Introducing a newby to the pack

ladybugfruitJune 16, 2011

We've been thinking about adding to our pack of 2 for some time now and with our old lady Sadie slowing down a lot, we have started to think more seriously about it. Sadie and her girl Tasha are very close, the best of buds and we know that while Sadie is still doing well now, our precious time is now much more limited and we want to add to the pack while we still have her. We've had as many as 4 dogs including Sadie and Tasha, so they are not unfamiliar with a larger pack, but there were issues between Tasha and our beagle when the alpha male died. Tasha was an adolescent when that happened and her and Socki (the older beagle)started fighting shortly after(initiated by Socki). We did bring a behaviorist in to help us and we did manage to get over the hump for the most part, but it left an impression on Tasha. Tasha is not the best at social skills to begin with and she is naturally a more nervous dog, she is part sharpei, so socializing was not her forte either. We did try though. To complicate her social skills, she cannot be vaccinated(Rabies included) due to having hemalytic anemia as a pup. All that said, she is overall a well behaved dog and knows I am the boss. We are going to meet our potential new pack member this weekend at a neutral location. I've talked quite a bit with the rescue folks and tried to find a personality that will fit the girls the best. It's a boy, 1.5 yrs old, cattle dog/heeler mix. He is currently fostered in a home with 2 older dogs and he does act as the submissive(one of the first questions I asked and yes I know every pack is different), so I think there is potential for a good match. Given his breed he is also geared as a people pleaser ( I also want the new member to be trainable to be a therapy dog).

I am nervous though and I KNOW that I have to be calm on the meeting and if we actually bring him home (wont be the day of meet and greet). I think one of MY other hangups with dog to dog meetings is that we had so many loose dog encounters at our last residence (while on walks)that caused tension with the girls any time we see other dogs on walks( think barking,excitement, tails up often and staring sometimes, we've been attacked in the past). I am working on that, but the behavior has not been extinguished yet. i am just glad this neighborhood is not like that..the last one did a number on all of us.

Anyways, I know this is long winded, but there are alot of great folks on this forum and I would welcome wisdom, insight and encouragement on how I can make this a smooth transition when it happens. It may not work out with the little guy we are looking at, but we are going to deal with adding to the pack at some point this is one of my weak points because of history.


Erin, Sadie and Tasha

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congrats! this little guy does sound like he could be a good match. you are very wise to let the dogs meet on neutral ground. if you can, and if you have help, take them all together on a nice long walk. this is something that, if you can do several times before you bring him home, would help the dogs to bond to you AND to each other.

something else you can do is pay lots more attention to your two girls when you bring the little guy home. it wouldn't hurt a thing for you to pretty much ignore him (as much as you can, IF you can) while your other dogs are present. give the two girls lots and lots of extra attention as long as they are behaving nicely. after a few days, he will very likely start seeking you out for attention at which time, you can start giving it to him. just make sure the girls are always first to get treats, first to be fed, etc., until the new guy has been there long enough to find his place in the pack.

this can certainly work out for everybody, dogs and humans alike, as long as you take every precaution you can to make their first few meetings pleasant.

he sounds very sweet! best of luck!!!

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 7:28PM
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Going only by what you've posted, I'm not so sure that breed is the best choice to add to your pack. Cattle dogs have strong instincts for guarding and herding and are a breed that needs a lot of exercise or either a job (herding) to keep them from getting bored.

The ones I've been around bonded very closely with their owners to the point other dogs and people had to be careful what they did around the owner. Part of that was from lack of socializing but part of it is due their strong guard instinct.

I love the breed but if I owned one, it'd be my only dog.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2011 at 10:42PM
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The first and most important thing you can do is take all the dogs for a leash walk. Have someone hold the new guy on a seperate leash not too close but not too far from your pack, once everyone settles down you take the leash and walk everyone together. This is the best way to introduce dogs to each other without dominance issues. Good luck, let us know how it goes.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2011 at 7:37PM
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Thanks for the input! :)Looks like we are set up to meet this weekend! The plan is to meet at a park and walk them together for the initial meet...we will see how things go and I will let ya'll know.
Annz, thanks for the heads up on cattle dogs. My last (and only) boy, the love of my life, was a aussie/jack russel mix, so I do have some experience, at least with a mixed breed, which this guy is too. It's one of the reasons I have been quizzing the fosters/ rescue about temperament so much. Ironically, my Ridgeback old lady was notorious for herding any rescues that I used to bring home, so I will probably have to watch her on herding the new guy if he works out. I've been really working extra with the girls this week on re-enforcing my alpha role...ya know, those little things that we can let slide sometimes.
LOL, the alpha (me) is going to have to go for a long walk before we start this adventure so I can be more focused on being calm...I KNOW how important that is.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2011 at 10:02PM
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good luck with your meet & greet! let us know how it goes. i agree...a nice long walk is a great way to bond.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2011 at 8:40AM
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you know I have to agree with annz, I've known people who had heelers/cattle dogs and they were very guardy and didnt play well with other dogs (to the point they had to be kept separated). They really are working dogs and that's what makes them happiest, I havent met one that was happy to be a house dog, they can be just a bit too intense like they just need that *purpose* of being put to work.

I dont think there's anything wrong with keeping the status quo, and if you lose your old girl, then think about getting another dog at that point?

    Bookmark   June 18, 2011 at 10:40AM
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