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Dog and New Baby/Agressiveness

I currently own a female, 9 1/2 year old springer/cocker cross. She has an incredible social personality, and is very loyal. Unfortunately, as a result she does not interact with other dogs very well. She typically fights with most dogs when her territory is being invaded, or in protection of her possession (sticks, toys, etc), and she considers most places and things "her" territory. The only area that she typically will not fight is in the field. But, with people, she insures that she is the center of attention, and is so charismatic, she typically is the life of the party. She is both a couch dog, and field dog. She has never been formally bird-trained, but she can flush find a grouse or quail most anywhere (plus of course sticks, balls, rocks, etc.). She has been obedience trained (at 2 years), and is 80% in my control. Coming when called is her greatest problem. My husband and I would like to get a second dog, a German shorthair pointer puppy, as a family and hunting dog, but fear that our spaniel, will be overly vicious with a delicate developing puppy. We are also expecting our first child this March, and are concerned about the order in which to introduce competition. We are equally concerned about introducing a new baby, since my spaniel has been my baby for so long, and her adjustment is going to be difficult. Another note: She is more likely to spar with another dog, if I am present. My husband has only been in her life 2 years, versus the 9 1/2 years I have had her.

My questions to you are:

    1) What order should we introduce a new dog....before or after the baby?
    2) What techniques can we do to help our spaniel adjust to sharing?
    3) Do you foresee any problems with the German shorthair's personality that will exacerbate the situation?
    4) We would like to get a female shorthair, but have found that the female spaniel gets along better with male dogs. Will the spaniel be able to eventually adjust to another female?
I appreciate your time in reading this lengthily correspondence, and responding.

Thank you,
Diane Robb


I have only had experience with one female that was similar to your dog and she did great with my son (in fact she was protective of him). It's my opinion that you should get the puppy prior to the birth of your child. It might make the transition with your baby a little easier and you will be able to devote more time to acclimating the dogs to each other. The key to having a harmonious house with the two dogs is going to be creating for them their own spaces. You definitely need to get two portable kennels and train the dogs to each use a specific one. I would feed them there and any time they growl, bark, or threaten one another put the agressor in her kennel for a period of time. Also, I would initially try to devote significant amounts of time to introducing them to each other. You will have to convince the older dog that the puppy is now a part of the family. You or your husband should take time to be in intimate contact with both dogs for significant amounts of time (example: put one on either side of you and caress/praise both dogs profusely). Generally, I've found that mature dogs do ok with puppies of either sex if they're introduced correctly. GSP's generally have very good personalities so I don't think that will be a problem. Again I would stress the importance of defining their individual spaces and allowing them to be alone at times. Hope this helps! Let us know how it goes!

Jon Oyler

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