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Canine Behavior/Proper way to introduce a new dog to the household


Recently I made the gut wrenching decision to have my beloved 16 y/o faithful friend, euthanized.
It was a very bad time that I will spare you the details on.

Since then the house is intolerably quiet and lonely without her..My husband and I do have another dog, but he is getting on in his years, he will be ten in June.
He used to enjoy his walks, now they are a chore, he sleeps most of the time etc
He is my husband's dog and is with him whenever he is at home, he just tolerates me
I so miss having my own companion but am terrified of bringing home a new forever friend, only having to return her because our present dog doesn't  like her.
I worry that our present dog will pull rank, however our prior dog was the Alpha
I really want to save the life of a dog from a pound and have talked to a really nice lady about setting up an appointment to view the dogs.
My life is too empty without my own dog.
How would you suggest that I handle this situation?

ANSWER: I'm so very sorry for your recent loss. I made the same decision last July for my beloved 14.5 year old dog.

You are right to put the existing dog's needs first in this situation. The best thing you can do is have a professional (or a long time rescue person who has experience in assessing canine temperament and personality) meet your current dog and assess him. Then have that person help you find a good match for your current dog. When you believe you've found a dog that your current dog will be able to coexist with, you can arrange a meeting in a neutral territory. It may take a couple tries before you find a dog that he is comfortable with. And you may end up with a dog he only coexists with rather than a dog he becomes good friends with.

Or you may end up with a dog that brings out the puppy in your current dog, encourages him to get up and play a little and who puts a spring in his step.

If your current dog is mellow and laid back, but confident, then I would be looking for a similar dog - mellow, and easy going. If you believe your existing dog will have a need to make the rules, then you may want to look for a dog who is less inclined to push his own agenda. If your current dog is a bit shy or wary of new things, then you may wish to find a dog who shows a bit more confidence and curiosity about the world, who may bolster your existing dog's sense of confidence.

With a 10-year old dog who is already showing signs of aging and slowing down, the most important thing is that you DO NOT get a puppy. You are setting yourselves and the dogs up for a great deal of stress to bring a puppy into a house with a senior dog. Puppies have a never-ending supply of energy and desire to play. They have no sense of personal boundaries and they aren't yet very good at reading and heeding the communication signals (e.g. back off, leave me alone) that other dogs may give. This means that a puppy is likely to harass your senior dog until he feels the need to make a firmer correction than just growling or showing teeth. This can lead to aggressive displays that may cause emotional trauma or physical damage to the puppy - and the senior is well within his rights to make such corrections when the puppy won't leave him alone. So, unless there can be heavy supervision at all times, and the puppy is separated from the senior dog most of the day, with just a few brief supervised visits each day where you've "got the senior's back" and redirect the puppy the first time the senior gives a "go away" signal, long before he needs to snap to make himself understood, I would avoid choosing a dog under 18 months old.

There are plenty of dogs between 18 months and 10 years that need forever homes. And there's a good chance that you will be able to find a dog who is maybe 2 or 3, or even 5 years old, who is in a foster home where they have been able to observe her/him with other dogs and can tell you how s/he is with other dogs. I would encourage a couple of meetings in neutral territory if possible before agreeing to a trial run in your home. These initial meetings will hopefully last an hour or two so we can see how they settle in the same space. Ignoring each other is just fine. Interacting politely is great! Playing is a bonus. Relaxing together (near each other, but not necessarily touching) is ideal.

Then, bring the dog who seems like the best fit home for a trial run. The last 2 dogs I brought home, both had me saying "I reserve the right to return this dog if my existing dog/s don't like him." Both times the dog stayed... But going into it with that in the forefront of my mind allowed me to guard my heart for the first several weeks while I gave the dogs time to get to know each other. Remember, it can take as much as 6-12 months for a new dog to settle into a new family and for the existing dog to come to terms with the new dog, so you can't expect to know for certain in the first week, and you can totally expect to have a few moments where you question whether it was the right decision.

