Pittie Trails: Otis & Other Dogs

We had a Pittie Trails walk on Saturday, and it was a great turn out. We had six dogs come, most of whom were working on something or another. While we did run into a few horses along the trail, the hike was very nice and rather uneventful.

I was curious to see how Otis would do around other dogs because he has been in so many different situations in his life, all resulting in different reactions.

It’s hard to describe the way Otis feels about other dogs. To put it simply: he does not do well with other dogs. The more correct answer? He is fine with them in most situations, but cannot actually live with another dog. But it’s probably not what you think from either of these explanations.

There are all sorts of implications with both of those short answers – either of which I am forced to use in the short period of time I have to introduce him to potential adopters through writing or conversation. The first statement always immediately raises red flags – whether intentional or not – sparking “HE MUST BE DOG REACTIVE. DOG AGGRESSIVE. CAN NEVER BRING HIM AROUND OTHER DOGS” thoughts. Extreme, I know – but I think most of us are quick to judge what “does not do well with other dogs” means.  But Honey Bunches could not be farther from these assumptions.

On the street, at the shelter, in the park, on hiking trips; basically anything outside of the house – Otis is great with other dogs. He even often solicits play. Other times he is shy and doesn’t feel like saying hi, but he really isn’t life-alteringly timid around other canines.

Inside the house, though, is somewhat of a different story. Inside his home, Otis is so meek with other dogs – no matter their demeanor – that he immediately begins showing submissive behavior. No aggression or reactivity – just sulking, whining, and peeing. Yes, peeing. Otis suffers from submissive urination, which explains why his last home thought he wasn’t housebroken. Unfortunately this behavior was only reinforced when his doggy sister was particularly nasty towards him all the time (for the record – he is 100% housebroken in my house).

It’s a bummer that he’s regressed to this behavior, because over the summer he lived in the same house as my cranky old Wheaten for two weeks, and would put up with everything Barley did (which included snapping in his face and being a total you-know-what). I’m hoping there is something we can do to help Otie feel a little more secure around other dogs, so I’m going to do my research (I’m looking at you, Aleks…) and see what projects I can come up with.

While it means he needs to be in a specific home (one without dogs) – this reaction to other dogs reveals something more about Otis’ personality; something more positive. Dogs do this type of behavior – along with cowering, raising front paws (Otie’s signature move), lip licking, yawning etc. – to show that they are not a threat. Otis is so easy going, and he won’t try to bully anyone for anything. He isn’t pushy, he looks to you for how to act, and I don’t think he could hurt a fly if he tried. These traits combined with how well he does with dogs on the street make him ideal for someone looking for an only pet that they still want to be sociable outside the home.

So, that’s how Otis felt about our first adventure to the Potomac this weekend. Told you it was complicated!

For more information on adopting Honey Bunches of Otis, check out his adoption page or email peacelovefoster@gmail.com.

15 thoughts on “Pittie Trails: Otis & Other Dogs

  1. The perfect family is out there looking for u Mr Otis for sure. Give it time. My friends Captain, Commander, Ms Portia and Mr Baxter all waited a ling time and are now with great families. YOU WILL FIND YOUR FOREVER AS WELL!! Your friend, Big Bruno

  2. GREAT post, J. I’ll be thinking about how to help Otis feel more comfortable around other dogs. He would benefit from a confidence building class (we have an awesome one for fearful and reactive dogs — surprising to most that it’s the same class for the Otises and the Shastas). He just needs to learn that other dogs won’t hurt him and that he can always retreat if he needs to. While you’re figuring out how to teach him, it’s best not to force him into situations where he’s not comfortable — this is where we accidentally create reactivity in dogs.

    • Thanks, Aleks! Yeah, I definitely don’t want to be too “whatever” about his laid back reactions and assuming he’ll always just be mellow. I try to be very conscious of his thresholds. I’d love to do confidence work with him to help with both dogs and new situations. Right now I’m stuck in enjoying that he is a good dog with manners already and who doesn’t need much obedience/behavioral work, and knowing I should get off my lazy butt and do training because it will help him in the long run. I’ll email you :)

  3. Janet in Cambridge

    The complication here seems to be finding Otis the right home, i.e., right guardian–the kind of person who knows dogs and gets dogs and would understand Otis’ personality. I also think you’ll be able to find ways to help him become more confident. I know you will.

    • It really doesn’t even need to be someone that is too dog savvy, because he is a pretty easy dog other than this “issue” (which, honestly, if this is the worst of his problems, I’ll take it!). Inside the house he is just a big snuggly oaf who knows the rules and follows them. He would probably be fine with a first time dog owner as long as they were willing to learn about how to help him stay happy. Which, after him being with me for a few weeks, I’ll hopefully be able to translate to them!

      • Karen Wagner

        You are just amazing! Otis will be fine under your care!! I seriously wish I could take him. I am a stay at home “mom”…all the kids are grown and I do have one cat. I have PLENTY of time that I could spend with him. My husband is kind of concerned about getting a dog…he’s worried our cat..SumBum…will not handle that too well and doesn’t want to disrupt her at all. She is a rescued cat that my daughter saved from two young boys putting her in a pillow case??? She is kinda sassy too!LOL I would LOVE to take Otis. I live in Wisconsin. I am home ALL the time but just not sure if hubby (Chris) is that interested in having a dog at the moment:((( ??? I really wish he would be….I just LOVE animals!! You can give me your thoughts on this…I don’t mind any kind of feedback…would appreciate it actually!

  4. Jena

    We have had this issue at adoptions before and sometimes a nurturing type of dog will help build the confidence of a scared one at adoptions. It is amazing to witness the confidence building non verbal conversation that animals have. Good luck and I am so happy you are with HBO now. He deserves to be able to be his best self. Thank you!

  5. I would not say no to him living with other dogs in the future. He just needs a specific home that understands this and can work with his confidence building. My family and I have done this with many sensitive sweeties. I believe he has a bright future especially since he has you guys :)

  6. This is such an interesting perspective! My fearful dog benefitted so much from having an outgoing doggie sister but her fear was based around people and new situations. She has always been submissive with other dogs but not to the point where it impacts her enjoyment of her home, like with Otis. He sounds like such a great dog and I hope that he finds a forever family that takes the time to listen to the full explanation of why a single dog home is best for him without jumping to the conclusion that he is dog-aggressive or dog-reactive.

  7. Katherine Pitts

    i’m new to this juliana, what are pittie trail? i would really like to meet otis and have others mit my pitmix, dakota. she is so sweet except to the orkin guy. i think she wanted to tear him a new one. she is a whiny, do you see me, etc dog. thanks for all the work you do for pittiesl

  8. Pingback: Hi. I’m Adoptable. | Peace, Love, & Fostering

  9. Laurie

    What a great way to explain his “does not do well with other dogs” behavior! You’re awesome and your blog is well written, informative, touching, and funny. My fiancee and I have been researching pibbles for the last six months and are ready to adopt one that’s not a puppy. Otis sounds great, but we already have a dog – a mid level energy, submissive altered male Lab. Keep up the good work, and know that your blog is helping to change peoples’ perceptions.

  10. Pingback: Otis & Other Dogs: It Continues | Peace, Love, & Fostering

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