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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone....

I am new to this forum and in need of some advice. Today we adopted a 5 month old shepard mix from our local shelter (we will be bringing him home on Sunday). We met him yesterday and he was somewhat timid. We went back today with our 7 year old lab mix to ensure that they would get along. Things were going as expected. They sniffed each other a little bit and then basically ignored each other. About 10 minutes into the visit, the 5 month old growled at our lab. He didn't show teeth and he eventually came over again to sniff our lab without incident.

Is this normal behavior? Our lab is a rescue and when we brought him home 7 years ago, he was a little shy, but never growled at our other dog at the time. The employee at the rescue said that the pup plays well with the other dogs and he wasn't too concerned.

We just want a smooth transition for our current dog and our new pup.

Any suggestions / comments would be appreciated!

Thanks!
 

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I can't tell you if that one growl would be an indicator of trouble ahead, but I can tell you how things turned out for us.

We have a senior dog who had been the second dog until 2.5 years ago, when we had to say good bye to our other dog. Our senior dog is dog reactive, and fearful. We had adopted her from a dog rescue who had pulled her from a shelter. She had gotten along very well with our other dog, they occasionally played with each other but had never been close enough to cuddle or sleep beside each other.

Then a few months ago our eldest son and his wife got a mini dachshund. I would often have the little guy during the day, and sometimes even for sleep overs. Our senior dog did not really want to play with him or have him close to her, and she would growl at him if he would come too close. I decided to allow her to voice her opinion to let the little guy know that he should stay away, and I made it my job to have my eye on them always! She is good with leaving a situation she is uncomfortable in, and he is a good boy, respectful about her need for space and in time they both got along better and even started to play with each other! Then our son and his wife got another puppy 2 months later, and our senior dog did not like her at all. Luckily this sweet little puppy had her "brother" to play with.

Then my husband and I decided to get a mini dachshund puppy of our own, and our senior dog is absolutely awesome with him. She lets him know when he is too wild, and again, I let her voice her opinion without correction, and instead get the little guy to back off, and get him interested in a toy instead. She now seems to mother him, giving him toys, licking him, allows him to sniff/lick/play with her ears, she lets him snuggle in next to her body, they play tug of war together, and play chase!

I know in your case the situation is rather reversed, where the new dog is the one doing the growling, but I think it is still worth giving it a try. You might want to find out though if you can perhaps do a trial adoption, or if they have a 2 week trial period in place for all adoptions? The most important job for you will be to have a watchful eye and avoid any negative interaction between them and to create as many positive ones as possible.
 

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Allowing dogs to speak their mind to show discomfort creates better relationships!!

Our senior dog did not really want to play with him or have him close to her, and she would growl at him if he would come too close.

I decided to allow her to voice her opinion to let the little guy know that he should stay away, and I made it my job to have my eye on them always!

. She lets him know when he is too wild, and again, I let her voice her opinion without correction, and instead get the little guy to back off, and get him interested in a toy instead

The most important job for you will be to have a watchful eye and avoid any negative interaction between them and to create as many positive ones as possible.
@ Littlefox, very helpful post! Thank you!

I, too, brought in a new puppy, Puma, and was concerned how my shy Gracie dog would feel about that. She does not like other dogs in her space or touching her body at all. Makes her veeeeery uncomfortable! So I was very worried about bouncy puppy getting too close.

But, I did the same as you did with your dogs. I allowed Gracie to voice her opinion to Puma pup to let Puma know she was feeling uncomfortable or stressed. I never yelled or punished Gracie for "correcting" Puma as long as it was done in a "polite" way and not excessive. I generally would say something to Gracie like "Hey, we are all ok. Puma is just a pup!" and then go distract pup or Gracie with a toy or treat or a baby gate to separate for a moment if needed.

Sometimes Puma would get a bit afraid when Gracie "yelled" at her --and she (Puma) would run to me for comfort which was great since it gave me an opportunity to teach her that I am her safety!

