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Hi everyone,

Ok so I need some advice/suggestions on my current situation with my two dogs. This is going to be a long post (this might be in the wrong section).

Recently Mia, my pittie pup went through some minor surgery to get a lump taken out of her leg. She had to wear a cone for 2 weeks and wasn't allowed to jump or run around either...something ridiculously impossible for a 4 month old. Anyway, I decided I had to separate Keiko (my 12 year old Shiba) and my pup until she was fully healed. I was too afraid her stitches would come out.

Mia is fully healed now and Keiko has been very happy and very spoiled at my friend's place. I didn't feel guilty at the time because I know he would love it there and I wasn't able to give him the attention he needed.

I thought that now that he could come home, it would be the perfect opportunity to re-introduce the dogs properly. I would come once a week, after Mia's obedience class (so she was already tired out a bit) and have my friends walk keiko with me and Mia and have them get used to each other. I would do this for a few weeks and then he could come home.

Previously, at home she would terrorize him. He would growl and give her tons of warning signs (he's never bitten or snapped, only bares his teeth) but she doesn't know boundaries yet and thinks he wants to play. When we would walk together she would always try to go over to his side and jump on him (when I walk alone with her she's really good on leash). Eventually he just learned to go into the bedroom while she ran around and hung out in the living room. She learned not to bother him if he was in the bedroom or if she tried to find him I would call her back to me.

So here's where I need some insight:

1. The (brief) thought had crossed my mind that my friends would just "adopt" Keiko and I would come visit him every week (though I think that might confuse him?) But then when I actually thought about it, my heart hurt. I do miss him a lot and I want him to come home but until Mia learns to leave him alone I don't want his golden years to be confined to the bedroom. Is it better that he just stays with my friends until his last days? He is very healthy for his age, I imagine he still has about 3-4 years left. I would still cover for his food and any vet bills he would incur.

2. I am going away for 10 days mid June and the friends that are taking care of Keiko right now are going away as well so their friends (Keiko has met them before) will take care of him until we are all back from vacation. I was thinking of just letting Keiko stay there until end of June when I'm back. Should I just start the re-introduction when I get back? or the sooner I start the better?

3. Regarding the re-introduction, is it too confusing for Keiko if I come by with Mia once a week to walk together and then go home without him? is that whole idea just one big bad idea? Any suggestions on how I can get them to get along?

4. Is it possible for a puppy to understand that certain dogs should be left alone while there are others that want to play? Are they able to differentiate the two? She does have other dogs/puppies that she gets to play with, probably not often enough but I'm trying to schedule more play dates. Having JUST finished all her vaccinations and recovering from her surgery has delayed her playtime quite a bit.

*note: before anyone comments on why I would even get a young puppy with a senior dog...Mia was not a planned decision. My friend decided on a whim to get a puppy (from Craigslist no less..sigh) and within a week she realized she was in over her head and wanted to get rid of the puppy. I had been searching for a second dog (but a mature one 4-5 years in age) but I was too worried of where this pup would end up so I ended up taking her instead. For one, she's a bully mix and two, she's a very dark brindle...meaning shes a double stigma = pit bull + dark colored dog.

*note: I know these two can co-exist. I have rare footage of them sitting/lying next to each other in the living room. I must have tired Mia out so much that when Keiko entered, she was still lying down and he came over and laid next to her. It was over the Easter long weekend so I call it the Easter Miracle lol
 

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I'm not sure that seeing him once a week would be ideal for reintroducing them. She'll probably be quite excited, so you'll spend a good amount of that time calming her down in that environment, and still have to do the same in your house when you bring him back. I would be inclined to bring him home, and keep them separated unless you are able to directly supervise/give full attention and redirect/prevent her from mugging him.

She needs to know that it's never ok to harass him, and he needs to know that he can move about freely without being harassed. You don't need to crate one or shut one in a room to separate if you are nearby, and in this case it's really not the ideal. I would use a baby gate, with one on either side at first. Once she's consistently ignoring/only mildly interested in him even when he's "active" on the other side, then you could try removing the gate and using a tie down instead, so she'll be "with him", but he can control the interaction, if he wants it, and can get away. If he harasses her, this won't work, but it sounds like he mostly just wants to be left alone by her, and my guess is that he won't bother her much.

