Find your diamond
Find your jewelry
shape
carat
color
clarity

Dog interaction suggestions?

Status
Not open for further replies. Please create a new topic or request for this thread to be opened.

Sabine

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 16, 2007
Messages
3,446
I apologize for how long this will be. I have been doing some research, but some first hand experience/suggestions would be appreciated.

My husband and I will be going to visit my bil and sil for Easter, and taking our dog Brandy. They have a 1 yr. old rotty/german shepard mix, and in the past, our dogs have not really gotten along, so I''m looking for suggestions on how to help them interact well.

Here''s the background: Our Brandy is a 5 year old Beagle that was a rescue. She was abandoned, so she definitely has issues. She is most happy laying next to/on top of either dh or me. She is definitely a lap dog and is very attached to both of us. She is scared of all new people and situations, to the point where she shakes, has her tail between her legs, tries to run away, etc., until she''s had time to get used to who/whatever it is. She is also afraid and sometimes aggressive towards other dogs. On walks, she will pull on her leash in the opposite direction of the dog with her tail between her legs, but then after the dog passes, she''ll turn around and try to run after them. When she is forced to interact with other dogs, she will do the whole sniffing cautiously thing, she''ll tentatively allow the other dog to sniff her, and then she will back away. If she can''t get away from the dog or the dog tries to play with her or just won''t leave her alone, she will growl at it. If the dog gets aggressive in return, she has escalated things to an all out fight.

My bil''s dog Raja is still pretty much a puppy, but is already much bigger than 20 lb Brandy. They met over Christmas at my dad''s house. Brandy acted just like I described above, she would let Raja sniff her, and then Brandy would run behind one of us or jump up on the couch. If Raja continued to come near her (Raja definitely wanted to play and is a very friendly dog), Brandy would growl. In this case, Raja would be scared by Brandy''s growling and would go lay down or run behind bil/sil. It was easy to manage at my dad''s house, but at bil''s house, we have 2 major concerns.

1 - we are afraid that since it is Raja''s house/domain, if Brandy growls at her, she will not react submissively but instead get aggressive. Do you think this is likely? If so, any suggestions on keeping both dogs from getting aggressive?

2 - bil doesn''t allow Raja up on the furniture. Brandy is used to being allowed wherever we are with the exception of beds. If she can''t escape Raja''s playful overtures by jumping up on the couch, we''re afraid that will also cause more aggression.

We will definitely be bringing Brandy''s crate in case they need to be separated the entire time, but we''re hoping it doesn''t come to this. We also plan on having the dogs greet each other outside in a neighbor''s yard and walking with them a bit before going in the house to hopefully avoid the territoriality. Any other suggestions?
 

AmberGretchen

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jan 6, 2005
Messages
7,770
Sabine - I think it is great that you guys are taking this seriously and trying to avoid problems by planning up front. I think your strategy of taking Brandy''s crate is an excellent one - she will really appreciate having her own space. Also, introducing them outside on neutral territory is an excellent idea as well.

Here are some additional suggestions that may help (I''ve been training dogs at my local SPCA for 2.5 years, so I''ve encountered a lot of similar situations):

1. Do anything you can to make the interaction positive for both dogs. This could mean leashing both dogs and having them int he same room, but each set of owners doing something fun with their own dog - good examples include playing with a favorite toy (gently), or doing training that involves treats. Anything you can do to create a positive association for Brandy with the other doggie - treats are excellent for this - if Brandy gets a treat and/or affection and/or praise every time she sees the other dog, she will soon think "other dog = good things" and thus be more positive about the other dog. This works both ways (i.e. for both dogs).

