2 live dogs at the end of 2 weeks
October 19, 2014 4:25 PM   Subscribe

I've offered to dog sit for a friend and the first meeting didn't quite go to plan. Please help me make this work, even if it's only for this one time.

I have a beautiful Australian Terrier called Lily and have offered to dog sit a Jack Russel (Jessie) for two weeks. I'm starting to worry that it's not going to go as well as planned and I could use some ideas about how to make it work. Backing out now is not an option and if things don't work out, I don't really have a contingency plan other than keeping them separated, which is an option, but not a very pleasant one.

Firstly, Jessie's owner (my friend's mum) is a stress head. When she brought Jessie around the whole house was thrown into chaos as she was fussing over the two dogs, yelling when Jessie growled and generally was loud and panicky. It seems like everything you are supposed to do when introducing dogs, we did the opposite.

Jessie and Lil are obviously both girls, J is 8, Lil is 5. Both dogs come from one dog families and are tolerant of other dogs at the dog park but generally not fussed about interacting.

Jessie was aggressive towards Lil on 2 occasions indoors and Lil retreated into another room. When they were outside they were happily fossicking around without being bothered by each other. Jessie is very friendly to me and my partner, and to our 9 year old. She seems like a lovely dog, but she does screw up her nose and growl if Lil comes near her.

At no time have the 2 dogs been left alone to their own devices without human interference. Both Jessie and Lil are not 'trained' dogs, they are just pets who hang around getting love and cuddles.

Please tell me this will be ok! What should I do once Jessie gets dropped off and her mum is out of sight?
posted by Youremyworld to Pets & Animals (9 answers total)
Well it will be OK if for no other reason than that you'll not allow them to kill each other. So ultimately it will be fine.

What I would do:

When the lady drops off the JRT, do not let her into the house. Immediately leash the dog; have your partner leash your own dog and walk both dogs side by side to the park. They will be much better going back into the house together if they have met on neutral territory.

If it doesn't go well can you babygate the JRT in the kitchen or play fence her in your living room?
posted by DarlingBri at 5:15 PM on October 19, 2014 [12 favorites]

I think, given what you've told us that without her owner Jessie will be fine.
posted by patheral at 5:19 PM on October 19, 2014 [5 favorites]

I agree that once the dog is dropped off they should go burn some energy off at the dog park.

Also make sure to feed them completely separately. Either in their kennels or with a completely closed door between them.
posted by radioamy at 5:56 PM on October 19, 2014 [3 favorites]

We dog sat for a month. She turned out to be a chewer. The owner bought us baby gates for the kitchen. That was a huge help in feeding them separately and keeping the chewer away from my books.
posted by MichelleinMD at 6:15 PM on October 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

I expect that once you take Jessie's owner's crazy energy out of the equation, the dogs are going to get along just fine. (You might ask though, if Jessie's had any problems with other dogs in the past and, if so, what kinds of problems with what kinds of dogs.)

I do agree that it's a good idea to take them to some neutral territory such as a park that neither dog has ever been to (since one will lay claim to the park if it's a place they go regularly) and to feeding them separately.
posted by GoLikeHellMachine at 6:51 PM on October 19, 2014 [2 favorites]

Agree with much of the advice above.

For the sake of your dog, correct the visiting dog every time she growls at your dog, enforcing that she is not the alpha in this house, and trying to dominate the resident dog is not going to fly. Also, segregate the visiting dog regularly in order to give your dog as much normal family time as possible, and in order to keep her from developing anxiety and acting out. Sucks for the visiting dog but your own dogs' behavior needs to be the primary concern in order to avoid long-term behavioral problems. As long as visiting dog gets good positive attention she will survive the short-term situation.
posted by vignettist at 2:11 AM on October 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

It may take a couple of days but once you get them into a routine, they'll be fine.

It sounds like Jessie was feeding off of her owner's stress. Once she sees that things are coolio at your place, she'll settle down.

Feed separately, pet Lily first (so she's not the underdog in her own house) but be warm and friendly to both. Walk them together.

When you see them together in the same vicinity and they're being chill, give them each a little treat, to reinforce the calm.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:26 AM on October 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

Great advice already given. To add to it:
- Plan on giving both dogs more exercise than they normally get. Generally speaking, a tired dog is a well-behaved dog; another plus being that the more time they are involved in playing, walking, and running the less time they have to fixate on each other.
- Check (or double-check) that Jessie is chipped/tagged and that her information is up-to-date and you are listed as a contact in case she gets loose and wanders off.
posted by CrowMeris at 9:58 AM on October 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

And whatever you do, when you are away, please keep them physically separated from each other (separate rooms). You cannot predict what stressful situation might happen that might trigger an argument between the two. Better to be safe than sorry. Patricia McConnell has a helpful post on how she introduced her new border collie to the home.
posted by apennington at 3:40 PM on October 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

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