Saturday, March 30, 2013

Thank you for your concern

There were several people that were offended and concerned by my video last night due to the fact that I introduced Stella and Hawk to each other with no leashes on.  Different opinions make the world go round, and I am not one to shy away from the fact that sometimes people don’t agree with the way I do things around here.  I’m fine with that.  At the end of the day I urge you to do what’s best for your dog and your situation.  I am only writing to tell you why I do all of my dog introductions this way…..

Leash reactivity is one of the biggest behavioural issues created by owners.  Owners don’t mean to cause issues for their dogs, however they inadvertently do so by introducing their dogs incorrectly.  By nature dogs greet each much differently than humans do.  Dogs don’t ever run up to each other and invade each other’s personal space.  In fact they usually greet each other from the side to make themselves less threatening during their initial greeting.  (You can see Stella do this at 0:16 and again at 0:46 in the video from last night.)  If you introduce dogs on a leash you force them to confront each other head on which as an initial greeting, can be seen as a challenge and cause the other dog to become offensive.  In my experience this is the worst thing you could possibly do when you have dogs that have any type of issues with meeting other dogs.   The key to introducing any dog to your pack is to be confident, calm, and be ready to correct any behavior you don’t want immediately. 

If I had thought there were going to be any major issues with these two dogs, then I would have never introduced them.  I refuse to set a dog up to fail, especially one that I have been rehabilitating.  With that also being said I frequently let my dogs figure life out on their own without me micromanaging them.  I am in charge at my house, and I expect all of my dogs to act a certain way.  Rarely do they disappoint me.  I find that my pack of dogs knows more about being a dog that I ever will and if you let them be as natural as possible in their relationships with each other, then you will actually have less problems then you would if you tried to “help”.

I felt confident in my progress with Stella and in the options that were presented as potential friends for her.  I had met both of those boys as they were both from the hoarding case, and I was not worried about them in the least.  Thank you to all of the people that emailed me about their concerns for the dogs, I’m sure your concerns were driven from the heart…..


  1. Emily, thank you so much for posting this. We are currently introducing a new corgi to our shepherd and we have had the corgi on a leash but our older (and pretty well trained) shepherd not on one and after watching their interactions, I have come to the conclusion that the leashed dog also feels restricted and unable to flee, if need be, so might lash out for that reason. I have to agree that allowing two dogs to 'meet' in their natural way with as little intervention is probably best. That said, that's the best way in your opinion, to break up to fighting dogs without having a leash to jerk on?

    1. My absolute favorite is one of those disposable air horn that you can buy cheaply at any Walmart or your local sports store. Those things are so loud, that I have NEVER had a dog fight continue after blowing that thing while standing next to a group of dogs. It is always enough to knock them out of the "moment" and within seconds they are worried more about what is going on rather than each other. Works like a charm and it's cheap!

  2. Great idea with the air horn. I agree with the leash thing. I can't always have an unleashed dog especially on walks and when an owner tries to drag their dog away before they are done it always leads to growling.

  3. very interesting Emily. Thank you for enlightening me on this topic. I don't think I would have thought of this.