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We have two dogs, Milla and Lucy.

Lucy gets startled easily and when she is scared can be prone to responding aggressively. She is not highly food motivated, especially when she is agitated.

Milla wants to play with humans more than other dogs, and she generally tries to avoid confrontation, but she will respond in kind if attacked. She is highly food motivated and highly energetic.

Lucy and Milla used to play chase often in the yard, but there was an occurrence where Lucy was startled by something falling while near Milla. The situation quickly escalated and became a fight.

We broke them apart, but now Lucy shakes whenever they are both out at the same time. We've been keeping careful eyes on both of their responses and controlling interactions pretty carefully.

We want them to both be able and willing to play again. It was good for both of them to have a friend to play with. But with Milla being so human-centric and Lucy being so scared, the chemistry just isn't there.

Any ideas of what we can do to help this situation to encourage them to become friendly with one another again?

Lucy is a small, muscular, 25 lb (11 kg) picanese mix, about 4 years old, and Milla is a lean and tall, muscular, 45 lbs (20 kg), a bit over 2 years old.

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It's difficult with dogs of different natures and the pekinese cross sounds like she is timid and just not coming back so well from the encounter as her gregarious companion. These things cannot be forced, as you are well aware, so it's going to take time and encouragement. They may not ever be the playful companions you so desire and that's ok.

Some dogs are not as playful with other dogs, it's not their "thing" so to speak. They're more serious and don't have the same energy levels and that's just the way it is.

Bearing in mind that Mila is younger, still coming out of the puppy phase and twice Lucy's size, it's something that will take some time and perhaps as Mila matures it will also be easier for Lucy.

Ok, so some tips to encourage play and help relieve Lucy's nerves.

  • Give Lucy space from Mila. She feels threatened and needs to feel protected when investigating the garden. Perhaps give her alone time in the garden.

  • Playing in tandem, using two people, one playing with Mila and the other with Lucy. So both dogs are occupied in each other company, but separate.

  • Raising Lucy up to a safe place. If it's possible to provide Lucy with a small kennel or similar that is off the ground, she can be perched up and watch Mila playing with her humans from a safe place. This differs a little from having Lucy on someone's lap or in someone's arms, as she may become territorial and snap at Mila if she comes near in her exuberance.

She's clearly intimidated, by giving her a higher place that only she can occupy when they're outside might help her feel safe and give her the height to not feel so threatened. As mentioned, I don't think you can change her fundamental disposition, but you can help alleviate her nerves.

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