Not every dog will get along with every other dog. And as dogs age, their tolerance lowers. Joint pain and stiffness from arthritis can severely lower the tolerance of dogs, making them far more likely to snap if another dog is in their space - especially a high energy dog - if they feel they will be unable to protect themselves due to slower reflexes. Hearing loss, vision loss, cognitive decline, other aging ailments can also all affect a dog's interest and ability to adapt to a new dog in the home. So while you may be feeling a need to find a new friend for yourself, you need to keep the comfort of the existing dog in mind. If you can't find a dog he is comfortable with, you will need to decide if you can just love him with all your heart - spend more time with him and improve your bond with him while he's still with you - or if you're determined to bring a new dog into the house no matter what. If it's the latter, then you may need to set up separate living spaces for the two dogs and have them rotate who has run of the house so that they don't have to interact with each other as it's not fair to the current dog nor a new dog to live in the stress of not getting along with each other. If you end up with the latter situation, then the rotation needs to be multiple times per day.

Example: Senior dog goes out for potty and while he eats breakfast the new dog is outside for potty. Then after he finishes eating, the senior goes into his quiet space to rest for the morning while the new dog eats breakfast and gets to have the run of the house for the morning. Then, around noon, the new dog goes to his space for quiet time (after a potty break) while the senior dog comes out, gets to potty and enjoy the afternoon having the whole house. Then, around 3 or 4, switch the dogs again and then around 6 or 7 switch the dogs again. Then put both to bed after final potty for the night. This can work if you and your husband are willing to do this. But it does require being around to make it happen, so it depends on your schedules. Of course, this is only if the two dogs don't care for each other. And you can try supervised together time for brief visits of 10-30 minutes to try to build up their ability to at least relax in the same space. Co-existing is all you actually need. They don't need to play together. We just hope they are able to hang out in the same room and not be stressed by the others' presence.

Personal example: I got a puppy when my Rainbow Bridge dog was 10 years old. She was starting to slow down a bit. My puppy went to work with me every day, so for 8 hours per day, 5 days per week for the first 3 months, my existing dog had the house to herself to relax. When we were all home, they had supervised time each evening and on weekends, and when my senior needed a break, the puppy went into his playpen. I made a point of spending quality private time with the senior dog as well as play time with the puppy if my senior was tired. As the puppy grew up and learned to heed her communication, they were able to live fairly harmoniously together with little issue and with out needing to be separated.

Then, 4 years later (with severe physical and cognitive declines) we got another puppy (for my younger dog to bond with before my senior passed). My senior's tolerance was nearly nonexistent anymore. So, the new puppy was in his playpen for a couple hours several times per day. My middle dog and the puppy had plenty of play time together while my senior was separated from them to protect her from the high activity that made her uncomfortable, and she was invited to be in the space with HEAVY supervision. I also made a point of giving her undivided love/attention at least twice each day - morning and evening - in a separate room from both dogs. She never harmed either of my dogs, but she was 'heavy handed' in her corrections, lunging and snarling to tell them to back off and I wanted to minimize both her need to do that and the trauma that caused to the puppies. I did make it work, but it was time consuming and took some actual planning and set routines. We did this for the last 8 months of her life.

I hope this is helpful. Again, I'm so very sorry for your loss. I wish you the best of luck in finding a companion that you can love and whom your senior dog gets on with so that you can both have a friend during his golden years.

Please feel free to followup if I can be of any further assistance.

