Original Inquisitive Canine Joins Santa Barbara Edhat Community

It’s official folks! This inquisitive canine has teamed up with our local online news site Edhat-Santa Barbara with my very own dog behavior and training advice column. Similar to the one me and my mom co-write, Dear Inquisitive Canine, I’ll be doling out my own pooch’s perspective. As a matter of fact, that’s exactly what I’m calling it.

A Pooch’s Perspective is exclusive to the Edhat community. It will include dog behavior Q&A, dog behavior and training tips, along with a side-order of canine quips – because well, that’s just who I am.

I encourage you to check out, read through, ask questions and leave comments. Edhat is built on community involvement, and I agree with and am honored they have welcomed this Pooch’s Perspective to their family.

Have your own question you’d like me to address? Send me an email directly – I’d be happy to give you my pooch’s perspective.

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!

Crate Training Your Dog: Creating a “Home Sweet Home” atmosphere

I’ve been working with many new puppy parents, as well as families that have recently adopted adult dogs. From each and every one, I’ve received the proverbial crate question: “What do you think about me crate training my dog?” Fortunately I have an answer: I think you should. Why? For a few reasons.

  1. Bedroom: Just like us humans, our domestic dogs need a place to call their own. And okay, sure, a crate may not be a large as an average bedroom – unless you’re in New York – but it can certainly serve a similar purpose: a safe, comfortable, warm, cozy environment where they can be by themselves.
  2. Retreat: A crate can also be that safe-haven “den” (or bedroom or crib) where they can retreat in times of stress. For instance, if you’re having lots of company, and your dog is overwhelmed, they can go off on their own, with a yummy chew toy, and chew until they fall fast asleep.
  3. Management: Those times when you don’t have time to train your dog, or supervise and monitor their behavior, a crate can act as confinement to help set them up for success. If they’re in their crate, they’re not roaming about eliminating on the new rug or chewing up furniture.
  4. Pet Preparedness: You never know when you might need to put your dog in a crate. Crate training is a huge part of Pet Preparedness. If you even need to evacuate because of disaster, many places will require that your pet be in a crate. As I teach my dog training clients, you want train it before you need it!

So, what are some of the best ways for you to get your dog used to their “sanctuary”? The training steps are pretty simple actually, but just like any new behavior, you need to teach them slowly, helping them create a positive association.

Creating a Home Sweet Home For Your Pooch: Crate Training Overview

  • How to make the crate the best place to be: The “Do’s”
  • Take the time to teach your puppy or newly adopted adult dog that their crate is a fun, safe, relaxing place to be. Make it comfortable with bedding the individual dog finds comfortable (not what we humans think is)
  • Make sure the crate is large enough for your pup to be able to stand up turn around, and get comfortable. 
  • Teach your pup to associate their crate with all good things. 
  • Start slow and easy – treats for looking at the crate, going into the crate, then staying in the crate – for only a few seconds at a time. While you’re still there with them. 
  • Keep the door open until your pup is going in their on his own. Once your pup is going in on their own, you can begin closing the door, feed treats through the door. Let your pup out, then all treats stop. He’ll soon learn that being in the crate is much more fun than being outside of it. 
  • Feed him his meals in the crate 
  • Chew bones in the crate 
  • Food toys in the crate
  • Crate’s can still be used for a “Time Out” since the punishment is more about losing out on something the dog wanted, like freedom or playing with a family member or friend. A Time Out for a dog should only be for about 20 seconds. And, if they already have a positive association with their crate, and 99% of the time good things happen in their crate, then they shouldn’t end up hating their crate. Just like when children are sent to their room, its not the room they hate but the fact that they lost out on participating in some other activity. 
  • How to teach your puppy or newly adopted dog to hate their crate: “The Do NOT’s” 
  • Refrain from shoving your pup into the crate and slamming the door, and walking away. 
  • Refrain from pushing your dog into the crate and leaving them there on their own, after never being left alone before. 
  • Refrain from leaving them in the crate for so long that they soil their crate. 
  • Refrain from using the crate for punishment only. 
  • Refrain from using the crate as a “Time Out” because of house soiling or some sort of house destruction. The crate can and should be used for confinement when house-training. But, if a dog soils the carpet, it’s the humans fault, not the dogs. You don’t want to inadvertently punish your dog for greeting you when you get home. 
With time, patience, and consistency you too can get your dog to love their crate. You might create such a wonderful environment you’ll want to crawl in there too! 

