Dog Experts, I Need You. *So* Much.
June 19, 2008 8:26 AM   Subscribe

I need advice from people who are great at understanding canine behavior and solving related issues for what is a rather thorny (and potentially tragic, dog-health-wise) situation for this inexperienced dog owner. I'll make it brief, then tell the (much, much) longer story inside. We have a new rescue dog (our first dog; female, a little under 2 years old) who is just now beginning to feel really at ease and at home after being with us for a month, and all our efforts towards house training have finally paid off, and she is doing beautifully... But, we are going to have to take care of a friend's un-neutered young male dog for two-four weeks in our small apartment, and there are very many things that worry me a great deal, and I really need good advice. Nearly full explanation follows, and it's very long - so sorry! - but it's important stuff to me. Bear with, if at all possible.

I'll begin by saying that it really isn't an option to refuse this favor, for reasons that I won't get into simply because it will make the way-too-long-post twice as long without offering any information that will help you help me.

Here are all the relevant facts:

Our dog is a female rescue mixed breed of around one and a half years old that was spayed (and had a pregnancy termination) six weeks ago. She's been with us for about five weeks. She weighs a little under 30 pounds (12 kilos), and is about 17 inches tall (42 centimeters). She's at risk for an immune disease that could result in her death, but the more healthy and stress-free her life is, the better her chances are - and she can possibly go from borderline to what is considered "negative" we are told, with a great, healthy home life and a little luck.

The dog that will be staying with us for 2 to 4 weeks is about nine months old, a miniature poodle mix (probably), un-neutered, adult, who weighs... I don't know... 15 pounds (7 kilos) and is (again, a guess) about maybe 11-12 inches (28-30 centimeters) tall. Before we got our dog, he stayed with us before, for two weeks, and then again for a week, but as a puppy, which was a totally different kettle of fish.

Our dog was very submissive - way overly submissive - and depressed when we got her, and it was a struggle to house train her because she was terrified to pee in front of us... so she would hold it for ridiculous lengths of time, then pee when she couldn't hold it any more, only when we weren't looking, usually in the house. All of those problems are solved, but just recently. She's become happy, jaunty, much, much more confident, relaxed, and pees like a hero on our walks. She never goes in the house any more, and has been on a totally regular peeing/pooing schedule for a solid two weeks. Great, great, great. We've been so happy about all this. She is still extremely anxious about any possibility of separation from us, and that will be our next hurdle - but not the immediate problem.

The immediate problems related to the doggy-visitor-to-be are these:

The male sprays/marks and pees anywhere where there are other dogs; he will have anxiety from being separated from his owner, and being here - which is now the obvious territory of a different dog, though he once stayed here alone. From these facts, and stories about why he now can't stay at other places, I expect all the spraying/marking/peeing behavior to be super bad. Super. Bad.

He was here for less than an hour last night, sprayed, maybe peed... and our dog who has been perfect for two weeks peed on the floor right in front of me about ten minutes after he left. I can't let my house become a dog latrine!

He tries to hump her, non-stop. NON-STOP. srsly. I am not going to be able to let them be together except for extremely limited, supervised periods, it seems to me, because she will eventually either bite him if she feels up to it, or he will shred her to ribbons with his sharp little claws grabbing onto her (usually right around her shaved belly with incision) and turn her into a drooling lunatic with this incessant assault.

Our dog is at risk, health-wise. She has an exposure to an illness that most of you won't be familiar with because it almost doesn't exist in the U.S. and U.K., but is very common in the Mediterranean basin. The best way to imagine it is like HIV vs. AIDs; she is healthy and asymptomatic, but it is important for her immune system to be strong, and her stress level low. She does not test positive for the disease, but she does not test negative - she's on the cusp. We have been told that her levels can improve with a healthy and less stressful life, which is exactly what we've been trying to establish.

The male dog barks and growls at everyone who passes our door. We are on the bottom floor (everyone passes our door, in other words) and have four neighbors in the building (plus whoever visits them, visits us, delivers pizza, etc.), and this means a lot of barking, at all hours. It's a really, really, quiet neighborhood, and the barking sounds like suddenly turning your stereo up to max for a minute or two, over and over. And over. (When he was a puppy and stayed with us, he didn't do this until the last three days he was with us... and it was nerve wracking. Our neighbors were not amused.)

