Why does my dog do that?

As a dog professional one of the questions we get most often is “Why does my dog ___?”

We don’t know. No one knows. And our dogs can’t tell us.

Dog “whys”

Why does Tango bark so much

If the question is something behavioral – we also don’t care. We deal with the situation, not the cause. It’s hard for some people to wrap their minds around that. We’ll never know what caused the behavior in the first place.

Our job is dealing with what is.

Fixing the problem

We got a question this week from a person whose dog gets crazy when her car’s windshield wipers go on. The dog’s owner speculated that the dog viewed the wipers as a threat, and was being protective. Maybe that’s true. We don’t know and the dog’s not talking.

There are three ways we can deal with any not-ideal behavior:
Ignore it.
Manage it.
Train it.

You’re the only one who can decide which of the three paths you’ll take.

Every dog owner’s tolerance is different, and how your household works is no one’s business but yours. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.

Ignore it

If it’s something that makes you go “huh, that’s interesting,” it may not be worth the time and effort involved in changing it. It doesn’t particularly bother you, so you can ignore it.

Manage it

If it’s an occasional occurrence that you can prepare for and secure the situation in advance, it could be that management is a good option for you. For example, if you’re having work done on your house and expecting plumbers, painters, or other professionals, you may not need to train your dog to greet them politely and allow them to go about their business. This may be a case where you secure the dog in another area of the house and deal with the temporary inconvenience.

Fix it

Why is my dog reactive to windshield wipersBut if it’s a part of everyday life that your dog isn’t good at dealing with, it may be time to pull out the training kit and get busy. There are times when you must use the windshield wipers. And it would be really nice if your dog didn’t care.

This is the time to train your dog.

Again, we’re not trying to psychoanalyze the dog to help it cope with the trauma of windshield wipers. We’re going to use positive reinforcement training to help the dog deal with the reality.

You can’t do that in the midst of the trauma. If you’re driving down the highway and the skies open, pouring down cats and dogs (sorry, we couldn’t resist), it’s not the time to train your dog. Or yell at it. For that moment, it’s an “ignore it.”

When you’re home and the car is parked on the driveway or in the street, that’s the time to take a few minutes to condition your dog to either ignore, or even enjoy, the windshield wipers.

Get some incredibly yummy treats (about 10) and go out to the car with the dog. Give the dog two treats. Turn on the windshield wipers for a second. Turn them off. Give the dog a treat.

Do it again until you’re out of treats. It won’t take more than a couple of minutes. You can do it again later, but not too much at a time.

The next day, or week, or whenever you have a chance, turn on the wipers and give the treat when the wipers are on. Then turn them off. On=treat. Off=no treat. When the 10 treats are gone, you’re done.

Step by step

We’re sure you see the progression. Gradually increase the length of time between turning on the wipers and giving the treat. Wait until the dog is quiet before you give the treat. Be patent and grow the behavior gradually. If you take too large a step and the dog regresses, just take a step back and go a bit slower.

There’s no deadline for either you or your dog. It took a while for the behavior to become habit – it takes just as long (or longer) to reverse it.

As much as we’d love to know why our dogs do certain things – we can’t. We can help them deal with whatever it is. And everyone will live happier ever after.

The perfect dog harness

You and your dog are special. There’s no other person/pup duo like yours. Your relationship is unique, your situation is one-of-a-kind, and your challenges and joys are singularly yours. There is a perfect dog harness for you.

Case 1: Oreo

For example: a close neighbor here at the shop has two little dogs: Panda and Oreo. Panda is a delightful, feminine, playful Japanese Chin. Oreo is not as easy to love – he’s a Shih Tzu who had a rough start in life and has some issues.

Shih Tzu Oreo and Japanese Chin PandaOreo can’t easily be handled and isn’t very trusting. Their owner, a woman with some mobility challenges, needs a harness she can leave on Oreo all the time. He refuses to put up with much handling.

