, as well as its entertaining insight into implementing proven techniques that reward both owner and dog.

Joan is also the founder of the Inquisitive Canine and developer of the Out of the Box Dog Training Game, where her love-of-dog training approach highlights the importance of understanding canine behavior. If you or your dog have questions about behavior, training or life with each other, please email them directly.

Take Your Dog to Work, Make Them Employee of the Month

Dear Inquisitive Dog Parents,Joan and Poncho in the Office

My sidekick Poncho and I are fortunate enough to work together, and we enjoy sharing our office while writing and educating others about the dog-human relationship.

We wanted to encourage others to share in the same experience,  so we decided to devote this month’s Dear Inquisitive Canine article to Take Your Dog to Work Day, which takes place on June 25th. This international pawliday was originally developed in 1999 by Pet Sitters International to help promote pet shelter adoptions by exposing those who don’t have a dog (or cat) to the joys a pet can bring, while encouraging folks to adopt from local rescues and shelters.

As a certified dog trainer I agree this is a wonderful way to share the love and joy a pet brings with others. It’s also the perfect opportunity to encourage dog guardians to train, refine and show-off their dogs’ obedience skills. The more active roles we take in our dogs’ behaviors in public places,the more freedom they will have to go to more places.

So how do you go about participating in this event? Poncho and I both wanted to provide our opinion. You can find his dog training tips on ways to help you prepare for taking your dog to work while I offer a general outline and suggestions to help you prepare for this exciting day below.

Your Workplace Rules:

  • Are dogs allowed? You’ll first need to find out if your employer will allow you to bring your dog into your place of business. If yes, will your dog be allowed in all areas or will he or she be limited to one specific location? If you are the boss, will you be allowing others to bring their dogs? Are there specified rules about dogs being on the premises? Can the rules be changed? If the health department paid a visit, would you/the company be in trouble? As much as we love this event, we want people to play by the rules.
  • Respect your co-workers: Are all employees comfortable with dogs being in their space?
  • Be Aware of Your Inside Environment: Is your workplace and/or office a dog-friendly environment? What will your dog be exposed to throughout the time he or she is there? New people, new sights, sounds, smells, chemicals and equipment. A completely different environment can make a dog anxious, especially if he or she has never been introduced to these conditions before.
  • Be Aware of Your Outside Environment: Is the area conducive to dog activities such as midday walks or a game of fetch? Will your dog have a convenient area to eliminate? Will you have a convenient location to dispose of your dogs waste?

Be Prepared with Proper Office Etiquette for Your Dog:

What behaviors will your dog need to know? No matter the work environment your dog will most likely need to know the basics: sit (especially when greeting others), “Watch me” (good for gaining his or her attention when needed) down-stay (while you have to actually work), and loose-leash walking (while you walk to and from and throughout the office and during various midday outings).

Train the Behavior Before You Need the Behavior

If your dog is already savvy at his or her canine behaviors for the office, I still recommend you practice, especially in new settings. As a matter of fact if you can do a dress rehearsal in your own office for a few minutes, it’ll make it easier on your dog (and you) when you are there the entire day.

If your dog is new to these adventures not to worry, you still have time to practice. To make it a successful journey you’ll want to practice the basics I’ve mentioned above for at least 3-5 minutes about three times a day. As I say to my own dog training students, “Train the behavior before you need the behavior!” Just like fire and earthquake drills, you’ll want to have practiced behavior “drills” with your dog before the big day!

Additional Ways to Celebrate Our Dogs and Promote Pet Adoption

What if you’re retired, work at home or aren’t allowed to bring your dog to work but you would like to help promote dog rescue and shelter adoption? A few ideas that can help you enjoy this day too.

  • You’re retired or work at home: If you have a well-mannered dog whose skills you’d like to show off, ask friends and family if you can bring your pooch to their office for a “meet and greet.” This is fun for you, your dog, as well as those you socialize with. It’s not called “pet therapy” for nothin’!
  • If dogs aren’t allowed in your workplace: You can bring photographs and/or video clips and share anecdotes about your dogs with coworkers.
  • You don’t have a dog but you want to help promote shelter adoptions: Take a field trip at lunch and visit your local animal shelter. You could find out more about volunteer programs, as well as adopting or fostering a dog of your own.

Whether your dog is already an employee of the month or still developing his or her good manners, it’s best to plan ahead! Developing a strategy to ensure success for you and your dog can not only help promote this event, but it just might enable you to bring your dog to work additional times. Sounds like the perfect situation to boost employee morale!

Dangerous Outcome Could Come to Tomato Loving Labrador

My trusty sidekick Poncho and I received a dog behavior question for Dear Inquisitive Canine column about a fun-loving lab mix that enjoys eating all of the homegrown tomatoes in his yard. The dog guardian who wrote in was a little annoyed with this hunting activity, I believe more so because she didn’t have any to eat herself! Hmm, that would be annoying – especially when you’re craving fresh tomatoes for your evening meal, and there aren’t any left!

I addressed this inquisitive dog guardian by outlining key management steps such as: Sturdier fencing, barricades, and yard location that would deter (and protect) her dog, while protecting the plants and her morsels of deliciousness. I also included some simple dog training tips including:
  • Rewarding her dog whenever he ignored the plants
  • Encouraging her to provide other enrichment activities that would redirect him away from the plants, while allowing him to “hunt”. Something along the lines of a scavenger hunt for his kibble, or a tomato/kibble stuffed food toy would be fantastic.

Along with the above management and training, there is something even more important about this tomato hunting dilemma: the tomato plant is toxic to dogs! (cats and horses too). The fruit seems to be fine for this dog to eat, and many other dogs, but the leaves and plant itself have been know to cause many health problems.