Jody, APDT
Los Angeles Behaviorist

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for your expert advice and I do apologize for my tardy response.
I ended up adopting a beagle cross, two year old spayed, puppy class trained, house broken, baby girl!
Although this is not a question, I felt the need to let you know what is happening here as you were so kind and thorough, a true dog lover, I surely appreciate that
A friend and I drove to a nearby city, with my senior dog. I  found an ad on Kijiji that led us to this address.
We met the family of Bella and went to the backyard.
The meeting of the dogs went rather well, and after spending some time together, we came home, all four of us
Listening to Bella cry on the way home was excruciating, but she has settled right in, and never leaves my side, it's crazy
My older dog, as I figured, is off on his own, which is his typical behaviour.
My husband bought him for me ten years ago after my Mother died, and since then, ''Cooz'' does not separate himself from his "Dad''
The dog that, I considered mine, was my shadow, is the one that I had euthanized.
So, you can imagine my grief. Adopting Bella did not alter my grief, considering that today I got my prior dogs ashes returned to me.
Knowing that she was not wanted, obviously, where she was, broke my heart
She seems to be adjusting well, she tried to take a treat away from Cooz, but he set her in her place.
Cooz has the same relationship with Bella as he did with Fidget, deceased, they co habitat together, that's it
I am exhausted after taking Bella out, soon to be nine times today..two with Cooz, as he won't leave the house with his Dad home!
Bella has cried a few times, which is understandable, my concern is that she will get used to me being home all the time and I have to return to work next Monday, I don't want her crying and having the neighbours complain. She will be home for six hours without me.
She is very strong and once she finds a scent, she goes nuts, so I bought her a ''walk right'' harness..this is going to take some time before she can walk on the sidewalks with Cooz and I..but I feel, this is achievable , as a matter of fact, it is a goal of mine
Good news, we just got back from yet another walk, Cooz didn't want to go with us, but he did once we came back..
It was a typical walk, as it was with Fidget, and I am able to control her better with the harness when on pavement, then I let her run,by releasing the lock on the lead, NEVER free, and sniff once we get to the field.
Cooz's behaviour is typical of him, he has always been a one person dog, my husband.
Everything is normal here between the critters, we have cats too, that Bella is scared of, but they are warming up to one another
Bella is the constant that I have been looking for, my shadow, if you will
I have had my name in at shelters, only to be told that the owners prefer to have them rehomed and adopted
Bella is very inquisitive of her new in and outdoor surroundings, always busy, except for now, she is snoring at the end of the couch.
I am sorry for your loss as well. It is unfortunate that one of God's greatest creatures has such a short life span

ANSWER: Thank you for the followup. I'm pleased that you were able to find a dog that seems to be fitting in well with Cooz.

Just a couple things I wanted to suggest...

First, to help Bella transition to you not being home during the day, I encourage you to take some short trips out without her over the next few days. Put her where ever you plan to keep her while you're out, and then go do stuff. The first day, run to the store. Be gone for 30 minutes. Come home and act like you never left. Don't be overly affectionate, though you can certainly acknowledge her upon your return. Then, a few hours later go out again for 30-45 minutes and return.

If you have a video camera, you can set it up to record her to see what she's doing while you're out. This will either ease your concern because you'll see she wanders around and then settles in to take a nap, or you'll see that she becomes stressed and panicky (pacing, crying, barking, digging, pottying, being destructive, etc). If the former - GREAT! If the latter, you'll need to take some steps to try to ease her separation anxiety before it becomes an issue.


Over the weekend, go out for 1.5-2 hours, then 3-5 hours.... This way, when you leave for work on Monday she's already getting practice at being without you for several hours over the few days before. If there's any chance you can come home for lunch the first few days, just to break up the long day, that might help if you've seen that she's having troubles being unattended.

If you are seeing/hearing a great deal of stress from her, you can try a few things. You can try a Thunder Shirt as this can reduce her anxiety at your departure. The shirt is not meant to be worn 24/7. The effect of the shirt will wear off after the first 30-90 minutes, depending on the dog. It's OK if she wears it for your whole work day, but understand that the comfort of it wore off after that first 90 minutes. Don't just put it on the minute before you leave or it will become a departure cue and that stress will supersede the comforting effect of the shirt. In stead, vary when you put it on anywhere from 2-15 minutes before you leave.

Provide her something to do to occupy her when you leave (again varying when she gets it from 2-15 minutes before you leave). This could be a Kong stuffed with her breakfast (see basic recipe below), a Marrow bone similarly stuffed, a Tricky Treat Ball filled with her breakfast kibble (you'll need to teach her how to use this), or any other long lasting chew that she really enjoys. Or you can scatter kibbles in her room for her to scavenge while you're gone (just make sure they're all accessible to her without assistance). Being a beagle, she LOVES to use her nose and this can help engage her while you leave. Sniffing and chewing are both self soothing behaviors and can go a long way to helping her feel OK about you being gone for a while.