Leaving a harness on all the time isn’t something we recommend. It’s too easy, especially for small dogs, to get caught on something and wind up in trouble. But in this case, with the dual circumstance of an aggressive dog and a disabled owner, we had to find a good solution.

The perfect dog harness for Oreo is the Yellow Dog Design Step-in. The strappy harness won’t make him too hot. Oreo has a good coat of fur. It’s smooth and won’t cause tangling. And no one has to reach underneath or fuss much with the buckle, since it’s a pinch clasp at the shoulder blades.

Fitting Oreo’s harness required gloves and many, many, many Chicken Heart Treats! We feel great when we see him walking around the neighborhood with his person. They’re both comfortable and safe.

Case 2: Coconut

Coconut, a Miniature Poodle, escaped from every harness his owners tried. His perfect dog harness is the Wrap-N-Go. It’s contained Coconut for several years now. But, on occasion, we still ask his people to bring Coconut in when we get new styles. Just so we know how long it takes a Houdini dog to wriggle out of them.

There is a perfect harness for every dog – but it’s not the same for all dogs. You and your dog’s individual circumstances and quirks will dictate which of dozens of harnesses suit your walking style best.

We love getting to know you and your dogs and finding the solutions that make everyone safe, comfortable, and happy.

Try our online Do It Yourself Harness Picker anytime to check out a few recommendations from our experts.

For a highly personalized recommendation, submit a Harness Selector form. We’ll get to know a little about you and your dog and give specific make, model, and size options for you and your dog.

Dipping one toe over the line – CBD available here

We’ve always been “good girls.”

Well, Fran more than Hope, but both of us pretty much play by the rules. We do what we’re supposed to do, when we’re supposed to do it, are polite and truly believe in doing the right thing.

Introduction to CBD

Now we’re stepping a bit over the line.

We decided to start carrying CBD oil in our shop. We understand that some consider it controversial, and it’s possible to get in some trouble. But it’s important for us to offer the best possible care for our dogs – and yours.

For those unfamiliar – hemp is the source for CBD oil. Yup, marijuana plants. Research is showing that CBD may have tremendous therapeutic benefits for both people and dogs. Among other cited possibilities: relief from pain, anxiety, epilepsy, arthritis, seizures, neurological ailments, sleep disorders, and possibly even cancer.

Getting support

Our interest in CBD oil was piqued when it was mentioned in a support group Hope has joined. Teddy, her 8-year-old French Bulldog, has been diagnosed with Degenerative Myelopathy (DM). DM is a genetic, neurological disease. It’s the canine equivalent of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). It’s a progressive condition that steals mobility from dogs as it deadens the nerves of the spinal cord. The first sign in dogs is usually “knuckling” – when the dog drags its back feet.

There is no cure for DM. No treatment exists. Those of us with dogs suffering from DM hope to slow the progression of the disease with exercise, massage, diet, and supplementation.

No professional help

So Hope talked to our veterinarian about various supplements that may have an effect. She tried to talk about CBD – but the veterinarians can’t talk about it. Veterinarians’ licenses come from the federal government in the U.S. Vets, technically, cannot discuss a “Schedule 1” substance without risk to their licenses.

As pet owners, we’re on our own with this.

The research we’ve been able to find, on our own and with the help of others, seems to indicate that CBD can help open the neural receptors that die with DM. And, rather than do nothing, we’ll try.

We know it will do no harm.

Certified organic

CBD oil, while made from hemp plants, has none of the phychoactive compound that can make anyone (including dogs) “high.” The company we’re using grows all of its own hemp in Colorado, and it’s certified organic – another important consideration for us. The only other ingredient is safflower carrier oil – also organic.

We got Teddy’s diagnosis in July. We’d been doing on homework on CBD, talking to different companies and learning more about it. And then, serendipitously, a fellow Skokie merchant, who we’ve known for years, stopped in to talk about his venture into CBD products.

