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Dec 2011

Bingo's Bounty's Newest Member

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Please join us in welcoming the newest member of our family, a bi-black Shetland Sheepdog puppy named Elliott. He has wriggled his way into our hearts in just a very short time!

With a new puppy running underfoot, I decided it was the perfect time to write a blog about introducing a new puppy to the household. Having raised so many myself, the process of integrating a new member into our large pack has become automatic to me, but I know that for many people, bringing home a new pup to a house where a dog or dogs already exist can be a stressful situation.

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Know Your Pack


Before deciding on bringing home a new puppy, be sure that you thoroughly know the personalities of the dogs you already have. Are they well socialized with other dogs? Do they get along with dogs of either sex or do they prefer one over the other? Do they seem nervous around the high energy of puppies or do they enjoy it? Are they territorial with toys, food or sleeping spots? Are they old and in poor health and therefore not inclined to tolerate the boisterous nature of a puppy? You must carefully consider the nature of your existing dog in order to determine if getting another one is the right decision.

Next you need to decide if another dog is right for you. Getting a new puppy to keep your other dog “company” is a bad sign. If you don’t have enough time to spend with one dog, getting another simply means that you will now be neglecting two dogs. Puppies are a lot of work and require much effort to make sure they are properly trained and socialized. Make sure you have enough time to spend with them, not only in the beginning, but throughout their life.

Elliott lap

Introductions


When introducing your new puppy to the other dogs in your family, it is important to know not only what your own dog’s reaction to the situation will be, but also the puppy’s. If the puppy is very shy and your existing dog(s) very forward and eager, it is best to keep the puppy in your lap and introduce the dogs one at a time, allowing them to get acquainted and comfortable before adding another dog to the situation. Choose whichever dog you have that has the most mellow disposition first and then slowly introduce the others.

Elliott was very socialized with other dogs before he came to us and his basic personality is very confident and forward. I introduced him to our other five dogs by having him sit on my lap and letting them approach him slowly and calmly. All of my dogs are very used to puppies. This, coupled with Elliott’s confident nature, allowed me to introduce them all at once.

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One Big Happy Family


Invariably, no matter how well adjusted your dogs are, there will be times of contention with the new puppy. Whether it is jealousy over a particular toy, annoyance over being pestered for too long, resentment over being ignored because the puppy is getting so much attention, there will be times when your dogs will growl and even snap at the puppy.

As pack leader, it is extremely important for you to monitor these situations. However, do NOT interfere unless it appears the adult dog is getting too aggressive to the point of injuring the puppy. In order to have a happy pack, each member must find their place within it. No matter how much you want it to happen, sometimes your dog will bond with the puppy, other times they just come to a mutual understanding of indifference. If you interfere with allowing the other dogs to discipline the puppy for inappropriate behavior, you give the puppy a false sense that his place in the pack is above the others and this can lead to what is called “alliance aggression”. This can cause disputes that would normally not go beyond growling and some disciplinary action (what I call a “hair and scare” - meaning they scare the puppy and pull out some fur) to full out bloodshed.

Usually you will find that the younger the dogs are, and the closer in age they are, the more likely they will get along. In our house, the other bi-black sheltie Riley is closest in age to Elliott. He was the first to bond with the puppy and they are now the best of buddies. The older male aussie, Oliver, tolerates him somewhat, but is quick to growl at him if he becomes annoying. The three girls all vacillate between indifference, annoyance, playfulness and nurturing depending upon their mood.

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Multi-Dog Benefits


There are many benefits to having a multi-dog household. Besides the joy of watching them play together and interact with you as a group, older dogs can teach puppies the rules of the pack. Skills such as come, stay, sit, down and wait are learned faster when a puppy can see the skill demonstrated by another dog when the command is given. Housebreaking happens rather quickly in our house, not only because we make sure the puppy goes out a lot in the beginning to prevent accidents, but the dogs also teach him how to use the dog door.

Elliott only had one accident in the house and was using the dog door within four days of his arrival. We did have to tape the flap up at first until he was strong enough to push it open himself, but otherwise it was extremely easy. From the moment he arrived, Elliot did not spend one minute in a crate. We do not condone crate training and feel it is a lazy person’s crutch for housebreaking a dog.

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Smooth Transition


The last key element for a smooth transition for your puppy is their diet. Puppies eat, play and sleep with equal enthusiasm and their tiny bodies are growing at a rate that you and I can hardly imagine. The last thing you need, especially during housebreaking, is an upset digestive system. I want to wean my puppy onto a home-cooked diet as swiftly as possible, but I don’t want to cause any problems.

I always ask the breeder to send along some of the food the puppy has been eating. If they are unable, I at least get the brand name and variety so I can purchase a small bag for the transition period. For the first few meals, I will feed them the food they are used to. Most of my puppies have traveled a long distance to get to me and the stress of an airplane ride, a new home and a new pack are enough for them to handle without worrying about digestive upset as well.

