(aka: Introducing Your Reactive/Dog Selective Dog to a New Dog In The Home)
If you read my last blog, you’ll see that prior to adding Mulder, the Malinois, to the home, I had put
in A LOT of work with Shorty around other dogs – we were going on group walks, group hikes, and having dog friends for sleepovers, even if those sleepovers were initially planned as crate and rotate.
Adding a Malinois to the home (whether there are already dogs in the home or not) is an undertaking in itself and not a decision to be made lightly. These dogs are not just dogs, they are a lifestyle. The time I spent around the breed, dogs from various kennels, researching my breeder, asking questions, and then traveling to Mulder’s kennel to be around the dogs for 5 days while taking a course all contributed to our success. Let’s just say I did A LOT of prep work.
When Mulder and I arrived home from West Virginia, I was exhausted. When we picked up Shorty, this was not the time to introduce dogs. Not after 12 hours of traveling across the country. We went into crate and rotate, and I made sure that both dogs had fantastic food dispensing toys to entertain them while crated or behind the gate. Walks were separate – Mulder was crated while Shorty and I were out, and then I switched dogs. Shorty was crated or in my room, behind the x-pen I was using as a barricade, while Mulder was out rocking around the rest of my place. This provided opportunities for a sniff, followed by treats and toys.
People were asking when I would introduce them, and my reply always was “When it’s time. We’ve got years to work on this.” I was in no hurry because it’s all about the journey, right?
Shorty seemed pretty happy to have another dog around, and Mulder took to his new home well. He was happy and confident on walks, coming to work with me at the super awesome Mosquito Creek Veterinary Clinic, working on shaping games and scent detection and biting. After about a week, and after Shorty had already completed her hike, I decided to try a short, 50 foot hike with the two dogs. It was uneventful – we walked. I chalked this up to success and back into the car we went – Mulder crated, of course.
Our short hikes gradually progressed to longer hikes together. As Mulder grew, he began to join group walks with our crew of trusty dog friends. In the home, I did continue keep the dogs separate for quite awhile – not due to concerns about their interactions, but mostly because Mulder was just so busy and required 100% supervision. Shorty proved to be an excellent puppy raiser – she gave fair warnings, which Mulder took heed to, and as he grew, she began to initiate play and “zoom” time (Shorty loves to zoom with dog friends).
There were no hidden secrets or magical moments to our success. It was
work and behaviour modification and training. It was a lot of time, but I got out of it what I put into it. I also had reasonable expectations – I was prepared to live as crate and rotate with Shorty and Mulder if they could not get along.
Hard work, time, perseverance and reasonable expectations – I was fortunate that I was able to execute my own behaviour modification and training, but if you’re going to add a dog to the home, and you’re not sure how it is going to go, seek a professional and be open minded to the amount of work it may take. The reward comes after all of the hard work.