Life saver – maybe

A lifeline tossed into our bit of ocean. We found an expert we already knew and trusted.

When he offered us the opportunity to carry Suzie’s CBD oil and dog treats in our shop, we jumped at the chance. Not only has Teddy started on the oil, we’re happy to be able to offer them to you, as well.

We don’t quite know what will happen with this new product. It’ll be a challenge to let people know it’s available here – Google and Facebook won’t let us advertise. And we found out our friend’s bank closed his account (banks are federally licensed).

So these “good girls” are dipping our toes into some muddy, gray waters. But it’s the right thing to do for our dogs – and yours.

How to deal with a dog fight

Golly Gear dogsTwo of our dogs got into a spat the other day. Okay, it was a dog fight of not-quite epic proportions.

It was their first and we know why it happened. We’d had guests all weekend – a friend and her three French Bulldog girls. Everybody got along great – sometimes a little too great. Fortunately, everyone settled down after the first raucous evening and played, relaxed, and had a great time.

Dogs love routine

But even the most beloved guests interrupt the regular routine. It’s a good kind of stress, but it’s still stress.

When our company left, our boys were overtired and a bit cranky after having so much excitement.

Dog fight!

So when one wanted the chewie toy the other had, instead of just nudging, whining, and being generally obnoxious, they got into a real argument, with growling, snarling, and teeth involved.

Safety first

Caught by surprise, we (stupidly) reached in and grabbed the combatants. Dumb. Dumber. Dumbest.

Years ago, when we weren’t nearly as dog-savvy as we are now, we had a Brussels Griffon and a Boston Terrier who would, occasionally, get into fights. They never lasted very long, but they could be nasty.

Fran’s thumb got badly bitten during one of these episodes. And that’s when we instituted a house rule that, should any of the dogs start fighting, we raise our hands over our heads, shriek like banshees, and run in the opposite direction from the dogs.

Acting ridiculous works

It serves two purposes: it keeps everyone’s hands away from teeth and shocks the dogs so they forget their grievances and follow us trying to figure out if their people have gone crazy.

It had been so long since we’d had a scrimmage in the house that the rule had fallen by the wayside.

We do, on occasion, have moments where the dogs object to something. Typical little-kid type stuff: “Mom, he’s looking at me!” or “Mom, he took my toy.” or “Mom, his piece is bigger than mine.” But the “run and wave” rule is back in place now and we highly recommend it.

It diffuses the situation. No one’s hurt. And your dogs will never tell anyone how silly you looked running around the house, waving your hands in the air, screaming.

This time no one was the worse for wear. No dogs or people suffered harmed. So it served as a valuable reminder that dogs lose their tempers sometimes.

 

Dog training – expectation vs. reality

Congratulations! You’re a dog trainer!

2-Minute Trainer Book 1 - Clicker & Place

It’s true. The reality is – everyone who owns a dog is a dog trainer. Dog training is all day, every day. Dogs learn from everything we say, do, and are.

The tricky part is being aware of what we’re training!

Our new book, 2-Minute Trainer Book 1 – Clicker & Place, will get you started on the most fun you’ve ever had playing with your dog.

Expectation

People say their dogs “know” when they’ve done something naughty because the dog hides or has a hangdog (sorry, we couldn’t help it) expression.

Reality

The dog knows yelling will happen soon. The dog doesn’t “know” not to do it – the dog knows not to be around when you find it.

To a dog, the answer is not “don’t do it.” It’s “make sure she doesn’t find it.” It’s why they “hide” their accidents. And why, when you’re in the process of housebreaking, you should be hot on the heels of any dog who decides to leave the room!

Expectation

Dog training takes a long time, isn’t much fun, and you need an expert to achieve anything.

Reality

Dog training only takes a couple minutes at a time, is a fun game you play with your dog, and anyone can do it.

