Help - I don't like my new dog

Sorry this is so long, I’m not good at being concise.

A few months ago I posted a question here asking Can you love two dogs equally? In a nutshell, I have a current dog who I am crazy about, and was looking at getting a second, but concerned that I would ever be able to love another dog as much as my first one. Dog 1, let’s call him Spot, is a chihuahua, which I have wanted since I was very young and my sister had one.

We got Spot in a pet store last August, mainly because we had been there looking for a particular breed of cat. My husband wanted a cat and we knew that Russian Blues didn’t bother my allergies, so we went there to buy a cat. They had chihuahuas too, and Spot was the only one there. So there wasn’t a big decision process - I wanted a chihuahua, they had a chihuahua, and I thought, “I guess he’s kinda cute” so I bought him. I realize now that buying from a pet store is a bad thing, but what’s done is done, and I will not get another dog from a pet store again.

I have OCD and major anxiety issues, and the night we brought Spot home I had a major freak out. I had never owned a dog before, and the idea of all the work involved scared me. I told my husband that I had made a mistake and would need to turn Spot into an animal shelter. He encouraged me to give it time, so I took a Xanax and went out for a little while to buy some supplies from PetSmart. Then I was feeling a bit better.

Over the next few days I was still feeling like I wished I hadn’t bought him, but resigned myself to the fact that he was my responsibility and I would care for him. By the next week or so I came around, so that now I am glad I bought him and can’t imagine my life without him. Maybe it’s gotten to the point where I have an unhealthy attachment/infatuation for him, and treat him like a substitute child (I don’t like kids). I spoil him too much, freak out when he gets hurt, and can’t stand to hear him cry. At the vets, when he has to get a shot or something painful, they started taking him into the other room because I lose it when I hear him cry.

Spot is very hyper and playful and I can’t quite keep up with his demands for playing. He likes playing with other dogs at the dog park and play group, but I have a hard time entertaining him myself. He will whine or jump on me to get my attention, but when I try to play, by throwing stuffed animals or “wrestling” with my hand, it doesn’t seem to satisfy him. So I started thinking about getting a second dog as a playmate.

I found an adorable one on PetFinder and arranged a meeting - that was the dog that caused me to write my previous post. That whole morning I was crying and thinking that now it won’t be “just us” anymore - me and Spot - but I would have to share my time with another dog. So I was actually relieved when we met the dog and they did not get along, so we went home empty-handed. Perhaps that should have been my clue to give up on the idea.

I did not give much thought to another dog for a while. I would occasionally check PetFinder but didn’t see any dogs I liked. I am a member of a local Chihuahua group on which also has a Facebook group. One of the members posted that she volunteers at a shelter and they were expecting many chihuahuas from an out of state rescue soon - she asked us to contact her if interested, so I did.

For various reasons, it turned out that the dogs expected from out-of-state would not work out for us, but this person mentioned that she was fostering 2 female chihuahuas if I wanted to meet them. I had seen them on PetFinder and not been too crazy about their photos, but decided to give it a try.

Foster Mom brought the dogs to our house. One of them was very shy and just sat on her lap the whole time, growing whenever Spot got close. But the other dog, Fifi, was very energetic. She wagged her tail the whole time, came up to me eagerly to be petted, and even played with Spot a bit - for him, playing with another dog means to put his paws on their “shoulders” and jump around them a bit, sort of like wrestling. He did this to Fifi for a minute or so, and she tolerated it and even participated a bit. When he tried to hump her she did growl and snap a him, but figured that was normal. Spot also growls at other dogs who try to hump him. Fifi had originally been rescued from a puppy mill, then adopted, then returned by the owner after a year because they (the owner) had major health problems.

The only thing that bugged me was that Fifi was not that cute, and I even thought she was a bit funny looking, whereas I think Spot is the most gorgeous dog ever. But I told myself to stop being shallow and give her a chance. Before we made a decision, I decided to try meeting 2 other Petfinder dogs. The first one was also very shy, stayed planted on my husband’s lap, and would not interact with Spot. The second was very submissive, and would cower or roll on her back whenever he approached. So they did not seem like good matches.

At this point it had been 3 months since I had originally thought about getting another dog, and I figured that Fifi was our best shot. So we went ahead with the adoption.

I supposed another clue that this would be a problem is that I had a major OCD attack in the days prior to Fifi’s arrival. I did not even think the situation was related, as my compulsion had nothing to do with dogs, but maybe it was a sign of stress.

