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Playful dog won't play with new rescue dog... :( :(

May 14th, 2012, 03:28 AM
Well, I guess these things happen, but it's so heartbreaking and I am hoping there is something that can help. I need some advice please.

The short version: I adopted a rescue dog 2 days ago and he seems to be resource guarding and not vibing with my playful dog. The worst part is that my playful dog is now a bbit sullen, depressed, and drops toys and defers to this dog. Playtime and toys are my dog's bread and butter. He will instantly play with me, my beagle, the dogs at the park, but he will drop the toy with the new rescue dog. This is the first time I am seeing this. I got them to share a tug toy if I hold onto it, but if I stop, so does my dog. They seem indifferent and not at all buddies...more details below.

The long version: I have 2 rescue dogs, one is a wise and happy Beagle who recently became blind due to her diabetes. The other is a super playful, extremely social Spitz/Sheltie. Well, my Beagle is older and slowing down, but still enjoying her golden years. She cant keep up with my Sheltie and he is crazy for a buddy. So, we thought if my beagle approved/responded well to another dog, it would be time to get a my Sheltie a playtime buddy.

A local rescue had a pom mix who looked really happy. He is maybe a 1 year old, roaming the streets, they neutered him, and put him in a foster/doggy daycare. I think he was in foster/daycare for a week?

On Friday, 2 days ago, they brought him over and it was love at first sight for us, he was so cuddly, loves to snuggle. My blind beagle didn't growl or mind this guy at all. They were great! He seemed OK with my Sheltie too. They even ran around the yard together. I don't know what happened after that, but we adopted this pup and within hours, he bonded to us and not our Sheltie. My Sheltie tried to kiss him, but he would turn away or get up and leave. Then my Sheltie did not want to touch any of the toys that the pom picked up. I guess my Sheltie could read his signals/cues.

Well, he was right because next thing you know, this dog is resource guarding everything- toys, food, chews. It's sad because this dog is a cutie and he is so good with us and my Beagle likes him, but he is starting to cause changes in my Sheltie's personality. There are no fights, but no real positive vibes either. My Sheltie will pick up a toy and play with it, then the pom approaches, takes it, and lays with it enjoying it until I take it. My Sheltie will not want to play with this toy again unless I take it and make a huge deal of how fun it will be. My Sheltie will resume playing with me, but he will instantly walk away when the other dog bites the toy. I was able to get them to play tug of war when I hold the tug too, but once I stop, so does my Sheltie. This is sad. Then, the pom brings the toy over to me to play with him. So...He and my Sheltie are pretty indifferent to each other. They get along, but they are not playmates and I suspect it has to do with the signal cues and behavior that this guy is showing. We brought him to the dog park an he just kept to himself.

I dont think he had any temperment testing, he is worse with food. Way worse. Instead of being aggressive with my dogs, I dont give him the opportunity. I feed everyone meals separately and he is a bit aggressive to me. He has responded well to me taking away his after-dinner bully stick and getting it back when he sits/waits. He had made great strides with that in just a day. This guy is emaciated and looks like he was starved. I don't think he was fed well in foster care either, but he was treated for parasites so maybe that has something to do with it. I can work with food aggression.. I was able to deal with my beagle and teach her, but it's not easy. The rescue is skirting the issues and recommending that I walk the dogs together 5 times per day and squirt his bum with water, then his body during the problems.

I guess these problems are probably related to my Sheltie not being into him? Please help, I want to work with this guy, but I dont know if he is the right buddy for my Sheltie even if he is the right buddy for me. So hard, my family loves him and has bonded with him. I mean, he snuggles and cuddles, loves to play catch, etc. etc. I love him.

Is there anything I can do to get them to enjoy toys together???? This is my Sheltie's bread and butter. He loves playtime. So, seeing him do this is hard for me since this was a buddy for him. I could deal with everything else and I can really work on the food aggression, but the vibes with the toys is sad. M

One big burning question.... maybe I could foster a happy, playful high energy dog and see if that can help change the dynamic with the toys??? I dont know what to do here. I was looking for a high energy dog to compliment my Sheltie....but I didnt get that and my Sheltie seems depressed. :( So thankful for any help!

Dog Dancer
May 14th, 2012, 10:27 AM
Welcome, thank you for rescuing your pups. Now I am by no means an expert in any of this. When I brought home a second rescue dog I had no issues with the two of them. Lucky me. That said, my young pup always took the toys away from our 3 year old dog, always!! The older dog just allowed it. It stayed that way for life. Halo owned all the toys, Shadow had none. It worked for them, but Shadow was the alpha dog without question.

