My wife and I will soon be taking our 5-month-old, 12-pound cavapoo for a three-night visit with our adult son and grandchildren off-Island. My son has a docile, 11-year-old, male hound, and, of more concern, an 8-year-old, somewhat territorial, female Rottweiler. Our female cavapoo is not aggressive. Any suggestions on how to maximize the chances of a pleasant visit and minimize the chance of “fur flying?”
Dave and Karen
Dear Dave and Karen,
I love the idea of you taking your 5-month-old puppy (let’s call her Missy) traveling. Socializing a dog is a critical element to the foundation of a well-mannered, stable dog. I remember the hapless hound that moved with family from rural Alabama to midtown Manhattan, never having heard a siren or been exposed to the bustle of NYC streets. She was totally traumatized! Hence, it’s one of my mantras: “Been there, done that, seen that, no big deal.” That’s the attitude of a well-socialized dog. So the question is a great one, because the last thing you want is Missy to get freaked out in the course of experiencing new environments, people, and dogs.
Prior to the visit, I might suggest that you take a small cloth and rub it all over Missy, put it in a plastic baggy and send it to your son with instructions to let his dogs sniff the cloth in the bag several times a day while receiving tiny pieces of chicken. When it comes to dogs, it’s all about scent, and enjoying special treats in conjunction with Missy’s scent may go a long way to a positive association when they meet.
As for the meet, do it in neutral territory, away from the house. Generally, dogs are more aggressive on the leash than off, because contrary to what most people believe, that the dog is protecting them, actually, the leash attachment makes them feel like “you got their back”! It’s like the kid who’s a lot tougher with his big brother standing behind him. In this case, all the dogs are leashed, and what’s critically important here is that as you are all approaching each other, you’re all happy and sounding very joyous and positive. All the dogs will be extremely cognizant of your vibes, and your positive attitudes will go a long way toward their welcoming attitude and relaxation. Special treats all around will add to the positive associations.
All walk back to the house, with you, Karen, and Missy entering first. At this point, there should be no dog toys available, to avoid the possibility of possessive aggression (resource guarding) rearing up. At this point, cool it with the treats, and feeding is on opposite sides of the room. Stay upbeat and positive, and enjoy the extended, larger family gathering. Best wishes.
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