She arrived on Friday evening, and cried a bit after Foster Mom left, which I guess was understandable. But right away I began picking apart everything she did, and noticing that she did not seem to get along with Spot as well as at their first meeting. Admittedly he is probably not the easiest dog to get along with, as he comes on really strong and wanting to play and jump and pester her. Whenever he tried to play she would growl. Three days later, this has not changed. I realize she may need more time to adjust, but what if this is just how she is?

I suppose I had a wrong idea of how this would go, as I imagined our second dog as a magical babysitter who would just keep Spot entertained when I couldn’t play with him. But if she won’t play with him, what’s the point in having her?

The other thing is I do not feel any “love” toward her. Despite my initial stress, I got attached to Spot right away. On our third day together, after he was in pain from a shot from the vet, he sat on my leg and laid there, shaking in pain. I felt so bad for him and thought that it was so sweet that he was coming to me for comfort. When Fifi is tired and comes to sit on my lap, I just feel “oh great, now I can’t get up for a while.” When Spot cries I feel terrible and want to make everything better. When Fifi cries I sort of feel bad in an objective observer kind of way, and try to comfort her, but I just feel like I am going through the motions. And I sort of resent her from taking my attention away from Spot. I don’t know if it’s because I still find her funny-looking or if I really and truly do not want to have any dog but Spot.

Whenever she is laying on my lap and Spot approaches, she will growl and snap at him. Earlier today, she was laying on me, and he just walked by, about a foot away, not even looking at her, and she growled, and that made me feel really bad. I think he had been heading toward his bed, which was near where I was sitting, but now he moved and went to lay down on a rug on the other side of the room. I felt bad for him, and felt angry at Fifi for making him feel bad.

On the other hand, as I said I realize Spot isn’t easy to live with. If he was a human he’d be that good-looking guy that all the women in town have restraining orders against because he comes on strong and won’t take no for an answer. Although he has stopped trying to hump her after being snapped at several times, he keeps trying to jump all over her and initiate play, nipping her ears, tapping her with his paws, and jumping all over her. Sometimes she will snap and he will stop, and other times we separate them.

I realize that all this shows that I have a very unhealthy attachment/obsession with Spot, spoil him rotten, and can’t bear for him to be unhappy. I thought Fifi would make him happy, but she only seems to be making him unhappy. Whenever I pet her or pick her up and Spot looks to me for attention, I feel bad that I can’t give it to him. My instinct is to take her back to the shelter, but I don’t want to be one of “those people” that abandons a dog for silly reasons. It’s not fair to Fifi to keep shuffling her from home to home, but on the other hand, is it fair for her to be in a home where her owner is going through the motions?

When I adopted her I signed an agreement for the shelter that said, among other things, that owning a dog was a lifetime commitment and I hearby agree not to “give up on the dog” for any reason other than severe aggression as diagnosed by a licensed vet or trainer. But then it goes on to say that if I do give up on the dog, I am supposed to return her to the shelter, not give her to someone else. So I guess they would take her back, but again, I know this would make me a horrible person.

This afternoon I took the two of them to the dog park in the hopes that they could interact in a low-stress environment where there is lots of space, and other dogs around. They sniffed each other a bit but otherwise ignored each other. Two women were gushing over Fifi and how cute she was, and how they wanted to take her home with them, so I started feeling better about the whole thing - somehow their appraisal of her made me feel like I just needed to work at changing my feelings. But then when we got home, the growling incident happened where she scared Spot away from his bed, and I started having misgivings again.

Already my husband seems to have taken on the role of Fifi’s de facto caretaker, which I know he is doing out of sympathy for me, but he is not a dog lover and I don’t want to put him in that situation. The cat is his responsibility and the dogs are supposed to be mine. Just now as she was typing this, she was crying and howling from inside her playpen, where I had put her to take a nap (she hasn’t slept since getting back from the park), so hubby got up and said he would go comfort her. Over and over again for the past few days, he has been the comforter, as every time Spot bothers her, my instinct is to grab Spot and just get him away, while hubby picks up Fifi and actually soothes her, holding her for a few minutes and telling her it’s okay. Already I think she sees him as her parent, not me, and I guess that’s my own fault.

I have not told anyone else about the dog, or posted anything on Facebook, or even bought her a collar and a nametag because I still feel like all those things would make the adoption more “real” and harder to get out of. Not that I particularly feel the desire to plaster my Facebook account with photos of her, as I did with Spot. I don’t know what to do. Give it more time and hope that I grow to love her and she gets along with Spot? Return her to the shelter because it isn’t going to get any better? Or accept that even if I never love her and she never fulfills my imagined role as Spot’s babysitter, I have to just be responsible for her even if I’m not happy about it?