By the second or third day, depending upon how the puppy is adjusting, I begin to introduce a very simple home-cooked diet. I serve chicken, brown rice and some of the more easily digested vegetables for dogs (carrots, broccoli, sweet potatoes) adding a small amount to their kibble diet at first. If their bowel movements remain firm and normal, I increase the amount of home-cooked food until they are getting only that for breakfast and dinner. Lunch remains their old kibble diet for at least a week until I am sure they can tolerate the new diet well before I eliminate the kibble completely.

After two weeks of this simple diet, I will begin to add a wider variety of the appropriate vegetables for dogs (green beans, peas, cabbage, spinach, zucchini) and start to offer a wider range of meats as well. Lastly I begin to add things like yogurt, cottage cheese and various fruits, keeping track of what the puppy likes and dislikes and making sure that nothing causes indigestion.

Please remember, that most puppies need to eat at least three times a day until they are six months of age. Feeding them only twice can lead not only to developmental issues, but emotional issues regarding food as well.

While at times it can seem overwhelming, adding a new puppy to your household can be a fun, delightful and rewarding experience. As with any process, the more time and effort you put into it in the beginning, the more you will get out of it in the long run!

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Holiday Hazards

The holidays are a wonderful time of year; full of joy, giving and spending time with loved ones. Yet in our hectic schedule to get the presents bought and wrapped, the parties planned and executed, the house and tree decorated, and the holiday meals cooked, we often forget to see to our dog’s well-being.

Many people fail to realize that dogs are very sensitive to our moods and when we get stressed out and distracted, they get stressed out and into trouble. They don’t understand what all the fuss is about and will often do things during the holidays that they wouldn’t normally do. It is very important for pet parents to take extra precaution in protecting their dog from holiday hazards.

Yum-Yum


For most of us, the holidays mean food, food and more food. The desire to share our bountiful table with our dogs seems to overtake us more during this season and, if done in moderation, can be a delightful experience. However, if your dog is not familiar with a
home cooked diet, excessive table scraps can lead to acute pancreatitis - an inflammation of the pancreas that can cause vomiting and painful abdominal cramps.

Moderation is the key to feeding table scraps as a treat; a small amount of meat, a slightly larger portion of appropriate
vegetables for dogs (i.e. no onion) with just a tiny portion of starchy carbohydrates and fatty gravies. Even if you do feed a home cooked diet, don’t overdo the fat-rich gravies. Be sure to know ALL the ingredients in a multi-ingredient dish in order to make sure there is nothing in it that can harm your dog.

Deck The Halls


A big part of getting into the holiday season is to decorate the house. Unfortunately, in our enthusiasm to make our homes festive, we often forget that many decorations end up within reach of our dogs. While your dog may be extremely well-behaved and you feel confident that he will leave the decorations alone, the stress of the holidays can cause your dog’s normal behavior to alter.

It is important to be aware that holly, mistletoe and poinsettia plants are poisonous to dogs. Electrical cords, candles, glass ornaments, strands of artificial garland, heavy decorations that can tip over, and decorations made from toxic materials (if ingested), all pose potential hazards to your dog. If at all possible, decorate your house as though a toddler lives there. Anything that could be a potential hazard to a young child is equally dangerous to a dog. If you must decorate within your dogs reach, do not leave them unsupervised.

O Tannenbaum


Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a tree. Yet while beautiful to look at, a Christmas tree can be very dangerous to dogs. Keeping your unsupervised dog away from the tree is a smart thing to do. Not only can you ensure that your dog doesn’t think that you brought a bit of the great outdoors in for him in order to make his potty time more convenient, you can also prevent him from getting hurt.

Nearly all natural Christmas trees have been sprayed with a fire retardant chemical that can make your dog sick if ingested. Many people treat the water for their tree with additives to help it stay green longer. This can also make a dog very sick if ingested. Garland, tinsel and ornaments may look like toys to your dog, but they can cause great harm if broken or eaten by your dog. Strings of popcorn may be too tempting to your dog who may try to knock over your tree to get to it. Artificial trees contain sharp, plastic needles and metal parts that can seriously injure your dog if eaten.

It’s A Party!


Friends and family are an integral part of the holidays. With some diligence on your part, the furriest member of your family can enjoy the festivities as well.

Always be sure to have some place quiet, warm and secure for your dog to go to if they don’t want to be a part of the party. Make sure they have a bed, toys, water and even soothing music in their safe place. If your dog likes to mingle with people, be sure your guests know that they are not to feed him anything (many people are ignorant as to what foods are dangerous to a dog), and that they must not leave any alcoholic beverages within reach as alcohol can be extremely dangerous to dogs. For your part, it is important to watch your dog to ensure that he is not making a pest of himself and that all of your guests are comfortable with his presence. If gifts are exchanged, be sure to clean up all wrapping paper and ribbon as dogs often find these irresistible.

As the song goes, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year”, and with a little forethought and diligence on your part, your dog will think so too.

Wishing you and yours a very happy holiday season.

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