I am not going to be able to provide the exercise he needs. He will be here in July - the hottest month in Greece (it was 103F here today, and it's still June). I am going to have to walk them separately, because there is no way I can handle the two on the same walk, and I'm not planning on taking him very far afield at all, because he challenges other male dogs (and he's tiny), and there are lots of dogs around here... lots of dogs on leashes (which will just be embarassing) but also lots of loose dogs (which could be tragic). My female is okay, but I'm not going to feel safe taking him much further than up and down our street. Even if I could, I don't know how much more walking I can take in the extreme temperatures. I plan to let him out in our extremely limited outside space when the temperature isn't ridiculous... but I can't do this at sunrise or sunset when the mosquitoes are bad, because they are a vector for the disease I mentioned above (my girl is actually probably less a risk as an agent than other loose dogs around the area). I'm a little hogtied in this. I can't let them play together for extended periods in the house, unless his behavior towards her becomes far, far less aggressive.

I am terrified that there will be a bitch in heat somewhere in the neighborhood, and he will go insane. Dogs can be in heat for two to four weeks, and this makes me tremble. He lives at the top of an apartment building where there are no other dogs, and he's in perpetual frenzied lust... I don't think our friend realizes what this difference in setting and location is actually going to mean now that he's an adult, but it's not possible to talk rationally with her right now.

He smells bad, a lot. Not from not being washed (for sure), and *probably* not even from anal glands... I don't know. Something to do with being so horny, I think - and it makes me feel ill. It's not all the time, but it's a lot - and when it is happening, I can barely stand it. In fact, I can't get it out of my nose. I don't even know when/if it's stopped, and just lingering. The idea of living with this smell for at least two weeks, and maybe a month, is making feel sick right now.

VERY IMPORTANT: I live in Greece... We are incredibly backwards in terms of products that could help with a lot of this stuff. Think "super basic". I'm not going to be able to get the nice mama-dog-lactose-smell thingy that calms dogs down, or anything above the level of a society that still pretty much views having a dog in the house as bizarre behavior. We have some things... we have almost no sophisticated canine/feline products.

Okay! There's your stimulating challenge! Help me if you can, suckers! My puny plans so far are these: Try to get a sturdy toddler playpen (nope, can't get a pet playpen here) so that I can separate him from my dog, without closing either one away from the rest of the "pack" (we can move the playpen wherever everybody is, living room, bedroom, whatever); To make a "Belly Band" (nope, can't buy here) for when I let him play in the house out of the pen, to keep him from marking/peeing everywhere; To give him as much time outside on our tiny deck as possible, with play, given the ridiculous weather; I bought totally disgusting some-animal's-feet-or-something kind of things (at rather great expense) for him to chew on to involve/distract him; I have other toys for him, and will be picking up and putting down toys, chewies, etc. as separation allows, since my girl is possessive of her own stuff; I'm going to try the coins-rattling-in-the-can thing for the barking, or squirt him with a water pistol when he does the guard-barking. (hate to do it, but it's going to be intolerable.)

He is only acting naturally, and I want the visit period to be as good and anxiety-free as possible for him. But I can't let him spray/pee all over my house (and I think even with the precautions I've come up with, my dog's super-nice current house training is going to be fucked), and I can't let him harass my dog into life-threatening illness. I'd rather not have all our neighbors totally hate us, and, preferably, I won't spend two-to-four weeks in miserable, miserable July feeling like puking up my guts because of that weird, awful smell thing (but that's really last on my list).

I really do need help here.

and for what it's worth, I did advise our friend to have her dog neutered when he was a puppy... and she acted like I suggested having his head removed to make dog ownership easier. She's actually at an even less rational level at the moment, and it's crazy, but, just... we can't say "no".
posted by taz to Pets & Animals (39 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Can you kennel the dogs in separate rooms during the day when you're not home? At least then they wouldn't be near each other, and if they peed/sprayed, it would be in one place, not all over the house.

If it came down to it, and things were miserable, and your dog's health was not doing well, could you take the male dog to an animal kennel for the remainder of the time your friend is gone? You'd be paying for it, but it might be worth it to have your sanity back.
posted by at 8:45 AM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm hardly an expert, but it really does seem to me you need to keep these dogs separated. Have you thought about crates? Do you at least have time before the arrival of the male dog to get your dog at least semi crate trained? If done properly, the crate becomes the dog's den, their space, and they actually like spending time in it (and dont like to go in their space, either!) If your dog has her own space that really is her own, regardless of visitors, then she might feel safer.

