Need advice - Do my dogs like each other?

asked 2017-03-15 13:46:17 -0600

I have an older rescue mutt, about 6-7 years old, named Finn that I have had for 5 years. He's well-socialized but aside from excitedly greeting new dogs, never seemed super interested in them. When I take him to dog parks he sometimes will play chase but mostly spends the time sniffing and marking the perimeter (he's always done this, even after being neutered). He's not even big on playing with toys (except his teddy bear). My parents have 4 dogs that he sees on a regular basis and prefers lounging in the sun. Sounds like he's perfectly content being left alone but he's always sad when he leaves.

Recently my husband and I signed up to be fosters through a local rescue and took in a dog similar to Finn's age. He occasionally will try to play with her but mostly they just ignore each other. Never fought or had any negative interaction with each other, just tolerate the others' existence. The foster dog started lying in his bed at night with him and he doesn't push her off but he doesn't snuggle with her either. Is he just being polite? I'm seriously considering adopting our foster myself but I just can't tell if my dog likes her.

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answered 2017-03-15 15:29:54 -0600

Dogs communicate with each other in ways that we don’t get, that we are just totally blind about. A dog will see something in another dog’s body language or pick up olfactory clues that signal something the first dog either likes or doesn’t like. Dogs live in a world of scent information, are surrounded by it. The way we scan a room and see all kinds of details — the bookcase and the book and the chair — they scan the world around them with their nose, and unless the wind is blowing in the totally wrong direction, they pick up a huge amount of olfactory information.

One big mistake people make when bringing in new dogs is by just tossing them together in one dog's territory and hoping that they’ll get along. Maybe they will and maybe they won’t.

By bringing a new dog into another dog's territory, you are running the risk of the existing dog becoming assertive or aggressive in order to defend what is theirs. Depending on the new dog’s energy, they may become completely submissive and fearful, or they may fight back.

Only time will tell

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