2. Remember that there will be a certain amount of "working it out" between the dogs - they need to establish their own pecking order, so to speak. Minor signs of aggression are actually not a cause for concern, just watch carefully. Some dog behavior signs to watch for - when they are interacting, is one dog doing a "play bow" (elbows down and butt up in the air)? If so, that means (in dog language) "anything I''m about to do is in fun, so don''t take it seriously." This can include biting, growling, mounting, tumbling, and any number of other behaviors people are sometimes concerned with. If there was a play bow first though, 99.9% of the time you are fine - they really are just playing. The other thing to watch for to determine the difference between play/non-concerning fighting and something really worrisome is to listen for yelps. High-pitched yelp means "ouch" to a dog. So if one dog yelps, the other should immediately back off. If they don''t, its time to break it up.

3. A tired dog is a good dog. Can your BIL tire their puppy out before you get there at all? That might help make it easier on your dog - puppies have a lot of energy and that can be overwhelming for a more timid or shy dog like Brandy. Anything you guys can do to get both dogs extra exercise during the visit will probably help.

4. Dogs respond strongly to your emotions and tone of voice. The more you guys can act excited and happy when the other dog is around, the more likely Brandy is to have a positive playing-type interaction with her (or him). It should be a fun game to you, and again, 99.9% of the time, dogs will go along with that - if you''re excited and happy, they usually are too.

Anyway, I hope those are some helpful tips. I know it can be anxiety-inducing, but its important for Brandy to learn how to deal with other dogs, including energetic puppies. Dogs are naturally social creatures, and playing with other dogs can and should be one of the most enriching parts of any dog''s life. I think with some basic training and principals in mind, you guys can make this work for everyone.
 

AmberGretchen

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jan 6, 2005
Messages
7,770
One more thing reading through your notes about Brandy''s past behavior. I would actually try to avoid leashes when these two dogs are interacting. It sounds like Brandy might have some issues with barrier frustration/leash aggression (VERY common and there are lots of training tricks that can help), but in that case, perhaps at least not having Brandy on a leash may help her feel better about the situation.
 

Sabine

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 16, 2007
Messages
3,446
Thanks so much for the suggestions Amber! I think they will definitely help! I really wish we had a friend or someone we knew who lived nearby who had a dog so that we could work on properly socializing her on a regular basis.
 

Feralpenchant

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Feb 12, 2009
Messages
427
It sounds like you need a safe spot for Brandy to go when she feels threatened. Like a different room or outside.

Walking them outside on different territory is always good.

With puppies and younger dogs, the initial excitement of another dog will always be the trickiest situation. After a couple of hours or so, the puppy will have a feel for Brandy''s personality, whether she wants to play or not, and how she feels about close contact. Most dogs will calm down and kind of leave each other alone if only one or neither is interested in playing.

The best you can do is to observe the behavior, and always be present when there is interaction. If Brandy can''t hide or doesn''t feel protected, she may lash out.

I wouldn''t worry about the puppy participating in escalating fights unless you see reason to. Most dogs will back away if one expresses aggression. The other dog might be bigger, but she''s younger, and she will realize that.

If she doesn''t, though.. a lot of people will accept the first fight as them "establishing dominance" and sometimes that has to happen in order to get rid of the initial tension between them. If they fight, I would seperate them and retry in an hour or so. If there is no reason to interfere with them, I would refrain from doing so because once owners get involved some dogs will take it upon themselves to protect "their" humans, and it becomes less about themselves, and becomes more of a "you" vs "BIL" to the dogs. That has happened to me a couple of times trying to break up dog fights in a kennel and also at my own house.

