2 Dogs - Will they become friends?

Posted by Alison-Morton
Nov 3, 2009
I have a 6 year old yorkie and one month ago took in a stray terrier who we think is approx 1 year old. They both had sweet, gentle personalities and our yorkie has made it very clear that he is happy for the stray to be higher ranking.

My husband doesn't really want to keep the stray as he prefers the household with just the one sweet, untroublesome little dog. Whilst I have found some people willing to give the stray a home, I had hoped that having two dogs in the family would be an even greater pleasure.

Our yorkie doesn't really seem unhappy about the newcomer but the newcomer appears to be jealous of him. She tries to head him off and block him from getting close to us or her bed or food. She, so far, hasn't been aggressive, just blocks his way or nudges him with her head. He is very submissive and quickly gives in. I have been working very hard on making myself the alpha dog in our pack (I realise I was initially too soft on the stray as she was ill and vulnerable and I felt sorry for her!).

Will her dominant behaviour eventually subside if we reinforce her status as the highest ranking - we already feed her before the yorkie, or is this just a behaviour we have to put up with? My husband gets really upset at seeing our original little sweet dog being "bullied" and I think he will say that the stray has to go to the other home if this behaviour continues.

I am willing to work really hard on obedience training, or whatever it takes, if it means that eventually we will have two dogs that actually enjoy each other's company rather than tolerate living alongside each other. In the month they have been together, they haven't played together once but have also never had a fight.

As background information, neither are neutered at this point. Our yorkie had a liver shunt and the vet recommends that he doesn't have an anaesthetic. The stray is currently being treated for heartworm and has to wait for this treatment to be completed before she can be spayed.

I really look forward to receiving some advice on the likely outcome of their relationship.

Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Nov 3, 2009
Hi Alison,

It was very nice of you to have taken the stray dog in your family.

I have a couple of concerns though:

1) How can you prevent the stray getting pregnant while your yorkie is not neutered? I understand that both dogs are not ready for a surgery at this point so please be very cautious about that.

2) I believe you should make your yorkie as a top dog. You can manipulate their ranks as the pack leader. It is common that people let rescued dogs come too far by being sympathetic to them and being too soft. It is actually better for the rescued dogs to become aware of the house rules and boundaries as well as where they stand in the pack as early and as clear as possible.

I foster rescued dogs and I place them at the bottom of our pack (our 3 dogs are above them regardless of the size or the personality of the rescued dogs). I strongly believe that your yorkie should not give up any attention, care and love he deserves by the fact you brought in a new dog. The new dog was starting from no attention, care and love so she would appreciate being loved and cared even if her ranking is below the yorkie.

Your stray terrier is a juvenile or teenager in dog's age. She will soon try to expand the boundaries and see how far she can go. I see she is already challenging it by being bully. You are inadvertently reinforcing her behavior by feeding her first, etc. I would urge you to start a firm and consistant obedience training with her.

Good luck
Posted by Alison-Morton
Nov 3, 2009

Thanks for your reply.

Tilly, the newcomer, had a termination injection two and a half weeks ago.
It is most unlikely that she would become pregnant because our dog, Pepé, has absolutely no interest at all. The vet intends to spay Tilly within the next month and we are obviously keeping an eye on things until that time.

I will try making Pepé Top Dog after reading your advice. I have been reading on various sites on the internet that you should let the dogs decide their own ranking and then go along with their decision.

How long would you expect it to take before we see an improvement in Tilly's behaviour? Do you think they will actually start to play together and enjoy each other's company or do you think this would have happened by now?

Thank you again for your reply - I am so keen to make things work as we have promised the other family a decision within 3 weeks now (we are currently in Portugal but work in France in the winter) and I really want this to work out within our own family.:confused:
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Nov 3, 2009
Hi Alison,

>I have been reading on various sites on the internet that you should let the dogs decide their own ranking and then go along with their decision.

I've also read something like this but I personally believe they don't need two leaders: If YOU are the confident and respectful pack leader, all the other dogs should look for directions from YOU. You want to control the relationship between the two dogs as well as establishing a strong bonding between YOU and each of the dogs. However, this would be a different story within dogs at a dog park or a dog day care since they are not living together all the time so their rankings will be decided among themselves.

>How long would you expect it to take before we see an improvement in Tilly's behaviour? Do you think they will actually start to play together and enjoy each other's company or do you think this would have happened by now?

I think the two dogs first need to be comfortable with each other before they start playing. How do they react to each other during the meal times? Do they respect each other's food and not try to take the other dog's food even if one dog finishes much quicker? How are their body languages?

Can you sit in between the dogs and pet them at the same time without one of them getting nervous or jealous?

Is your yorkie playful to start with? Did he play with any other dogs in a dog park or doggie day care? It is all depending on each dog's personalily and some dogs would never wrestle around with any dogs but others are so playful and start playing with stranger dogs in a dog park. My border collie mixes are more reserved so they don't wrestle with any stranger dogs, just among themselves.

Once you realize that your two dogs are very relaxed with each other, you can initiate a play by exciting them, i.e. "common, lets play!!" and if they respond to your invitation, direct each dog to the other so that they can start playing together. If they are not aggressive, you can introduce a tug of war to them under your supervision. If the new dog gets aggressive, put the rope away and finish the play. This way, she will learn that fun ends when she gets aggressive.

Hope things will work out with you and your dogs.
Posted by Alison-Morton
Nov 3, 2009
Thanks so much for the time you are taking to help me.

I am working hard on the obedience training and "walk to heel" and have today started treating Pepé as the alpha pup. So far so good. We were so lucky with Pepé and his behaviour that I didn't need to do much reading regarding dog psychology, etc but really regret the wasted 4 weeks when I could have been shaping Tilly so much better.

Whilst they both look at each other's food bowls and will each lick the other's after they have finished, there is no aggression or actual stealing of food. I suspect if I wasn't there to say "no" Tilly may have stolen Pepé's food and Pepé would no doubt have walked away. That said, I also think Pepé wouldn't miss an opportunity to help himself to Tilly's if he got half a chance. I have always stood around and watched them eat then removed the bowls when they finished.

They will both happily let me pet them at the same time but I sense Pepé is more relaxed about it than Tilly. If I am petting Tilly and Pepé walks up uninvited by me, she would then try and head him off. If I invite him to join us she reluctantly accepts his presence but will still try to be closer to me.

I guess, as there's no aggression, I'm off to an OK start and hopefully things can only get better.

You mention about being consistent. Tilly understands some commands but obeys about 70% of the time. She has probably received mixed messages from me due to the initial inconsistency in my behaviour so, again, things should now improve.

Pepé was a very playful puppy but doesn't like dogs to sniff his under side since his operation at 1 year old for the liver shunt. His scar runs the length of his body and I guess he feels vulnerable. He loves to play chase and will happily play until a dog sniffs at his tummy. He seems to have lost that feeling of vulnerability with Tilly and they will happily sniff each other and he will sometimes lick her on the end of her nose but, so far, no playing. Hopefully, again this may change as our bonds develop.

I will pop an update on this thread in 3 weeks' time to let you know the outcome. Many thanks again.
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Nov 28, 2009
Hi Alison,

How are the things going since then?

Are Pepe and Tilly good friends now?

Hope everything has worked out fine.