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Second Dog in Home. In over our heads?

1607 Views 14 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Thracian

We recently took in a second dog as a foster on a temporary basis while deciding whether to adopt her permanently. We're running into some aggression issues that we don't really understand.

Here is some background about the dogs. The first is a neutered male beagle/hound mix and weighs 30 lbs. He has had his run of the house previously, but is kept out of the bedroom and bathroom areas. He also has no tail. The new dog is a spayed female beagle/collie mix and weighs 30 lbs.

We met in neutral territory, in a park that neither had been to before. They seemed to get along fine - although she seemed a little shy, they nuzzled and pawed each other a bit and never showed any signs of aggression for the hour we were there. We agreed to take her on a foster basis for a week while we determined if they would be a match.

Since we first met her, we noticed she's a bit skittish. Part of this may be that she's used to living in the country and now she's in a more urban setting. However, she seems generally fearful - doesn't like to go through doors, sometimes will just freeze in her tracks, often has her tail tucked unexplainedly.

Once we brought her home, she became aggressive/dominant(?) towards the male dog, doing things like guarding him out of the room, growling at him, taking his toys while he was playing with them, etc. They don't seem interested in playing with each other. It's a bit confusing to us that she would be the dominant dog because she's so fearful. We don't know why she's acting aggressive. We're a bit scared that she might try to attack us or turn her aggression on us next, but right now she seems very protective of us and tries to "guard" our old dog away from us.

To make things worse, when we're playing outside, he's dominant over her and she acts very submissive.

Today is our first full day with her, so maybe she's just settling in. I don't know though. We both feel like maybe we got into something we shouldn't have and aren't sure where to go from here. We expected all the normal training issues and some kind of dominance issues, but we can't even tell which dog is dominant.

Please help. Any help would be greatly appreciated.:confused::confused:
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Im currently going through a similar experience with my new dog (getting him used to being with my other dog, who is a dominant female). Also, my mom rescues, so I see this happen a lot.
Many dogs, as mentioned, will lash out when they're feeling scared. My best suggestion is to keep things VERY low key for the first few days. At this point, them fighting is probably making her even more insecure. Then, when she feels a little more comfortable with her surroundings, you can try to let them work it out, as long as them seem to be making progress, she isnt being scared, and he isnt being nasty. I've found a bit of vocalization in the beginning is normal. As far as it escalating, unless you sit there and hold them back from eachother while they're all worked up, I dont think that it will make it worse to separate them at all. Just stick your guy in his crate till he's calm again, and let the new girl get her bearings again.
I've been keeping my dog in her crate while the new dog hangs out. That way, he has space. Then when she's calm, I let her out and they play a little and then lay down.
Yesterday he was acting very intimidated, and today, they're playing. So obviously that works if the dogs arent actually aggressive, and are just trying to work it out.

As far as a transition from country life, Ive found that to be a legitimate problem. When I first got Charlee (dog #1), she was so scared of everything here. She ran backwards from bikes and was scared of cars.
It all has to do with exposure in small amounts. Getting her confident.

Also, it might help to call the previous foster parent and get some info on her, such as if she ever had any problems with aggression in the foster's home. Probably not, but it never hurts to check. The foster parent has had her for a few months, so she knows the dog better than anybody.
Rescue is all about finding a great home for the dog, so I bet the foster parent will be more than willing to help you out in order to ensure that its a good match.
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Dont feel too obligated to keep her if its not working out. Thats the whole point of the week trial, and no foster parent is ever very hurt if the dog is returned because she honestly didnt fit in with the family.

If you dont keep her, she will still find a home. We've had dogs come back numerous times, only to find a home where they are called "angels" and "absolutely perfect".
Finding you the right dog may take some time, and her finding the right home may take time.

She may get better eventually, but you also have to draw a line. You want a second dog to mesh well with the family and make things more fun, not make life a bigger hassle, and stress you and both dogs out.
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