Fast forward, to now, one year later and Gracie and Puma will sometimes even play together in the yard. Crazy bc Gracie does NOT play with dogs. Gracie will shockingly allow Puma to be very close to her, even touching her body! Whaaat? Previously she would have never allowed that!!!! Heck, Gracie flopped on the bed the other night almost right on top of Puma!!! So odd, but we love how brave Gracie is becoming with Puma.


I honestly think the fact that we allowed Gracie to "tell" Puma how she felt and then have Puma actually listen and respect her feelings, has helped our situation enormously!

Had we yelled at Gracie for appropriately correcting Puma, I think both dogs would have very different feeling for each other--- and the stress levels for both dogs would have been dangerously high.

So many people want to yell at their dogs for "speaking their minds" or stating their discomfort to another dog, not understanding that this may stop the growling or barking BUT---it just suppresses the dog's underlying true feelings of stress.


We need to change underlying emotions to get a better long term result with our dogs!

I love what you wrote here:

"The most important job for you will be to have a watchful eye and avoid any negative interaction between them and to create as many positive ones as possible."

So true!!!
 

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@ Littlefox, very helpful post! Thank you!

I, too, brought in a new puppy, Puma, and was concerned how my shy Gracie dog would feel about that. She does not like other dogs in her space or touching her body at all. Makes her veeeeery uncomfortable! So I was very worried about bouncy puppy getting too close.

But, I did the same as you did with your dogs. I allowed Gracie to voice her opinion to Puma pup to let Puma know she was feeling uncomfortable or stressed. I never yelled or punished Gracie for "correcting" Puma as long as it was done in a "polite" way and not excessive. I generally would say something to Gracie like "Hey, we are all ok. Puma is just a pup!" and then go distract pup or Gracie with a toy or treat or a baby gate to separate for a moment if needed.

Sometimes Puma would get a bit afraid when Gracie "yelled" at her --and she (Puma) would run to me for comfort which was great since it gave me an opportunity to teach her that I am her safety!

Fast forward, to now, one year later and Gracie and Puma will sometimes even play together in the yard. Crazy bc Gracie does NOT play with dogs. Gracie will shockingly allow Puma to be very close to her, even touching her body! Whaaat? Previously she would have never allowed that!!!! Heck, Gracie flopped on the bed the other night almost right on top of Puma!!! So odd, but we love how brave Gracie is becoming with Puma.


I honestly think the fact that we allowed Gracie to "tell" Puma how she felt and then have Puma actually listen and respect her feelings, has helped our situation enormously!

Had we yelled at Gracie for appropriately correcting Puma, I think both dogs would have very different feeling for each other--- and the stress levels for both dogs would have been dangerously high.

So many people want to yell at their dogs for "speaking their minds" or stating their discomfort to another dog, not understanding that this may stop the growling or barking BUT---it just suppresses the dog's underlying true feelings of stress.


We need to change underlying emotions to get a better long term result with our dogs!

I love what you wrote here:

"The most important job for you will be to have a watchful eye and avoid any negative interaction between them and to create as many positive ones as possible."

So true!!!
Thank you so much for your nice comment AthenaLove!
We had been very lucky with our first family dog, who we had adopted from the local shelter when our youngest was 4 yrs old. I wish I had known more about dogs when I trained her! She was a much better dog than I was a dog owner! When she growled I corrected her, but the saving grace was that I taught my children, that if she goes to her bed, that no one was to touch or bother her there. It was her safe place to go. That, and that she had to drop anything from her mouth if anyone reached for it! She had deserved so much better and I am trying to be a much better mom to our fur babies now!

It is so nice to read that your dogs have developed a friendly relationship with each other. Less stress for your dogs, less stress for you, and healthier living for all :)
 

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Honestly speaking, I'd want to adopt from a rescue group or a shelter that allows for a trial period to see if the arrangement would work, and would accept back the new dog if it didn't.

