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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello, sorry in advance if this is a bit long but I am hoping some of you have some advice or similar experiences to help.

So I have had my dog Zack since he was 6 months old. He is a dachshund mix (we think jack russel). He is now 11. He is pretty good with other dogs. He has had a few squabbles with dogs when he was younger but thats about it. He has never hurt another dog but he has never backed down from a dog either. Example: My moms toy poodle once bit his ear and drew blood, he sat on her and waited for me to come over. He didnt bite back or anything. Once at a dog park, my brothers dog was chasing a german shepard and the dog ran straight into my brothers dog causing him to yelp and roll. Zack was always close to brothers dog and when he heard the yelp, he stopped rolling in the grass and growled at the shepard and chased him away from my brothers dog and then ran right back to brothers dog to check on him. Did not bite the shepard, just wanted his away from his best friend.

So a few days ago, we adopted a new rescue named Charlie. Charlie is about a year old, he a chihuahua mix. They met at the rescue, Zack immediately tried to mount Charlie. Charlie gave a small snap towards him and Zack immediately backed off and has not tried to do that again. Zack seems very calm around Charlie and doesnt seem to mind his presence. He actually tries to lay by Charlies crate whenever he is in it and wants to be in the room with Charlie.

My concern is with Charlie. On a few occasions, Charlie has bared teeth to Zack. It is usually when he is seeming to feel corned (like in the car or near a wall). Charlie does not growl or snap at Zack, his tail seems to be between his legs, licking lips if we remember correctly, which I heard is a submissive sign. He does not come across aggressive from what I see, so I believe it is more fearful or submissive maybe?
We have introduced Charlie to three dogs now. My moms dog, which he was totally fine with and shes a bit smaller than him, my brothers other dog who is quite large and he growled at immediately (which Zack also has a similar reaction to brothers other dog), and Zack, who he shows teeth to but wont growl or nip at. Every night when Charlie is in his crate (we are working on crate training him) we will sit in there a bit with him and let Zack come in and Zack will always lay facing Charlie and Charlie will lay in the same position facing Zack and they will both fall asleep like that which is another reason I don't think Charlie is showing aggression. I should also mention Charlie is recovering still from surgery, he was neutered and had a hernia repaired, and he is heartworm positive.

I am having trouble figuring out how to handle Zack and Charlie. Does Charlie sound like he is submitting to Zack? Should I intervene when Charlie bares teeth? Any advice on how we should handle this and how to get these two to bond would be so helpful! I know its still very early on since Charlie has only been in his new home for a few days but we want to be proactive!
Thanks in advance!
 

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My first take is that, if the new dog has only been there a few days, you should give it more time. I tend not to interfere with the animals' business unless someone is being harassed or might get hurt. In this case, it seems that boundaries are being set and tested, but they are probably on their way to getting along.

I would say that if one dog is crated, and bares teeth at the other when approached, it would be best either to allow the dog out of the crate or else remove the other dog from the situation. A dog in a crate is unable to leave on his own, and if he is saying he is unhappy with the other dog's presence, you need to listen to that and respect his need for space. Do not allow either one of them to corner the other...that is harassment.
 

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I don't have time to do a big reply but yes, lip licking is one of the early signals of anxiety (good catch on spotting that).

Should you intervene? Yes, by taking the perceived threat away. That shows your dog you are listening to him and dealing with the ”problem” so he doesn't have to.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
My first take is that, if the new dog has only been there a few days, you should give it more time. I tend not to interfere with the animals' business unless someone is being harassed or might get hurt. In this case, it seems that boundaries are being set and tested, but they are probably on their way to getting along.

I would say that if one dog is crated, and bares teeth at the other when approached, it would be best either to allow the dog out of the crate or else remove the other dog from the situation. A dog in a crate is unable to leave on his own, and if he is saying he is unhappy with the other dog's presence, you need to listen to that and respect his need for space. Do not allow either one of them to corner the other...that is harassment.
He actually doesn't bare teeth in the crate, we think he might have when there were food/treats out and we immediately removed those from the equation and they were fine after that and laid down staring at each other and went to sleep after that. I also called my older dog over when that happened to remove him from the situation while the food and treats were removed. As soon as that was gone they both were fine. He has only bared teeth outside the crate. Once in the car when my wife had him in her lap and older dog came to check him out (he also had a cone on his head so we think he got startled as he did not see older dog approaching), and at home when near my older dogs water dish but I called older dog away in both situations as I wanted the new dog to feel he was safe and not threatened.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I don't have time to do a big reply but yes, lip licking is one of the early signals of anxiety (good catch on spotting that).

Should you intervene? Yes, by taking the perceived threat away. That shows your dog you are listening to him and dealing with the ”problem” so he doesn't have to.
Thank you! If you have some suggestions (when you do have time) on how to assist them, it would be greatly appreciated. Charlie was so calm with the smaller dog and seems nervous around Zack at times. I am sure that over time he will not see Zack as a threat but I want to make sure we are not conditioning negative behaviors between them.
 

