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2 large rescue dogs - any advice(21 Posts)
Hi all, DH and I have had large breed dogs before but only one at a time and only ever from puppies. We’re thinking of adopting 2 together from a rescue centre (one bitch and one dog, both around 2 years old). The rescue can’t tell us too much about them so they’ll be a bit of gamble.
The bitch is not good with small dogs but gets on well with the dog. He’s very timid with people.
Do you wise people have any advice?
Oh and we have an outside cat....
Not an expert on large breeds but my rescue is currently snoozing on me. Things to consider for me would be...
•Do they know each other?
•cost- 2x food will be £££
•Vets fees and location
•when you go away. Again 2x boarding fees £££ we have a lovely local walker for weekends and parents for longer. Don’t assume they’ll fit in with your plans. Ddog hates camping and only settles when we’re zipped in so that’s fun...
Similarly if you’re regularly driving what would you do if one or both gets carsick.
•Are they spayed?
•for me personally I’d only want a dog I could carry. Ddog can be gently lifted into the car when ill or held on the bus.
•have you go space for 2 crates?
It sounds like you know them and feel bonded already
Thanks for the reply. They’re in the same rescue together and currently sharing a kennel, being fed together etc and getting on fine (we’ve been told). We’ve met them but only for a short walk separately.
They’re too big for me to pick up but DH probably can, just about!
We’ve never used crates before and aren’t planning on it. We’ve can get a dog gate to close off the utility room for them to sleep in (although I suspect they could both jump a dog gate if they really wanted).
Having DDog Snoozing on you sounds great! I miss that. How old was yours when you rescued him/ her? Where did you start with training?
Oh and yes they spayed & neutered.
For me I'd be considering if I could handle both leads at once if I had to walk them alone,especially considering the female's possible DA. I wouldn't want to go down the separate walking/going twice if dh couldn't come with me. We have a giant breed so lifting isn't that big a concern for me. Do you have space for 2 crates, or 2 rooms they can be separated in to if they turn out to stress each other out? 2 lots of kennel fees/groomers fees/insurance fees /vet fees for 2 large breeds would put me off tbh. Do you have a big enough car to transport them both comfortably whilst secured? I'd also be concerned about it being more difficult to bond with the timid one as he was attached to the female.
From the very little you've shared, these sound like dogs who could need significant work before they're good family pets. I'm particularly concerned that one is very timid around people because - understandably! - if he comes to you with the dog he knows he may choose to focus on her and not the scary human strangers.
I'm also worried that the rescue know so little about them. You don't know what issues you might be taking on, and rehabing two at once could be tricky.
Is this something you realistically have the time and financial resources (behaviourists aren't cheap) to manage?
Being a voice of negativity I would be a bit wary of getting two dogs together with two different issues unless I had loads of time.
One dog being dog reactive and one dog being timid of people does make things pretty hard on a day to day basis.
Just finding areas to walk may be hard, it may mean you have to walk them separately. Behaviour work will need to be done separately.
I guess it depends on the time you have to put into them, it could be for the long haul.
We adopted 2 lurchers four years ago. They had come from the same home (along with 3 other dogs) and were only up for adoption as a pair as they relied on each other.
Pros: they have company when we are out and are completely happy to be left together (not so much if we have to leave one for any reason), they love zoomies together in our local dog park and tire each other out. Cons: cost (food, vet bills, kennels, insurance), I can’t walk them together because they’re too strong so it’s a big time commitment if dh is out, space and they both like the same chair so squabble about it, if one starts barking it sets the other off.
Overall, getting 2 was the right decision for us.
My advice would be to try walking them together and make your decision based on that (assuming you have already considered the cost).
I've got 2 large breed rescue dogs, from different homes and they were each about 3 when we had them; they are about 6 now. We have offered a crate, but neither took to it, but they have found their own 'spots' over time. We did have a few small squabbles initially, which seemed worse because of the size of them. They do everything together now, and have their own funny rules, like she had to be first through a doorway but he has to be in front when out for a walk, his food bowl is put down first, but she finishes her meal first then waits patiently to check his bowl for crumbs 🤣
My big girl is also 'not good' with small dogs - she is terrified of them! She gives my fluffy slippers the stink eye too!
I would worry about two together. Sounds like they have different needs. Can you train and socialise and deal with them individually?
If the rescue centre can’t tell you they’re ok with cats then I don’t think I would risk it.
Why are they trying to home them together?
id be concerned about a large breed dog that "is not good with small dogs"
What could they mean by that. If your large dog is aggressive with small dogs, are you going to be able to manage that? A dog that is not dog friendly is hard work. If its too big for you to handle......
Oh dear - this isn’t sounding overly positive.
Thank you for all the replies and things to think about. To give a bit more info, we can manage the financial cost of 2 and have thought that through carefully. We can separate them in the house if we have to, although it would be be ideal, we could.
We live in the country so have lots of country lanes to walk them along and a decently sized garden for playtime. The cat is exclusively an outdoor cat (we inherited him and he doesn’t want to come in the house even though we’ve given him the choice). We can transport them both in one of the cars.
I’m very conscious of 2 being easy to leave as they are company for each other if they have to go into kennels so was focussed on that aspect. We don’t really have any friends or family that we could leave them with - not an issue at the moment but after the pandemic we’d still like to be able to have holidays.
The bitch was sent to the rescue having lived with 2 terriers for a year and after being yapped at by them for the whole year (the rescue’s words), sent one to the vet for stitches.