With Raja being a shepard/rotty mix, you want to be especially vigilant. Sometimes with those breeds you just don''t know whats up.
 

whitby_2773

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jan 5, 2009
Messages
2,656
hi sabine :)

you have a number of issues at play here.

firstly, dogs have incredible memories and your dogs have already established their basic interaction/relationship, and it''s not a positive one. the likelihood of them changing that when your dog''s behavior is part of a long term pattern of issues is unlikely. also, your bil''s dog will only have become more dominant as he has aged. has he been neutered? if not, you are most likely to have your hands very, very full.

i have large unneutered show dogs and also a female rescue dog (spayed, obviously, as all rescue dogs are), so i know the issues you''re speaking of - intimately. the issues rescue dogs have wont be overcome by constant exposure or any amount of effort in a few days. rather, they''re likely to exacerbate and lead to nipping, growling, biting, territorial behavior of all kinds and great discomfort for your spayed female who will be out of her size range, out of her familiar territory and reacting from an old template of fears. does she have separation anxiety? if not, i''d board her or use a pet sitter so she can stay in her own home while you''re away. dogs cope with this extremely well, finding it MUCH less stressful than boarding. (sadly, dogs dont miss us nearly as much as we think, so long as they''re still in their familiar environement; they can smell us all about and know we''re coming home.)

if you can''t board her or have her pet-sat, i would strongly encourage you not to expose your little girl to a rambunctious, overtly friendly herding dog! the more she runs, the more the german shepherd in your bil''s dog will follow her; believe me, those instincts will have been developing at an exponential rate since you saw raj at Christmas! he will also be considerably larger, and thus more threatening for your girl. raj isnt going to stop being a herding, protective male, and his social skills at age one will be FAR outweighed by his size! your girl isnt going to lose her fears and passive/aggressive behavior when confronted with this oversized puppy - who may still have testosterone flowing through his veins.

for everyone''s sake, my best suggestion would be to keep them apart - preferably not take your girl, but otherwise, walk and exercise them separately and keep her crated when separation is otherwise impossible. my husband and i also show dogs and have a number of champions, so we mix in dog circles with hugely experienced people all the time. and yet, with the best of intentions, dog fights still come out of the blue and can cause huge damage to the psyche of a rescue dog in particular. she isn''t one of those dogs who can just ''work it out between them'' - this will terrify her and spark aggression on her part. should an all out dog fight ensue, you have no guarantee that you can separate your dogs before real damage occur.

this is a very difficult situation and i''m sending you my very best wishes. good luck!
 

Sabine

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 16, 2007
Messages
3,446
Thanks Feralpenchant and Whitby!

Whitby, luckily, Raja has been spayed and is a female as well, so I''m hoping that will at least work a little in our favor. We suspect Brandy does have some pretty severe separation anxiety. We tried to take a weekend trip once and have a friend of ours petsit. This is a girl that Brandy knows well and is comfortable with when she comes to our home. This girl was willing to come and even spend the night in our apartment with Brandy, and when she first got there, Brandy refused to come out of her crate and shook for hours in the corner of her crate while my friend tried to calm her down and get her to go outside. Although Brandy got better as the weekend went on, she didn''t eat the entire weekend, and my friend felt so bad that she ended up staying in the whole weekend because she was afraid Brandy would freak out again. I''d feel terrible asking her to try again, and since this is a holiday weekend, it''s even more intrusive.

I have a feeling I won''t be making any strides towards helping Brandy''s outlook on other dogs, but if she can at least coexist in the same room as this dog for a while, I''ll be happy! She''s done it before with our other relative''s dogs, but they have all been smaller breeds and a little bit older.
 

whitby_2773

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jan 5, 2009
Messages
2,656
hi sabine :)

i figured separation might be a problem for your girl; it is for so many rescue dogs and was for ours too, tho we worked through most of it over some years. but we were lucky - so many never get over it!

i''m glad raja (sorry for misspelling her name earlier!) is spayed, that wil help considerably. do be aware, tho, that same gender dogs - including females (and it really depends on the dogs in question, of course) can be more ''pack position'' orientated than two dogs of different gender, so the fact that raja is female wont necessarily help you - tho it does address one major difficulty of course (ie an unneutered male trying to hump your girl!)

