Making scents of one ’ s new partner
How do you have your dog vet a new partner — and make a proper introduction? This was the question from Daphne from Devenish: Dear General,
I recently met a nice fellow from town — his name is Percival but he asked me to call him Percy — and I want to invite him out to the farm for a meal.
The other male in my life is my blue heeler, Hero — I bought him as a pup four years ago and he’s been my protector ever since. I do want Hero and Percy to get off on the right foot. Do you have any advice on how I should introduce them?
I have to assume you know what you are doing: this is no trifling matter. The farm is Hero’s territory and any unwelcome intruder is unlikely to escape in one piece . . . that’s what heelers do, which is probably why you have him.
You need Hero to get a whiff of the blighter before he claps eyes on him, literally. Secure something with Percival’s scent on it — and with a name like that he is almost certainly a cyclist with a fluoro Lycra jersey.
Ask if you can borrow it; to keep him guessing, don’t say why!
Wave the woofy jersey in front of Hero and give him a liver treat at the same time. Repeat, thrice daily for a week. In Hero’s mind, this will associate Percy’s scent with something agreeable, which is a good start.
Now you arrange the introduction — but it needs to be on neutral territory. You can’t have Percy just bowl into the farmhouse and expect Hero to be relaxed. Tell Percy to sit himself under a peppercorn opposite the pub before you turn up with the dog. He should have some nibbles in his pocket.
This way, you and Hero approach Percy, rather than the other way round. It would be unwise for Percy to pat the dog without Hero asking for it. Hero will pick up his scent — and sniff the treats. If Percy is half-smart here, he immediately offers treats to your dog.
By this time, Hero should be giving Percy the benefit of the doubt and you could head back to the farm and give it a shot. Go inside together. Aside from keeping the nibbles handy, if Hero likes chasing balls or a favourite chewing toy, Percy might truly ingratiate himself with the dog by playing with him until the dog has had enough, which could take a couple of days.
This will also test the level of Percy’s affection — for you both.
Meanwhile, you should say ‘Percy’ frequently, hiding any laughter, so the dog hears the name in a tone that Hero concludes you are happy about it. This will reassure Hero that you know what you are doing when all the evidence suggests otherwise. He needs to be convinced why you need a bloke around the house when you’ve got him.
Now, if Hero doesn’t buy it and growls every time Percy comes close, it means Percy is in fact a nasty piece of work with ill-intent. You can trust a dog to pick that up and you’d best see off the hapless Percy, keeping some space between Hero and Percy’s ankles.
It reminds me of the story I heard about a great Dane who let a burglar into his owner’s house and watched excitedly as the burglar collected bags full of jewellery and silverware. Until the burglar tried to leave.
By the time the owner returned the next morning the burglar was a snivelling mess and relieved to be released into custody. A good dog will do that. Woof!
● The General is The Boss’s dog. For more yarns, visit sheppnews.com.au/ thegeneral