Dog Bully Behavior: How to help protect your dog from getting picked on

I recently answered a question about”dog play” for our syndicated dog behavior advice column Dear Inquisitive Canine. “Anxious in Austin” has a Cocker Spaniel who seems to be terrorized by the neighbor’s “nightmare of a Pomeranian”. When situations like this arise, it is important to be able to recognize appropriate dog play…

Venture to any off-leash dog arena and these are the types of behaviors you’ll likely see being displayed: 

  • dogs chasing after other dogs
  • dogs being chased
  • mouthing
  • nipping
  • tugging
  • chest banging
  • pinning
  • wrestling
  • rolling
  • mounting

But when it’s “play,” it’s reciprocal and consensual! Those are a couple key factors! Reciprocal and consensual! Other notable elements of proper play are:

  • Big, inefficient movements amongst all involved. Think Three Stooges versus Muhammad Ali.
  • Self-interruption: One dog will stop for a second or two to take a break, others follow by taking a break as well.
  • Good “listening” skills: If one dog no longer wants to play, they will communicate as such, and the other dog will comply and go in search of another playmate.

When dogs aren’t exhibiting healthy dog play behaviors, there are several things you, as a responsibly aware dog guardian can do.

The goal: to help your dog build trust and self-confidence. You can easily do this by rewarding your dog for being brave. EX: your dog looks at, approaches gently, or investigates another dog, he or she gets a yummy food reward, and lots of “cheer-leading happy talk”. You can also reward with food and praise if another dog approaches your dog to say “Hi!”. This is similar to encouraging young children to make new friends. As humans we use encouraging verbal language and praise to help children deal with shyness and novel experiences. We can do the same for our pet dogs too. Through food, your dog learns to trust, while making positive associations with other dogs they meet.

Additional techniques that may come in handy:

  • Manage your environment or “avoid” if necessary: This is for when you don’t have the right kind of rewards handy, you don’t have the time to train, or you just don’t feel like dealing with the situation.
  • Come up with your best “spin”: “I’m so sorry, I’m running late today and don’t have time to stop. How about another time?” “Oh geez, wouldn’t you know it, I’ve only got a couple of minutes to get my dog exercise, so I’m gonna have to take a rain check. Thanks though!”
  • And with the convenience of modern gadgets, you can always be tied up on the phone, or even pretend to be on the phone – just make sure the ringers off so you don’t get a call while you’re faking it. I know, it’s a white lie, not very ethical. But hey, you’re doing it to protect your family and your sanity!
  • In the case with “Austin”, maintain a friendly relationship between you and your neighbor: You can use some of the same techniques with your neighbor’s dog too. Bring a basket of muffins for your neighbor, and treats for both dogs. You can reward the Pom for being nice towards your dog, while continuing the treat plan with your Cocker. If the Pom begins to “act up” the rewards stop, and you suddenly remember you have to leave. You can also explain to your neighbor that you’re trying to help your dog overcome her shyness. Many people love to help and feel needed, so it’s a good time to fill her in on your plan and ask for assistance.
  • Dog Training Services: Even for dogs that are already trained, getting into classes helps build up or maintain trained skills, but also helps to keep dogs socialized. Sometimes classes are the only time dogs get to be around other dogs.

It’s important to be consistent when helping your dog learn to successfully conquer difficult situations. With a little patience, understanding, and time, even the shyest of dogs can make new friends, eventually leading to lots of play-dates!