When Dom first announced of his plans to do this amazing event to raise funds for local small dog rescues, I had mixed feelings! I was excited and pleased that he was going to do something for such a worthwhile cause, of course…but and here it is the big BUT I had not long since announced plans of my own large fundraising mission and had realised just how much work and planning goes into it, how much time and energy I would need to dedicate to it and knowing how busy Dom I had concerns. So, after Dom caught me giving him the death stare, we chatted and as always Dom being Dom, he’s pulled it out of the bag!

I was asked by two hosts to speak at their tour to rescue evenings which was a massive honour, but I had plans on one of the evenings so accepted Karen’s offer eagerly!

Just last week, I was doing my own fundraiser, me and my pony went from coast to coast in aid of MacMillan cancer support and I invited Dom to join me for a stretch on his bike to further his training in preparation for his amazing event. It was meant to be 18miles together before he set off back and I carried on…..well we were too busy chatting dogs etc and enjoying the scenery and discussing TDR ….plus a distinct lack of signage, we had gone wrong which meant we rode 33miles together before we had lunch and he made his way back! Oops! 

Looking back now though it has got me thinking about when things like that happen and how it so readily equates to dogs, we get distracted, so do they and we don’t always end up in the place where we want to be! Whether physically or from a behaviour perspective – and sometimes it affects others too whether it be another dog or another person (or Dom following my lead last week!) I’ll be talking about this and how to keep on the right path to ensure a happy future with your new rescue dog.

When I was based in Manchester, just before I started my award winning business Hound Helpers ltd, I was volunteering at Manchester dogs’ home, walking dogs for them, giving them some quality time out of their kennels while they waited to be rehomed. I fell in love with a very old and slightly senile Dobermann, who I took home to foster…and failed. He lived out the rest of his days with me and my two other dogs at the time.

Although my failed foster was housed with other dogs and appeared fine when in rescue and he bonded quickly with my other two dogs at home he quickly took a disliking to all other dogs when out on walks or with visiting dogs.

This then rubbed off on one of my existing dog too which was not what I planned, nor was it something that was easy to cope with… little 5 foot nothing me walking a massive Dobe, a boxer cross rottweiler and a little dachshund, the two bigger ones looking like the hounds of hell every time another dog appeared and me struggling and failing regularly to keep hold of them!

Even when the dogs get on within the household that still doesn’t necessarily mean life with a rescue and multiple dogs is an easy one.

Here are my top tips to ensure success when introducing a new rescue dog to your existing dogs

  1. Before you bring your new rescue home take a towel  or blanket to visit them, rub it all over them (if they are happy with this, if not leave it with them for a day or two so they can lay on it) before bringing it home to your dogs. Leave it on the floor for your dogs to investigate and sniff (please do not put this on a bed for them), and do the same for the new rescue dogs, they can investigate each others scents and learn about each other without the pressure of being face to face this way. Although yes you will be carrying the scent both ways on your clothes, by doing this you are also making the scent familiar at home and setting all dogs up to almost know each other without meeting.
  2. Don’t rush the initial meeting with your established dogs at home!

Take the dogs for a walk first, before bringing the new dog into the house.  Ideally  have another person to handle your existing dogs and you walk the new one. Don’t bring them nose to nose, walk them parallel with a gap between the dogs, ignore any barking or frustration from any of the dogs initially – remember we are not letting them sniff our meet each other that this point and they will soon settle. Walk them parallel so they can get a feel for each other out of the corner of their eye while they walk and sniff at their surroundings. 

  1. Set up your home to keep the dogs separate initially when you are not present or able to watch them. This might mean baby gates, crate, puppy pens or just in separate rooms. Plan for your new rescue to sleep apart from the other dogs.
  2. Allow yourself, the new dog and your existing dogs time to adjust, you wouldn’t expect to have a new housemate and be bosom buddies straight away, you can’t expect your dogs to do this either, it’s a little unfair. 
  3. Allocate time to dedicate to the new dog individually, separate walks, training and play, you need to bond with them individually, this makes training and managing multiple dogs so much easier.  While you are doing this be mindful to ensure your existing dogs still get quality time with you without the new dog and you keep their routine as much as you can.

Remember things will be difficult at times, give yourself a pat on the back for doing something so amazing and remember that things will take time to settle down.

On the 12th of September if you are lucky enough to secure a ticket at the event, I will be sharing my experiences and teachings from Rolo the slightly tapped but lovely old Doberman.

I specialise in multi dog households – hell I even wrote the book on it!

 I will be sharing with you the key formula to ensure success when bringing home, a new rescue dog when you have dogs at home already. Ensuring you are set up for success and to ensure that things work moving forward. After all the last thing you want is to either be sending a dog back into rescue or to live a life of misery because the dogs do not get on.

I grew up with rescue dogs and have had a fair few in my adult life, not to mention working within a few rescue organisations and fostering and rehoming many dogs.

Sarah Bartlett KCAI CD R QIDTI

Sarah is a KCAI CD R QIDTI Qualified International Dog Training Instructor | Kennel Club Accredited Instructor in Companion Dog Training and KC Rally | Canine First Responder Instructor | Evesham Journal Columnist | Edition Dog Magazine Columnist | The Mirror Online featured dog training expert and author of ‘Another Pup? The comprehensive guide to adding to or becoming a multi-dog household | Owner of Hound Helpers Ltd – Award winning Pet care and training company since 2007.

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