New and Notable

I gave a workshop for new and prospective dog adopters last weekend. One of the topics we covered was socialization. Socialization is key for puppies, but is more important than many realize for newly rehomed adult dogs. (It can also be important for moving with your dog, but I won't cover that in depth here.) Regardless of their background, your home is not exactly the same as your new dog's previous home and will include new things to which your dog needs to be socialized. This is increasingly important to keep in mind in our area as more and more rescue dogs are brought into local shelters and rescues from other areas of the country. For dogs that come from an entirely different background, whether an outdoor life, a rural area, or a racetrack, the reality of everyday life in a city or suburb is filled to the brim with new experiences and stimuli. What do I mean? Let me give you a...
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The First Days

We got our new dog! We adopted Gandalf on Saturday after meeting several dogs available from rescue group (Greyt Expectations). We selected Gandalf, at that time named Las Vegas Express, for his age (2 years on March 29) and apparently easy-going nature. Despite having just arrived from the track, he was social and interested in everything that was going on. Overall, we had a wonderful opportunity to meet a number of dogs, get great greyhound advice, and pick up some supplies, including a new dog bed that Nefertiti immediately claimed as her own. And in the end, we came home with our new dog, which was what we really wanted. Something I expected but did not get: A dog that didn't eat for a few days, due to the anxiety of transition. He ate treats at the rescue, on the car ride home, in the house, and would happily eat any and all food he was offered more or less immediately. Something I...
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Preparations Underway

Written March 29, 2017. As many of you know, we lost Sirius Black to illness back in February. Every loss is unique, and this one continues to hit us hard. When I am not concentrating, I still find myself glancing around the room, looking or listening for what Sirius is up to, and it's a new blow every time I don't see him and everything hits me again. That being said, we are a dog household, and, within the Sirius-shaped hole in our lives, is a dog shaped hole. Therefore, we decided to move forward with a process we had been exploring for some time, and we are hoping to bring home our new retired racing greyhound this weekend. At this point, we don't know the age, sex, or size if the dog we will be adopting. Nor do we know whether the dog has been in foster or will be coming directly from a track environment. This means there will be more...
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Awareness

The way you see the world changes when you have a dog. Suddenly, you are aware of the movement of squirrels, the presence of rabbits, and deposits of trash and litter in a way you haven't been before. Many people find this startling the first time they get a dog. Of course, even experienced dog owners can be surprised by how interested their new hound is in scents or their new greyhound in quick-moving animals. Getting a new pet is not the only time we can have to make these types of adjustments. Changes in the family situation can require similar adjustments. Introducing a new cat or small animal into the family? You will need to be aware of it's location relative to your dogs. Having a baby or have a small child visiting? You need to arrange for constant supervision. Changes in your pet's health can also require adjustments. Currently, we are learning to be aware of potential dangers we've always...
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A Mile on Someone Else’s Leash

A few times a year, we will have friends or family bring their dogs along on a visit.* For someone who has not brought a new pet home in more than a half decade (more about that next week), it can be easy to forget the experience of having a new pet in your home. When you bring a new pet home, whether it's your first or your fifth, there is an immediate change to your schedule. It just takes longer to feed, walk, and play with multiple dogs than it does to do the same thing with one. And so often they need to be fed separately. Or what if the new dog won't eat? What if all the dogs just want to eat someone else's food? When you step out of the house, the issues continue. Will the dog react to a squirrel? What about a rabbit? A jogger? Another dog? When I walk with Sirius Black, I more or less...
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5 Considerations When Adopting a Dog

Obviously, there are a lot more than 5 things you have to consider when you are adopting a pet. However, here are 5 that I believe are important when adopting a dog, but which often get overlooked in the urge to ooh over that cute little face. Size: Size is an important factor. It will affect many other aspects, such as expenses and energy level, and may also impact the expected lifespan of your new dog. Additionally, for apartment and condo-dwellers and renters of all types, size may impact where you can live. If you live somewhere with size restrictions, or think that you may, this is especially important. If adult size is particularly important to you, you may want to consider adopting and adult dog, as predicted adult-size of mixed breed puppies is not always reliable. I have known 80-pound dogs that were expected to be no more than 50 and 30-pound dogs that were expected to reach 50. Age: Let...
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An Ounce of Prevention

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We've all heard it, but we don't always apply it successfully to our own lives. However, prevention, often in the form of management, is a key aspect of training and behavior modification. This is especially important when we bring a new pet into our lives. Of course, no new pet, whether 8-weeks-old or 8-years-old is a completely blank slate; but, when we bring a new pet into our homes, we are creating new relationships and setting new patterns for behavior. At this point, we have the opportunity to act to prevent many behaviors that can cause problems in the future. One important step in this process is taking stock of the environment your new pet will be entering. Are there items a puppy or an anxious dog might chew? Expensive or irreplaceable items that might be knocked over or destroyed? For cats, is there an easily accessible litterbox that is not being used...
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Behavior Suppression

"What if he has no personality?" "He has a personality." "How do you know?" We both stared at the dog, who was lying unmoving on the floor of the living room, in the same spot where he had lain down upon entering the room. No personality was in evidence. Six years of experience has proven me right: Sirius Black is full of personality. However, it is equally true that he demonstrated little of this personality during the first days and even weeks in our home. In fact, confident as i was that he had a personality somewhere, i anxiously questioned the trainer about the fact that he wasn't accepting trrats from us and other similar concerns. While not always as extreme as what we observed during our first days with Sirius, it is common to observe a reduced behavior in dogs both in the shelter and in the immediate post-adoption period. This period is sometimes referred to as the "honeymoon" period, because adopters may observe...
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How I Got Here

How I Got Here

My parents were visiting this weekend, and that got me thinking about a question I am asked fairly often: How did you become interested in working with multi-pet households? It's a question that I am never sure how to answer because I have never felt that it was something I became interested in, but rather, that I was born into. When I was born, my parents' household consisted of three dogs and a cat. One dog and a cat were my mother's from before their marriage, while one dog was my father's. They had rescued the third dog when they found her running loose in a grocery story parking lot. While these animals were a story of integration themselves, throughout my childhood, the animal composition of our household changed several times. As exciting or painful as each change was in itself, every change also necessitated a process of integration help new and resident animals adjust to new routines. During my childhood, I was...
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Road to the “Peaceable Kingdom”

This post tells a personal story. In subsequent posts, I will address some of the details of introducing new pets and dealing with conflicts. A lot of people ask me how long it will take to reconcile their new or newly conflicting pets, especially their cats or their dog and cats. People would really like a timeline, a “drop-dead” date by which they will no longer have to engage in the complicated ballet of managing multiple pets who do not get along, must be kept separated, requiring two separate routines and extensive demands on people’s time. People would also like to know when they can expect to see progress, and how much they can expect to see, what it will look like, and so on. I call this process—the process of moving from managing multiple pets who are in major or minor conflict to one in which everything is running smoothly in an integrated household—the road to the “Peaceable Kingdom” (a phrase...
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