By Sherry Woodard, Best Friends animal behavior consultant
If you have a dog and a new one will be entering or visiting your home, there are things you can do to ensure that the meeting goes off without a hitch. A new dog can mean you are bringing home a foster or a new family member, someone who has a dog is moving into your house, or someone is visiting with a dog.
Factors that may influence how well dogs interact:
If you know that both dogs are very social with a variety of other dogs, the meeting should be easy. However, some dogs don’t get out and mix with other dogs that much or may have only had one or two dog friends in their lives. These dogs may seem to have better social skills than they actually do, so introducing them to new dogs may require more care and effort. Another factor to consider is whether or not the dogs have been spayed or neutered; if not, the meeting may be more difficult.
Neutral meeting place:
If you are uncertain how one (or both) of the dogs will react, be cautious. First, plan to have the dogs meet on neutral ground. Choose a place where neither dog is likely to feel territorial. Even your dog’s favorite park is not a good spot, unless it is a dog park (since dogs are often used to meeting other dogs there). If you are adopting a dog from a shelter, ask the staff if they can help to introduce the dogs. If your dog is accustomed to meeting dogs at a pet supply store like PetSmart or Petco, you can ask the store’s trainer to help with the introduction. The dogs could casually meet while you are on a shopping trip. If either dog has a history of difficulty getting along with other dogs, the best strategy would be to hire a certified professional behavior consultant to help you gradually introduce the two dogs to each other.
When the meeting occurs, have each dog on lead, each with a calm, relaxed adult handler. Keep the leads loose, since tension on the leash might communicate to the dogs that you are fearful or anxious about their meeting, which will in turn make them more fearful and anxious. Walk the dogs side by side with a safe distance between the dogs. Then, cross paths (still maintaining that distance) and allow the dogs to smell where the other has walked. If either of the dogs barks, snaps and lunges toward the other, consider hiring a certified professional dog trainer or behavior consultant to teach you how to do the Look at That game to help the dogs feel calm and happy around each other before proceeding to the next stage of introduction.
Allowing dogs to meet:
Next, let the dogs meet. As the dogs approach each other, watch their body language closely, paying attention to the entire body. The dogs may need to do a little posturing or make a little noise, but if you don’t know how to tell the difference between dogs getting to know each other and dogs who don’t like each other, have someone there who does.
If the dogs have shown no signs of hostility toward each other up to this point, take them to an enclosed area, drop their leashes, step back and give them space to get to know each other. We have a tendency to micro-manage these interactions, but in general it’s best if we allow the dogs to work it out with minimal interference. Humans hovering and getting too involved can be frustrating to the dogs, which can make them tense and spoil the interaction.
Giving dogs verbal feedback:
For the most part, dogs in this situation respond well to verbal feedback from humans. For example, if the dogs are getting too tense around each other, saying something in a soothing tone of voice (such as “It’s OK, guys, cool your jets”) can help them to take it down a notch, shake off and start fresh. If one dog is getting too overbearing and the other isn’t correcting her, we can often help out by saying something like “Hey, knock it off!” If the dogs do shake off their tension and engage with each other in polite, appropriate ways, we can reward them for those behaviors and encourage more of them by speaking in a happy tone (“Good dogs! Well done!”). In most cases, that kind of verbal guidance is all the interference they need from us. We must only step in and physically separate them when they are becoming too excited and cannot give themselves a break, or when it becomes clear that their relationship is headed for conflict.
Dog body language
Here are some general body language signs to look for to get a general idea of where the interaction is headed:
Supervising dogs at homeIf the dogs seem fine with each other, drive them home, preferably in separate crates or cars so that the close quarters of a vehicle won’t create unnecessary tension between them. At home, let them settle in, but make sure you’ve put away your dog’s toys, bones and food bowls first, since these items may be sources of conflict. Whenever you feed the dogs, and certainly if you’re going to offer high-value items like Kongs or chews, it may be best to separate them while they eat. Once the dogs are good friends, they may be more willing to chomp side by side on food and high-value items.
Introducing a puppy to an adult dog: To introduce a puppy to a dog, use the same procedure as above. If the puppy is under six months old, both the dog and the puppy may need frequent breaks from each other. Some adult dogs will quickly lose patience with puppy energy. If the dog does not like the puppy, do not leave them alone together.