It does require patience, but that’s why we do just little bits at a time. The time we spend with our dogs, considering everything else going on in life, can’t be full of tension and stress. Everyone who has a dog should be able to spend just 2 minutes playing a training game.

Double Reality

if you don’t have two minutes to spend with your dog on a regular basis, you probably shouldn’t have a dog.

Expectation

We can’t do this. My dog is an obedience school drop-out.

Reality

Dog training includes tricks.

Teddy practicing tricks

Your dog was probably bored stiff by the glacial pace, boring demeanor, and rote repetition of the exercises in the obedience class.

It’s a fact that most small dogs are descended from animals whose original jobs were getting rid of vermin. That means they were bred to work independently, use their brains, and outsmart the competition. Furthermore, when we say little dogs are smart, we mean it. They don’t have the “obeying” kind of smart, they have the “problem solving, thinking” kind of smart.

Expectation

Dog training isn’t fun.

Reality

If it’s not fun, you’re doing it wrong.

2-minute training is fast-paced. It works best if you go into it with a smile on your face, good “cookies” close at hand, and use that higher-pitched, excited voice you would with a toddler. Moreover,  when you ask “Wanna go train?” your dog should be just as excited as if you asked “Wanna go for a walk?” or if you grabbed your keys and asked “Wanna go for a ride?”

Getting completely real

To summarize, the reality of 2-Minute Training is that you can:
Expect to have fun. Expect to be sorry when time’s up. Expect you and your dog to excel.
Expect to be proud – of yourself and your dog.

Focusing on dog fitness

Is your pup fit?

There are lots of different kinds of dog fitness, as I’ve been learning recently from my fitness coach (my sister Fran! Check out her Fitness Over 50 blog & Facebook group!).

Aspects of dog fitness:

Stamina

French Bulldogs aren’t supposed to like the heat – but Teddy doesn’t worry about what he’s “supposed” to do!

One aspect of dog fitness is stamina, something I’ve had to work on with my French Bulldog, Torque. He’s the first of the three Frenchies I’ve owned who’s had an issue with heat sensitivity. I know all descriptions of the breed mention it, but he’s of mine who’s actually had it. Dax and

Teddy both adored heat and would lie out in the sun on the hottest days, with no ill effects. Silly dogs.

Flexibility

Another part of dog fitness is flexibility. And it’s another one that Torque isn’t great with, mostly because he’s built like a brick. We’re working on it, hoping to improve his “torquing!” Especially since he’s dipping his toes into the agility arena these days. We’ve also recently found that Booker, Fran’s Boston Terrier, isn’t as good bending to the right as he is to the left. With both of these guys we’re just doing a simple exercise, holding a treat to the side, a little further back as we see improvement, and having them turn their heads to get it. Not too much at a time – we don’t want to do any damage or give them stiff necks!

Tango, Fran’s Brussels Griffon, is possibly the bendiest dog in the world. This boy can practically fold in half. One of his nicknames is “Gumby!”

Strength

So we were really surprised when we realized that Tango doesn’t have much core strength at all. He was having trouble balancing and keeping himself upright. We were shocked!

Tango sitting on the balance disc.

It’s been a while since Tango’s done agility, so it could be his core strength has diminished without the jumping, climbing, weaving practice. But he’s still a very active nine-year-old dog, who loves doing Rally, “killing” his brother, and guarding the house with every vocal cord he has. So we want to keep our little guy in shape for as long as possible to keep him as healthy as possible.

One of the exercises Tango’s doing is sit-stand on an inflatable balance disc. This works his core as well as his legs. He’s getting better, but still falls off occasionally and has some trouble maintaining his balance in a sit. You don’t have to invest in a disc to do this – anything that’s not too firm will do, especially for our small dogs. A couch cushion on the floor would work just fine.

Tango standing on the balance disc.

