Monday, December 18, 2017
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Introductions: New dog meets top dog!

If you already have a dog (top dog known as TD), you may have considered adding to your pack by taking home another shelter animal (new dog known as ND). Obviously you are looking for a new addition that will suit your particular likes — as in size, breed, age, etc.

And never overlook the temperament and adaptability of your TD. After all, TD rules, your home is their turf, they want your attention and may not be receptive to a ND that will interrupt everything until boundaries have been established and the fur settles. Your TD may be easy going and very friendly towards ND. If that is the case, the transition could be very easy but you should still expect a few bumps until they are both settled comfortably with their roles.

What if your TD is a viscous, dominating, aggressive bitch?

Yes, I have one. Her name is Scout.  She is a Belgian Malinois, extremely intelligent, with an umbilical cord attached from me to her. I got her when she was a three-year old from a dog trainer/friend-of-a-friend that rescued her in California and was kind and caring enough to bring Scout to me in southern Nevada. Scout took to me and my grandson immediately. She also did well with my sons when they came to visit, not so much with a few others though.  She attacked and bit a couple of guys on different visits that came to help me with the property. She also jumped at a girlfriend of mine that came to visit. I admit to being new to having an aggressive dog at that time.  It was fairly new into our relationship and I have now learned a great respect for her love and protection of me and a lot of caution when I bring anyone new to the property or into the house.

Scout will be eight or nine around the first of the year. I don’t have much of her history available. This is my girl shortly after I got her.

Scout in 2011
Scout in 2011

My son Dan moved in with me about three-and-a-half years ago.  We talked off and on about getting another dog. And we talked about Scout’s attitude. It was obvious from a few of the running fights up and down the neighbor’s fence that lives across the street between Scout and his dogs. My neighbor takes in rescues also.  One in particular was Molly. Molly was a pit/English bull dog mix and had the same dominate aggressive tendencies that Scout has. They have a field-run fence and Molly used to literally take a run at it, climb up the fence like a ladder, and start fighting with Scout.  Scout was always ready to fight with her. Several times Molly came over the fence and the fight was on.  It wasn’t pretty and if you’ve ever had to break up a dog fight, you’ll sympathize. The only way to get Scout to loosen her death grip on the other dog’s head or neck is to ‘choke her out’ by sticking your fingers through her collar and twisting it until she can’t suck air.  Then she releases. Molly had to be put to sleep recently due to cancer in her hip. I’m sorry for the neighbor and Molly but really happy she is no longer on the property.

So…the discussions about a ND continued between me and Dan. We finally went to West Star Ranch (after I called every place I could find in Pahrump and there were no dogs available) and found a new, wonderful friend – Kim – and a dedicated, working, owner of the Ranch – Terry – and talked dogs.  We were introduced to Chevy.  We fell in love with him at first sight.  He was so excited when Dan opened his pen that he bolted into Dan and knocked him down.

Chevy’s introduction to Scout was a nightmare. We had decided that it might be best to introduce them on the street instead of in the yard. Scout was in her crate in my bedroom and Dan put a crate together in his bedroom for Chevy. I stayed outside with Chevy and patted his head, scratched his ears, and talked to him while he looked at me with big brown eyes. Then it was time.

I put Scout on a leash and took her down the street a 100 yards or so. Dan had Chevy on a leash and started toward me on the street.  Scout went absolutely insane.  It was all I could do to hold her back (she weighs 90 pounds) and she was growling and barking, started foaming at the mouth as she struggled against the leash and focused on trying to kill Chevy. Dan may have turned a whiter shade of pale as he took Chevy back to the house. We knew we  couldn’t keep Chevy.  We called the Ranch and took him back.  It was sad. After we got home, I sat down and had a good cry.

I talked to Dan. We both agreed we would work something out.  I sent Kim a text and told her we wanted Chevy but they might have to keep him for a week.

Hello Home Depot. We bought metal fence posts and rolls of fence wire and set up a double fence about a foot apart to keep Scout from trying to reach Chevy through a single fence wire. Dan set up a shelter for Chevy and that was his new home.  He lived outdoors at the Ranch so it wasn’t a huge shock to be outdoors here. At night I put Scout in my room and closed the door. Dan brought Chevy in and kept him in Dan’s room with the door closed.  For the first 10 days or so Scout went nuts when Chevy passed my door. She barked and snarled and tried to stick her nose under the door.

During the day we took Scout out on the property on a leash and walked by Chevy’s pen. At first she had a fit, running up to the fence and barking and snarling. About three weeks later, she didn’t want to go by his fence but I took her over anyway, she wasn’t happy. Close to a month later we tied them to sturdy posts about 20 feet from each other. Chevy would turn his back on Scout and lay down, Scout would snarl at him now and then and pull the rope tight as she tried to reach him. Somewhere around five to six weeks, we put them on leashes in the yard and walked them around still keeping some distance between them. This went on and on, Chevy still came in at night but Scout quit snarling at the door.

Close to two months after we brought Chevy home, we had them leashed, me with Scout and Dan with Chevy and they seemed to be OK although we still had them separated. I looked at Dan, he looked at me, and we agreed we might as well let them off the leash and see what happened.  Nothing. They didn’t run to each other or even get too close to each other but things felt relaxed. For close to five months we never left them alone in the house if we had to leave , Chevy was always put in Dan’s room with the door closed.

They did get into one fight and that I blame on me.  We had the tennis ball out and Chevy was chasing it down and bringing it back to Dan. Scout used to run for the ball but she’s gotten lazier over time. This time in particular, the ball went in her direction and she was up and after it.  They both got to it at the same time and the fight was on. Teeth everywhere. Scout had a bite into Chevy and he had her down on the ground. Dan and I were there immediately and got them separated.  Then it was over.

Now they are the best of buds, they drink together from the same water bowl at the same time, have their own feeding bowl but neither seems to have a problem with the other eating out of theirs.

It took a lot of time, energy, and a number of $$ to get it worked out but I believe that if you have the patience, desire, and are sincere about bringing in a ND, it will work out.  There may be a rare occasion where a TD simply will not learn to live with a ND but most of the time, you’ll end up with the harmony you see in the following video.

Make sure you adopt, these two are both rescues and loved dearly by the rescuers.

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