Finally, if you are not confident or comfortable at any point, please seek help from a relationship-based trainer who has ample experience with dog to dog interactions.
Bulldogs are very special dogs requiring special attention and care. They are not an easy breed to have, and most bulldog breeders and owners agree they are not fit for a novice dog owner. They aren’t recommended for first-time dog owners for a few reasons.
The five main problems which arise with the English bulldog:
If you're looking for a friendly pet to motivate you to take that morning jog or bike ride, bulldogs are not the right answer. Most bulldog owners agree that they aren't tolerant of excessive exercise, as they typically run full speed, then collapse with all four feet stretched on the floor. Bulldogs are indoor dogs and cannot be left alone outside for long. They don't tolerate cold well, either.
Dermatitis is inflammation of the skin. Where there are excessive skin folds or wrinkles, fold dermatitis occurs due to rubbing of skin and trapping of moisture in the folds. Pyoderma (bacterial skin infection) commonly develops. Common forms are tail, lip, and facial fold dermatitis in breeds where there is skin folding in these areas. Bulldogs need regular grooming because these wrinkles need to be cleaned daily. Bulldogs are in the top five dogs with skin irritation, causing expensive vet bills.
Elbow and Hip Dysplasia:
Hip and elbow dysplasia results from the abnormal development of the joints in a young dog. Most dysplastic dogs are born with normal hips and elbows, but due to genetic and possibly other factors, the soft tissues that surround the joint start to develop abnormally as the puppy grows. Dogs may alter their running or walking, often resisting movements that require full extension of their legs.
Many times, they 'bunny hop.' They will show stiffness and pain in the rear legs after exercise or first thing in the morning. Most dogs will warm up out of the muscle stiffness with movement and exercise. Some dogs will limp, and many will decrease their level of activity. As the condition progresses, the dogs will lose muscle tone and may even need assistance in getting up. Bulldogs should be administered a joint supplement daily to help them be more comfortable.
Narrow Nasal Opening/Breathing Problems:
The flat facial structure of the bulldog restricts their air intake. In addition, many bulldogs also suffer breathing difficulties as a result of their elongated soft-palate (tissue in the back of the throat). The soft palate can be fixed with surgery, but if left untreated, the dog can develop sleep apnea or suffocate.
Inability to Swim:
Because of their unusual body proportions, bulldogs cannot be left unattended by the pool because they will drown. Their short legs cannot support their heavy, compact bodies in the water. If you have a pool or plan to take your bulldog around water, they need to be supervised at all times and provided with a properly fitting life jacket.
Breed Group: Companion Dogs
Height: 12 to 15 inches
Weight: 40 to 70 pounds
Lifespan: 8 to 12 years
The English Bulldog's low-slung, heavy, thick-set body, along with its broad shoulders, provides a low center of gravity, allowing the Bulldog to crawl close to the ground, originally useful for staying out of range of a bulls horns. This ability was the difference between life and death, so the trait allowed the Bulldog to stay alive to breed another day, passing the characteristic along. The large circumference of the head is equal to the dog’s height at the shoulder, offering sufficient space for strong, developed muscles in the dog's wide jaw. Its distinctive undershot bite allowed it to hang on to the bull with amazing strength, even as it was violently shaken and pounded by the furious bull, and its scrunched up nose allowed it to breath, as its face pressed close to the bull's body until dog or bull finally fell. Even the loose-jointed, rolling and shuffling gait are a result of this selection, since the dog needed to be able to withstand severe shaking and thumping without having its spine or ribs broken. In addition, the Bulldog needed to have the ability to move swiftly and to make sudden leaps, which accounts for its surprising dexterity. The coat is glossy and fine, with standard colors including, red, white, yellow or a combination of these colors.
PERSONALITY AND TEMPERAMENT
Despite its violent training in the early days of breeding, the Bulldog always maintained a sense of reserved decorum outside the ring, befitting its British roots. Devoted, obedient and patient, without fail, the Bulldog has remained a favorite animal companion throughout the years. Always willing to please, the Bulldog yet preserves its own independent brand of stubbornness, keeping its own counsel once making up its mind to do so.
