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Old 09-09-07, 07:35 PM   #1
DrPete 
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Issues with adding a second dog to the household... Help!

So the wife and I have been thinking for a long time that we should get a second dog to keep Dora, our almost-2-year-old Sheltie mix, company. And today we finally found a good match for her--we think.

Cricket's an Australian Cattle Dog/Jack Russell mix, also a rescue, also a female. We're thinking she's about the same age as Dora too.

First there was a scuffle in the car on the way home while the two settled a little dispute about who would sit where. That wasn't too bad.

When we got home, though, the sparks started to fly. After a pretty peaceful half hour of Cricket sniffing around the apartment and Dora chasing/playing with her, I decided to try giving them each a treat. This did NOT go over too well. After giving Dora a treat, I tell Cricket to sit and reach to give her a treat. In that moment, I learned that Dora REALLY doesn't like to share treats. There was a scuffle, and it was pretty damn aggressive. I mean, there's the usual establish dominance-type behavior, and then there's full-on fighting. This was fighting.

After things settle down for a bit, Cricket comes over to me and I tell her to sit. I reward her with a good scratch behind the ears. I think Dora must have thought I still had a treat or something, because she comes charging at cricket again and another fight starts. I'm kinda trapped in the middle already, so I grab Dora to pull her away, and Dora bites me on the hand. Great. There's only one little break in my skin, but a dog bite is a dog bite and I'm off to the ER to get it washed out and get a prescription for some antibiotics.

Since the big fight things have been pretty peaceful, but the wife and I are clearly worried. The relationship between these two, while generally OK, seems to have the potential for some serious conflict. Maybe it's the two-female thing and they're both trying to be the alpha...

My question is this--How much of this is normal, and at what point do we throw our hands up and take cricket back to the rescue agency? I know it'll take some time to adjust, but are there any red flag kind of things to look out for? I'm concerned about the level of aggression that was there earlier--I mean, it's one thing to fight over treats or toys like that, but it makes me worry that they'd end up fighting over our nephew, for instance.

Any ideas? Thoughts?
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Old 09-09-07, 07:40 PM   #2
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We had similar when we adopted the sister of our dog after her adoption didn't work out so well. There was a rather lengthy period of time where there was jealousy - sometimes latent, and sometimes overt. There is about 7 months difference in the ages of our girls, who are now both over a year old. Since the second one got fixed, things have calmed down considerably, and unless we're showing excessive favoritism towards one or another, there is seldom more than growling - except for when we are carrying one or both of them. That seems to really make the sparks fly.

My take - the original dog will always feel entitled to alpha status, and if the second dog was insecure in their initial environment, they could be too feisty for their own good.
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Old 09-09-07, 07:54 PM   #3
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I know you are busy but set your DVR to record the Dog Whisperer. http://www.cesarmillaninc.com/

Maybe you already watch it but if you do, you should have way more answers then you get here. I was a skeptic because, well.......i am a skeptic, but everything Cesar says, makes sense. The things that I have learned in my past that work with dogs, completley jive with what he says.
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Old 09-10-07, 07:10 AM   #4
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I know you are busy but set your DVR to record the Dog Whisperer. http://www.cesarmillaninc.com/

Maybe you already watch it but if you do, you should have way more answers then you get here. I was a skeptic because, well.......i am a skeptic, but everything Cesar says, makes sense. The things that I have learned in my past that work with dogs, completley jive with what he says.
+1 Cesar is a good place to start. It sounds like there are some dominance issues. Also, I don't know what sort of bounderies you had set for your original dog. Perhaps they was more latitude than you can allow with the two dogs. If you listen to Cesar's logic a lot of the conflict is situational as well as how the humans interact with the dogs. Just don't call him to come to the house I think I read somewhere he gets upward of $300 a hour for onsite training.
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Old 09-10-07, 10:21 AM   #5
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I have a dog, and she thought my mom & her house were "hers" too. When my mom got a new dog they had a few serious fights (with people injuries too). We just kept an eye on them & separated them when they were alone.

Last weekend my mom came up & we left them alone in the house while we were gone - everyone was fine when we got back.

Short version - hopefully it is only temporary & they will sort themselves out.
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Old 09-10-07, 10:27 AM   #6
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Sounds like they've got some "pack order" issues to work out. You've got two very smart and energetic dogs there, too. Feed them separately, for starters. Get the new girl settled in and then work on them dealing with dog biscuits being doled out. Dogs think the first to be fed is alpha, as you probably know.
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Old 09-10-07, 10:29 AM   #7
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I went through the same thing once - took in a dog that had NO housetraining and some other issues from a life of neglect. My dog was invaluable in helping to train this dog to be a good citizen. There were a few squabbles (new dog tried to take old dog's treat once - THAT never happened again), but after a while they worked it out. Old dog maintained Alpha status and new dog became a perfect dog. Very happy ending.

There are no bad dogs - only bad owners.
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Old 09-10-07, 10:44 AM   #8
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Sounds like the introduction has been a little too quick. When we put new dogs together, we like to use gates to keep them physically separated and we manage all interactions. As they get used to each other, you can gradually reduce the level of control. Especially in the beginning, I think it's better not to leave them alone together.

I do not think it is excessive to keep them looking at each other through gates for a couple weeks when you are not around. Be sure that you define who gets which territory and pay special attention to with sleeping and eating arrangements. If you put them both in the bedroom at night, give each their own bed in separate areas and don't let them walk into the others area. Breaking up a dog fight in the dark is not fun.

On the topic of Cesar, if you watch his show, you'll notice that his methods are quite simple. He takes control, pays careful attention to the subtle cues dogs give, redirects energy before things gets out of hand, and stays calm at all times.
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