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WHO Invited YOU??

Seamus is an Irish Setter, but not the frenetic kind. In fact, he is rather torpid and slow-moving, especially when compared to his new little sister, Frieda.

Frieda is 8 pounds of wired, manic Miniature Schnauzer that Seamus’ owner recently adopted. At age 2 years, she is not spayed, not housebroken, not obedience trained, not anything. The only redeeming features she has going for her is an adorable face and a heaping bowlful of human sympathy.

But, this story is about Seamus.

Seamus is too much of a gentleman to tell this smelly, noisy, undisciplined newcomer about how to be a civilized canine companion. Perhaps he hopes he can lead by example. Maybe he doesn’t think she is a permanent resident.

In any case, after a couple of months of Frieda’s incessant whining, pawing, and odorous infiltrations of his personal space, Seamus could take no more.

He lost it. But NOT with Frieda.

Instead, he found a discarded tissue, took it into his lair under the dining room table, and then growled and snapped at his owner when she tried to take it away from him.

She was utterly shocked. Seamus had NEVER done anything like this before.

As enamored – and preoccupied – as she was with the new dog, she hadn’t noticed the signs leading up to the incident with Seamus. In a way, he had been sending out vibrations all along that he was stressed by Frieda’s occupation of his house:

  1. He gulped his food down even more quickly than usual.

  1. He would get up and leave the room when Frieda tried to play with him.

  2. He spent more and more time under the dining room table.

  1. He seemed reluctant to come in after being outside in the yard.

  2. He had had an accident in the living room, something he NEVER did before.

Its not that Seamus doesn’t like other dogs. He’s just as amiable and easy-going as any setter. But Frieda, little as she is, takes up a lot of valuable real estate in this family. Her demands for attention, her noise, her smell, changed everything. Seamus withdrew, and then lashed out.

Readers might remember Dog Wars, which detailed the ultimate in clashes that two dogs in a household can incite.

Although this was not the case with Seamus, snapping at his owner was enough of a recognizable call for help to get the trainer in, pronto.

The introduction of any new addition to the family – a child, an adult, a second (or third) dog, is almost always disruptive and potentially disturbing to the resident dog.

Of course, there are things the dog owners can do to help ease the transition:

1. When bringing a new dog home, keep the resident dogs’ areas for sleeping separate so the first dog’s territory isn’t being threatened.

2. Feed the dogs in separate areas, and pick up their food bowls after feeding time is done.

3. Keep the dogs confined in separate areas of your home any time you are away or can’t watch them.

4. While your dogs may enjoy each other as playmates, supervise their play to prevent them from getting over excited.

5. Interrupt their play if one dog begins to bully or growl at the other, and separate them for a few minutes. Praise them when they are playing well together.

And most important, devote plenty of time to each dog individually for both training and play.

Like Seamus, if one dog is much older or less energetic than the other, be sure to give him time and space to himself so he can rest and feel secure.

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