Dog I wanted to adopt and snapped at my rough collie twice
January 24, 2023 2:04 AM   Subscribe

Hi, i have a 18 month old blue merle rough collie and i was quite excited about a second collie as his playmate. Coincidentally, there was one family giving their 6 years old collie away due to family issues. When we visited with my collie, we noticed the following :

-they walked along each other nicely but my boy didn’t want to play and seemed a bit uncomfortable. He’s otherwise friendly, extremely playful in-your-face dog, has crazy playtimes with most other dogs

-my boy barked like never before in his life when he saw the owner’s father arriving home. He’s not a barker and is generally a quiet boy otherwise, even outdoors. The other collie was of course happy to see him

-the other collie started growling at me and showing teeth when i had treat in my hands and didn’t give them to him immediately. Owner said two other dogs were regularly stealing food from him and he’s sometimes impatient and possessive

-they didn’t play together at all, my boy kept close to people while the other one was playing on his own.

-the collie was fed very low quality food and has awful teeth color and infected gums; I guess that should not be too complicated to treat, right?

-he snapped at my boy aggressively outdoors and indoors. I’m not sure i saw a particular reason, maybe coming too close to the owner or toy?

-the collie he’s otherwise very cuddly and social, knows commands and seems happy and healthy, he’s rather dominant though and I own a rather dominant collie already

My guess is he was abused and since I have cats and boyfriend comes over with a smaller “food thief” dog, I’m concerned. On the other hand it breaks my heart to see him being left behind to the owners who are possibly awful and see just a pretty dog. I really wanted to offer him nice remaining of life.
My question is, has anyone experienced that? Is it possible that this is just an initial/territorial behavior or does it need serious intervention? Does it go away with time and I should “risk” it? Should I rather leave the collie behind for other owners?
posted by Salicornia to Pets & Animals (19 answers total)
Your first priority is the dog you already have.
posted by freethefeet at 2:30 AM on January 24 [33 favorites]

my boy barked like never before in his life when he saw the owner’s father arriving home. He’s not a barker and is generally a quiet boy otherwise, even outdoors. The other collie was of course happy to see him

My guess is that the other dog felt pretty severe fear when the father arrived home, and your dog smelled it. The other dog was too smart to show his real feelings, and fawned obsequiously over the father.

I’d feel terrible for the dog if I were you too, but I think you’d be bringing a lot of misery for your boy into your house if you took that dog home.
posted by jamjam at 2:34 AM on January 24 [6 favorites]

I also wouldn’t be surprised if the dog is sick, the people know it and are trying to make that somebody else’s problem.

Your dog would be able to smell that too, and that might account for his standoffishness.
posted by jamjam at 2:40 AM on January 24 [5 favorites]

My thoughts as someone whose daughter is a vet and has had dogs since forever: this is not a good start. Showing teeth is especially worrisome. Could you work this out with a good dog trainer? Possibly. Maybe not. Some dogs just don't like each other.

I have dogs (Shakima Greggs, 8yo and Jesse Pinkman, 4 yo) and when they meet new dogs, sometimes they play with them and do happy zoomies and bowing play, and sometimes they sniff each other and then go on their way. There is one other dog they love more than life itself and get very excited when they see her. I can't explain it.

I recently got a new dog (Walter White, 2yo) to join the mix. Upon meeting, they all sniffed each other and did some bowing and playing with happy tails. They've been inseparable since; they just all seem to love each other. Walter likes his crate and often naps in there and that seems to be working.

This may be unusual but the growling and your dog being disinterested would make this a dog I would not pursue. It's not a recipe for success.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 3:37 AM on January 24 [8 favorites]

The advice for introducing two unfamiliar dogs to each other is to do so on neutral territory, for precisely this reason; by bringing your dog into the other’s territory, you have set up the dogs to be in defensive/offensive positions relating to each other. It’s possible that if you tried introducing them using proper protocol on neutral ground, things might turn out better.