And yeah - keep the foul smeller outside as much as possible on the deck. Is there shade out there? Can you make at least part of it shady?
posted by cgg at 9:00 AM on June 19, 2008

Speaking as a dog owner, it sounds like you just can't keep your friend's dog in your home. Say your sorry, offer to board him in a kennel, whatever -- but don't let him stay with you. He's going to make you all miserable and most of all, if will be quite rough on your dog.
posted by kate blank at 9:00 AM on June 19, 2008

I had a similar situation involving two weeks caring for a pair of yappy, pissy, undertrained Yorkies while their owner went on his honeymoon. In short, I crated them the entire time, except for frequent potty/exercise breaks. They did not have free run of my house or yard: during the time they were out of their crates, I had them on leash 100% and practiced basic dog manners with them.

The plus side for me is the crating completely prevented any damage to my house and I enjoyed the challenge of working with what had up until then been considered incorrigible dogs. The plus side for the dogs is at last they got some badly-needed training, and the plus side to my friend is he came home to a pair of housebroken and quiet dogs who finally knew how to behave on leash.

For your own dog, could you set up a sanctuary room for her? The poodle guest would never be allowed in this room, his scent would be confined to the room with his crate. I see no reason to let the poodle interact with your dog. She will no doubt be upset by his presence in the house during the first few days but will respond positively as she sees a routine set in place.
posted by jamaro at 9:14 AM on June 19, 2008

I agree with the rest of the comments - although you said it wasn't possible to decline to keep the friend's dog, I really think you have few or no options on this.

It's wonderful that your new dog has started to rally, but I think you're fooling yourself if you think that she has fully adapted already. She has been perfect, but that doesn't mean there isn't quite a bit of latent anxiety that could come out very easily if circumstances were to change radically so soon.

As far as keeping them separated, as far as I know the only way that this would really work is to keep one of them in a closed room while you're not there - but even that won't protect your new dog from the anxiety of knowing that there's this other dog there. I wouldn't be surprised if both of them just scratched at the closed door all day. Not a recipe for a dog who must continue to gain confidence!
posted by mikel at 9:17 AM on June 19, 2008

Maybe hire a (large, responsible) neighborhood kid -- or series of kids -- to try to wear out the male dog so he's not so crazy? Since you don't have time to play with the dog much, get someone else to do it.

Also, if you have good neighbors (next-door apartment) who you trust - maybe start taking your female dog over for visits, so that she gets used to the people and place, so that she could potentially go stay over there if it's just too stressful for her at your place. But be careful - if she thinks you're giving her away, it could be rough. Do a long period of acclimating her to your neighbor's place.

Give your female dog her own safe place in your apartment that the other dog can't get to. Get her used to it starting now.

These are extreme ideas, but you're really in a bad situation.

Also - make sure you have a full harness for walking the male dog. With a good hand grip. And bring gloves in case things get dicey.
posted by amtho at 9:18 AM on June 19, 2008

I know you have a lot of reasons for not doing it, but the biggest thing that would help you is Walking the dog.

It really sounds like the dog has a lot of energy and no place constructive to put it. A little "around the house" walk to pee is not going to do it either. You need to find a way to flat out exhaust him. Tired dogs tend to be much more easy-going and they get the same mental benefits from exercise that we do (releases stress, frustration, etc). It also helps you bond with him and can help establish you as the boss. (On the outside chance you have a Treadmill, he can be taught to run on it).

Accept up front that your house is going to get peed in :) It's annoying as hell, but it's an unfortunate fact of life. If you don't have access to the commercial urine-odor products, there are lots of simpler methods. Again, frequent walks help with teaching the dog to go to the bathroom outside. You just want to make sure you get as much of the smell out as possible as the urine smell will encourage him to do it again in the same spot. It almost sounds like you are basically going to have to House train the dog from scratch because the owner hasn't done it.

If you have to physically restrain the dogs from coming into contact in order to protect your girls health, then that is what you have to do, However, you should expect that it is only going to make him more frustrated and anxious.

Don't be nervous if the dogs growl and/or snap at each other sometimes. That's how they talk and work out what is and is not acceptable behavior. No blood generally means no Foul.

See if you can you tube or torrent a couple of episodes of "Dog Whisperer" or "it's me or the Dog". You do not have to take what they say as Gospel (nor should you), but the techniques they use do get results, and at one point or another, pretty much every thing you are concerned about has been addressed on one of those shows.