The dog was a stud dog in a puppy farm and abandoned when the puppies stopped selling in lockdown. He seemed to have formed a bond with the rescue worker so I’m hopeful....
We know we’ll have to work them separately Initially (so either both DH and I going or one of us going twice) but hopeful they can learn to walk together. They’d have to be angels before I’d try that though tbh.
Where would you start with training them to walk together?
* would not be ideal
* walk them together
2 are only easy to leave if they don't wind each other up. If the timid one is easily upset and barks (which you've said was the trigger for the other one biting the smaller dog) then it could be a disaster. My one dog is easy to leave, he takes himself to bed and goes to sleep.
WRT to walking them together, I would start with you and dh walking them separately, being very firm on loose lead training so they walk at heel. Every time the lead goes taut, you stop. Every time. Some walks take an hour and you're not out of the street. When they get that, try them together but one lead each. Play lots of focus games to make sure you are the most interesting thing, not each other or what is happening around, this might be especially important for the DA one.
There is a page on Facebook - Dog Training Advice and Support - they have loads of great info and advice.
Having read your update, I would not bring both these dogs home. It seems like they are a marriage of convenience, and not a bonded pair, and so splitting them should not be an issue. Both sound like they will potentially need quite significant input. That will be harder if you're trying to manage them both (especially as they will need different support), and harder again because they come in big packages.
I appreciate the advantages of having two (I have two myself) but, IMHO, the disadvantages outweigh them in this situation. Given one dog has injured another previously, and given they've effectively just been put together by the rescue for convenience, then I think it would be a long time before I would feel safe leaving them home alone together.
If I were forced to choose, I would go for 'Mr shy around people' and not 'Ms bit another dog'. But that's more about my dog-experience and comfort levels than anything. You may feel different.
Why are the rescue suggesting that they should go together?
I'd add that the stud dog may struggle as a sole dog. Adult dogs from puppy farms frequently do, because everything in the home environment is new and scary, and they have every reason not to trust people. But what he needs is a confident dog, established in the home and used to the routine, to copy. That's very different from bringing him home with a second new rescue who also has issues.
The more I think about this the more I worry both about the common sense of this rescue, and how little they seem to know about the dogs they're placing.
I have a large breed rescue, she is of course wonderful!
She is well behaved in the house, stays off furniture she's not allowed on, recall is fairly good, only rabbits break it. House trained, has never had an accident but has been sick a few times.
Indifferent to small dogs, although they seem to universally hate her and bark aggressively at her if we pass any. Also means if there are any in a dog park we can't go in to it.
However I can't walk her as she pulls on the lead for me. So only DH can take her out alone which is tough on him on long working days or if he is feeling under the weather.
This is something to consider as they do need a few walks a day with a decent length one in there.
Is the female actually reactive now to any small dogs she see's as it does make walks much harder & of course 1 big dog if lunging about is hard to control but likelihood is the anxious male will join in. Equally could be the other way round with people he's wary of.
Biting a dog she lived with wouldn't normally be same thing as could be various reasons why that happened that wouldn't be replicated.
If he was a stud in puppy farm I expect he will need housetraining and not be used to household noises/vacuum etc.
I have adopted a pair of greyhounds in the past mainly as I felt more comfortable with them having each other the time I was at work, obviously it wouldn't always help as both dogs could have Separation Anxiety or ones overly attached to the human & not comforted by dog friend.
It can be little overwhelming going from 0to2 as there is an adjustment period where wonder if made horrible mistake with every dog. In some ways it made things easier, they settled pretty quickly and the confident one helped his anxious brother overcome his worries about the world. I could easily walk both together as good on lead, but I had partner who could also take 1. The costs double but we were always planning to have 2 dogs, was just getting both at same time and the bonus with that was we knew they already got on as there is that stress when adding another with your existing dog.
I worry that the rescue don't seem to know a lot about these dogs out in real world & could therefore be taking on more work than expecting.
There are a lot of bonded pairs in rescues that often end up being split as struggle to find a home together as very few are willing to adopt 2, so could find a more suitable match.
If your really set on this pair I'd see about having a trial before adopting which would at least give you chance to assess suitability & give feedback to rescue about the dogs.
I have big dogs plus a couple of small ones. With you adopting two firstly get as much background info as possible which you seem to have. I would train and walk individually until they both can walk together. I'd give it a couple of months for them to completely settle into everything. I have cats it is possible for dogs to get along with cats. I use positive reinforcement methods reward based. As for the little dog situation on a walk if you see one turn and walk other way. I dont crate never have. My dogs find their own spot. I would not leave them on their own for a few month until they are settled and in a routine. You will get there.
Honestly? I wouldn't re-home these dogs. At least, certainly not as a pair.
It sounds like they've been put together because it's convenient to the rescue, rather than because they're actually a bonded pair. They both sound like they have a lot of problems and a reactive, large-breed dog is not easy to work with. How are you going to control the one who's reactive to small dogs if she decides to lunge? She could easily have you off your feet.
Both dogs also have very patchy histories - one has bitten another dog so badly it needed stitches, and the other is wary with people and has probably had very little socialisation if he comes from a puppy farm. Poor socialisation in a big dog could easily be a recipe for disaster. Add that to another dog who has bitten and you could have real trouble on your hands.
Please think through the practicalities of what you're doing here. Big dogs that need separate walks and training, and who both have pretty major issues. This will be a lifetime of hard work for everyone concerned - it's not something you'll be able to solve in a few months.