Meanwhile, you can bring her around him on leash, and work on teaching her alternative behaviors to jumping on and bothering him. When you see her beginning to ramp up/fixate on him, get her attention and engage her in some obedience instead, then play with her or take her out for a bit to burn some energy.

If you decide to use a tie down, make sure you acclimate her to it before bringing him into the equation, and it should only be after she's already ignoring him through a gate. It won't be helpful if she's straining at the end of it, trying to get to him. Here's an article about introducing a young dog to an older, crotchety dog, they used both gates and tie downs :) https://loveandaleash.com/2011/12/06/fostering-made-easyer-the-tiedown/ Since she's not aggressive/reactive to him, you could probably skip step one with the crate.

ETA: I would make sure to separate them completely when you aren't home, either by crating one/both, or closing one behind a door, just to be safe and ensure that they don't get into a scuffle with no one there to break them up.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
@busannie
Thank you for taking the time to reply!

Since I had brought her home, they were always separated by a baby gate. I should have mentioned that in my post. I only remove the baby gate when I'm home. I usually take her out and tire her out first before I do but the moment she sees him she runs to him and jumps on him because she wants to play.

I've never heard of the tie-down, I will definitely try that. I know she is going to hate it and will whine and try to chew the lead and Keiko will probably avoid that area completely lol but I'm definitely willing to give it a try.

When shes on her side of the baby gate she will play on her own, she won't stay glued to the gate searching for Keiko. But if Keiko goes up to the gate to investigate that's when she gets excited and tries to jump up/over the gate to get to him.
 

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I only remove the baby gate when I'm home. I usually take her out and tire her out first before I do but the moment she sees him she runs to him and jumps on him because she wants to play.
Yep. Put her on a leash before you remove the gate so you can keep her from mugging him :) Then just keep her with you so she can't bother him. She probably sees the gate opening as a racehorse sees the starting gate opening- game on!

I've never heard of the tie-down, I will definitely try that. I know she is going to hate it and will whine and try to chew the lead and Keiko will probably avoid that area completely lol but I'm definitely willing to give it a try.
It's important to get her used to being on it during quiet, relaxed times before introducing anything that makes her excited. Put a tiedown near someplace you spend a lot of time, give her a bed or rug to lay on, and a nice chew. Ideally she should be a little tired and inclined to rest already. Let her hang out there doing that for a bit, then unhook her, pick up all the stuff, and continue with your day, maybe repeating it later if you have need or time. I don't use a tiedown often with my current dogs (just loop Bus' leash over a doorknob if I need him secured away from me for a few minutes, otherwise he's free roaming or stays close to me if I tell him), but if I tie him somewhere and get a blanket or bed out, he's in it before I even get it situated in the right spot- he knows the routine :) Once she understands that she might as well just relax, you can introduce more stimulus/distractions.

When shes on her side of the baby gate she will play on her own, she won't stay glued to the gate searching for Keiko. But if Keiko goes up to the gate to investigate that's when she gets excited and tries to jump up/over the gate to get to him.
Maybe try doing some obedience work at the gate with both there or him somewhere fairly nearby. That way she can begin to see that close proximity =/= mugging. Since she may test the gate, start on her side so you can keep her from going over/through, and when she's calmed down, you can move to his side (right beside the gate so you can reach both dogs easily). You might need someone to hold her a little bit away from the gate, or stand on the leash with your outside foot. Or start with her at a greater distance from the gate, but then you might need to either have him in a stay near the gate on his side or have someone holding him, unless he's already hanging out there on his own.

I would actually get them calm in close proximity with the gate barrier before introducing the tie down in proximity (you can begin introducing it to her on her own, just not with him nearby yet) as the restraint of the leash can increase a dog's desire to get to a given thing, so you want to make sure he's not very enticing before introducing it. And this way he can start to associate her with good things like attention from you and food rewards so he might be less inclined to avoid her and snark at her when she gets in his space.

You might also try putting a bed near the gate on each side (further away at first, and then moving closer as Mia becomes less interested and Keiko becomes less stressed) to help foster the idea of relaxing near each other.
 

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Yep. Put her on a leash before you remove the gate so you can keep her from mugging him :) Then just keep her with you so she can't bother him. She probably sees the gate opening as a racehorse sees the starting gate opening- game on!
haha that's exactly what happens!!

I have my work cut out for me but I won't give up! Thank you for all the info/tips. I read your blog on the tie down and it's really great. Super helpful! Thank you! :D
 
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