A lot of exciting new ECPR dogs joined our pack today! I can’t wait to get to know the newbies so I can share their stories and photos with you all, but in the meantime I thought I would take today to discuss what it’s like in a pack environment, as well as highlight some of the methods we have found to be successful when assimilating dogs into the playroom with dogs that have been here a while. Being a rescue, we have a “larger pack” than someone with a few dogs inside of their home, but even as many as two dogs can behave as a pack behaves, and when getting a new dog and assimilating them into your family, we hope our discoveries and methods will be helpful to you as well.
We are so thankful to have the amazing facility that we do here at ECPR (shout-out to our awesome founder, Vivian Goldbloom who designed the whole place!) and one of our favorite aspects of how we have designed the rescue is the large playroom that our dogs get to spend most of their day romping around in. They are always in the presence of our amazing kennel staff and volunteers, and they spend their days playing, learning manners, and for some of them, just getting comfortable around people again and learning that humans can be kind and trustworthy. We want them to view interacting with people as an exciting and positive daily adventure! Some of our dogs are dominant in nature. They like to “rule” over the others. They show this desire by humping, but ‘putting other dogs in their place’ i.e. cornering them, snipping at them, etc but once they feel that dog knows who is boss, all is well! Dogs who are submissive in nature or just not used to such a large group dynamic tend to be shier; they gravitate away from the crowd, they submit when a dominant dog displays the above behaviors, etc. Sometimes, our “pack” dynamic is very calm in general, and other times, very rowdy. Right now with so many puppies, it’s pretty safe to say that our kennel staff is working their butts off to keep all of the animals clean, safe, and happy! So how do we assimilate new dogs into the “pack”? When everyone is out of the playroom and in their kennels for their midday naps, and for some of them who need the extra meal, lunch, after we mop and clean their play area, the very first dogs we let out are the newbies. We give them some time to run around their new environment, to smell all the smells of the other dogs before actually meeting them, and to generally have time to explore and prepare for what comes next. Then, one by one, we begin letting the others dogs back out. We begin with the calmer, more social dogs who have shown in the past that they are welcoming toward newbies, and that way, by the time we let out the more dominant dogs, they see that other pack members have already accepted the newbies and it makes their willingness to accept them that much more likely.
Of course, assimilation is a process and here at ECPR it is ongoing because the more dogs we are able to adopt, the more we are able to bring in! Sometimes dogs don’t always get along, but we do our best to make sure that everyone is safe, healthy, and as happy as can be. Today, the new dogs did wonderfully! It’s such an amazing thing for us to be able to see dogs who are new to the building enjoying being here even on their first or second day because that makes us feel like we are doing something right. A happy dog is an adoptable dog, and the more comfortable they are here, the more comfortable they will be in meet and greets and it’s so important for potential adopters to be able to see a dog’s personality really shine. At ECPR, when a dog walks into a meet and greet with a wagging tail and an excited bounce in his or her step, we know that soon, they will find that perfect forever home.