When it doesn't work
You've tried everything, you've called in the professionals, juggled dogs from room to room, become the best leader that you can be and still your two dogs cannot work it out. I have talked to many people about this issue, there are many reasons why it isn't working but the bottom line is that it isn't working. So what do you do when you have either bitten off more than you can chew or just plain made the wrong choice of dog to add to your family? It is heartbreaking and many live a life of juggling. Juggling dogs from room to room, someone always left out and the gloves are off if you slip up and someone gets out.
Juggling is not an option that I would choose. I want all my dogs with me at one time. If for some reason two of them could not coexist after all the training, behavior modification and work I tried I would place one. Yes, there would be tears and great sadness but I feel that every dog deserves a great life and one spent behind closed doors awaiting their turn is not that IMHO.
The good news is that many people can turn it around with strong leadership. Sometimes the dogs just need to know that there is no option but to get along. At the first whisper of a growl in my house I will react. I will never stop growling, it is a very important communication tool. Chances are that it will be the dog who is not growling who will be stopped and redirected. Just last night Jessie was acting very strangely, she stood smelling Luke's feet for quite a while. I knew that he was uncomfortable with the behavior but let it go on for a bit so I could see his reaction. As most of you regular readers know, Jessie has dementia so she does some weird things now. When Luke did not growl or display at her I lavished big time praise on him. This is so important.
But if you've done everything you can do and it still is not working then it is time to consider placement. Many dogs will live just fine as a singleton or perhaps with a dog of the opposite sex. Once a dog fights with a house sibling the problem can grow. This can lead you to live a life on the edge, never knowing when it will erupt. In the wild with a pack of wolves there is often disputes like this. Most end with the lower status wolf having to leave the pack or dead. We often put so much into making it work that we cannot see that it simply cannot work. We bare the burden of guilt (a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined), a very human emotion.
Sometimes things just don't work the way we had planned. It is essential when adding additional dogs to an existing pack to choose carefully. Two dominants of the same sex can lead to problems. Adding a dominant dog to an aging pack can lead to problems. Taking on more than you can handle can lead to problems. Whether you are choosing a purebred or mix makes no difference when you add a dog to your pack. If you have great social, neutral type dogs then it makes your job of choosing much easier. But if you have dogs with issues be careful.
I am not saying when the times get tough, dump. Not at all; I am talking about those who have done everything in your power to make it work and it still is not working. You owe it to the dog that is not fitting in to help them find their perfect place. And if that perfect place is not with you then you need to find it. Many a dog are banished from the family to live a sad a lonely life in a outdoor pen because it isn't working, that is not fair for any dog.
A dog deserves a happy home, not just a roof over their heads. They are such a social creature that every one deserves a special human of their own. Every dog deserves their own home where they fit in, and sometimes it isn't yours. That can be very difficult to deal with, but we must always do what is best for our dogs.