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(137 Posts)
SorrySadDog Fri 05-Jun-20 09:34:27

I need to gent this off my chest and I know that I will probably be shouted at and please don’t think that I feel it’s okay to feel this way.

I have two dogs, they are three years old. As a family we got a spaniel in June 2017, I love her so much. A month later we realised that we could probably have a second because my husband worked part time etc so someone was home most of the time. I saw an advert for someone wanting to rehome a 12 week old Sprocker Spaniel and I thought that was probably a better idea than getting another puppy, if you want to rehome a dog after only having it for a few weeks then you shouldn’t be a dog owner (the irony as you’ll find out).

I turned up and it was clear she wasn’t a spaniel, I couldn’t work out what she was but the lady said she had been sold to her as a sprocker from a woman’s with gun dogs. I really only wanted a spaniel however the conditions she was living in were not great. Her bowl was piled high with cheap food and she was living in a crate with a neon fluffy child’s cushion as a bed. There were puppy pads all over the place and she hadn’t taught her to go outside. The pads were used and not picked up. The dog was very timid. I felt awful for her so took her home with me and very quickly she became best friends with my spaniel. They brought a lot of joy to our lives and I loved them very much....and after a dna test it turned out she was half springer half border terrier.

Last year she started attacking my spaniel, she has established herself as leader of the pack and does a lot of things that are classically dominating. Urinating over where the spaniel has weed to cover her scent etc. She won’t let her go down stairs in front of her and sometimes waits at the bottom of the stairs and there can be a fight. She’s recently been spayed so I’m hoping that will help with that. She is an absolutely softie around people and even other dogs she’s intimidated by, she’s completely submissive. But she is so mean to my spaniel and I hate it. Over the past 8 months I have steadily grown to hate her. I’ve tried everything to sort the issue and I hate seeing my lively friendly spaniel cowering.

Also, they’ve always slept in the living room with the door shut, for the last couple of months terrier has taken to scratching and whining for hours as soon as the sun comes up and I am at the end of my tether. The second she makes any whining noise it’s like a red flag to a bull. I can categorically tell you that right now I despise her. But you don’t get a dog for Christmas, or three years in this case. You get a dog and you care for them for the rest of your life. But I don’t know how to get over this, how to stop her attacking my other dog and get her to fucking shut up in the morning. If those two things were solved, it would be fine. She’s sat at the foot of the stairs at the moment whining at me because I’ve closed the stair gate. I just can’t.

I’m sad and I’m upset that I could feel this way.

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caramac04 Fri 05-Jun-20 09:43:54

You have my sympathy OP, that must be horrible to live with.
Would the dog tolerate a crate with a blanket over to block out the light? Or can you get blackout linings for the lounge?
I’d recommend contacting a dog behaviourist for a home visit and strategies to protect your spaniel - and your relationship with other dog.
I had a second rescue dog who was very lively and had no respect for my home, was fine with my older male dog though. I had a dog behaviourist come out and the simple strategies he taught me made a massive difference to both my dogs behaviour.
My eldest dog is now 15 and the other is 10. Older dog sleeps mostly nowadays but younger is a pleasure to own, obedient and friendly . I really really love her.
All the best OP, this can be made better.

ShennaIsAPrawnCracker Fri 05-Jun-20 09:48:18

Rehome her through a reputable rescue. It's no life for a dog to be hated. She will know. And it sucks for your other dog.

nicelyneurotic Fri 05-Jun-20 09:48:54

I would rehome her. Sounds like she would be happier in a household where she is the only dog. It's just not worked out. You did a kind thing but this is now damaging your first dog. I wouldn't feel guilty about it.

missyB1 Fri 05-Jun-20 09:53:39

Well definitely try a behaviourist first. They may be able to do socially distant visits or online / video consultations. This is probably fixable you just need the right expertise. I do feel sorry for you it must be really hard dealing with this.

StatementKnickers Fri 05-Jun-20 09:53:41

Sounds like she needs to live in a one-dog household. Look into responsible rehoming and start thinking of your time with her as a long-term fostering arrangement to remove a puppy from a neglectful environment and prepare it for its forever home.

HaveYouSeenMyBones Fri 05-Jun-20 10:01:09

12 weeks old IS a puppy

Domestic dogs do not display dominince like this (and their dominance structures are much more complex and fluid than one dog thinking it is boss). Weeing over another's scent is not dominance - it is linked to her being situated in utero between two males and so subject to their testosterone which increases male-typical behaviours in bitches when they are older.