Fran also has Tango spin both ways on the disc. At first, he just followed her “cookie hand” around in a circle. Again, he’s getting better, but still tumbles off the disc. (Is it really bad that it makes us laugh a little bit when he falls off?) This is another one you can do on a cushion.

Every day we try to have individual time with our dogs. Lately we’ve been playing  dog fitness games. And we love seeing them getting fitter and stronger while they play with their moms!

Dog shows explained – Rally and Agility

All dogs can compete in dog sports –  any size, breed, mixed breed. All dogs are welcome. Although all require some training to be successful – and to compete safely.

Rally and Agility are more active, fun-to-watch dog “sports.

Rally Trials go with Obedience Trials, but Rally is the faster, louder, little sibling of Obedience.

A couple similarities between Rally and Agility – both have a set “course” the dog/handler team must follow. Both allow the “handlers” (people part of the team) to “walk the course” before competing. Both are timed. Both allow you to talk to your dog while competing. Both are fun!

Rally Obedience

Getting involved in Rally is probably the easiest transition into dog sports. At the first level of competition (Novice), everything the dog has to do are variations of the regular “sit, down, stay, heel” commands. The Rally Novice course is performed entirely on-leash and there are only between 10 and 15 signs, or behaviors, that the team needs to complete.

French Bulldog Dax in Rally competition.

Dax competing in Rally Obedience.

Rally courses are laid out so they’re easy to follow. The signs are always on the person’t right-hand side, and they have instructions like “Turn Left” or “Halt. Walk around dog.”

Once you’ve seen a couple of teams go through the course, you’ll start to know the pattern of the course and know better how the team is doing, if they’ve completed the signs correctly, and begin to truly enjoy the teamwork and fun of it.

As you progress through the levels of Rally (Intermediate, Advanced, Excellent, and Masters), the behaviors on the signs get increasingly difficult, the dogs compete off-leash, and the wonderful teamwork of the experienced competitors and their dogs truly begins to shine. It takes quite a bit of training to do side-by-side spins with your dog!

Agility

Agility is the running, jumping, climbing, obstacle-course-racing part of dog sports.

Agility is the one that may look like it’s just an all-out race, and in some aspects, it is! The trick to agility isn’t to get your dog to run – all dogs can run. Or jump – most dogs can jump. It’s to do all the “stuff” in the right order at the fastest possible speed.

Most of the obstacles involved in agility are jumps. There are also tunnels a few yards long, the “dog walk” which is a one-foot-wide board four feet off the ground, weave poles (12 for the upper levels, six for Novice dogs), a seesaw, an A-Frame that towers over five feet tall, and the “Pause table” – which brings the run to a complete halt for five seconds. It shows that the chaos of the agility course truly is under control.

Boston Terrier Booker on the Agility seesaw

Booker on the agility seesaw.

Every trial features a different course, created by the judge, that has the obstacles in a different order in different patterns. There are rules the judge has to follow in creating courses, like the distance between obstacles, what order they can be in, etc. The obstacles are numbered. Competitors “walk the course” for eight minutes before their competition class begins.

Agility is also the sport where it’s most important to find a good instructor – it can be dangerous for the dogs if done incorrectly. And for the people.

Everybody (and their dogs!) can do it!

Everyone who wants to find a place to play with their dogs can find dog sports to suit. Find more information about all our favorites on the American Kennel Club website.

Explore them, find out which one(s) you enjoy, get out there and have fun with your dog. You’ll meet some of the best people in the world – dog people!

Dog shows explained – Conformation and Obedience

We have a nice collection of ribbons from dog shows. Not a huge collection Not even as big as we’d like, but we have them. Really, really expensive little strips of different colors of silk. 

We like green ones best, but the other colors are nice, too. Green ribbons mean the dog qualified (did really, really good.) Other colors signify placements, usually first through fourth.

dog show ribbons

Ribbons our dogs have earned at recent dog shows. Green is “qualifying” – other colors signify placements.

Ribbons are what you get at dog shows when you get what you want, while experience is what you get when you don’t! 