You are the boss. Dogs are insanely good at reading human facial expressions and body language. If you are nervous, unsure, and/or frustrated, both dogs will pick up on it and react to it. So relax and Be confident. He may have some really annoying behaviors, but at the end of the day, he is just a dog. He doesn't make any decisions, you do

PS: Unless it is a Physical impossibility, you should reconsider taking the Boy dog out for real walks. It can help a lot.
posted by Lord Widebottom at 9:21 AM on June 19, 2008

Oh, yes, if you do keep one or both of the dogs locked in a room, put a metal panel on the bottom of the door to protect the wood from scratching.

You might also want to go ahead and put down plastic over all your floors and lock away anything that you want to keep urine-free. You could maybe rent a storage locker and put all your non-plastic furniture there for the duration. Alternatively, you could build a loft too high for the little dog to jump onto, and put all your furniture up there.
posted by amtho at 9:21 AM on June 19, 2008

Response by poster: I'm paying attention to every answer! But we can't offer to board him. That would definitely be my first choice - a really excellent kennel, and damn any expense. I would be delighted with that choice, and I wish I had that option, but I don't.
posted by taz at 9:23 AM on June 19, 2008

Response by poster: One more thing... we're talking about a really small space here! A one-bedroom (plus living room, kitchen, bathroom, hall) that is quite nice for the little two of us and our new doggy, but, by US standards (unless you live in Manhattan!), pretty weeny.
posted by taz at 9:27 AM on June 19, 2008

What are the Dog Breeds involved?
posted by Lord Widebottom at 9:30 AM on June 19, 2008

If you can't get out of this, somehow (plead death & dismemberment? Maybe cut off your left foot or something? Wealthy grandmother from the states visiting? You will pay for a kennel?) then this is what I would suggest.

1. Crates. You need to crate train both of them and pronto. Get crates and use them if at all possible. I'm not a crate person - I don't use them for my dogs at all, actually - but in this situation you need to be able to isolate one dog from another.

2. The peeing thing - the crate may or may not work, here. I've known dogs who both peed and shat in their crates, alas. If it does not work then you're going to have to housetrain this dog and, frankly, although this is going to get me flamed, I'd do it with extreme prejudice, the old fashioned way. My mother housetrained puppies back in the 70s with a coffee can full of nuts, bolts & chains - the sound of it being shaken scares most dogs silly. She also had no hesitation in whacking the hell out of dog with a rolled up magazine. Since you're home during the day, you'll be able to do this effectively. The minute, and I do mean the minute, Mr. Dog starts to pee or mark, whale his ass and toss him outside. You'll have to have a place set up outside, on a terrace or whatever, on paper, somewhere, that it is okay. He's probably not going to get the walkies thing at first.

3. Humping. Don't worry about it. This is the least of your problems. They will work this out themselves just fine if you ignore them. Seriously. This is not sex, hon, really, really it is not. It's dominance. In dog society, females are usually dominant. Your dog will get tired of him trying to to be in charge and let him know it's not okay. That might be a rough minute or two but the chances of it escalating to anything worrisome are slim to none. He'll be a better pup for the lesson. Let her chomp down on one of his ears. He'll live. He will learn. They really can and will work it out between themselves if you step back and let them. There will be some roughhousing but I think it will be okay. The problem will be if you freak out every time they start to wrestle, because then your dog will become fearful which will make her more aggressive. She's bigger and more likely to inflict damage. Have a bucket of water handy to soak them down if they start really getting into it.

4. The health thing. There's not a damn thing you can do about this so I'd just shove it to the back of your mind.

5. Barking & growling. Bring back the coffee can and let him know it's not okay. Crating will also help. Rewards when he's quiet. Frankly, though, you may just have to put up with it. Some dogs bark at everything. I happen to own one. It's a pain in the ass, but there it is.

6. Exercise. He's a small dog. He doesn't need a ton of exercise. If it's hot, he won't want to walk far either. See if you can get the two of them out to the country to romp once in a while. Otherwise, again, don't sweat it. You may also find that walking two dogs on leashes is less awful than you think it is. I do it all the time - both my dogs weigh in the 50 - 60 pound neighborhood - and it's thoroughly doable once they get used to it. Yeah, you can't do anything else, like run errands, though.

7. More sex. Stop worrying so much about the sex thing. Intact male dogs are fine. I grew up with lots of them. They're not in perpetual frenzied lust, honestly they're not. If there's a female in heat around he'll try to get to her (although, you know, he's still a puppy - he may not be as interested as you think) but unless she's right next door, he's not going to totally obsess over it. Really.

