Sandra Kruczek: Whose dog is it, anyway?

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Sandra Kruczek

Frequently we ask new pet owners why they got a dog. They often tell us that the new dog is “for the kids” or “to keep my other dog company.”

Getting a dog as a companion for another dog automatically sets the new dog up for trouble. Dogs relate easily to their own species but must learn to live and communicate with us. If we don’t teach the new dog as much as we taught our first dog, we end up with a dog and a half. Our new dog may never learn to live as an individual in our home. He might never learn how to function without the other dog, which could cause serious repercussions.

What if something happens and the older dog is no longer with us? What does the new dog know about life without a leader? Probably not as much as you might think.

Some “second dogs” become fearful of the world without their “home dog.”

When a dog is designated as “the children’s dog,” we help the family understand that this dog belongs to everybody and not just one individual. Everyone needs to agree to take part in the care, training and stewardship of him. If there’s disagreement in the household, he’s caught in the middle of conflict.

Both of these scenarios have something in common. Your dog’s isolation or rejection from some of the people in his environment prevents him from acquiring essential social skills. He’s blocked from learning that all of the people in his family are an important part of his security.

Social/life skills for dogs include how to live in your home. That’s why we stress housetraining, teaching proper chewing habits and how to greet people. Education is everyone’s responsibility.

Our highest recommendation is to plan ahead and think about the life your new dog will have with your entire family. Look into puppy training classes or family dog training classes. The dog you already have will benefit from family outings to class, too.

So, whose dog is it? He’s everybody’s dog.

Sandra Kruczek is a certified professional dog trainer with more than 25 years of experience.

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