However, I don’t think you should adopt this dog. He sounds like he needs a lot of work from a dedicated and experienced owner, and the questions you are asking here suggest to me you would be in over your head if you took him on.

There’s nothing wrong with wanting an easy-going companionable dog, and it sounds like that is the kind of dog you need for your situation, if you definitely want a second dog (which should be for other reasons as well as “as a playmate” for the first dog, because that’s never guaranteed between dogs even if they get on fine. My two are perfectly companionable with each other andf get on well but they never play together). It’s not your job to take on a dog that would in all likelihood make you and your first dog stressed out and unhappy. Yes it’s a shame he is not in an ideal home, but it’s not your responsibility to rescue him, nor does it sound like yours would be the ideal home for him either. Some dogs do better as single dogs, nothing wrong with that.
posted by Balthamos at 4:01 AM on January 24 [12 favorites]

I have a difficult dog, adopted late in life, whose life before the shelter system is a complete mystery. I don't think it was a good time. My dog is mentally ill. I intentionally sought out a difficult dog, through the structure of our extremely good local shelter system, because my life was ready to accommodate that challenge. It hasn't been easy, and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who hasn't also set their life up to accommodate a difficult dog on purpose. It doesn't sound like this is the dog for you.

But things don't have to end here.

By what means is this family giving away their dog? Are they rehoming with the assistance of a shelter? Did they slap an ad on facebook with a sob story? What family issues are causing them to re-home one adult dog and keep their two other dogs? Idk dude sounds sus. I'd place a call to your local SPCA and share the facts you observed and let the professional animal welfare people make their own call.

p.s. I hope your boyfriend figured out how to take care of his own dog and isn't dumping that on you anymore.
posted by phunniemee at 4:31 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]

I have never adopted a dog, only cats, but I think it's better to pass on the adoption before you commit than to return the dog, possibly after he's traumatized your dog. The "family issues" thing coupled with the dog's behavior make me very wary of these people and their dog. Maybe everything is fine and he's just not a good fit for you, but it's at least raised a faintly pink flag in the back of my mind.

My suspicion is that the owners are trying to get rid of this dog for a reason they've not been completely forthcoming about, and taking sole responsibility for him will end in heartache. Personally, I'd be much more comfortable working with an actual dog rescue organization. A reputable rescue will have vetted their dogs and can help you choose one that will fit.

I'm sorry; even when you know intellectually that you can't personally save them all, it's really hard to have to speak it aloud.
posted by easy, lucky, free at 4:57 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]

It's okay to pass on this dog.
posted by warriorqueen at 4:59 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]

The dog was stressed around you and your dog, too, it sounds like. This dog might do well in a home without other pets or small children, but this isn’t the dog for you. And dental surgery can be incredibly expensive.
posted by bluedaisy at 5:02 AM on January 24 [5 favorites]

You mentioned your dog’s breed a bunch of times, so I’m not sure if you’re looking for breed-specific information. In my experience there’s not a lot of truth to the idea that any breed behavioral/ emotional characteristics really hold on an individual dog level. From an anecdotal perspective, I have a close friend with a smooth collie who is very friendly but also incredibly territorial around whatever space her owner is in until she gets to know the new dog (which can take a few interactions/days). She does come around and is fine afterwards, but it’s a real challenge.

Regardless of that, though, I agree with the other posters that it doesn’t sound like this dog is a good fit for your dog or you right now. It’s not worth the emotional stress of hoping it will work out, and could end up teaching some bad behaviors to your new dog because he’s still young. There will be other dogs that will work out better.
posted by Mchelly at 5:53 AM on January 24

Dental work can be quite expensive. A routine cleaning and removing 1 cracked molar for our dog was $800.

The resource guarding, growling, teeth showing on an initial meeting? Just hell no unless you're very committed and confident in addressing those things through training or working with a behaviorist.