How old is your Sheltie? To be honest I think two days is a very short time and it may take much longer than that to have the dogs bond. Your Sheltie is probably still hoping the new dog will go away. I know one of our members here said her two dogs took months to bond and then they were inseperable.

I think it's very important for you to involve your Sheltie as much as possible. You want to make sure the Sheltie still feels like the alpha dog.

I'm sure other will be around to give you great advice, but I really think it may just take a bit longer. Is the rescue willing to take the Pom back if you decide it won't work out. I hope so. Good luck to you, patience.

May 14th, 2012, 10:42 AM
Poms are super smart and FULL of personality! They can be forceful, opinionated and feisty, in addition to affectionate and playful. This little guy was starving - of course he might have some resource guarding issues with food and even toys. He hasn't had anyone take the time to teach him how to live in a group in harmony.
Your Sheltie is highly sensitive and the littlest snark from the Pom and he is keeping himself in check so he doesn't get snapped at again by the Pom. The Pom is now in charge of the Sheltie and the Sheltie is minding his manners according to the Poms rules. Yes, it is not fun to watch because you know your Sheltie would much rather be his normal relaxed self.
So think of it as your adopted a teenage child who is trying to claim the home from your own children by pushing and shoving, stealing their things, getting nasty at meals. Would you permit it and hope it changes? or would you step right up and make it clear that this is YOUR home and you set the rules and you will not tolerate bad manners. You aren't ousting the new family member, you are giving them every opportunity to learn to get along. If the new member argues or doesn't comply then you might have to make your point more often and more clearly until he gets the picture. Trust me Poms are super smart and really do want to please.
You would do well to start some basic obedience drills. Sit, down, stay, leave it, release. These basics give you a means of communication so you can guide him through his decisions.
Then set him up for the very situations he has trouble with. Put him on the leash so you have a means of control and communication while you are teaching. Teach him to sit and wait patiently for his meal. He needs to look to you and be calm before he gets released to his food. It is also good to stand in front of him with his food bowl and when he makes eye contact you can lower the bowl to him. Keep your hands on it. After he gets a bite or two then say 'enough' and lift the bowl straight up and out of range. When he gets calm and looks at you then repeat. Do this until the food is gone. He needs to understand that you control the food, he will get his fair share, but he must have manners. This will evolve to having the bowl on the ground and you are able to step in and pick it up at any time without him getting worried. The leash is there to stop him in case he goes to protect the food.
Then you have to move on to teaching him not to covet things from other dogs. The basic message is that all things belong to you and he gets them when he has good manners and he is never permitted to snark at other dogs for anything.
We have games that you can play to teach all of this and are happy to help.
Be sure you have lots of toys out so if he covets most of them your other dog still has plenty. And you less are likely to have issues if there are more toys than they need, so it is tough to get freaky about 30 toys instead of just one or two.
Please feel free to call (7 days/wk - 9am -pm Colorado time), as it will be easier to chat then to write a small book.
Just so you know we don't do 'treat based' training nor do we use devices. We are all about love, trust and respect taught through a big vocabulary and great drills.

Dog Dancer
May 14th, 2012, 03:09 PM
Tenderfood I sure wish you lived here in BC!

May 14th, 2012, 03:26 PM
I would wait until the dog is at a healthy weight before you start doing work on the RG. At this point, when he's still starving, I think it's a little unrealistic to try to make significant behavioral changes, and they may diminish anyway when he reaches a healthy weight. Training cannot mitigate illness, and right now I think you should treat him as a sick animal.

I think practicing self-control exercises is a good idea, but it's going to take a few weeks for the dogs to sort themselves out, and for you to start seeing this little guy's true personality. I think it's totally understandable for an animal who was living on the streets and starving that has suddenly been given all of this safety and abundance to be possessive of it. It may be a product of the situation, not really who he fundamentally is.

Make time for all of the dogs individually for training, play, and affection. Make sure your sheltie has a chill-out space where they can get away from the new addition. While you are in training, I would also remove temptation and not let the dogs have access to any objects the pom will guard without supervision. That way, when you want to start your counter-conditioning program, you will have total control of the situation and not set the pom up to fail by letting him repeat the behavior unchecked.

In case you haven't found it in your travels, this is one of the best books on RG out there.

May 14th, 2012, 10:22 PM
Good advice!
Just be sure that these bad behaviors are NOT being reinforced and learned as behaviors that work.
Yes, he is not himself as long as he is skinny - but you aren't starving him anymore. He is going to get fed a good amount of food, so good manners still apply.