According to the ASPCA, signs and symptoms of tomato plant toxicity include: Hypersalivation, inappetence, severe gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea, drowsiness, CNS depression, confusion, behavioral change, weakness, dilated pupils, and slow heart rate. For more information on tomato plant toxicity, as well as other common poisonous plants, click here to access the ASPCA website.

To read the full post, please check out our Dear Inquisitive Canine dog behavior advice column – the tomato loving lab will be featured on November 13th 2009 on the Noozhawk website.

House Training Basics for Dog and Puppy Owners Alike

Dear Poncho,

Could you tell me why my 13-year-old lab, who has never had an accident in the house, will sometimes pee when my parents watch her. They have a female lab and so she likes to stay there, I just don’t know why she discreetly pees when she’s there. It has happened only four or five times over many years, but it is four or five times too many!

Cheers!
Deena
Dear Miss Deena,

I’m sorry to hear about this frustrating situation you’re having with your dog, especially since this isn’t her usual MO. I’m sure it makes you nervous about dropping her off for sleepovers at your parents’ house. Being a dog myself, I can certainly address the “why.” But first, allow me to ask you a few questions:

Is she completely and fully going potty … I mean “aaahhhh …” emptying her bladder? Or, is she “marking” her territory. Yes, believe it or not, you chicks mark your territory, too — it’s not just a guy thing.

Are there small amounts left in areas where the other dog hangs out? Or are there big puddles left near doorways, as if she was trying to tell someone she wanted to go outside?
Is she eliminating in the same place over and over again? If so, has it been thoroughly cleaned?

Some triggers that tell us dogs we need to potty are:

  • Scent: If there are any remnants from any other animal (even from when she was there before) this might be telling her to “go potty.” There are special cleaners that will help get rid of the odors. And just because you or your mom and dad can’t smell anything, doesn’t mean your dog can’t. Remember, there’s a reason why humans aren’t used for bomb sniffing detection — doggy snouts are much better equipped.
  • Texture: As the old saying goes, “If it feels good, do it.” Us dogs favor those lovely carpets, ahhhh, they feel so good on our feet … plus they hold a lot of smells … reminds us of the great outdoors. Sometimes tile and brick, or nice comfy bedspreads make great places, too. Hey, we all have our favorite facilities, right?
  • Previous learning: It’s the same place she went before, so this has become her routine.

OK, so by now you’ve narrowed down how much she goes at one time, and if it’s marking her territory, or just going potty because she had to go! Whatever the reason, it’s something you and your parents don’t want … doesn’t make for an a-pee-ling house guest. Here are a few things you can do to empower your dog to develop good house manners. I know they’ve worked for yours truly.

  • When you arrive at your parents’ house, put your dog on leash, take her to where you want her to go potty, and wait … wait … wait … until she does, then: throw a party!!! She gets a yummy treat, and then she gets to go inside. When she is inside, she needs to be watched. If the humans get sidetracked easily, they might want to keep her on leash, nearby. Your dog shouldn’t be allowed to walk around aimlessly. Something might trigger her to go potty again. This wouldn’t be fair to her — set her up for success, not failure.
  • Arrange it so that one of you two-legged folks walks her outside on leash periodically to potty, and again reward her for when she does, (if you need to, my mom the dog trainer says you can use some of her regular meal). Both yummy treats and off-leash freedom are her rewards. She should be taken out 30-40 minutes after she’s had anything to drink or eat, after she’s been sleeping or napping, and if she’s been inside for awhile. Watch her body language — does she all of a sudden wander off and start sniffing around? That might be her cue of letting you know she “needs to go,” so please pay attention.
  • If she is marking her territory, you’re going to want to follow the same plan as basic house-training, keeping a watchful eye on her, and providing rewards for eliminating outside. One key recommendation: reward her for ignoring places she likes to mark. If you or your parents see her making her move, interrupt with a happy voice “No, no, honey, outside we go!” — then with gentle hands, escort her outside to potty. Like you humans, we dogs don’t appreciate being yelled at, especially if we’re fulfilling a biological urge.

With consistency, the “going outside I get rewarded with yummy treats, freedom, petting and praise” becomes the better choice … vs.the “going inside I get nothing.”

As for the “discreet” part, well, you know us canines are mentally similar to a human toddler — we understand “safe and dangerous” not “right and wrong.” We also lack self control, have really sharp teeth, and don’t wear a diaper. There might have been a time that she had an “accident,” then got in trouble, so she’s learned it’s safer to go when no one is around. You know, like those times you might be driving over the speed limit when the cops aren’t around? Yeah, I thought so … I know a little something about human behavior, too …

So again, the best plan of attack: house-training basics! Just like if you were to come to my house, I’d have to show you where the bathroom is, and if I forgot, you’d meander off to find it yourself. I’d have no one to blame but myself if you went potty in the “wrong” place.

*Looking for additional information on house-training for your dog? Check out our free eBook on teaching your dog house-training skills they can use in and out of your own home.

 

Dear Inquisitive Canine is written by Joan Mayer and her trusty sidekick, Poncho. Joan is a certified professional dog trainer and human-canine relationship coach. Poncho is a 10-pound mutt that knows a lot about canine and human behavior. Their column is known for its simple common-sense approach to dog training and behavior, as well as its entertaining insight into implementing proven techniques that reward both owner and dog. Joan is also the founder of The Inquisitive Canine, where her love-of-dog training approach highlights the importance of understanding canine behavior. If you or your dog have questions about behavior, training or life with each other, e-mail them directly.