There are all kinds of dog shows and it’s confusing if you’re not familiar with dog sports. It’s particularly confusing because there are different organizations that put on shows. Because we’re American Kennel Club supporters, we’re just going to talk about AKC shows.

Conformation dog shows

First of all, the granddaddy of all is the “conformation” dog show. This is the beauty pageant of the dog world. Only purebred dogs are allowed, and each breed is judged separately. The judge compares each dog in the breed to a “standard” set by that breed’s “parent club.” Each one of the 150+ breeds recognized by the AKC has a “parent club” which represents that breed in the United States. Therefore, it’s the people who love the breed who determine the standard for their own breed. The dog most closely resembling that standard is the winner. That dog and the best dog of the opposite sex of the winner each earn “points.” Dogs need 15 point to earn a breed championship.

After each breed judging, the winners of each breed go into “Group” judging. Which breeds are in each group was determined by the original function of each breed. There are currently seven AKC groups:

  • Hound Group.
  • Terrier Group.
  • Working Group.
  • Herding Group.
  • Sporting Group.
  • Non-Sporting Group.
  • Toy Group.

In a conformation show, the winners of the seven groups finally go on to compete for Best In Show. The dogs really don’t compete against each other because they’re judged, at every level of the competition, against the breed standard. Therefore, the dog critiqued against a vision of the perfect example of the breed – that that perhaps exists only in the judge’s mind. The person showing the dog isn’t supposed to figure into the judging, although experienced “handlers” know how to show off the dogs to their best advantage. There’s lots more that goes into showing a dog in conformation (grooming, proper handling, ring readiness, etc.) but this is the basic outline.

Obedience dog shows

The next oldest type of dog show is the Obedience Trial. We’re passionate about obedience. Some people think watching obedience is as exciting as watching grass grow. Or paint dry. For us, it’s fun. At the Novice level of Obedience competition, the dog and person (handler) team are competing for the Companion Dog (CD) title. There are set exercises the dog/handler team must complete to “qualify” in the trial and earn a green ribbon! Three qualifying scores (170 or up to 200) earns the title. The exercises for the Novice competition include:

  • Heel on Leash
  • Figure 8
  • Heel Free (no leash)
  • Recall (Come when called)
  • Long Sit
  • Long Down

Obedience Trials look chaotic because so much is going on at once. Most Obedience Trials (shows) have several different “rings” going at the same time. A different judge presides in each ring. And each ring has a different level of competition going. After Novice, the dog competes in Open (CDX title), then Utility (UD). After that, dog/handler teams may compete for the UDX (Utility Dog Excellent), and the ultimate accolade – OTCH (Obedience Trial Champion).

Next time we’ll talk about Rally and Agility.

Play with your perpetual toddler/dog!

When was the last time you played a game? It wasn’t today? Are you sure you have a dog?

Dogs are pretty much perpetual kids. Think of all the things toddlers like to do and compare them to dogs. Just about the same, aren’t they? They’re self-absorbed, exploring the world around them, interested in all kinds of things they shouldn’t be, into all kinds of stuff they shouldn’t get into, put everything in their mouths, don’t listen until we insist, and are so adorable you just want to squeeze them.

When adults interact with toddlers, our voices go up in pitch, we get more lilt in our voices, and we’re ready to play all kinds of silly games and talk utter nonsense – just because it’s fun.

Dignity isn’t much fun

When was the last time you got silly with your dog?

You should! Every evening when we get home from the shop, we have “Chaos & Mayhem Time.” We don’t invite over the demons from Disney’s Hercules, we have our own set of four that live with us. It’s loud and crazy, and sometimes a little bit painful as the dogs jump over us, on us, and forget that they’re supposed to be grabbing the toy, not our hands.

And it’s fun. After a full day of adulting, our dogs are ready to help us let go. You can’t help but laugh as you look into their little faces “yelling” at you. And yes, your dog really is smiling as she waits for you to throw the toy.