8. Smelling bad. Just keep on bathing him, put a clothespin on your nose and pray.

Relax. What it sounds like is that you just don't like this dog. That's okay. Nobody likes all people or all dogs. Remember that this is a temporary visit and it will come to an end. It will also get better after the first 10 days when the dogs have adjusted to each other - really, it will. Let them do their doggy thing and get used to being two dogs instead of only dogs. I think it will shake out okay.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:30 AM on June 19, 2008

Achk, I had a whole long reply written out and Firefox 3 ate it. Basically I would agree with Kate Blank: even in the best case scenario, keeping this dog is going to be stressful and annoying to you and your dog; in the worst case, it could seriously mess up your dog's training, socialisation and health, and cost you stress, effort, time and money. If at all possible, this is something I think you should back out of, even if it does dent your friendship.

Your friend should be able to recognise that this is too much of an imposition. If she's serious about looking out for her dog's best interests, as well as your own, then she should recognise that a kennel is a much better option for everyone involved. At her expense, of course. If she can't find/afford a *suitable* home for her dog over a holiday (i.e. not yours), then she should either sell the dog or cancel the holiday. It sucks, but it's called being a responsible dog owner.

Good luck!

Also, if she's going to be pig-headed about not neutering her dog, she should at least put in the time and effort (and/or money) to train him properly. It seems like she's left him with a mess of behavioural and emotional issues, and now she's insisting that you and your dog deal with those when you aren't ready!
posted by Drexen at 9:32 AM on June 19, 2008

I really hate it when people question the premises of my AskMe question, and I apologise in advance, but this seems to be one of paulsc's overstressed bolt situations. There is a great deal of good advice in this thread, but the risk of the guest dog contracting leshmaniasis is a good enough reason not to do it. Plus, your dog could get sicker!

You seem to be being forced to do this by your friend. Only you know the full story - it could be anything from a very exploitative situation from a person in power over you, to an act of supreme kindness you are doing for a true friend in a terrible situation. Only you can know if the risks of one choice greatly outweigh the other. I know you are a person of excellent judgement and will make the right choice for yourself.
posted by By The Grace of God at 9:44 AM on June 19, 2008 [2 favorites]

Also - and place this in the context of the situation with the additional details that you know - you might want to have the person sign a liability waiver because of the risks involved. I am not a lawyer and don't know the law situation where you are, of course!

Good luck.
posted by By The Grace of God at 9:45 AM on June 19, 2008

Well, I don't mean to be harsh, but basically you are choosing your friend and your friend's dog over your own dog. Because that's what it is--if you take this dog, everything will be just dandy for your friend and her dog, but the creature who is depending on you to keep her safe and healthy will be confused, frightened, and physically stressed, and may die. Is this the choice you really want to make?
posted by HotToddy at 9:49 AM on June 19, 2008 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Again, even though it sounds like one of those situations where the asker says, "Here's an awful problem, and the only reasonable solution is impossible (ie: 'I love to drink! But I'm dying of cirrhosis of the liver! What can I do? Except stop drinking, because I won't ever stop drinking!')" - I seem not to have a choice in this. I'm discouraging it as much as possible, but it's not something I can put my foot down about. And I can put my foot down about pretty much everything, trust me.

So, yes. Ultimately, it seems like I am forced to put my own dog's health at risk because a good friend is not thinking rationally, will not listen to facts, and we owe her so much (not money - and we never imagined it would come to something like this. BEWARE OF ACCEPTING BIG FAVORS FROM FRIENDS. EVER. EVEN IF THEY INSIST) that we can't say "no".
posted by taz at 10:05 AM on June 19, 2008

If the only possible solution has to involve taking the friend's dog into your home, could another friend take yours? I might also suggest boarding your own dog but I think staying in a home (with no other pets, if possible) would be less stressful for her.

And, if you do go that route, give your house a good disinfecting before she comes back, to eliminate his smell as much as possible.
posted by kate blank at 10:14 AM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

I know you said you can't say no - but a quick look at the Wikipedia page shows that Canine Leishmaniasis can be transmitted from dog to dog. You wouldn't want to put her dog at risk, would you? Maybe that could be your out.
posted by robinpME at 10:28 AM on June 19, 2008

Is it a situation where your friend will be visiting her dog at your home? Because if not, I don't see why you can't board her dog at a kennel and just not tell her. You bring the dog back to your house before she comes to pick him back up, she doesn't know the difference, and your dog is safe from her dog.
posted by crankylex at 10:30 AM on June 19, 2008

Wow. I don't envy you. Since you have to host this dog for a few weeks, I wouldn't automatically rule out walking them at the same time. It may sound daunting, but getting them used to walking nicely together may help mellow out the behavior when they are back at home. I've done it with dogs weighing over 200 pounds, which is well more than what I weigh myself; 50 pounds total ought to be doable. Maybe start out the first few times with a companion so you can each take one until they get the message. Since it is so hot, and nobody wants to spend a lot of time out in the heat, consider doing frequent short walks to keep his bladder as empty as possible. By frequent I mean hourly if you can manage that.

