Adapting to a new canine family member.

  • Hi, we have just adopted a 5 year old female to be a companion for our 3 year old neutered male. She isn’t spayed yet as she was used for breeding. She has only had 2 litters. She is from the same breeder as my boy. A good breeder. I’m introducing them gradually and with Hawkeye surveillance but I made a dumb mistake. I attempted to give each of them a treat and my boy attacked her. There was an ugly fight and my guy got the worst of it. I hope he learned something from that. She will see our vet this week to make arrangements for her spaying. Does anyone have any ideas that would ease their getting used to each other? Or even words of encouragement? I want so much for them to be friends and I know it won’t happen over night, but I’d like some help from you who have done this. Thanks for reading.

  • SLOWLY!!! It's not always easy introducing two adult dogs and basenjis in particular can be a little rough. He has been your only do for 3 years and his "intruder alert" alarm is active. He wanted it and went for it. If she isn't in heat her being intact probably has little to do with the behavior but yes having her spayed is a good idea.

    I would recommend feeding (including treats, especially REALLY good treats) be done separately. Do they have kennels? If not you can use baby gates or separate rooms. Feed them in their kennels, give them treats in their kennels, etc.

    I have 3 boys and two are OK with each other going near food and respect the "GO AWAY" growl. My puppy is.. a puppy and ignores them and dives in. They don't appreciate it at all. Luckily no injuries have happened but puppy gets all food in his kennel. A quick "gone in a second" treat is fine but if it's a good chewy or something of "high value" there could be a battle.

    Another thing they argue over are beds. Have many places for them to lay because right now they might not want to be snuggle buddies. That could never happen! They may learn to live in harmony but might not be best friends. We do our best but you can't fully change a dog's personality.

  • You know that you've made a mistake in giving them treats at an early stage of their introduction so now you know to do this in a different way. Just be patient and go back one space! When they are separated (when she has her op) again be wary when they are reunited. From now on I would feed treats or their meals side by side but in separate crates so that there is no chance of fighting. I don't think the fact that your male got the worst of the fight will be taken as a lesson by him, so be continue to be vigilant. Have you asked the breeder's advice too? She/he will have experience of the bitches temperament.

  • Oh dear, I'm so sorry you had this spot of bother. First thing to remember - treats and food cause problems if not properly dispensed / monitored !

    I would take them out somewhere away from home and try to get them interested in other surroundings, on a walk, a free run in woods (if you can trust your boy). Once they accept being together away, then reintroduce them to the house. Best to let the boy in first and then the girl, i.e. the one who is 'at home' before the visitor. OK not a visitor but he's been there for longer. It might take two of you, each with a dog on a lead and then gradually get them together and sniffing the same blade of grass. You may have to do this a number of times and when you are sure of them (as sure as one can be with Basenjis) then get them indoors again and, standing ready with a noisy toy or something to distract their attention at need, leave them loose.

    If he is severely injured, don't separate them to different rooms. Make sure they can see and smell each other all the time. We had up to eight living in the house and often there were be some kind of contratemps but it was always of short duration. I am always the alpha, I am bigger than they are and it is MY house. Any injured dog was crated in the kitchen in full view of the rest of the pack as they came and went.

    Meal times were absolutely fine. I have a big kitchen and as long as the food pans were put down from the same hand to the same dog in the same order and on the same spot on the floor at each and every meal - they knew when it was their turn and never fought over food.

    Spaying the girl is not going to stop fights ! And as the boy is neutered there is no immediate hurry.

    Good luck !

  • Some good suggestions alread. You have to be the leader, they have to respect you above all else. Try to get them onto neutral ground and allow them to become a pack with you. If they are together in the house, it is easy for them to be opposed, when they are together on neutral ground, they are a pack. Structure during feeding and no treats until you are sure you can trust them. When you get it right, it’s amazing to see them bond. Imagine it as a relationship, brothers and sisters will often squabble between each other. However when they face an outside threat, they become very bonded.

  • @zande said in Adapting to a new canine family member.:

    Meal times were absolutely fine. I have a big kitchen and as long as the food pans were put down from the same hand to the same dog in the same order and on the same spot on the floor at each and every meal - they knew when it was their turn and never fought over food.

    Priceless advice. Love the way you put this!

  • Thank you for these helpful ideas. I will definitely use this experience you have shared and I won’t give up. Thanks for encouragement.

  • When I brought home a 2 year old boy (Sunny) to be company for my 9 year old girl (Tamu), who had lost her previous female companion, she hated him on sight and wanted to kill him! The first night Tamu slept with my husband, Sunny slept with me in a separate room. She disliked him intensely, although he wanted to be friends with her. I laid down the law, letting her know attacking him was off limits, and they began an uncomfortable truce. He was intimidated by her, which made things easier, and eventually they became companions of a sort, although she never really liked him or would deign to play with him. For the first while when we had to leave them alone, he was crated.

    I have always supervised meal times with all of my dogs. Food dispensed in bowls, dogs on a stay until allowed to eat, no poaching allowed. Worked like a charm as long as I was paying attention!

    When Tamu eventually passed on at 16 plus, Sunny never appeared to miss her. I think he was happy to have us all to himself!

  • “I laid down the law, letting her know attacking him was off limits,” That bit right there lol. If the dogs respect the leader and know the leader is both fair and strong, then they will trust the leader.

  • @aileen

    Everyone makes mistakes. Food guarding/possessiveness is a real thing, often not even an alpha issue. It is actually a survivalist characteristic. I never blame the dogs, it has always been my own carelessness.

    Pam Hamilton took on training a pretty much feral group of dogs and seeing them eat is inspiring. (video below). You can turn the food issue around. They can learn you own the food. 🙂

    I'm lazier. I always fed dogs in their crates (Rottweilers, Chow, basenjis) until I got down to 2 dogs. Like tanza, they knew their spot and bowl and no stealing allowed. With treats, they learned to sit as I handed them out. My current basenji, Cara, is food aggressive with other dogs. When I give treats, she knows to go to my left and the Samoyed to the right. No treats til they are in their spots.

    As for friends... some dogs are social butterflies, some limited doggie friends, some should be only dogs. You don't know how they'll gel til they have time. Give them time. Even if they don't bond, you are giving her a loving home. And even if he doesn't love her, they may both come to appreciate the company. Often dogs are unforgiving if hurt in a fight, but I personally find that more true with same sex. The breeders here may know better... trust them.

    You can even do some work to change the neurological response. Usually I suggest it with cats or kids or bikes etc... but it can work here too. Crate one, or leash it to you. The moment the other comes in site, do a happy upbeat "YEAH" and toss both a treat (better if you have an accomplice so you can safely hand them one. Slowly but surely the sight of the other is "yum, treat" instead of "ready to fight". With a buddy, do the same thing several times a day in the yard, out for walks, etc. Don't bring near enough to fight... just close enough so you start rebuilding their responses. Plus, it helps to swap out who has which dog so they both get individual time with you.

    As for spaying...I admit I've joined the "don't spay til you get the facts". At her age, most benefits are negligible. Plus, he knows she is intact... that may make him like her more. 🙂

    When we got our first Samoyed, so many stressful things were going on, including my daughter leaving the country for 2 weeks. Pam too the dogs and worked with Cara and her dog aggression. Cujo walking amongst 15 plus basenjis, calm and confident, really made me cry happy tears. When we got Moose, he became her puppy. She adores him. She sometimes sounds like a tree-shredding machine gone wild, but she doesn't even leave wet places when she disciplines him. It can happen, just relax and let it come.

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