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Canadian Registered Charity #85269-7440RR0001

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

We'd like to Congratulate our Hard Working Families

We all dream of the day that our new addition will arrive and just fit in to our family as if they have always been there.  Sometimes this happens, more often then not it doesn't.  Bringing a new rescue dog home can be work in the beginning, setting boundaries, rules, house training, obedience training, working through issues with current pets etc.  If done properly the first 6+ months might be work but from this work you will have a better/stronger bond with your new addition along with a dog who you can enjoy for years to come!

I am including an email below from one of our adoptive families and the correspondence from the rescue with them.  Real names have not been used but changed to generic ones.  

The reason I am posting this to the blog is to Congratulate all our families like this family who are having a hard go with their new addition but are giving it 110% and are determined to make it work!  We want to thank all of you for giving your new addition every chance they can have!


I don't know how to tell you this but I think Coco is going to have to
come back to you.  We are just heart broken.  We all really love her and so
does our boxer.  The fight that started it has progressively gotten worse.  It
stopped for about two months and when she got through her depressed cycle,
she came out of her shell.  The two of them are going for dominance and it
has gone from one every couple of days to one a day.  Today we have had five
and now our boxer is at the vets.  She also is aggressive to other dogs at the
dog runs.  We have had her to the vet and she gave us some reading material
and how to go about helping them through it.  I thought she was the one that
should have been the dominant one but reading through the literature,
our boxer has been showing signs since she came and I just never picked up on
them.  We all figured it was jealousy or puppy behavior to her.  When they
are separated, our boxer cries.  He just loves her.  The play they have it an
absolute riot.  You just can't help but laugh.  You know when the fights are
starting.  She has an awful "kill" look she gives him and he has picked up
on it.  So the fight starts.  She definitely does not like the idea of him
being dominant.  HELP  Any ideas would help.

Owners of a rescued boxer

Hi Owners of a rescued boxer,


I'm so sorry to hear that Coco and your boxer are not getting along.  


The No Free Lunch for both of them will help (attached below).  If you wish to keep them both I would strongly recommend working with a bahavioural trainer.  Not a sit, down, heel trainer but one that works with behavioural issues.  The reason I am sending you the no free lunch info is that both dogs need to understand first hand who is the dominate one in the house and that is the two of you.  It is never up to the dog to decide when to take out the other dog in the home etc. as they are not pack leader and only pack leaders can make decisions like that.  They need to understand that you are pack leader and they are the followers.  It will take some work to have them live together in harmony but can be done.  It will be harder because they are fighting so much now but the first step is to start with letting them know who is in charge and that is not them but you.  If you feel it will be to much and want to surrender her back to us we need some time to organize.  


This seems to be a common email that we have been sending out to new families over the last couple of weeks with their new boxers or boxers who have been in their home for some time.  Please remember boxers are a more dominant breed and it is important to deal with them as such.  Please read over the following and decide how you will put the advice in to practice to help with a smoother transition in to your new home.  For some dogs this whole approach is not fully needed but it's good to take pieces of this and remember it.


The best way to describe what your boxer needs is "NO FREE LUNCH".  I strongly suggest the entire family start a training program with your new boxer.  A training class not only will help with basic obedience but also to help build the bond and pack order that every family needs with their new addition.  Please research your trainers well, ask your vet, rescue volunteer etc. for recommendations.  I would highly recommend reading Cesar Milan's books, Cesar's Way and Being Your Dog's Pack Leader.  Both books are well worth their weight in gold and will give you a lot of insight.

Your boxer needs to know where she belongs in the pack and that is at the bottom.  She needs rules, boundaries and structure.  She needs to work for everything and receive no free anything (affection, treats etc).

She should be crated at all times in the beginning unless an adult is present to watch her behaviour and actions.  This is not a punishment but just a safety measure.  This will help with house training and also teaching your new addition boundaries and house rules.

If crating is an issue then start feeding her in it, throw cookies in etc.  Get her going in on her own, everytime she goes in attach a word, house, crate etc. to it.  So that she learns the word/command to the crate.  Praise her when she is in it.  For more advice on crate training please ask.

When out she is in work mode, there's no free time for her.  Although the kennel is not the best place it is very structured.  You wake up, some one brings you food, you are taken out, you are brought food, you go out again and you go to bed.  Not much time to think for yourself and that is something your new boxer should continue not to be allowed to do.  To live in a structured world for so long and then be allowed so much freedom can be very overwhelming.

Structure her day, out of the crate for a bathroom break, breakfast back in you crate.  Out of crate for a walk and work time, back in crate.  Out of crate for some free time with mom in the livingroom (during this time she should not be given free run of the house) back in crate etc.

Touch equals praise to a dog so make sure if she is growling, barking etc. you are not touching her.  Touching her to try and quiet her or soothe her is actually telling her it's okay, good girl, this is a situation you should be barking in or a person you should be growling at.  Keep a leash on her and if she is barking, growling anything like that you have the leash to pull on not the collar because grabbing the collar causes you to touch her neck.

Praise only when she has done something you have asked her.  Dogs love our praise so use it to your advantage, it's a big power that you have.  She works for all attention, food etc.  If you want to stroke her it's on your terms.  Call her to you, stroke her.  Make her sit, stroke her etc. etc. She needs to work for it.  Make her sit for her dinner etc. etc.

When out on a walk she is not allowed to walk out in front.  Leaders walk out in front, followers follow.  This is harder then it sounds, I know that but she needs to learn to heal and stay with you or behind you.  Once she understands her place in the pack being allowed to walk out in front is different but if she does not understand this position allowing her to walk out in front can only add to her thought that she is the queen.  She can have a "free" walk but only when you allow it and not when the dog thinks it's time.

Please make sure not to "baby" your new addition, that is the last thing she needs at this time. She needs a lot of structure, rules and boundaries.  She needs to know her place in the pack and these all need to be set before you can relax and allow her the free run that she deserves but must earn.



Thanks for your help.  I also agree.  We do not want to give her up.  We are all very attached to her.  Even our boxer is.  When they were not fighting, they were playing or kissing.  They shared the couch too.  One on each end.  I think part of the problem is the mothering and our boxer is getting to the growing up stage but he is still irritating to her and us at times.  She picks up on that.  They spend their time apart now and she isn’t eating well.  They usually share a dish of food together even the day of the many fights.  I think they miss the contact.  I have found them looking at each other with wagging tails and then re thinking it.  They started eating together themselves.  I understand that is not the usual thing.  We do give them two bowls but they always eat together.


I have talked to our boxers trainer.  She is an area dog trainer and believes the same things as you do.  She is very good and has asked me to bring Coco in tomorrow and she is going to help with us and work to better the situation.  You are right.  It is a matter of control.  Us and not them.  So it starts.  She has some commands but is very stubborn and I have been re-enforcing them. 


I will get a copy of that book and get to work.  We are determined to fix this.


Owners of a rescued boxer

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