You want a companion for your dog, and this one showed a lot of red flags imo. I'd keep looking for an easier introduction, looser body language, interest in playing, etc.
posted by GrimmblyTuna at 6:12 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]

It's ok to pass on this dog. Unfortunately, there are more dogs that need rescue than people to rescue them, and this one doesn't sound like a good fit at all and could possibly do more harm than good. The perfect dog that needs you and your current pup is out there, and that good boy will need you both just as much, if not more, than this one.
posted by cgg at 7:19 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]

We have two dogs. They were extremely sweet with each other from the first meeting.

There are so many red flags here - food aggressive, snapping, not playful/interacting with your dog. If you introduce this dog into your household, either you or your dog will eventually get attacked by this dog.
posted by gnutron at 7:38 AM on January 24

There are a lot of red flags here and this is clearly a "project dog" that presents a potential danger to you, your dog and your visitors. Resource guarding (the growling and snapping around food and possibly other triggers) can be a major issue to resolve, can escalate to very dangerous aggression if addressed improperly, may require professional expertise, and even with that, careful environmental management may be needed for a lifetime. It's also very likely to cause big problems if you allow a visitor dog to steal food from the other dogs (this very rude behaviour should be prevented anyway to avoid causing resource guarding issues in your current dog, but is even more dangerous here).

Infected teeth and gums need to be resolved urgently (pain may be contributing to the behaviour problems, but also may not be the cause). This is simple enough but costly (easy to pass 1,000$), particularly if many teeth need extracting. You'll likely need more frequent dental work than usual in the future to maintain them due to the current damage.

"Giving away due to family issues" - this could be anything from true to a complete lie. Most people don't give away their 6 year old dogs without a very, very good reason. Often this reason is serious aggression (he may well have a bite history) and/or expensive medical issues (which you already know is the case from looking at him).

I would suggest to the owners to surrender their dog to a reputable rescue who will provide the necessary vet care, evaluate the dog behaviourally, and then find a suitable home. If they don't want to do this, that's another red flag.
posted by randomnity at 8:08 AM on January 24 [6 favorites]

I would also add that at 18 months, dogs are often starting to become much less playful and interested in other dogs, which may explain the limited playing you saw from your own dog. Most puppies are happy to see and play with pretty much any friendly dog, but most adult dogs are somewhere from dog-selective to indifferent, and may even be hostile to other dogs. I would wait a bit longer to add any dog into the family until your current dog settles into his adult personality and you can see how interested he is in interacting with other dogs. He may not even want a playmate in the first place.
posted by randomnity at 8:14 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]

Due to a change in housing situations, my dog and I live with another dog. They don't get along. The crate-and-rotate of it all is an extra complication to every single day of my life. Leaving for a trip always includes underlying anxiety that the family member watching them won't maintain the safety measures properly and they will get into a fight. They are perfectly happy and I wouldn't change it now, but I would never willingly enter into this situation when there were already clear signs of the dogs not being comfortable together. This is not your dog, but your dog is somewhere out there.
posted by assenav at 8:52 AM on January 24 [5 favorites]

When I introduced Harvey to Perdita, they were not instant soulmates and weren't even super friendly. We kept the adoption going anyway and it worked out okay with a few wrinkles, especially at the beginning. Eventually they got to be good friends if not besties but when she died he mourned deeply, which surprised me. However, even saying that, and knowing that initial indifference isn't necessarily the kiss of death, I would not continue with this dog. Just like everyone else is saying, way too many red flags - and dental work? Thousands upon thousands of dollars, really, it's insanely expensive. Also, because nobody else has mentioned this, my experience has been that you may want a female dog to be your male pup's companion. Two female dogs can often lead to bad trouble; two male dogs is a much better combo - but the best pair bonds I have seen develop are between one male and one female who are close in age.
posted by mygothlaundry at 12:10 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]

Don't adopt this dog. Too many red flags and a risk of you or your dog getting bitten. This other dog might be better off as the only dog in a household.
posted by emd3737 at 1:38 PM on January 24

Response by poster: Update: I decided to pass on this dog and texted the owner politely about my decision, suggesting him to look into his teeth for dog’s sake.
I received no reply and I think I got ghosted at this point :D
posted by Salicornia at 1:55 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]

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