Teddy playing tug

Teddy’s particular about toys – he likes the ones that crunch instead of squeak.

Our dogs are responsibilities. No doubt of it. They’re also our companions and can be tremendous sources of comfort and joy. They’re also our playmates, reminding us it’s okay to just have some fun, let go of what we’re “supposed” to do and just play for a while. The housework will still be there. All of the “stuff” that makes life complicated will still be there. For the next five minutes, we’re just going to play.

Loosen up!

Some of my students in Novice class (the first level of obedience competition) seem to have forgotten. Just last night the class seemed puzzled when I asked why they’re training their dogs. I had to remind them that we do it for fun. There’s no other reason to be involved in Obedience competition. You can’t earn a living at it, it’s expensive to enter trials and go to class, and it takes a chunk of time. Like any hobby – we do it for fun. The fact that we get to do it with our best friend makes it even better.

One of my students has to be reminded to talk to her dog, reward her dog, loosen up and have some fun.

Are you so busy doing stuff you “have to” do that you’ve forgotten to have some fun? When you look at your dog, do you think “oh, crap – he/she wants something again” or do you smile and think “I get to play with my dog now!”

It doesn’t have to take long and you don’t have to train anything. Just start rubbing your dog. Toss a toy, or wiggle it on the floor to play tug. Or get down on all fours and start laughing, just to see what your dog will do.

You need to play, too!

How many dogs is the right number?

What’s the perfect number of dogs?

Torque, Booker, Tango and Teddy

For us, it’s four. Same number as hands available to hold leashes. Two per person – one to cuddle on each side. Staggered in age so puppies have a chance to be puppies. Oldsters can avoid the chaos and mayhem if they choose. And, theoretically, our hearts won’t be broken too close together. It didn’t go quite as planned in the past, so we have two dogs at eight years old, one is five, and one is three.

If you have a dog and you’re thinking of getting another – fantastic! It’s much easier to teach a second dog (or puppy) the “rules of the road” if there’s another dog to show him the ropes. Housebreaking is much easier with an older dog around. Adult dogs are usually fairly tolerant of puppies. They may not be best friends right away, but they’ll probably be okay. When Hope got Teddy, Dax (her adult female Frenchie) wanted absolutely no part of him. Puppy Teddy would grab Dax’s face and hang on, as she stared off into the distance. Her obvious philosophy was that if she ignored him, he would go away. Teddy was persistent and eventually won her over – they were playing together within six months. However, that being said, your adult dog should be able to get away from the puppy when it wants to – everyone needs a break!

Generally speaking, experts advise if you have a dog to get one of the opposite sex. Two dogs or two bitches are thought to be more likely to fight. It depends on the circumstances, the dogs, the personalities involved.

If you decide to get an adult or rescue dog rather than a puppy, be prepared to keep some separation between them until they can get used to each other and establish their own relationship. Especially with a rescue, you don’t know what the dog’s triggers or “buttons” may be – you probably know little of its history. All interactions should be supervised.

We meet a lot of people when they first adopt their new dogs from a shelter or rescue. The vast majority tell us how wonderful, well-behaved, and quiet the new dog is. We help them get established with the gear they need for the new acquisition and congratulate them on their new family member. A few months later, after the dog is comfortable in its new home, he or she will abandon “company manners” and show his/her true personality.

The real dog that emerges will probably be more fun, happier, more loving, and more trouble than the polite little “guest” you adopted. He/she will also be more challenging than you imagined. When the dog figures out it’s really not going anywhere else, it may challenge the resident dog’s place in the family. This may be the time to find a trainer to work with your family.

We know lots of people with multiple dogs. And we know lots of people with only one. Only you know the “right” number of dogs for your family. For ours: one is not enough. Two is good. Three is better. Four is ideal. Five is crazy. Trust us, we’ve tried it!