Animal Safety Tips: Bringing A Dog into Your Home

dog sitting on the floor

It’s no secret that pet-friendly housing is becoming more and more desirable. The local shelter is the perfect place for your residents to find dogs of every type, size, age and personality.

Man’s best friend takes center stage in October with the American Humane Association’s Adopt-A-Dog Month celebration, when people are encouraged to adopt a shelter dog.

A resident who adopts a dog is no doubt in store for hours upon hours of joy. A new four-legged resident, however, needs to make a successful adjustment first, says the Humane Society of the United States. This process can take anywhere from two days to two months for both the pet and owner to acclimate to each other.

In the event that a dog is introduced to a home occupied by another dog, the owner needs to take a few precautions.

“Some dogs can be afraid, or aggressive with other dogs,” says Sue Sternberg, a canine behavioral specialist. “It doesn’t mean they are bad.”

Punishment, says the American Humane Society, won’t work, and could make things worse. Usually, most conflicts between dogs in the same family can be resolved with professional guidance.

Body language and posture is often an immediate indication on how dogs will get along when meeting for the first time. A dog that crouches with the front legs on the ground and the rear in the air is an indication of play. Hair standing on the back, deep growls, teeth-baring and a prolonged stare are signs of aggression.

If the initial introduction looks like it could become a problem, the dogs should be gently separated and time allowed for them to get used to each other. When tensions subside, the dogs can interact again for a shorter period of time, at a greater distance from each other.

Being observant of your dog and choosing play partners are important

Sternberg, who operates a non-profit animal shelter in upstate New York, has spent much of her time helping pet owners identify behavioral traits in canines. She hosts seminars in aggression and sociability, dog-to-dog group dynamics and solutions to canine behavior problems.

She says that, much like people, not every dog gets along with others and owners should be observant at all times when introducing new dogs to one another.

“A lot of dogs who play well with certain kinds of dogs don’t always play well with other kinds of dogs,” she said. “That’s normal, but you want to choose your play partners appropriately.”

A dog that’s pushy likely is not a good match for one that is more passive. Some dogs, Sternberg says, tend to bully others and be really rough.

“You don’t want to pair that dog with a weaker, frightened dog,” she said. “You want to pair up with a confident, physically comparable partner.”

People have a responsibility to keep dogs out of harm’s way

In public settings, like dog parks, Sternberg says pet owners have a responsibility to keep their dogs out of harm’s way. The introduction to strange dogs can be a frightening experience to some dogs and owners should be alert, attentive and active at all times.

“People make healthy dog parks,” she said while taking a break from her duties at Rondout Valley Animals. “Human behavior trumps everything else, including aggressiveness of a dog. The best humans are not sitting on benches, they are not on cellphones, and they’re standing up watching their dogs.

Some dogs, she said, don’t want to engage at all. They want to walk around, sniff and do their business without being pestered by other dogs. If that’s the case, follow the dog around and let him do his thing. The dog may not be getting great exercise, but that’s okay.

If dogs do get too rough, the owner or owners must go in and separate the animals, Sternberg says.

Taking these precautions can ensure that your dog gets properly adjusted to its new home.


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