Dogcharmer: Cloe and Mookie, BFFs

Sometimes it just takes time to get used to each other.

Cloe, front, and Mookie.

Hi, Dogcharmer Tom,

My question was whether Cloe (my 2-year-old foster pup through Sandy Paws Rescue), who had been with three other dogs since a puppy but was otherwise not socialized with other dogs, would ever become a social dog. She was being aggressive toward my 1-year-old pup, Mookie. You had given me instructions to let them be around each other more, and ignore as much behavior as possible within reason.

Well, the pictures I send clearly show they now love each other. She caught me taking the picture of them sunbathing together and stood up. Just prior to that they had been licking each other’s faces, then she rested her head on his. I’m grateful that they are playing and loving each other; however, she still acts aggressive, and charges the fence when people walk by with their dogs. Therefore, I look forward to working with you. Many thanks.


Dear Bethany,

I’m delighted that things are working out — and thank you for being one of the “good guys” — a rescuer. In my experience, when people interfere trying to help dogs get along, they invariably add tension and make things worse. Most often, the best thing to do to help unfamiliar dogs harmonize when first meeting is to let them work it out. DON’T INTERFERE.

Ideally, they meet off-leash in a spacious area. Assuming they’re on-leash when seeing each other for the first time, the two-leggeds holding the leashes need to respond very positively. With great joy you’re exclaiming, “Look at that, Mookie! Cloe, here comes your new best friend!” You want them to “feel” your happiness and joy when they see each other for the first time. A POSITIVE ASSOCIATION upon first introduction is your goal. After the proverbial sniffing, take a happy long walk, initially off-leash if possible, then continuing on leash. When getting to the house, I’d suggest you have Cloe, the new family member, enter the house first, with Mookie right behind. (Lessen a potential Mookie territorial response.) The only things on the floor are two water bowls and three or four bland dog toys. (Lessen potential resource-guarding response.) Initially, feed them separately, and don’t be overly solicitous to either dog. Let them work things out for themselves as much as possible. I might also suggest, initially, that they drag three to four feet of a flat leash, with the handle cut off, in the event that you have to separate them.

As for charging the fence when someone has the audacity to walk by with a dog, it’s a very common “territorial” response, which we can address with a little training, teaching Cloe to ignore pedestrian traffic with a “Leave it!” command. At this point, what’s most important is that Mookie and Cloe keep bonding. Stay with the program for at least a week or two before seriously relaxing things. I’ve seen several dogs “come out” and present who they really are after they get “comfortable” with their new environment. Don’t hesitate to call with any questions, and thanks again for saving another dog.

The Dogcharmer

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