A few years back, I adopted two unrelated dogs from a public shelter within a month of each other. One dog(Miles) was fine; the other dog (Jesse) was a resource guarder, and I was his chief resource. After a honeymoon period, the resource guarder's jealousy became a real problem. I ended up rehoming Jesse with a good friend, and he's now happily living as a single dog in her home.

Miles has since passed away, and now I have a new rescue dog (Asher). This time, I adopted through a rescue group that had fostered Asher in a home setting. Asher is going to be with me permanently, but the rescue group has guaranteed that they will always take him back if I could no longer keep for any reason.

You need to have a back-up plan. What if the new dog doesn't work out? What if you need to find him a new home because the dogs simply won't get along? If you return him to the shelter, will he be in danger of being euthanized (which can be a common fate for adoption failures at many public shelters)?

We all want to believe in rosy outcomes, but we need to be realistic as well. The growl may mean nothing, but then again, it could be a red flag. Take your time to really consider what is in the best interests of both dogs and yourselves.
 

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@SusanLynn gave you great advice.

I would add that I don't like the cavalier dismissal of the growl by the shelter employee. Dogs can be fine with many dogs and hate a few, I'd want to see the rest of the body language over time and in a couple of different spaces before I was willing to judge a dog's intent.

That said, my dog is a vocal growler and it rarely means much.
 

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Remmy, my Shih Tzu x Maltese, has always been my "policeman" when I get a new dog. I never have corrected him if he told the other dog off for being too rough as he has never left a toothmark on anyone and just corrects them by growling at them and then just leaving them alone. He has helped so much when I have gotten a dog that is going to be way bigger than him to learn manners around other dogs. Listening to him, someone who did not know him would think he was going to tear them limb by limb, but it is all noise and they learn fast.
 

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What preceded the growl..and what did your older dog do about it?

Hi again. I was thinking of you and your dogs and had a couple of questions to ask you that may help.

1) When new pup growled at your older dog, do you know what happened right prior to the growl?

Like did your lab move towards the pup, or startle the pup, or stare/look at the pup or attempt to sniff the pup again?

Were there food, toys, bones, treats laying around?

Did any person in the room suddenly move or get up from a seated position? Or exit/enter the room?

In other words, did the environment suddenly change and thus your new dog felt a bit different, and then did a redirect bark/growl at your dog?

2) What if anything did your lab do as a result of the pup's growl?
Did your dog send back a calming signal like a yawn or lip lick or head turn to de-escalate the situation and let the new pup know that all was ok, no need to become aggressive? Or...did your dog act aggressively in return to the puppy?

Dogs communicate with growls and barks, not all growling means things are necessarily going to be bad.

I personally would much rather have my dogs know how to growl to warn me or another dog that they are unhappy or stressed (or whatever) than be with a dog that does not have a good growl or warning system!!

When my dogs growl, I actually thank them for letting me know they are uncomfortable or stressed. ---and then I remedy the situation asap so they do not need to act any further!

In your case, it could be as simple as the new dog was in a new situation, a new house, with new people and a new dog. That is quite a bit for a new dog to take in all at once, esp a timid or shy dog. Sounds like the pup and your lab did ok if the rest of the interactions were positive.

Just watch their body language when they are together--- and make sure they have plenty of opportunities to have quiet relaxation time away from each other when needed.

I would be aware, but honestly at this point I would not worry about it too much. Especially if it was only one growl. You don't want your dogs to pick up on your fear or uncertainty. Just relax around them and give them both lots of love and treats and attention.... and tons of positive reinforcement around each other. If problems do arise, (hopefully not!) then you can figure out a solution.

Welcome little one!:)
 

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Hi everyone...

We did not go through with the adoption. We just didn't feel like it was a good fit with our current pack.

However... We did adopt a 7 month old girl (Renney) on Friday. My 7 year old lab and the new pup are getting along pretty well. Our lab is showing her the ropes and has growled on occasion when she gets too rambunctious. Now (day 3) they are actually playing with each other.

I appreciate all of your comments and advice!
 
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