Any of these food options should be done in a way that Cooz cannot get to them or you may end up with some fights over food if they're not supervised...

You can also try soothing music that has been shown to calm anxiety in dogs. Through a Dog's Ear is a CD that I've used with success. There are 3 discs in the series. I only have one of them, but you can have all and rotate them if you like.

**Kong/Marrow Bone stuffing recipe guide...
You can be as creative as you like. The basic recipe is this: 85% of the stuffing should be the dog's regular kibble, 5% should be awesome treats and 10% should be a dog-safe soft food to use as a binder.

Treats can be any dog treat that Bella likes or human foods such as cheese, a bite of bacon, cooked chicken meat or crispy skin, carrots, almonds, blue berries, melon, cooked beef, hot dog, broccoli, green beans, etc. Anything your dog loves and is not allergic to.


The binding ingredient can be one or more of the following: liverwurst, peanut butter, cream cheese, apple sauce, sour cream, nonfat plain yogurt, cottage cheese, Beechnut baby food (do not use Gerber as they tend to contain onion powder and corn starch), pumpkin puree, sweet potato puree, mashed potato (no garlic), high quality canned dog food, you can soak some of her regular kibble in a low sodium soup stock (beef, chicken or vegetable) until that kibble is mush and then use that kibble as the binder, etc. I rarely use just one option here, and I always cut the very high fat items such as liverwurst and peanut butter with something lower in fat/calories. We don't want to over feed or give too much fat to our dogs as it can make them sick. Whenever possible I use low calorie or low fat versions of these options. Read the ingredients and try to avoid corn syrup as that's sugar and our dogs don't need nearly as much sugar as we do, and since we're trying to calm her, the last thing we want is a sugar rush...

Finally, one last thing on your newest family member. I wouldn't expect her presence to suddenly lift your grief. She is not a replacement for Fidget. She is a new friend. Fidget will always have a special place in your heart. Mourn her. Remember her. (Try to do your deepest grieving in a space separate from Bella as that can be stressful for her to see her new person so upset). Don't try or expect Bella to fill that hole. She cannot and it's not fair to put so much pressure on her to try to fill that hole because she'll never live up to that expectation. Get to know Bella for who she is. She's special and wonderful in her own right. learn her quirks, her joys and her dislikes. Allow her into your heart into her own special place. Let her brighten your days and give you focus going forward.

"Dogs come into our lives to teach us about love and loyalty. They depart to teach us about loss. We try to replace them but never quite succeed. A new dog never replaces an old dog, it merely expands the heart. If you have loved many dogs, your heart is very big." - Erica Jong

Read more: Rememberances - The Pet Wiki
There are some very lovely quotes on Pet Wiki that you may find helpful as you move through your grief.

Good luck. Fidget will always be near by, even if you can't see or touch her. Just stop, listen, close your eyes and feel her presence.

