This post is part of a series where struggling pet owners submit pleas for help to the expertise of blogland. Everyone’s experiences are unique. If you have any suggestions, please don’t hesitate to share them in the comments. What you think common sense may be revolutionary for someone else. You never know what may resonate with someone and keep a beloved pet out of the shelter. My hope is that together we can help good people, and good animals, feel a little less alone.
I have very little personal experience with this particular behaviour problem. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to offer this person very much in the way of practical advice. It can be very hard bringing a new dog into the home and I have nothing but heartfelt sympathy to offer anyone dealing with this tough situation.
Dear Dog Bloggers:
Five years ago I rescued the love of my life from the city pound. His name is Jack* and he is the textbook definition of an Am Staff. He has the hugest head and a really clumsy body and I knew I had to have him as soon as I saw him. He had been laying on the floor in his kennel with his head between his paws. He looked like he knew he was the least likely dog in the place to find a home. My husband at the time was not as thrilled with him as I was and we spent hours arguing about my decision to bring him home. I could just tell that Jack needed me.
Until now everything with Jack has been great. He has been my best friend and he saw me through my divorce. He is a giant couch potato and loves to cuddle with me on the floor and watch cartoons. He loves kids and I have never worried about him with other dogs. Jack is pretty much the perfect dog and I don’t think I would have survived the last few years without him.
About a month and a half ago, I adopted another Am Staff from a rescue in my city. His name is Mario and he is much younger than Jack, probably not much more than a year old. The rescue required Jack and Mario to meet first before I was approved to bring him home. During that first meeting they got along great! Jack doesn’t have as much energy but he really perked up around Mario. They looked like instant best friends. Mario is a lot more work than Jack ever was. He can be so hyper and he is really bad on the leash. But the rescue gave me some advice and I am working with him. Around the house he always gives over to Jack. He recognizes his senior status and they still seem to get along.
The reason I am writing has more to do with Jack’s behaviour than Mario’s. He’s never lived with a dog before and he picked up this scary habit of guarding everything in the entire house that he thinks is his. He growls every time Mario comes near him if he has a bone. He growls if Mario starts playing with a ball on the other side of the room. I have to feed them in completely separate rooms behind closed doors because I am terrified Jack’s growling would turn into something even more violent. A few days ago Jack and I were hanging out on the floor and Mario walked over to lay at my other side and Jack jumped up, stood in front of me, and growled to warn Mario away.
Mario always backs down immediately but I still worry something really awful could happen. What if they get into a fight when I am not home? I have no idea how to handle this. When Jack growls over a toy or a bone, I will take it away and give him a time-out in his crate. But I read that this might be making it worse. It might cause him to resent Mario even more. I just don’t know what else to do. I can’t just let him growl and I can’t let poor Mario spend his life hiding in a corner! When we are outside the house together everything is fine. It’s only inside that Jack gets all defensive over his things. Do you think he will get over this on his own?
Please help! I am so scared if I ask the rescue for help that they will take Mario away. I love him too much already to have that happen. And I could never, ever give Jack up. I am really at a loss.
Now it is your turn, pet lovers. If you have any suggestions for Jack and Mario’s human, please share them below. The more support, the better! Thank you very much for helping me help others.
*Names have been changed
If you have a question you would like answered, fill out the contact form and I will post it up as soon as I can. All submissions will remain anonymous.