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Canine Behavior/Rescue snapping at other dog


Hello Jill, I recently fostered two dachshunds for 4 days while their original foster mom went on vacation. Thelma is 5 years old and Louise is 7 years old and both are bonded together. I have a dachshund named Cinnamon, she is 10 years old. I have had Cinnamon since she was 8 weeks old. I was considering adopting Thelma and Louise but I have one concern. Louise would growl at Cinnamon. The only thing that I know about their background is that they may have been constantly bred for puppies. Louise was on death row at an animal control shelter and was saved by a rescue organization. Louise growled at Cinnamon on two occasions. Each occasion Louise was sitting on my lap. Cinnamon would come near me to sit and she would start the behavior. There were times when all three would sit on my lap and she wouldn't growl but if she was siting on my lap alone and Cinnamon would come by then she exhibited the behavior. Thelma, on the other hand, was sweet and lovable. She didn't have any issues with Cinnamon. She is laid back and approachable. Initially, Louise was stand-offish but she warmed up.

The rescue representative wasn't she if Thelma and Louise was food aggressive. Initially, I fed them separately. Then I fed them together, feeding Cinnamon first and then Thelma and Louise. They ate fine but if Cinnamon finished first and was a little too close to Louise she would growl on occasion. I would like insight as to what challenges I may be looking at if I adopted the two (they can't be adopted separately). I've had a rescue before, a Lhasa Apso mix (male) and there were no problems ever. I am not sure how to handle this one. Just a note, all dogs have been spayed.

Growling is a warning signal: dog A (Cinnamon) is yours (or, rather, you are hers as well, in her culture).  Dog B (Louise) appeared on HER territory in YOUR lap.  Thelma is clearly no threat to Dog A (body language immediately secured that, for now, at least).  Dog B is.  Temperament may be a little too close for comfort; dog B may be "demanding" attention she freely receives in her present foster home where only she and her companion Thelma reside.  Dog A is reacting to that, in point of fact, telling Dog B to 'CLEAR OFF'.

Four days is no time at all.  There's a developing problem. Whether or not it will escalate is not something I can predict because I can't see anything from here: body posture/communication between/among dogs; your physical reaction (read instantly by both dogs A and B).

My advice?  Don't look for trouble.  If this escalates, all dogs are at risk.  There is a (slim, but still possible) chance that Dog B and Thelma will "pack up" against Dog A when you are not at home or even when you are, should Dog A and Dog B really "get into it".  And then what?  All dogs are now compromised, and Thelma and Louise are back where they started, only worse.

Foster homes are desperately needed.  You may very well like to add another dog to your household, but there will be one, somewhere down the line, that will be a perfect fit.  Wait for that one.  This is a stop sign.  Respect it.

Canine Behavior

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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