Jody, APDT
Los Angeles Behaviorist

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hello again
I am getting very upset to the point that I may return her to her owners, and this breaks my heart.
Indoors she is my dream dog, attentive, obedient, more than loving
Today she scared the wits out of me when she saw a squirrel and started this, what I learned to be ''baying''..She sounded like I was hurting her! She scaled a tree, after catching the scent of a critter and it was very hard to get her distracted from whatever it is she saw/smelled, not to mention that Cooz was with us.
I dread taking her out, afraid she will start baying and people will think that I am hurting her, or she will somehow get out of her harness and I will never see her again, yet I talk of returning her.
I have been doing as you suggested with leaving the house for lengthier times, but my husband has been home and when I came home, several times, she had been with him, but once she sees me again, she starts jumping and making this crying, almost screaming type of sound that.  I made no fuss with her today, I greeted her when she came in and within five minutes, she started to settle down.
It is this crying that I am afraid that she will do when I am gone on Monday. And surely the neighbours will complain..townhouse living
She just wants to be with me
Toys are of no interest to her.
I bought her a Kong and she settled with it, I also bought her a meaty bone and she's been chewing on it as well.
I have heard of the thunder shirt and am going to look into it, as for the cd's ''Through a Dogs Ear'', they also sound interesting.
She will be alone on Mon for six hours, and they will be the longest six hours of my life
There is good news, Malcolm allowed Bella to share some kibble and they sat together on the couch. I wonder if having other critters around will be enough to calm her while I am gone.
I work Friday, but my husband is off, so she will still not be alone, but she will know I am gone for a while. I don't worry much about tomorrow as I do Monday
I have taught her to stay...
but all obedience. shake a paw, sit, stay, is thrown out the window when we're outside
I can't take Cooz out alone anymore, as I started to do after Fidgets death because Bella knows I am out with him and she barks because she wants to come too
I wonder if she will get used to my comings and goings, over time, and realize the routine of it.
I love her so much, yet I miss my Fidget. And as I cry, unexpectantly, she lies with her head on my arm..and I feel just awful
I have a very stressful job, and thinking that my new dog may be causing a ruckus in the neighbourhood, while I am at work, distresses me.
Then I think that if she does cause a ruckus, I could get her vocal chords altered, but that is too cruel.
She is doing what she was bred to do, who am I to take that away from her?
Am I being fair to her, she needs a yard to run and play to be with
And I feel that through my selfishness, I robbed her of that, because I had a void that needed to be filled
For me to make the hours drive with her in the truck, knowing what I am doing, and her thinking that were going for a car ride, even though I am returning her to her original owners, only to upset her again, by getting rid of her,   is too unbearable for me to even conceive.
If I knew she wouldn't cry and if she walked better on a leash, I would be happier than anything right now
I have become so attached to those big brown eyes searching the house for me
For weeks after Fidget died, I got used to not seeing her in her usual spots and I got used to it, I mellowed..
I accepted her death, and now I question it all over again, like I should have seen it coming, what did I do wrong?
Then I got Bella and my nerves are all upset again, afraid she will cry when I leave for too long or she sees a squirrel.
I feels like I need grief counselling and a dog obedience trainer

"Dogs come into our lives to teach us about love and loyalty. They depart to teach us about loss. We try to replace them but never quite succeed. A new dog never replaces an old dog, it merely expands the heart. If you have loved many dogs, your heart is very big." - Erica Jong

This really touched me, thank you.

Bella is in my heart..Perhaps I am asking too much of her, I have only had her for two days!
She never lets out a peep in the house, has only barked once, when I let her out for her bedtime pee, took her a while to get the gumption up to bark. It seems that she  doesn't like to bark, but bay, yes
I woke up this morning, and she wasn't there. I went flying down the stairs, asking my husband where she was..and she came bounding down after me..I felt like I was in heaven
Sorry for taking up so much of your time and I do appreciate spending time with you.
I am learning things and healing, all at the same time

God bless you


From your emotional reaction to Bella while out on a walk - when she sighted a squirrel - I'm guessing you've never owned a beagle or other scent hound before. Beagles are known for their baying/singing barks, especially when on scent. They are used frequently in fox hunting type sports - if you've ever seen video of a fox hunt, it usually involves a dozen or so beagles running through the underbrush, all baying as they go. This is not a breed for every individual. It takes knowledge of the breed and the commitment to work with a positive reinforcement trainer to teach her how to set aside her innate, hard-wired need to chase that squirrel and maintain her focus (or at least return her focus) to you. The harness you mentioned is definitely a tool to use while teaching her to walk nicely, but it's not the "fix" in this situation. She will need a great deal of training some foundation skills such as Focus (eyes on my face, not out to the world), Come (disengage from whatever it is you're doing/chasing and return to my side NOW), and, of course, leash walking skills. It's definitely not impossible to teach these things to a beagle, but it is certainly more challenging and time consuming than, say, a border collie who is all about watching and reading their person for cues on what to do next.

You do need to keep in mind that you've only had her for less than 72 hours. There is a learning curve when it comes to new dogs (for the person and the dog). It can often take several months to find your groove with that new dog and for the dog to find their groove with their new person.