The Bulldog is highly appreciated for its patience and affection with children, making them excellent family pets. Most are pleasant towards strangers as well, or at worst, they are indifferent to new faces. Although some can be hostile to unfamiliar dogs, the breed is compatible with most household pets. Unfairly labeled a "sourmug" because of its appearance, the Bulldog is actually a comical, jovial, and charming animal.
Many Bulldogs tend to wheeze and snore, while some drool because of their short snouts and outward protruding lower jaw. These are normal physical side-effects of the breed. Because of the compressed nature of the jaw, extra care needs to be taken in keeping the teeth clean. Early dental care, with daily brushing, will get your Bulldog in the habit so that it is grooming time that is looked forward to. Minimal coat care is needed for this dog, but the folds around the tail and facial wrinkles should be cleaned every day to prevent build up of dirt or rubbish. Failure to perform this regularly can lead to infection of the skin.
Bulldogs love their daily outings, however, do not expect them to walk or jog long distances, or dart from great heights. The short-hair and snout of the Bulldog make it sensitive to extremely hot and humid climates, and most do not enjoy swimming. Using sun screen lotion on the dog's skin if you are going to be spending time in the sun, and making sure your Bulldog has plenty of water is essential for healthy days out.
The average lifespan for an English Bulldog is between 8 and 12 years. It is a member of the brachycephalic breed class, meaning that is has a short head and snout. This physical characteristic can lead to a number of possible health challenges, including those of the nose, eyes, teeth, and respiratory system. The nostrils are narrower, and the soft palate longer in the Bulldog (meaning that the skin of the palate can partially obstruct the airway), creating the potential for severe breathing problems, especially when the dog is overheated or over excited. Heat is a special concern with this breed, since it is not able to cool itself efficiently through panting, as other breeds do.
Because of the extra amount of work that is involved with bringing air into the body, any situation that requires breathing harder can lead to irritation and swelling of the throat, which can also lead to respiratory distress in the Bulldog. Heat stroke is also more common with this breed.
Some of the major health problems the Bulldog is susceptible to are keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS), ventricular septal defect, canine hip dysplasia (CHD), shoulder luxation, internalized tail, stenotic nares, and elongated soft palate. The Bulldog has also been known to suffer from urethral prolapse or vaginal hyperplasia occasionally. Some minor problems affecting Bulldogs include entropion, cherry eye, elbow dysplasia, patellar luxation, distichiasis, ectropion, and demodicosis.
There are a few precautions when dealing with Bulldogs:
HISTORY AND BACKGROUND
The history of the English Bulldog is as unique as its distinctive face. First bred in England as a cross between the pug and the mastiff, the Bulldog's main purpose was as an entertainment dog in the sport of bull-baiting, a popular game during the Middle Ages -- from the 1200s through the mid 1800s, when it was outlawed by an act of Parliament. The aim of the dog was to attack and bite the bull, not releasing its grip until the bull was brought down. Bulldog owners boasted of their dog's ferocity and courage, and their ability to fight to the finish even when suffering extreme pain.
It is recorded that all levels of society took part in this blood sport, and that even Queen Elizabeth enjoyed this form of entertainment. The longevity of the sport is owed in large part to the belief that the meat of the bull would be more usably nutritious if the bull was in an excited state before slaughter -- a belief that has been since grounded in fact.
After bull baiting was banned in 1835, a new chapter began for the Bulldog. Although the Bulldog lost much of its popularity because of the end of the fighting, there were still those who appreciated the breed for its devotion and fortitude. Ardent Bulldog enthusiasts rescued the breed from what appeared certain extinction, encouraging its most attractive physical and characteristic features, while replacing its ferociousness with a gentle and docile disposition. The dog maintains its ferocious tenacity in the face of danger however, fighting to the death, if necessary, in the protection of family. These qualities, altogether, make the Bulldog a very popular and friendly dog.
Today, with a clownish and amiable personality, it has also become a favorite among American pet owners, and a favorite of institutions throughout the world, who use the Bulldog as a mascot to denote their own strength in the face of adversity and battle. They include the United Kingdom, the U.S. Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, and hundreds of businesses, schools, universities and sports teams.