Dog Sitting Dilemma – Dealing with a Dog That Doesn’t Like Other Dogs

This past weekend I had the pleasure of dog sitting my sister’s dog Riley. Riley is a 6-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and one of the sweetest dogs you’ll ever meet. She loves to lie around and generally do nothing, but she also likes a lot of petting and attention.

This is Riley. She wants to sit with you.
One of Riley’s quirks is that she doesn’t think she is a dog. She’s not really interested in toys or playing, or anything a lot of dogs like to do. I don’t think she was introduced to dogs when she was younger, so she has never really been socialized in the dog world. She is also older, so she is used to a more sedentary lifestyle. My dog Hunter, as you may have gathered from past posts, is the exact opposite. He loves dogs, activity and people. The only thing the dogs have in common is that they like attention, and they like to follow me around everywhere. So Hunter does his best to get Riley to play, while Riley does her best to ignore him.
Riley trying to ignore Hunter

 

I decided to spend the first couple of days staying at my sister’s house with the two dogs. At least that way Riley wouldn’t have the double stress of being in an unfamiliar setting and having to deal with being around a dog she doesn’t like. Luckily Riley has a very laid back temperament, so things have gone fairly well between the two dogs. They’ve pretty much been ignoring each other with just a few minor scuffles when Hunter remembers Riley is there and tries to get her to play.

Not all dogs are so easy going though. Dealing with socializing a dog can be a challenging endeavor. The Animal Humane Society provides tips on their site for introducing a new dog to a resident dog*. Good advice to follow the next time you have a new dog in your family, or will have a dog staying with you:

1. Have the dogs meet on-leash on neutral territory first:  this can be a neighbor’s yard, a training center, tennis court, etc.  Have both dogs on-leash.  Allow them to look at and sniff one another through a barrier, such as a fence, for up to 30 minutes.  By then, the novelty of seeing a new dog has worn off, paving the way for a more positive introduction.  Another option is to take the dogs for a walk together, keeping ten feet between them so that they cannot greet one another or stare.  The idea is simply to acclimate them to each other’s presence without causing tension.

2. Next, have the dogs meet off-leash on neutral territory.  Avoid problem areas like gates, doorways or closely confined space:  the more room they have to move, the less tension there will be.  Wait 2 minutes while they sniff each other, then call them away and move around.  If they start to play and it seems to be going well, let them play for a few minutes and then end the session.  We want each initial interaction to end on a good note!

3. Finally, have the dogs meet at home:  first in the yard, then inside the house.  Before the in-house introduction, take the resident dog out to the yard, then bring new dog inside (bringing the new dog inside to meet resident dog can create a negative reaction).  Keep each interaction short and pleasant: if signs of tension arise, separate the dogs immediately and try again later.  Remember that the introduction will set the tone for their relationship, so it’s important to set everyone up for success!

4. Keep the dogs separate while you are away, either in separate rooms or crates.  This is both to prevent injurious fights and the development of inappropriate behavior in your new dog (such as chewing and housesoiling).

5. While the dogs can settle minor disputes with each other (such as growling the other off of a toy or their own food bowl), they aren’t allowed to limit each other’s access to you, your family and common areas of the home.  In many multi-dog households, contrary to popular belief, there is neither a “dominant” nor a “submissive” dog, but individuals whose roles change depending on the context involved (ex: a dog that claims access to a favorite toy may let another dog claim the couch).  Instead of “supporting the dominance” of any one dog, establish yourself as a benevolent leader, rewarding polite behavior and managing the environment to prevent conflicts from developing.

Hey! You’re a dog – let’s play!

What about you? Do you have a dog that doesn’t like other dogs and have you tried to socialize him or her? Hit me up on twitter (twitter.com/dogsinthecle) or email dogsinthecle@gmail.com with what has worked (or not worked) for you!

*Source: http://www.animalhumanesociety.org/training/library/introducing-new-dog-resident-dog

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