FYI, I do have an appointment with my psychologist to talk about this, as well as my OCD stuff from last week, but the appointment is not until Thursday.

Too late to edit, but wanted to add:

In a phone conversation with Foster Mom, a few days before we officially took her, Foster Mom did mention that Fifi sometimes growled at her other dogs (and this was still after living with her for a month), but I put it out of my mind as we had already agreed to take her and tried to tell myself it would all work out. So now it makes me wonder if this growling will be a continual problem.

Quick rule of thumb: If you need to make an appointment with a psychologist to talk over your feelings about getting another dog, you probably shouldn’t get another dog.

True, but I didn’t feel the need to make the appointment until I already had her.

Three days isn’t much time for a pet to adjust to a new situation, new home, new people. Give her a chance - she’s probably lonely for foster mom and the pups she used to know. She needs some reassurance and lovin’ and she’ll probably settle in just fine.

I’ve taken in a lot of foster cats over the years and while some do settle within a day or two, most take a couple weeks, some more. Dogs are much the same that way - they just need time to adjust and get their footing.

Since you’re looking for some advice:

Stop treating dogs like they’re people, they’re dogs. It’s only been three days, it’s going to take some time for the new dog to get used to things. I also suspect the new dog is picking up on your “Don’t like the new dog” vibe. If this dog doesn’t work out, I’d suggest you don’t get another because from what I can tell there’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just not perfect compared to the other in your opinion.

Get a fish.

Three days? Chile, please.

That’s not long enough to get attached to a baby, let alone a dog.

Every time I’ve gotten a new pet, it’s taken some time to fall in love with them. I can’t say I ever started off with dislike, but one cat did take some time getting used to. It’s been ten years since he died and I still miss him!

The growling will abate over time. The two cats I have now went through two weeks of hissing and fur flying, and now they’re best pals who love each other more than they love me.

I’m a little gobsmacked right now. I currently have a foster dog, who I took tonight to meet a prospective adopter. The rescue coordinator, who will make the decision on whether they are a suitable home for the dog seemed to think it wasn’t a good match. I agreed. Much as I would love to see my foster girl in a permanent home, I do not want her to go to a home that, for whatever reason, is not a good match for her.

Call the rescue you got the dog from. Tell them it’s not working out. Maybe they have some advice to help integrate Fifi into your home, maybe they will just agree that it is not a good fit. It happens. It does not make you a bad person, or a bad dog owner, you clearly care deeply for Spot. Sometimes doing the right thing for a dog means finding a different home if you are not it.

I also suspect that you are not very good at reading dogs and understanding the interaction between them and you and how best to deal with it. If you have a good thing going with Spot and this is upsetting the balance you’ve established in his life and yours and your partner’s, why upset it? This may be more than you are capable or willing to deal with. That’s ok. Think objectively about what is in everyone’s best interest, you, your partner, the dogs, the cat, and not what people will think or how you think people will judge you.

This. I’m still struggling massively with the idea of putting them down for a nap and cuddling them when they “cry”:confused::eek: They’re not babies or children, they’re dogs.

Teach them that they get in your lap when you want them there. not just whenever they feel like it and assert a little control. At the moment it sounds like the dogs are calling the tune and you’re dancing to it.

You said it so much better than I almost did. I had to quote your entire post because its all right.

As a rescue person, I will agree that 3 days isn’t very long. We usually ask that people keep their new pet for at least a week, but we never think that anyone is a bad person for returning a pet that is a bad match. except for that bitch that returned her dog after 5 years because he didn’t get along with the new puppy. Yes, she did indeed return her old dog because she liked the new one better. we all hated her and talk about her to this day.

You posted that you were in love with Spot right off the bat, but read this from your post:

Give this dog time.

I have 6 dogs, all rescues of one sort or another. None are perfect. Neither am I. I’ve learned to love their imperfections - that individuality is what makes them them.


It’s too late now, but just so ya’ know, cats and dogs make wonderful playmates when introduced at a young age. You didn’t really need to get another dog. You could have just got your husband the cat he wanted.

Also, it’s perfectly normal to favor the pet you’ve had longer than the new one. And why wouldn’t it be? You’ve had time to bond with the old pup.

Keep them both and I promise you, a year from now, you’ll love them both to pieces.

