A couple of people asked me how do I introduce dogs into my pack or when we do evaluations on the farm. When Clancy was alive, he was the best at determining the demeanor of dogs that came for a visit. Only one dog needed to corrected and was A 2-year-old unneutered dog came in, and he thought he was the boss, or so he thought. As he walked up to Clancy, he put his head on Clancys back showing dominance and in a split second, that dog was on his back, and Clancy had his mouth around his neck standing over him. The dog's paws were rigid and straight up in the air and Clancy was standing over him but not tightening his jaws or moving. Once the dog's paws relaxed, Clancy let him up, and they went off and played... In the wolf’s world, this is called the Wolf throw or Wolf roll. The guest dog came in as an alpha, but in just a short time, he was submissive. There are many things that you look for when you see a dog for the first time, and that will tell you nearly everything you need to know.
Things to watch for;
Direct eye contact
Teeth exposed toward the other dog
With that being mentioned, the one thing I always look at is their tail and what is it doing. A Dogs tail will tell you A lot and how it carries it is an essential indicator of many things such as its current social standing as well as its mental state. There can be some variations, of course, depending upon how the dog naturally carries its tail but what I look for most is if the dogs tail is tucked between its legs. This can be especially common whenever the dog feels that it is in the presence of a more dominant dog or person and it can also mean, “I accept my lowly role in the pack, and I’m not here to challenge you in any way.” If the dog’s tail is held upward, this is often the sign of a dog that is in control and is dominant and confident. This may also be a display of a dog who is saying “I’m the boss here. Don’t mess with me.” If this happens with a dog I am working with, I know to be on guard, especially if you have another dominant dog.
With that being stated, the question was. “how do you introduce a dog into your pack.”
Usually, when a dog arrives at the gate, I will notice how it’s acting. Is it barking happily with there tongue out to the side or a frightened bark, but if you don’t see any emotion, you need to be on guard. I will always choose my personal dogs to meet the new rescue or a guest dog because I want some calm personalities and I want it to be low key. I will usually pick Annie, Doc and Shepp to be my guinea pig dogs. After the dog enters the gate and putting all the information together from everything I have perceived so far and there is no reaction, I will immediately take the new dog off lead.
Front this point on, just to be sure you understand, I am not a trainer, dog behaviorist or an expert. This is not advice or the way you should do this. This is what works for me.
I feel that when a dog comes inside the fence, they can feel trapped because they can handle the pressure of the lead and the dogs around them if the lead is on and that in itself can cause problems because they know there is no escape. Once inside and the dog is free, there will be sniffing and checking for butt smells which are common. Stay on top of the situation by watching the eyes, ears, and tail, this is critical. I always make sure I am close by and in position for anything. Because it’s my dogs and I have verbal control over them, it’s the new dog I watch. If I saw something I didn’t like, I say, “let’s go” which is my trigger word to go play and mine will run through the woods and it’s a happy time for the dogs, and usually, the guest dog isn’t far behind, and any issues can be de-escalated. The new dog will of course either stay back or go because of curiosity but the problem is solved, and the problems have resolved itself. If the dogs are just unsure of the situation and you still don't get a good feel, we go for a walk together. My dogs will run through the woods playing and running, and the new dogs will usually hold back but, in just a few minutes, they want to join in the fun.
Just last week Dallas was picked up at his former home. We were inside the house, and he was very friendly and loving. I took Shepp with me to act as my neutral dog and right from the get-go, tails were wagging, and butts sniffed and then they went on there way, no issues at all. Once home, Dallas was out of his element, and when he was let out of the car, his whole entire world had changed, and to him, it was not good. Dallas stood by the gate. Wanting out and I approached him with Shepp, his friend, Dallas followed us back to the house and seemed to relax. The other dogs were in the kennel, and Dallas went on the wraparound porch but still looked for an escape because he could smell the other dogs. Still frightened, I let him settle down and just observe everything around. After letting a few of the dogs out, he was scared, but he was curious, and he would follow at a distance. After an hour, we took a walk around the lake where they could run all they wanted to. Dallas was following and running, and they started playing together. My theory is to let them be dogs and run, play and enjoy themselves and most anxieties go out the window. Dallas slept in the house on a dog bed that night, and the next day, he was part of our pack. This is a Facebook post I made the next day.