My concern for you right now is that you adopted Bella far too soon. I don't know you, but from your questions and follow-ups, I think you are still racked with grief over Fidget's passing. It's not fair to you or to Bella to try to force this relationship when your heart is still so broken. She will not help you heal faster, and in some ways may actually make it harder because she's just not Fidget and never will be.  In my situation, I was lucky.

I already had another dog for 4 years before Cashew passed. My concern was actually for my other dog - he was so attached to Cashew that I realized that I would not have the opportunity to grieve for her because he would need another dog in his world immediately. So, we actually adopted a puppy about 8 months before Cashew passed so that Chewie could bond with his new friend before he had to say goodbye to his "big sister." This turned out to be exactly the right thing for our family - I had already bonded with the new puppy as well, and because both were part of the family already, I didn't see either of these dogs as replacements for Cashew because they were already in my heart along side her before we said goodbye. If I hadn't had the puppy prior to her passing, I don't think I would have been able to consider a new dog for myself for at least 5 or 6 months because I was so grief stricken. It would not have been fair to bring a dog into my home when I was in that state. It's a lot of stress for that new dog - on top of the stress they're already experiencing at suddenly coming to a new home. It's important that we are emotionally stable when we bring a new dog into our lives so we can create a stable environment during the dog's transition.

From your initial post, I didn't realize how recent Fidget's passing was. If I had better understood just how despondent you still are (and you need to just take as much time as you need, there is no "right" way to grieve), I would have more strongly encouraged you to hold off for a bit before committing to a new dog. I might have suggested volunteering at a local rescue or shelter to get your "doggie fix" that Cooz doesn't provide and give yourself time to get to know some other dogs and wait for that moment when your heart says "I'm ready and this is the one" rather than rushing to try to fill that incredible and unavoidable void.

If you are determined to make it work with Bella, then you're going to need to brace yourself for the transition period and commit to some serious positive reinforcement training either through group classes or private lessons to get those foundation skills in place and build them up to really solid skills out in the world where you need them most. I also encourage you to engage in beagle specific activities such as Nose Work. If there is a certified Nose Work instructor near you, you should sign her up for a beginner Nose Work class. It's a great sport for the non-athletic owner (I fall into this category). The sport works one dog at a time, no interaction between dogs. The dogs learn first to search boxes in a room for a primary (food) target. Then, they learn to search boxes outside and in other types of spaces. Then they learn to search for that primary (food) target in a room or outside WITHOUT the boxes - just an area search (the food is hidden in a small tin with holes poked in so the smell can get through. Then, if you continue on beyond beginning classes, you'll start to pair the food with a target odor, typically Birch oil is the first odor used.

The purpose of this training is two-fold. First, it allows the dog to use and hone her scenting skills - letting her do what she was bred to do! And second, it's improves the bond between owner and dog because while in obedience, the dog takes it cues from the handler, in odor work, the handler takes their cues from the dog. So you learn to read her body language and she learns to communicate clearly with you when she's found the source of the odor but can't actually access it - relying on you to make the food reward available, or providing food from your treat bag if she's just scenting odor.

Both of my dogs LOVE this work. It's great rainy-day activity, it's great enrichment for the dog. And, once she's learned to do area searches (without boxes), you can pre-set "hides" along the route of your walk, and as you approach each hide, tell her to search. Initially she won't believe you, but once she does search and finds the odor/food, she'll be all over it. This then allows you to direct her walk such that you're giving her several specific opportunities to sniff and use her nose with purpose while out on the walk, and this may help you better control her (along withe the actual obedience work) when she does see a squirrel or cat or child, etc.

If you don't want or can't do a formal class, there's a book available that can be helpful. It's called The Canine Kingdom of Scent: Fun Activities Using Your Dog's Natural Instincts

The book walks you through how canine scent works, compares it to our scent abilities, and walks you through how to begin teaching her to track odors and search. There are several game options that you can do, and of course you can be as creative as you like, so long as the hide is not so difficult that Bella can't solve it.

