Introduction To The Established LGD & Household Pets
Updated: Feb 3
Your established LGD is a worthy working partner on the property and deserves consideration and respect. The dog may view the pups as new cool toys or interlopers and a threat; much of this is influenced by how you handle the introduction.
First of all, keep the situation under your control – please don’t think of it as “damage control” but rather as an opportunity to create behaviors you want to see more of. Build Pavlov’s dog! Work at building rich, partnering relationships between your dogs by managing them, and their environment, while allowing them to read each other.
This is not the same thing as making sure no one gets in trouble; I promise you, whatever picture you have in your head will show in your body language. All the dogs will know what you are thinking before you do. Trust them, and take no chances!
With the adult –
Your goal is to create a circumstance that allows the adult LGD to feel comfortable enough that she will demonstrate and mentor behavior you would like to see from the pup, so a nurturing, curious response from the adult means she is tolerant of the presence of the pup and should be given some latitude to investigate the newcomer, while she is on leash and with a fence line between her and the pup. If this energy feels good to you, take a little walk along the fence line allowing the adult and pup to wag tails, etc. If that looks good take the leash off and continue to hang out, staying close enough to the adult to snap the leash on and get some distance if need be.
If it were me, I’d be raking leaves, cleaning poo, or whatever chore I could dream up as I supervised this early relationship interaction. My physical presence supports the dogs. My activity is marginally distracting and shows life as status quo. My body language lets the dogs know I think they have got things handled. All of this can happen while I am taking care of a chore that needed my attention anyway. Plan ahead. One of the very best ways to build the relationship between yourself, and your new and existing dogs, is to simply be a partner on the property.
If, after this sort of introduction, the dogs look like they’d like to be old friends, go ahead and give that a try. Take the adult to the pup, not the other way around. Stay with them and find another chore for occupying yourself with, and allowing the dogs to get to know each other. When you need to go on to other chores and leave the area, put the adult back across the fence line from the pups if she’s comfortable with that. If she isn’t, move her farther away. Move her far enough away, even out of sight if need be, that she is calm and accepting. Under NO circumstance allow her to be housed in such a way that she feels the need to vocalize hate mail at the pups.
So, what do you do if the sweet introduction you had in mind isn’t all wine and roses? Here are some other things you can try.
Move the dog far enough away from the pups that she can be reasonably calm, and just give her some time to watch the pups and consider this interloper. Calmly reward the dog for her calm behavior with your words of praise and snuggles. Keep it low-key. The energy in your voice and through your hands should be the slow, steady level of energy you would like to see from the dog, so slow down…... Speak in a trusting, matter-of-fact tone.
Don’t “comfort” the dog – this infers there is something you are worried about. Don’t tell the dog everything is OK because her perspective is the relevant one here – if she is uneasy, then clearly things are not OK for her!
Allow the dog to approach the fence line and pup from time to time over the course of a few minutes as she chooses to if she chooses to. Keep the dog under threshold. If she becomes reactive, move her away. Take a short walk for distraction’s sake, and then come back at it again.
Read the dog. As you approach the pups, if the adult begins to show stress or reactivity, that is the place to stop – that’s close enough for now. Give her some time to watch from a distance that feels safe to her. If the dog just is not comfortable with the presence of the pups move her into a pasture that does not share a fence line with the pups and is far enough away that if she barks, the pups won’t feel overly threatened by her, and give the dog some time. How much time is needed is up to the dog; it may be an hour, a few hours, overnight, or even days, although that is pretty unlikely.
Introduction To Household Pets:
By your voice and posture, you will let the pups know of all their new family members. This includes dogs, cats, and what have you. Remember Pavlov’s dog! Build Pavlog’s dog! When you introduce something new to the pups that may worry you a bit, remember that “worry” is your own baggage. Don’t pass that on to the pups. Let them know that this new animal/situation/whatever is the coolest thing ever. Control the “whatever.” Have it on leash, or in your hands. The pups need to get a good look at it, and probably a good sniff.