I currently have a 2 1/2 year-old Newfoundland dog. He is very very well-trained, he listens to everything obey his commands. We can walk without a leash. But he’s not nice to other dogs especially female. I’m wondering if getting a another dog would ruin his well behaviors. He is kennel trained because he gets into things he’s not supposed to when I’m not around. What do you think? If I trained another dog the same they should behave?
Shae-Lynn – Regina, Saskatchewan
That’s a yes/no question. First thing to consider is whether your dog is indeed “very very well-trained”. I suspect he’s likely better then average – but the bar is set pretty low in North America – so until I get to meet the dog and owner I can never be sure we’re on the same page so, I’ll proceed with just a touch of the devil’s advocate in my reply.
The reason for my guarded skepticism is that you write on the one hand, he’s well-trained but, on the other hand he’s not nice to other dogs. I don’t think any dog has to like other dogs but they do have to listen to their owners around other dogs so that they at least appear to be civilized. Yours isn’t, so, we have to find out where the hole is in his training until you don’t have to say that “He’s well trained, except/unless . . . ” For example, if you were to ask me, “John, is your girl-friend faithful?” and I replied, “Why yes Shae-Lynn, she is, except/unless around other people, especially males.”, we might have to first make sure we are on the same page with regard to our definition of faithful or in your dog’s case – trained. So, that would be step one for me, to see where you are at in your training and to figure out why he’s not taking your guidance as diligently around other dogs as he his around the other sorts of distractions – that allow you to walk about without a leash.
Secondly, we’d have a look at how he has been historically handled around other dog. Lots of time people see another dog and simply get a double grip on the leash and dig in their heels and the resulting leash tension can make some dogs think somethings up and get a little mentally and physically tense themselves. After enough of this sort of handling they just get reactive around other dogs at the mere sight and for some – only when they’re on a leash.
Another HUGE reason this sort of dog specific aggression occurs (and there are more then I’m providing in this correspondence) is when the dog is left to look out windows in the home or through a fence in a yard and there are dogs being walked that they can see. This triggers territorial aggression which because the dog walking is such a constant, becomes dog aggression. People/trainers often misdiagnose the problem as dog aggression when it’s actually territorial and they don’t address the looking out the window stimulant and never make any progress.
As to whether I think if you trained another dog the same, would they behave the same – here’s where it’s yes/no. Technically, yes – in the sense that if what you’ve done that worked with your current dog has resulted in a better then average behaved dog (and I believe you, in-spite of my guarded skepticism above) however, you might find the techniques that worked for you with the one dog, mightn’t work as well if done exactly the same. Same as with our human children, you have to or at least you should try to be flexible in approach. Some kids would need a life time of therapy if you were overly authoritarian and others might end up in juvenile court if you were somewhat not.
Either way, you won’t normally find that getting another dog for him to live with will influence his attitude towards strange dogs as it’s two different issues. It could even make it worse with another dog’s energy.
I’m going to add a couple of links with articles I’ve written that I think will provide some more useful information. One is about getting a another dog and things to consider before doing so and the others are about the wisdom of walking dogs or taking them to places where they’ll be exposed to unfamiliar dogs as some dogs aren’t wired to simply be comfortable around unfamiliar dogs.