Can you minimize some of the downside by protecting your house? If you can't crate him, can you contain him in a space that can be wiped clean easily? A couple of cheap vinyl shower curtains or painter dropcloths to protect your possessions from being marked, that you can toss in washer or even in the trash when he is gone.

*sits back and waits for biscotti's answer*
posted by ambrosia at 10:57 AM on June 19, 2008

This sucks. You need to either find a friend as nice as you to take YOUR dog while you have Stinky, or have that same nice friend take Stinky themselves and you just don't tell Stinky's owner that Stinky lived elsewhere for a few weeks.
posted by tristeza at 11:10 AM on June 19, 2008

You say your dog is a rescue. Was she in foster care before you got her? If so, would the foster home consider taking her back for a couple weeks? At least that way it would be a familiar environment for her--she would avoid the stress of dealing with Stinky and also the stress of being thrust into a totally new environment.
posted by HotToddy at 11:19 AM on June 19, 2008

Tell your friend you can only do it if she has the dog neutered.

Honestly if the friend is that irrational, do you really need to keep her?
posted by konolia at 11:19 AM on June 19, 2008

Response by poster: There isn't a person who can take her, and I would definitely not want her back with the foster, because that's where she actually got pregnant (it was terminated) and where she may have been exposed to the disease. And while the foster is a wonderful, wonderful woman and a great friend to animals, she has way, way too many, and can't stop getting new ones. I love her for love of animals, and I love her for saving Sky from the street, but it's not the optimum foster situation, at all.
posted by taz at 11:27 AM on June 19, 2008

Response by poster: konolia, even if my friend would get her dot neutered - which she won't at this point, it would take months for a lot of his testosterone-related behavior (like marking, humping) to change, if it even would change, which is not necessarily always the case, especially for dogs neutered after they've become adult. Or so I read.
posted by taz at 11:34 AM on June 19, 2008

9 months is still a puppy. Hell, two years is still a puppy. Remember the old fashioned and discredited but still relatively valid rule of thumb: one dog year = seven human years. Little boy doggy is a kindergartener. Sky is in middle school. There are plenty of 9 month old dogs who don't get neutered until a bit later and are fine. Quite honestly, I won't neuter a dog, given half a chance, until he or she is over six months. Especially for girl dogs, there's some risk when they're too little. I understand the reasoning behind doing it very very early nowadays, but I don't think that means it's best practice. Anyway, though, remember that you're dealing with a couple of very young dogs here: puppies, really. Which is good. It means that their behavior is not set in stone and they can change and also, although he may not be acting like it, it makes it even more likely that boy doggie is looking for guidance and will happily accept being junior to Sky.
posted by mygothlaundry at 11:45 AM on June 19, 2008

Like you said, you have a very small apartment. It's not going to be possible to keep the dogs apart - so I suggest you don't even try. Dogs are pack animals - once they figure out the power structure of their relationship, they will get along fine. Your dog might be a bit stressed for the first week, but most will acclimate pretty quickly. If the other dog pees in the house, she will likely do the same, but it's not so much a break down of training as it is a dominance issue.

Set your boundaries early with this new dog - don't upset your dogs schedule to accommodate it, let the visitor adjust. If there are issues with food, put the visiting dog in the bathroom while you feed yours. I would suggest you walk them together. If you are consistent, they will adjust.

Above all, chill out. Your dog knows you are stressed and that won't help.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:50 AM on June 19, 2008

Above all, chill out.

Seriously. I'm not a dog person, so I don't have a lot to offer there, but your anxiety level about all this seems super-high.

If it's really truly true that you have no possible alternative to keeping this dog in your apartment, then start by accepting that fact.

Accept the inconvenience. Accept the smell and the mess. Accept that it's going to stress your dog out. Accept it, get good with it, remember it's only for a few weeks, and figure out how to manage your own stress and anxiety first of all.

A calm demeanor and a sense of humor will help everyone deal with the situation, canines and humans alike.
posted by ottereroticist at 12:43 PM on June 19, 2008 [3 favorites]

You can always say no. I'm assuming that if this friend were in your house, holding a gun to your head and forcing you to keep her dog, then you wouldn't be able to type in your question to AskMeFi.

