This is quite a sad story of things not going to plan on the day and of hindsight being a wonderful thing.
Ruby is a five-year-old Staffie cross of brilliant temperament in all but one respect – she is very much on edge around other dogs. She always has been. I believe this could be something to do with her leaving her litter mates too young and therefore not having company of other dogs in the crucial early weeks. When she meets dogs on walks her hackles go up and she growls – obviously scared.
Ruby’s owners wanted to rescue a dog that was very much in need of a home, so they chose Jojo, a 9-month-old Pointer mix from a rescue centre in Southern Spain.
Jojo arrived last week. She was expected during the day but was delivered by lorry at 11 o’clock at night!
This immediately wiped out any plans they may have had for introducing the dogs in neutral territory in the park.
The dogs were crated for the night, and already things were going wrong. It could well have been easier for Ruby if they had chosen a dog rather than a bitch. The two dogs could eyeball one another from their crates. Jojo is a mild mannered and easy-going young dog, but Ruby will have been feeling increasingly threatened and territorial.
In the morning the dogs were let out of their crates. There will have been a lot of tension from the humans. Ruby was showing classic signs of anxiety, continually glancing at Jojo and then deliberately looking away. The gentleman stood between the dogs giving what he felt were calming words but the dogs would not have been fooled. Before they knew what had happened, Jojo was screaming in the corner, pinned by Ruby. No damage was actually done so it was probably just a big warning. Poor Jojo. What a difficult introduction to her new home.
Another more minor episode followed the next day, so now Jojo is temporarily living with the gentleman’s mother. I was called in to help them prepare both dogs for a fresh start.
This is tricky. There are things Ruby does and is allowed to do that could be potential for trouble, and these have to be dealt with first. How the owners now react when they meet other dogs when out is very important. Not only does Ruby’s behaviour need some work, but they need to change things round a bit and gate the kitchen doorway.
We have a plan for a controlled meeting between Ruby and Jojo in the park, initially at a good distance until, hopefully, walking on lead near each and ideally back home together. Once home it will be a bigger problem and they need initially to kept apart so they can see one another but not make contact, separated by a gate or in crates, for as long as it takes to work on the situation. The demeanor of the humans is very important. Patience, calm and quiet is needed and in particular Ruby must not be scolded if she growls.
After the unfortunate start and knowing no different, they did what they thought was best, but the first encounter should have been approached differently. Now that this has happened it will take longer as Ruby will already be on the defensive. It is a blessing that Jojo, who in the rescue centre had been mixing with other dogs, is not unduly fazed by Ruby. What a fantastic temperament she has!
If a dog is already not good around other dogs, another dog suddenly in her own home must be an ordeal for her.