As to her barking/screaming when you return home, my guess is that she's NOT doing that while you're out. What did your husband say when you were out and he was still there? I expect that what you're seeing there is over-aroused greeting behavior. My dogs vocalize sometimes upon my return - usually quiet whining, but sometimes quite loud. I've video'd them while I'm out and they don't do this until I've parked and gotten out of my car, heading to the front door.

You should have your husband leave the house for a few hours over the weekend with you so that she can experience being without humans in the house - if you plan to keep her - as she needs to start to learn the regular routine of your home.

As to whether or not you should try to keep her, I can't really make that decision for you. I can tell you that from reading your followups, I think perhaps it was too soon for you to try to commit to a new dog. This means putting Bella's needs ahead of your own emotional desire to have that companionship at this very moment. If you can't provide Bella the stability and attention to training that she needs, then returning her so she can find a home better able to provide those things is doing what's best for her. In no way does that make you a failure. Quite the opposite, actually. To my mind, it makes you a hero to Bella for setting aside your own needs and putting her first, doing what's best for her so she can be the very best Bella she can be.

But, if you feel strong enough, and have the time available to commit to some positive reinforcement obedience training as well as working with her to use her innate scenting skills (she needs to sniff stuff out as much as she needs to breathe or drink water), then this could work out well, and you're just reacting to the newness of a new dog. As you pointed out, it's only been 2 days...

Also, there are both online and in-person support groups specifically focused on the loss of a pet. You should ask your doctor, do a google search, or even ask the place that cremated your Fidget as they may have some local referrals for you. Your vet may also know of some local grief counselors that specialize in pet loss.

I hope some of this proves helpful to you.

Jody, APDT
Los Angeles Behaviorist

Canine Behavior

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Jody Epstein, MS, CPDT-KA


IF YOU BELIEVE YOUR DOG IS ILL OR INJURED, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL VETERINARIAN IMMEDIATELY. THIS IS NOT THE FORUM TO ADDRESS URGENT MEDICAL ISSUES. I AM NOT A LICENSED VET AND HAVE NO DIAGNOSTIC SKILLS. ***I have been answering questions on All Experts for over 8 years now. I enjoy being able to offer assistance in this forum. I do need to be clear, though. If you’re looking for free advice about a specific behavior question, you MUST submit your question to me via All Experts. If you bypass All Experts and write to me directly through my website, I will ask you to submit via All Experts. On the flip side, if you’re local to Los Angeles and you wish to speak to me privately about an in person consultation, please go through my website. I appreciate your assistance in keeping my volunteer work on the volunteer site.*** I can answer questions about the following canine behavior issues: obedience, timid/fearful & fear-based aggression, nuisance behaviors, families that are expanding with either new human or new animal members and many other issues. If you have potty training questions please first read my trio of blogs at If you still have questions after reading the blogs you can post your specific questions here. PLEASE be as specific as possible when asking a question. Give me a detailed example of the situation - dog's behavior, body language, circumstances surrounding the issue, what the consequences are (another dog's response, your response), etc. I can only provide insight if I can get a picture of the whole scenario. If I ask for further details, please provide them. In person I would normally observe for at least 90 minutes to assess the situation and the dynamics before offering tools and suggestions to modify it. In writing it is ever so much more difficult. Thank you for your participation in the process.


I have been a professional obedience trainer for 9 years, and specializing in behavior modification for 8 years. I have owned dogs my entire life. I own my own dog training and behavior modification business called Nutz About Mutz.

I am a Certified Profession Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA), #2133301 ; I am a member in good standing with the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), #77763 ; I am an AKC certified Canine Good Citizen evaluator (CGC), #71253

Publications ; ; Multiple articles in the local pet magazine Pet Press (found across Southern California)

I have a masters degree (MS) in Animals and Public Policy, with a minor in Animal Behavior, from Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. I also have 3 years of graduate education in Animal Behavior and Learning from UM-Missoula and UL-Lafayette. I continue to educate myself to canine-specific behavior through extensive reading, online interactive workshops, vidoes and attending canine behavior conferences, workshops and seminars. Beginning in March, 2017, I will be the Behavior & Training Manager at Second Chance Center for Animals in Flagstaff, AZ.

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