Short of that, you can say no.

And you probably should say no, for the health and safety of your dog.

Your dog trumps your friend's dog, and your dog trumps your friend, because when you took your dog in that's the kind of commitment you made to it.

I'm not saying don't try to make it work. I'm just saying think hard about priorities.
posted by mccxxiii at 1:55 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Can you ask the rescue group to take your dog back and find a more suitable home for it? The fact that the time period you are having the male dog is open-ended makes me wonder if it will be for a longer time than you expect or may be a re-occurring favour. I think you really need to decide what is best for the female dog in your care (even if causing her immediate abandonment issues if it means a peaceful, stress-free environment for years). You have only had her five weeks and already you have decided to put her in a situation that will compromise her health, stress her (and you - which will affect both dogs) and retard her socialisation and training. Why are you okay with exposing another dog to leshmaniasis and having more animals than you can properly care for in a small apartment when you criticise the foster parent for doing the same?

An animal is a big responsibility, maybe this isn't the right time for you right now (I say this as someone that loves dogs but has put off getting one for eight years because my commitment level would not be fair to the dog). You really don't like the situation you have been put in, and you are clearly angry (at your friend and your obligation) but it isn't the male dog's fault. I think it would be incredibly easy to slip into passive aggressively punishing the male dog so keep an eye on that (hard as that may be in the July heat). Congrats on all the wonderful work you have done with Sky in such a short length of time. I hope you make a decision you can live with.
posted by saucysault at 2:03 PM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

You can always say no. I'm assuming that if this friend were in your house, holding a gun to your head and forcing you to keep her dog, then you wouldn't be able to type in your question to AskMeFi.

Short of that, you can say no.

And you probably should say no, for the health and safety of your dog.

Yes, I agree with this. You are clearly a wonderful friend, but it is ridiculous under these circumstances that your friend has put you in this position.
posted by jayder at 2:38 PM on June 19, 2008

Response by poster: saucysault, I've put off getting a dog longer than you've been alive, probably, and the chances that I would mistreat any animal, any time, are exactly zero. In my personal care? So far less than zero it means I would sacrifice myself first.

If you read frustration here, it's because of exactly this; I can't believe that I finally went for it, after being so cautious for so long, and now have the wonderful dog that we love very much who is so happy with us (and, oh, by the way, since you probably know very little about the disease, I will tell you that it's about a thousand times harder to find good adoptive parents for any dog that tests anything less than absolutely negative for leishmaniasis. Would you adopt one who wasn't completely clear? You don't have to answer that, but I'd like you to think about it.)

If you're curious about how badly I'm doing, you can follow her progress (or lack thereof) at, which redirects to a vox blog right now. If you really think that I would punish my friend's dog for causing me frustration, I suggest you mount an internet Complaining-About-Dogs task force to ferret out the latent sadism that must accompany that sort of mean talk.
posted by taz at 5:22 PM on June 19, 2008

Best answer: I am a sucker with a lot of veterinarian friends. In fact I have a foster dog right now! and here are my recommendations. (btw, you need a crate. I don't like crates but for fosters they are critical. Just don't bake him in it if it's 103 degrees).

1. your own dog gets the run of the house, the new dog gets to be in the crate. If you have to separate them or he's annoying her, he goes to jail. She doesn't. If he objects to this pecking order, set him straight.

2. He's a small dog, you're a big human. He cannot hump your dog, bark incessantly or do a myriad of other things unless you tolerate them. Don't. Kick his little doggy ass until he gets the picture. Methods of ass-kicking involve: spray bottle, very loud "NO!", sharp yank on prong collar and general getting-in-his-face-about-it. Leave a leash on him so you can catch and reprimand him all the time. If he does something right, of course you praise him. Leave him no doubt whatsoever about your feelings. On any topic. The idea is not to train him but to make him think about your reaction to stuff and what that means for him. This will probably improve his behavior to the point where you can live with him in less than 2 days. People say you can't train a dog not to bark but you can.

3. Exercise. He's small right? You can walk him. If he starts shit with another dog, see #2. If another dog starts shit with him spray it in the face with the spray bottle of vinegar and water you will be carrying at all times. Then pick him up and exit stage left.

4. Don't be afraid to drug the shit out of him if needed.

5. Don't feel guilty If he was boarded he'd spend the entire time in a kennel. He doesn't realize this but you do. If he's marking up he gets to spend 90% of his time in a crate until he learns to pee outside. Tough cookies.

