This is Sharda again for another Labrador Dog newsletter.
today let’s discuss your Labrador dog meeting other animals and pets in your house!
Most people who love dogs also love other animals, and often have a variety of pets in the house.
Even if you don’t have any other animals, you will encounter other dogs, cats and wildlife while you are out walking your dog.
It is important to socialize your Labrador as much as possible, to avoid complications and negative behaviour when your dog meets other dogs or other species.
As with most activities with dogs, a bit of advanced preparation can make the introduction much easier and have it be a positive experience for the dog, the other pet and all humans involved.
INTRODUCING YOUR LABRADOR TO ANOTHER DOG
Each Labrador, like each person, has its own temperament and comfort level with other dogs. There are some breeds that have been developed to be watchdogs or guard dogs, and they will naturally be more aggressive than a breed that has been bred for other reasons. Keep in mind the nature of your dogs breed.
If you are planning to add a new dog to your home it is also wise to keep in mind that spayed or neutered animals tend to get along better than intact breeding dogs. A spayed female and a neutered male will generally get along better than two males or two females.
Keep in mind that a neutered male and breeding female will act the same as a breeding pair, and both dogs can become more aggressive when the female is in heat.
The first time the dogs meet, it should be in a place that is new to both dogs; such as a park or other location. Keep the dogs on a leash but have them interact with the human they are with. Gradually move the dogs closer, but keep the attention of the dogs on the handlers. When they become comfortable move them closer.
Avoid having the dogs on very tight leashes, as this tends to excite them more and the chances of aggression increase. Handlers should remain calm and relaxed. Introducing the dogs several times before having them play together will allow them to become familiar with each other.
Be prepared for any aggression by either of the dogs. They will most likely attempt to establish which dog is dominant, and this may be done by growling, posturing or even fighting. Keep a close eye on the dogs, and have a way to separate and contain the dogs immediately if there is any aggression.
If you keep the dogs in crates, they can be placed closer together at night when both dogs are contained to allow them to become familiar with each other.
INTRODUCING YOUR LABRADOR TO A CAT
Not all dogs are cat chasers, and not all cats are afraid of dogs. It is helpful if the Labrador and cat are introduced when they are young, or that at least one of them is familiar with the other species.
Care should be taken when introducing a puppy to a mature cat, as the cat can seriously harm the puppy with its claws. Likewise an adult dog, even a small breed, can easily kill a kitten. Until they are safe together do not leave the dog and cat unsupervised.
More than one dog with a cat can lead to problems, as dogs tend to hunt in packs, and may become excited in the presence of another dog and kill or seriously hurt a cat they have been friendly with in the past.
Introduce the Labrador and cat slowly. Crate training the dog can really help as it allows the cat freedom without fear of fighting. It also allows the dog to become familiar with the cat. Remove the cat litter box and food from areas that the dog has access to.
Not only will the dog eat both the food and the fecal material in the litter box but the cat will often start using other areas of the house as a litter box.
Keeping the Labrador on a leash when in the presence of the cat for the first little while works well. Don’t be disappointed if the cat and dog don’t actually socialize or play together, as long as they respect each other. Be sure to reward both the dog and the cat when they behave appropriately together.
INTRODUCING YOUR LABRADOR TO OTHER SPECIES
Many dog owners also have birds, rabbits, guinea pigs or other small animals in the house. While you may be able to introduce your Labrador to these animals following the steps outlined for cat introductions, it is not recommended that there be interaction without human supervision.
There are some breeds of dogs that get along very well with other species, but most dogs have the hunting instinct. As dogs tend to react by instinct, when they become excited or scared they may react with aggression towards animals that they have previously interacted with.
INTRODUCING YOUR LABRADOR TO STRANGERS AND CHILDREN
There will be times when you will want to introduce your Labrador to strangers. The best time to start socializing your dog with other humans is when they are puppies. Encourage people to come over and pet the dog, making the event a positive one for the puppy.
Even trips to the vet should be positive, and all good vets will strive to make the experience as good for the dog or puppy as possible.
When introducing your Labrador to strangers or children, keep the dog on a leash. If they are barking or hiding, speak calmly to the dog and interact with the animal until they are calm.
Have the child or stranger then step closer, moving slowly and speaking calmly to the dog. At any sign of anxiety have the child or stranger stop and let the dog calm down before moving closer.
Have the child or adult extend their hand towards the dog’s nose, but stopping out of range of the dog’s head. Allow the dog to lean forward and sniff at the extended hand. Gently begin petting the dog, continuing to speak in a calm voice. Have the child or stranger start petting the dog with you. Monitor any change in the dog’s behaviour.
CHILD SAFETY AND DOGS
Many children are very familiar with dogs, and may mistakenly assume that all dogs will be as gentle as family pets. It is important to teach your children about dogs and to supervise your child’s activity with all dogs, including your own.
Most experts recommend that careful selection should be given to what breed of dog is most suitable for families with small children. Highly aggressive breeds or breeds trained for hunting are not advised.
In addition, children must be taught not to tease or torment a dog, even though the children may see this as play. Most dogs will attempt to move away from an uncomfortable situation, but children may not realize why the dog is leaving.
Occasionally, there is a misconception by adults that a child and a puppy will learn together. It is simply not true. Often having a child responsible for caring for or training a puppy is unsafe for both the child and the dog.
Children can be excellent caregivers for family pets, but will require adult supervision to make sure that the situation is safe. Even the calmest family Labrador may bite or snap if cornered or overly excited.
Teaching children how to properly play with and care for dogs is critical to making the relationship positive and non-threatening for both the dog and the child. Children will need to learn that dogs may interpret behaviours such as throwing a ball or picking up a toy as possible threats to them.
Children will need to be aware that all dogs are not safe. While the family pet may be docile and love to be petted and touched, strange dogs or strays may not like to be approached, and may react in aggressive ways.
Children should be taught to watch for the warning signs that a dog is becoming fearful or aggressive. Children should know to immediately leave a dog alone that growls, or attempts to run away when they approach.
Young children should not be left unsupervised with puppies or dogs. They may accidentally hurt the dog or puppy, and this may cause the animal to respond with aggression.
Children should also be taught that dogs do not reason the same way that humans do. Children may assume that the dog will understand the child’s intention is positive, and will become upset if the dog growls or tries to run away.
Food and feeding is another area of safety concern. A small child should not be responsible for feeding a dog, as there is a possibility of the dog knocking the child down to get at the food.
Even a small dog jumping up on a child can knock them off balance and cause a fall. This is unsafe for the child as well as a very bad habit for the dog to develop.
Feeding time is a high excitement time for most dogs, and if the dog is being fed with other dogs it can also be a very competitive time. A small child is more likely to be seen as a threat to the dog if the child approaches a dog or puppy before it has been trained to understand that humans can interact with it while there is food present.
It is important to remember that dogs are creatures of instinct, and will act based on that instinct. If care is taken to socialize, supervise and interact with your Labrador in a positive manner, the relationship between your family, your dog and other pets will be a long-lasting and rewarding experience.
I hope you learned a lot from today’s Labrador Dog Newsletter.