Bullying does happen but it is less often linked to dominance and much more often linked to a perceived sense of distruct/disaproval/increased chance of being told off whenever the other dog is nearby.

e.g. the dog does something you don't like to your favourite; you react in some way; the dog does not link your reaction to their own behaviour, they link it to the proximinity of the other dog. Henceforth they are on edge when the other dog comes near to them and more likely to act up. And so it snowballs.

FWIW it is also common for the favoured dog to be the trigger for poor behaviour. They can get away with rude-dog behaviour, because if and when the other dog reacts to the rudness in some way the owner steps in to protect their favourite and so they get a bit cocky grin

All that said, all dogs deserve to live in happy, safe homes where they are wanted and not all dogs get along. If you do not want this dog then give her a chance to find that home elsewhere. Hand her over to reputable charity for rehoming - and don't wait until she is older, has worse habits and is harder to rehome. It is a far worse 'sin' to hold onto her out of a sense of pride or guilt at rehoming her than give her a chance at real and easy happiness somewhere else. Plus, your original dog will inevitably be happier in a stress free home.

HaveYouSeenMyBones Fri 05-Jun-20 10:04:47

All that said, all dogs deserve to live in happy, safe homes where they are wanted and not all dogs get along.

This was not clear blush

I didn't mean all dogs deserve homes where not all dogs get along. I meant 'not all dogs get along' as a seperate point to dogs deserving good homes. Doh.

midnightstar66 Fri 05-Jun-20 10:07:30

Your dogs were puppies of a very similar age - look in to littermate syndrome. It can be overcome but it will be a lot of work. She might be better suited to an only dog home or one with an older dog even

OnceUponACat Fri 05-Jun-20 10:10:28

Rehome. I have been there. It is best for everyone, dog especially.

vanillandhoney Fri 05-Jun-20 10:12:19

A month later we realised that we could probably have a second because my husband worked part time etc so someone was home most of the time. I saw an advert for someone wanting to rehome a 12 week old Sprocker Spaniel and I thought that was probably a better idea than getting another puppy

But 12 weeks old IS a puppy. You essentially raised them as siblings - and now, sadly, you're experiencing the consequences. Littermate syndrome doesn't only exist with dogs from who are actual siblings, it happens when puppies of similar ages are raised together too.

I think the only thing you can do now is rehome the second dog. There's a reason breeders (good ones anyway) won't sell people two puppies from the same litter - unfortunately what you did is just adopt another puppy and create the same problem most breeders try and avoid.

midnightstar66 Fri 05-Jun-20 10:18:02

To add my sister did get 2 dogs from the same litter. She knew what she was doing and has trained them and treated them as 2 totally separate dogs, only occasionally walking them together and letting them interact. It's a huge investment of time and effort over a long time period. It can be done but now it has emerged it will be even harder.

rooarsome Fri 05-Jun-20 10:20:44

Definitely sounds like littermate syndrome to me. 12 weeks old is still very much a puppy- in fact we picked up our saint at 12 weeks as the breeder had a 10 week minimum. Your best bet would be to bring in a dog behaviourist if you want to actually keep the dog. If you don't then utilise a reputable rescue and Who can ensure the dog goes to a one dog home

LadyEvelynBagley Fri 05-Jun-20 10:33:24

Just a small point on littermate syndrome - it has no basis in science, though is widely quoted in more 'everyday' type articles etc. as a way to describe hyper attachment or conflict between two dogs.

I suspect the truth might be that is more that two puppies create a training deficit - vs anything inherent about two puppies growing up the same home. Puppies need so much time and attention that it is SO much harder to do this properly for two than for one. Hence the pp's sister, who put extra time and care in, did not experience it.

I did once read a study that found no greater rate of interhousehold aggression between dogs that had grown up together vs been brought together as adults but cannot find it again now sad

I mention it only because just taking this on face value can sometimes stop people seeing the situation with greater critical detail and getting to the root of the issue.

Interdog aggression in the same household does require behaviourist support to understand and tackle but I also think this is potentially a long and stressful (for all) route and that rehoming is sometimes the genuinly kinder option for everyone.

SorrySadDog Fri 05-Jun-20 10:36:36

Sorry I worded the puppy thing badly, I meant I felt that it would be better to rehome her then go buy another puppy - I was naive!

@HaveYouSeenMyBones thank you for that information. I can kinda see what you are saying in relation to them however they’ve both had just as many cuddles and all that sort of thing. The only time I can think that one was told off over the other was that the terrier kept licking between my fingers when the spaniel was sat in her bed and if it continued I’d get annoyed. But I guess over time, the attacking the spaniel would perpetuate anything because I’d tell the terrier off so I understand what you’re saying. I was told by the vet that the urinating thing was dominance but different vets tell me different things anyway.