6. I have no suggestions on the stinking except to try feeding him something different.
posted by fshgrl at 5:46 PM on June 19, 2008

The question has pretty much been answered (your dog comes first, the visiting dog and its irresponsible owners do not) but for later readers of this post I would like to clarify that HotToddy's advice above is exactly what you should NOT do to a rescue animal.

Changing a recently adopted pet's living situation 2x in a month when it hasn't even fully acclimated to the initial adoption would be ignorant and downright cruel. I suggest HT go volunteer in an adoption shelter for a good length of time before responding to any more pet questions.
posted by doppleradar at 10:39 PM on June 19, 2008

(and, oh, by the way, since you probably know very little about the disease, I will tell you that it's about a thousand times harder to find good adoptive parents for any dog that tests anything less than absolutely negative for leishmaniasis. Would you adopt one who wasn't completely clear? You don't have to answer that, but I'd like you to think about it.)

You've had a lot of answers, but I'll address this point. Having adopted a dog with canine hepatitis and a cat with a heart defect - I can answer that I absolutely would adopt that animal if I could provide the best environment for its health. Our dog lived to be 17. My cat is 7 and currently snoring next to me.

I can't tell you what to do, but I can tell you about owning a medically fragile animal. It's a huge commitment to have that animal come first in many ways. It can be a bummer - because your dog can't go off leash, can't visit the dog park, etc. That's for your dog's protection and also the protection of other dogs.

You've made a choice to put your friend's wants ahead of your dog's needs. That's your choice and you've indicated that you are unwilling to reconsider it.

It will probably be fine between the dogs. Dogs tend to figure things out on their own since they are pack animals. However, your dog may turn on you a bit - she trusts you now and you're going to make her life difficult. You are disrupting her pack in favor of another animal. She will react to that in a manner that makes sense to her. That may have a duration far longer than the other animals visit.

Be prepared for two issues:

1 - How are you going to respond if your dog gets sick in the middle of the other dog's visit?
2 - How will you feel is your friend's dog contracts the disease? Considering that you know your friend is a irrational pet owner, would she ditch the dog if it got sick.
posted by 26.2 at 3:55 PM on June 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

Actually, doppleradar, I know a number of rescue Shelties who regularly stay with their original foster mom rather than being boarded in a strange place or remaining at home when it would be too stressful to them. Having already lived there for several months, it’s a familiar, safe place to them. Only taz knows whether this is a workable option for her dog. It won’t be a viable option for everyone, but when it works, it can be very good indeed.
posted by HotToddy at 10:23 AM on June 21, 2008

Response by poster: I'll update here, but I'm afraid I can't give a satisfactory conclusion, because our friend decided, after all, to leave her dog elsewhere (today would have been our first or second day, had it played out).

I will say that by the end of this thread I definitely came to the conclusion that what I needed most was a kick in the butt to remind me of a couple of things: I am not powerless, and from the dogs' point of view, I'm actually pretty almighty; I could have handled it. Most importantly, if my attitude had been anxious and fearful there was really no way that the dogs wouldn't have been upset, on edge, and acting out. Of all the troublesome aspects of the situation, the very worst was definitely my own tizzy about it... and it took me a while to recognize that rather obvious fact. (I'll do myself a kindness, and put it down to being inexperienced more than silly, though, because I'm normally very calm and practical.)

fshgrl's comments helped a lot to put things in perspective. My own brief experience has shown me that dogs learn quite quickly what the boundaries and routines are as long as one is clear and consistent, and that if they are convinced you are in charge, they don't have a problem following the program.

Had the visit actually occurred, I would have used a playpen sort of thing, and a crate, and the bellyband, toy and play distractions, as many walks as the heat allowed... but mostly, very clear and absolute indications of acceptable and unacceptable behavior, with rewards and (completely humane) punishments... and not been crazy-anxiety girl. Most importantly, the latter. That was my plan at the end of this thread, if it can help anyone else out - though an actual outcome would have been more educational, I know.

Thank you all for your advice, your thoughts and ideas, because even though in the end it turned out that I didn't have to deal with this specific problem, the conversation has helped me focus generally and I really do now feel better able to deal with similar complications that may arise.
posted by taz at 3:56 AM on July 5, 2008

Well that is great that Sky gets you all to herself and you will have a less stressful July. Hopefully the male dog is in a good place with people that care about him. I am glad you feel empowered to handle similar situations if they come up. Sky is lucky to have such a caring mommy and she doesn't have to share that yummy home-cooked food.
posted by saucysault at 10:43 AM on July 5, 2008

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