There is nothing at all wrong or unusual with the way these dogs are acting with each other. They are just learning to live together in one household, and defining their boundaries, who initiates play, who is ‘top dog’, Also, etc. Three days is an incredible, unrealistically short time to expect them to have this all worked out – three months is a more realistic time frame. (Note – how long did you & your husband date before getting married? And as humans you can talk to each other about issues!)

Also, your passive resistance to your own decision (refusal to get her a collar/nametag, or tell anyone about her) and your favoritism toward Spot (worrying about a little growl) when you should pay more attention to FiFi (she’s the one who’s in a new place, among strangers) is NOT HELPING them learn to get along. Stop that – just let them work it out between them.

P.S. <un-invited personal comment> You sound like you need something else to occupy your time, and leave you less time to obsess over these dogs. Aren’t there charities in your area that need volunteers? Social service agencies that need helpers? Homebound people or nursing home residents that need visitors? Kids that need mentors? Find something like that to do.

This is no way to treat an animal. You are going to end up with two neurotic messes instead of happy, healthy, emotionally balanced animals. it might be that dog ownership and you are not a good match.

At the risk of being harsh:

You clearly know nothing about dogs and how they act with their people or how they interact with each other. Visit with a dog trainer. You all need training. Seriously. Coddling the new dog and telling her it’s all right when she growls is doing nothing but train her to keep doing it. She needs to be corrected, properly and consistently. You and your husband both need to get some knowledge about how to behave with dogs. Now. These are chihuahuas, the next thing to happen is to start nipping and then biting strangers and you have no idea how to keep either of them from being “that dog.” Just because they are small does not mean they are exempt from needing to be trained. Take it from a professional, you’re going downhill from here unless you get some help.

Part of the reason they take your dog away from you at the vet’s office is so they can muzzle him without you seeing and freaking out about it. It’s far preferable to having an owner who can’t control a pet properly and having the pet act unpredictably because their person is getting all freaky, then the poor dog gets defensive with everyone and bites the first person closest to his teeth. That could be you, the vet, or the tech trying to help. He’s not shaking in pain from an injection - he’s shaking in fear and nervousness (also simply a chihuahua trait, I would wonder if he wasn’t shaking) because he smells the changes in you.

Volunteer at a local shelter. You’ll learn about dogs, their behavior, and how to work with them effectively so you can take that knowledge home and make your dogs “good citizens.” Neurotic owners make for neurotic dogs. Stop it.

Not to be (overly) mean, but the OP shows that neuroticism is not a “cat people” thing!

Some good advice in this thread.

I’ll take a more generalized approach and suggest that a dog in a new household will benefit from the Two Week Shutdown (various links here, particularly well put in this .pdf)

The idea is a new dog might be overwhelmed by the new environment and the new social structure and have difficulty adapting; the Two Week Shutdown allows the dog to ease into the environment without having to worry about his or her place in the social structure yet.

Pets aren’t something you buy as a new toy for your “real” pet.

I don’t generally begrudge someone’s inability to connect with a new pet but it sounds like you got this new one for all the wrong reasons and aren’t really focused on its happiness, only yours and Spot.

Why on earth would you adopt a dog when you were apprehensive about it before you ever met it?

This sounds like a disaster in the making. Truthfully, “Spot”* sounds like a bit of a nightmare. You are making him neurotic and unhappy. Spoiling a dog in this way is not a kindness. You are hurting him with your behavior. Stop. Find a trainer and learn how to care for dogs.

And please, please, return FiFi. You don’t need a new dog until you know how to care for the first one. One goofy dog is manageable. Two are going to descend into madness. I mean this with all kindness, i really do, but you are doing EVERYTHING wrong with them. Your descriptions of their interactions are setting off alarm bells for me. You are training them to act in exactly the opposite way of what you want, and you don’t even know it.

There is nothing wrong with only having one dog, and once you better understand Spot you will be able to give him the stimulation he craves. Again, he’s not a human. He’s not a baby. He’s unsatisfied because his dog needs are being ignored. But this is fixable! And I swear, you will love him and enjoy him so much more once you are relating to him as a dog. Once you can recognize and encourage his personality, he will blossom.
*why do you need an alias for a dog? Are you protecting his privacy?

In addition to what SeaDragonTattoo said (seriously - read and reread that post until it sinks in), you need to be taking your dogs for walks, together. Get them accustomed to working together, and with you, as often as you can. 3-4 times a day - MINIMUM. Chihuahuas don’t need very long walks, but if “wrestling” with your hand is too much for you and not enough for your dogs, the walks will do everyone a whole lot of good.