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Zack immediately tried to mount Charli
Yeah, that's not polite. Or friendly. Imagine if a stranger just jumped on you and started humping? :p Wouldn't you snap too? ;)

My concern is with Charlie. On a few occasions, Charlie has bared teeth to Zack. It is usually when he is seeming to feel corned (like in the car or near a wall).
Yup. Typical Chihuahua behaviour if my own is any indication. He's in a new situation, feels cornered, reacts first and asks quesrions later. The fact that he's also recently had surgery complicates matters even further (more on that later).

Charlie does not growl or snap at Zack, his tail seems to be between his legs, licking lips if we remember correctly, which I heard is a submissive sign
Lip licking, and tail between his legs are signs of fear or uncertainty. When you see that, you move Zak away.

and Zack, who he shows teeth to but wont growl or nip at
Yet!

There are mixed messages in your post. First you say Charlie snapped at Zak, then he doesn't, but licks his lips and tucks his tail between his legs, and now he's showing his teeth. All of which are at different points on the Canine Ladder of Aggression

Assume he's at the higher level (snapping) and reward for any calming signal you see below that. If Zak is too close and you see Charlie raise his leg, move Zak away, and toss Charlie a treat.

Every night when Charlie is in his crate (we are working on crate training him) we will sit in there a bit with him and let Zack come in and Zack will always lay facing Charlie and Charlie will lay in the same position facing Zack and they will both fall asleep like that which is another reason I don't think Charlie is showing aggression.
Face to face is threatening to a dog. Falling asleep is probably avoidance. "If I shut my eyes, he's not there."

should also mention Charlie is recovering still from surgery, he was neutered and had a hernia repaired, and he is heartworm positive.
Think about when you're ill, or recovering from surgery. Would you want an almost perfect stranger in your bedroom? ;) IME, (with my own and with reading other people's experiences) Chihuahuas make bad patients and just want to be left alone when they're not well. Keep Zak out of Charlie's crate. You too, actually. Don't be sitting in his crate with him - just leave him to rest and recuperate in his own time. Let him come to you.

Should I intervene when Charlie bares teeth?
Yes - by removing Zak.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Yeah, that's not polite. Or friendly. Imagine if a stranger just jumped on you and started humping? :p Wouldn't you snap too? ;)



Yup. Typical Chihuahua behaviour if my own is any indication. He's in a new situation, feels cornered, reacts first and asks quesrions later. The fact that he's also recently had surgery complicates matters even further (more on that later).



Lip licking, and tail between his legs are signs of fear or uncertainty. When you see that, you move Zak away.



Yet!

There are mixed messages in your post. First you say Charlie snapped at Zak, then he doesn't, but licks his lips and tucks his tail between his legs, and now he's showing his teeth. All of which are at different points on the Canine Ladder of Aggression

Assume he's at the higher level (snapping) and reward for any calming signal you see below that. If Zak is too close and you see Charlie raise his leg, move Zak away, and toss Charlie a treat.



Face to face is threatening to a dog. Falling asleep is probably avoidance. "If I shut my eyes, he's not there."



Think about when you're ill, or recovering from surgery. Would you want an almost perfect stranger in your bedroom? ;) IME, (with my own and with reading other people's experiences) Chihuahuas make bad patients and just want to be left alone when they're not well. Keep Zak out of Charlie's crate. You too, actually. Don't be sitting in his crate with him - just leave him to rest and recuperate in his own time. Let him come to you.



Yes - by removing Zak.

Thank you for your detailed response. Since my original post was a bit confusing, I figured I would clarify a few things.

Charlie only snapped at Zack one time which was when they first met and Zack tried to mount him. This was in the presence of trainers at the rescue who said that was okay to allow as Charlie was telling Zack not to do that. Zack has not tried to do that again and Charlie has not snapped at him again at all. Only baring teeth and licking his lips since we got home.
We do not allow anyone (us or Zack included) in the crate with Charlie. The crate is closed. The room the crate is in is our hang out room (we live in a one bedroom apartment with a divided room that is kind of like a den) where Zack has always joined us and relaxed in so we allow Zack in that room when Charlie is locked in his crate and he seems fine with him. Charlie is perfectly friendly with people and not at all fearful or aggressive towards any humans. He's quite a charmer, loves to be held and loves to give kisses.
Today we took them on their first short walk together and Charlie approached Zack, sniffed him out calmly, and then walked next to him for a bit. When we got home, they were near each other and fine. I sat on the couch with Charlie and he laid down next to me. Zack wanted some loving too and accidentally almost sat on Charlie and Charlie showed some teeth so I immediately moved him to my other side to give Charlie space.
Currently, Charlie is asleep on the couch next to me and Zack is asleep on the floor next to wife since she was sitting there in the room with us (Zack loves blankets and she had a big comforter).

I have never seen Charlie lift a leg, or do anything other than tail down (which it is most of the time since he seems nervous, he actually is beginning to wag more now) and the teeth baring and licking. He did a low short growl today during the couch incident and like I said, we immediately removed Zack to give Charlie space. Hope this clears up any confusion and thank you again for any and all advice! I have never had more than one dog at a time and Zack is my emotional support dog and I am very dependent on him and hypersensitive towards him. I was honestly more worried about Zack being protective and territorial but he has been very good with Charlie (aside from the initial mount attempt which I would have snapped if someone did that to me too LOL)

I am hopefully they will bond more once Charlie really settles in and heals up and feels more comfortable with us.
 
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