They’ve had a good three weeks of no fights but the door scratching is driving me to the point of no sleep.

I am worried about how much they would miss each other if I was to separate them, for instance when one goes to the groomers they are happy to see each other afterwards. They play fight, they run around in the park.

Littermate syndrome I had read about and yes clearly I made a mistake and should have been more informed, totally accept that.

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Veterinari Fri 05-Jun-20 10:38:02


Firstly, you need to do some reading around dog behaviour. Pack theory was debunked in the 1960s-70s and none of the behaviours you describe are 'dominating'. I suspect that these assumptions are preventing you from identifying your dig's true motivations for this behaviour (more likely anxiety/resource guarding given her history)

Why was she spayed? This can increase reactivity and make behaviour problems worse, so it would have been better to have her assessed properly first. You say you've done everything - have you spoken to an APBC accredited behaviourist? From what you describe I'm assuming not.

You obviously want to get this sorted but it's likely that what you've been doing so far may make this worse - I'd strongly advise searching for an APBC behaviourist and contacting them - you can fix this but you do need professional accredited support. Good luck!

Veterinari Fri 05-Jun-20 10:39:38

* Littermate syndrome I had read about and yes clearly I made a mistake and should have been more informed, totally accept that.*

Don't worry about this OP, there's no evidence it exists

SorrySadDog Fri 05-Jun-20 10:39:57

Thank you Lady, I did mention to my son that terrier might need to find a new home so that they could both be happier and he was devastated but I can’t put his happiness before the health of both dogs it’s just not right. I need to sit down and really think about whether I could achieve anything with them both or whether she would be happier in a one dog home. I guess I conflate their apparent happiness running around a field together with actually what constitutes real dog happiness. Outside of the two issues, she is a lovely dog - she’s a bit slow to learn commands....ok very slow she just looks confused! But everyone who meets her loves her

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zscaler Fri 05-Jun-20 10:41:55

I would try a dog behaviourist first, failing which try to rehome her privately to a place where she will be the only dog - don’t surrender her to a shelter or advertise online. Ask your behaviourist / vet etc to keep an ear out for a suitable home.

SorrySadDog Fri 05-Jun-20 10:45:03

@Veterinari I’ve read a lot, it’s all conflicting and yes talking to a behaviourist would probably correct a lot of assumptions. I acknowledge that someone who is qualified can better inform me, I haven’t yet, but it’s on my list to do today.

She was spayed because her seasons were awful, I had to replace carpets it was that bad and if I tried to put a “nappy” on her she just wouldn’t move, she also gets 10x more aggressive when she’s in heat so the vet recommended spaying, it’s always been my intention to spay them both.

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SorrySadDog Fri 05-Jun-20 10:47:18

Thank you all, I really needed to get that off my chest. I’ve been feeling awful and guilty and just not knowing what to do - I’m going to speak to a behaviourist, I’ll be honest with them about how I’ve been feeling and hopefully we can either resolve it or she can find a home that suits her better. I just feel so shit, no dog deserves to be unloved. When I picked her up from the vets after spaying she looked so happy to see me that I burst into tears and the nurse said “it’s ok she’s fine” but I just couldn’t tell her why I was so upset! Her ears when down, she was groggy but wagging her tail...and then she pissed everywhere blush

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LadyEvelynBagley Fri 05-Jun-20 10:49:04

I guess I conflate their apparent happiness running around a field together with actually what constitutes real dog happiness

This is a really asute observation and I agree. Happiness is not about the runs in a field - you can achieve that much more cheaply and easily by engaging a good dog walker to take your orignal dog out once a week with others, for e.g.

Happiness is living free from stress and comes in all the 'in between times' when normal life is just happening at home. In all honesty, the things you describe (not learning, worrying about the other dog coming downstairs or through doorways, whining etc) sound much more like chronic stress/anxiety to me than anything else - but I obviously haven't see the dogs.

LadyEvelynBagley Fri 05-Jun-20 10:57:26

I’m going to speak to a behaviourist, I’ll be honest with them about how I’ve been feeling

This sounds like a good next step for you all. An accredited one can be found:

(...whose view on littermate syndrome can be read here, for those interested:

SorrySadDog Fri 05-Jun-20 10:58:00

I’ve always described her as an anxious dog, I’m not entirely sure why I’ve thought that - it was just the perception. She was anxious from the moment I picked her up from the lady.

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SorrySadDog Fri 05-Jun-20 10:58:31

Thank you for the links, fingers crossed.

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