Canine Behavior/1 year old Male Dog Drool
Hello. I have a 1 year old Male neutered yorkie/chi. I got him at a pet store at 10wks. He was immediently associated with an older female lab/corgi and they played well. I took him to dog parks and he did fine. As he got older (maybe 6months) he started drooling while at the dog park. I stopped taking him and we moved. He was then introduced to my parents 3yr small yorkie and they love each other. No drooling. I now volunteer at my local animal shelter and when I come home he will not be near me until I shower and change clothes, sometimes not even then. I decided to foster a 2m old lap pup. It was male and the moment they were introduced he started drooling in large amounts and would not stop. I kept the lap for 1 hour before deiciding it wasn't a good idea. He is still extremely playful (just tuned one last week) and I figured he'd love a pup. I tried taking him with me to the shelter but same results. The shelter suggested a small female but I'm hesitant. If I keep a small female in a separate room, will he be okay after a while? I would really like to adopt another pup but I don't want him to be stressed like this. His behavior is drooling and bubbling, hiding behind me or in another room, tail down between legs or straight up. He had no interest in either times I interacted him with the pups. Our neighbor has a large chained dog in the back yard and he seems very happy and interested. I'm not sure why puppies trigger this. Any advice would be appreciated. Just so you know, he turned one 2/1/16 and was neutered 1/16/16. He has been around adult females since I've had him.
Thank you for reaching out. It sounds like your dog is downright terrified (or at least overwhelmed) of puppies and possibly strange dogs in general. This is not really that uncommon, especially for dogs who come from pet stores who may have missed out on early socialization opportunities (before getting to the pet store).
Dogs are very much like humans when it comes to socializing. Some are extroverted and want to engage with everyone they meet. They're always ready for a party or a play date. Others are more introverted and are only comfortable with a select few individuals for interacting/playing/hanging out together. And others still are downright uncomfortable socializing. I could be talking about humans or dogs in all of these descriptions... It sounds like your pup has a select few dogs that he is comfortable with - similar size, adult, possibly not terribly intrusive of his space or insistent that he actually play, allowing him to dictate the level of interaction so that he remains comfortable.
The problem with puppies is that they have boundary issues. Just like small children, puppies do not read the communication signals of other dogs very well. They are pushy and insistent on engaging even when the other dog has said clearly, "back off, I'm not interested." Puppies move erratically - bouncing around, forward and away, running at top speed, changing directions, etc. Puppies tend to be vocal and have high-pitched yips and barks when they're excited. Again, swap out 'puppy' for 'toddler' and we are describing the same behavior, except instead of barks and yips, it's screams and laughter.
Dogs who are not well socialized to such erratic behavior can be very put off by it. That may result in intolerance and being quick to correct the offensive behavior, or as in your case, it can be just terrifying and overwhelming.
So, in your case, I would not push it. There's no valid reason to force your dog to engage with puppies or any strange dog if he's this uncomfortable. I would refrain from bringing strange dogs home of any age, and just really enjoy your dog as the main squeeze in your life. You're doing a great thing volunteering at the shelter and that is a great opportunity to love on those dogs as much as you wish. But it's unfair to your resident dog to try to force one of the shelter dogs on him.
There may come a time when he meets a young adult (or middle aged) dog who he quite likes and who is in need of a home. That will be the right dog to join your family. But I would focus on making his life all it can be as it is - with tons of affection, games, walks, toys and interesting things for him with you and the one or two dogs that he already has shown a comfort with.
As for his response when you get home from the shelter, there are a couple of things we can try there. First, don't try to force a physical contact engagement with him. Don't insist on picking him up or bending down to pet him or kiss him when you first come in. Instead, let him have the space he needs. Keep something super tasty in your car when you go to the shelter (cheerios if he doesn't have wheat/corn allergies can be great), cheese is a GREAT option for most dogs or real meat such as chicken breast or tiny bites of hot dog. As you come in, rain some food down around the room - not right at your feet, but rather toward the middle of the room or even closer to him. Just rain some food down as you verbally greet him in your sweetest, most loving voice. Then go straight to shower and change into clean clothes (or at least something that has not been at or touching any shelter clothing). Then come back into the room and repeat the rain of awesome food. Then sit on the floor and allow him to come to you in his own time.
By associating your return from the stinky shelter with super yummy foods, we will hopefully change his opinion of the smell so that it's not so off-putting. He may never like it if he's that concerned about strange dog smells (especially the highly stressed smells of shelter dogs). But we may be able to help him at least not feel so frightened of your return when you do smell like the shelter.
NOTE: he may not eat the food as you drop it. He may eat it while you're in the shower, or he may not eat it until he has determined that you are yourself again and no longer smell like the shelter (and you haven't snuck a strange dog into the house). But with consistency, and just giving him the time/space to feel comfortable in his own time, you'll start to see that he eats the food bites sooner and sooner, and eventually he should be greeting you at the door expectantly looking for his rain of cheese (or whatever you use that he absolutely loves) because he will have made the association that when Mom comes home stinking like the shelter, it reliably predicts manna from heaven! That's when we know we've done our job. We have successfully changed his emotional reaction from "Oh no, not again!" to "Oh goody!!! That means awesome!"
It's great that you are attuned to your dog well enough to recognize how uncomfortable he is - the excessive drooling combined with the body postures tells us just how terribly uncomfortable/overwhelmed/frightened he is. Kudos to you for seeing it and realizing it meant something major. And that level of drool may mean that he won't be able to eat the food you offer immediately, or until he feels you're safe again. But rain the food anyway. As he starts to see that you're safe - not bringing in strange dogs, and that every time you come home smelling like the shelter, it reliably predicts the good stuff, we should hopefully see a change in his emotional response.
Please do this for at 2-3 weeks and then followup with me and let me know how it's going. We may need to tweak the protocol a bit, or it may be working great for you.
Please feel free to followup in the meantime if I can be of any further assistance.
Jody, CPDT-KA, APDT
Worcester, MA Behavior Specialist
Masters Candidate - Animals and Public Policy (Animal Behavior)
Tufts Cummings Veterinary School