we often host people in our home who are on their way to shows or who have rescue dogs and we have NO problem in keeping ours on a leash - even inside - when others have their dogs around. give some thought to requesting your bil and sil do this with raja; if they''re tuned into dogs they''ll understand the potential problems from this situation and will probably be willing to keep raja on a leash around brandy for a day or so to establish a ''no touching'' behavior. at least then all you have to worry about is keeping brandy in ''her own space'' rather than her being leapt from behind be a playful 60 pounder!

one mode of helping dogs establish the idea that there''s another dog in their house is to let them smell each other''s bedding. this, for dogs, is almost as good as anintroduction, and much less stressful. even tho they''ve already met, it would be a good intermediary step when you first arrived and you might see from their body language whether you were in for trouble or not. at least it would give the dogs a chance to get used to ''someone new in the house''. thismethod is often used at day care centers where many dogs of different personalities have to be integrated.

sabine, do come back after easter and let us know how this goes - i''ll have you in my thoughts,
 

lliang_chi

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 13, 2008
Messages
3,740
Hi Sabine, you've gotten a lot of really good advice. I am by no means an expert, but I did have a lot of interaction problems with my pup when she was about 8 months old. So we did a lot of exercises with her on this same thing. She's a lot better now, so I know you can help train/shape this behavior. The most important thing to remember is this takes PATIENCE, so try not to rush things too much. As people we want things to be better right away and it doesn't work that way.

One way to help make the introduction more neutral is for the two to meet OUTSIDE of your BIL's house/yard. Keep them both on leash and allow them to sniff each other for only a few seconds. Then separate them. Then allow them to interact a little longer, then again separate. This will probably take a while, but when you build it up to a few mins, it'll probably be fine. But you know your dog the best so it's to your discretion how long to keep separating the dogs. As soon as you see Brandy get uncomfortable, come in between Raja & her, so she knows you will "protect" her when she needs you to. Do NOT pick her up though. Just gonna say it, this will probably take a good hour or so, so again, stay patient.

Then walk both dogs into the house and allow Raja to go in first. It's her house, and Brandy will need to go after her. Keep both dogs on lead and let Brandy sniff her surroundings to get comfortable. From my experience with my dog, once she's become comfortable with the other dog, she won't be aggressive to the other in the house. But again you know your dog the best.

I agree with Amber both dogs (especially the puppy) should start pretty tired out, so hopefully your BIL can work out a lot of Raja's energy. Maybe by taking Raja to a dog park or doggie day care for the day before or something. Both of those should get the dog pretty tired.

Having her crate with you is a good idea since she'll need a "safe area". Set up the crate right away. She's in a new environment she'll welcome the crate as a part of "home." Forget about what your BIL thinks when he sees the crate, if he's done his reading about dogs he'll understand why you have it and won't poo poo the crate. People who don't understand how dog interactions poo crates & crate training. I disregard their opinions because they don't know what they're talking about anyway.

To get Brandy comfortable with people have LOTS of her FAVORITE treats ON HAND to give to people when they're being introduced to Brandy. I used hot dogs for Quizas. Have them keep giving ridiculous amounts of treats to her so she'll associate meeting strangers = treats. Keep Brandy on lead when she's meeting people. When she starts going up to them on her own to look for treats, then you can take her off.

Lastly, there's something called "Dog Appeasing Pheromones" DAP that attachs to a collar. It releases some pheromones that is said to calm dogs down. Try getting one of those and put it on Brandy. It might help. You can also buy them in Glad plug-in adapters for you home if you ever have a pet sitting situation again.
 
Status
Not open for further replies. Please create a new topic or request for this thread to be opened.
Be a part of the community It's free, join today!
    5 Diamond Misconceptions: Part 1
    5 Diamond Misconceptions: Part 1
    Three-stone engagement ring upgrade
    Three-stone engagement ring upgrade
    Vintage OEC Bracelet
    Vintage OEC Bracelet

Need Something Special?

Get a quote from multiple trusted and vetted jewelers.

Holloway Cut Advisor



Diamond Eye Candy

Click to view full-size image.
Top