“What a difference a day makes. This would make a good story but here is a short version. When Dallas came in yesterday, he was a little shy... maybe a lot. He would hide and stay away from the other dogs. Nothing wrong with him but he is unsure about everything which included me, dogs and the new place and he also missed his human Mom. This is very common, OB was the same way. Today is a different story. He runs to greet everyone, plays with the dogs and lays under my chair because he found a new friend. Dogs need us to guide them to a world of safety, care, and love. Dallas was very loved where he was, and they treated him very good. But his life drastically changed, and he was scared, and new friends make a world of difference. It literally brings me to tears when they transform into what they should be and gain all the confidence in the world.”
The worse place for dogs that don’t know each other to be is standing around their the owner in a circle and talking. The people don’t see the dogs checking each other out, but the dogs are vying for position in the pack. I will always take the people on a walk with the dogs because there is no jockeying for position. Having introduced hundreds of dogs, I have never had a dog fight or even a skirmish. While I always prepare for it, it has never come. Remember this is my techniques, and I do not suggest you do it this way, every dog and dog pack is different, but you need to read your dog. As a rule, I can know in under a minute how things will be.
Hopefully, this has helped you understand how I do this. One thing I have noticed with every dog that has issues, most can be traced back to socializing the dog at a young age. My suggestions when we raised pups was before they are 6 months old, take them out to meet 50 different people and 100 places after they were vaccinated, getting them used to everything. Ken
** Notre ** The alpha roll or wolf throw was first popularized by the Monks of New Skete, in the 1978 book "How To Be Your Dog's Best Friend.” The book is very good and informative and I have used this training technique very sparingly with good results but it can be too risky and demanding for the average dog owner.
Interesting observations from What Is My Dog’s Tail Saying – Sweet Caroline Doodles.
Watch for these dog tail positions discussed below in your own dogs and how they carry their tails in various interactions with other dogs, and it may help you to begin to understand more about how your dog really feels and sees the world.
1 – Your dog carries its tail practically horizontal, yet not stiff, and pointing away from its body. This lets you know that they are paying close attention to their surroundings.
2 – Your dog is holding its tail straight out, pointing away from its body, both horizontally and stiff. Watch, and you’ll notice that this is part of the process that occurs in any initial challenge whenever they first meet a stranger or an intruder.
3 – If the dog’s tail is held upward, somewhere between a horizontal and vertical position, realize that this is often the sign of a dog that is dominant, confident and feeling in control. This can also be a display of a dog who is asserting his/her dominance – basically translating into “I’m the boss here. Don’t mess with me.”
4 – If the dog’s tail is carried up and slightly curved over its back it means, “I’m the top dog.” A confident and dominant dog who feels that it is in control will often express itself this way.
5 – If the dogs tail is carried lower than the horizontal position but still has some distance from the legs you can be aware that your dog feels pretty relaxed and that all is well.
6 – If your dog’s tail is carried downward, closer to its hind legs it can mean several things such as “I’m not feeling good” or “I’m a little depressed.” It could also mean “I feel insecure,” which is especially true of many dogs when they are in an unknown or new setting or situation.
7 – If the dogs tail is tucked between its legs it often means “I’m frightened!” or “Please don’t hurt me!” This is especially common whenever the dog feels that it is in the presence of a more dominant dog or person. Tail carriage of this type can also mean, “I accept my lowly role in the pack, and I’m not out to challenge you in any way.”
8 – All right, let’s talk about a few more examples of how a dog carries its tail. If you notice bristling hair down its back or down the dog’s tail this often suggests a sign of aggression. This meaning may also change in intensity if the dog modifies its tail position. So, if the tail is carried straight out from the body it means “I’m ready to fight if you are!” or if it moves the tail slightly up or over its back it means that “I’m not afraid of you and will fight to prove that I’m really the boss.” This is serious – especially if it happens between two dogs that won’t back down.
9 – If your dog carries its tail with a crick or sharp bend in it while it is carried high this often means pretty much the same thing as in the tail bristling example. This too can be read as a sign of aggression.
10 – If the dog has a nice broad tail wag it often means “I like you.” You’ll often see this display during play sessions between dogs – for example, when one dog seems to be fighting the other, pouncing, growling, and barking but with a wagging tail all the while – the wagging tail reminds the other dog that this is all in fun. A broad tail wag can also mean that “I’m pleased.”
11 – If you happen to notice that your dog is exhibiting a slow tail wag, with its tail carried at half-mast it can often mean “I’m confused.” Later when the dog finally solves the problem that it was confused about you will often notice a dramatic difference in the speed and size of the tail wags which will usually markedly increase as well.