If you don’t have dog rules for your multi dog home, then stuff happens.
Like the phone call I received the other day from one frantic owner of multiple dogs as she stressed, “When my husband and I added a third dog to our household, chaos reigned as fights began to break out between our new dog and our ‘home’ dogs.
We need order and clear rules about how the dogs are to interact with each other and with us. We’ve lost control!”
Lots of multiple dog owners struggle with pack issues and they search for answers to better understand how to lead their “pack” in the most peaceful manner. They simply want “peace and harmony.”
Another couple with a senior “sporting breed” dog just added 3 new puppies – same breed – to their pack. They desperately need manners and control now. Their comment, “Just tell us what to do and we’ll do it – no questions asked!”
So dog rules for a multi dog homes are not an option, they are truly a necessity.
Let’s Get Real
Manners are NOT easy to teach. That’s why we have the pushy, selfish children in our schools and hordes of aggressive, selfish drivers on our freeways. But manners are still very necessary with kids and dogs.
At least with the folks above with the 3 puppies, they have relatively clean slates to begin with. I reminded them that even with clean slates, their puppies, like kids, are learning – even when they are not teaching.
Their puppies are watching and learning all the time. Everything they do will shape a learned behavior. I reminded them to just make sure the shaped behavior is the one they want.
First things first
With multiple dogs, you first need a strong foundation of leadership and control. Simply put, this means dog training.
Start working on obedience commands with each dog individually. This will help you develop a personal relationship with that individual dog so that he listens better to you and doesn’t default to the pack .
You don’t want each of your dogs thinking they don’t have a good personal relationship with you and that it’s only with the other dogs that do.
Working and training with each dog individually means you will need some “other” place to put the other dogs – whether it’s in individual crates or another room where they can be together.
Good quality training time with each dog is imperative to learning – no distractions at first.
Once they’ve learned their basics – sit, down, come and a correction command like “Off!” individually with you, it’s time to get practical and begin training them as a pack.
What’s important for you to teach your dogs as a pack?
It would be important for you to have control at excitable times like front door greetings, feeding times, going in and out of doors or loading up in and unloading from your vehicle.
That’s why working with your dogs individually is critical before trying to control them as a group. It will go more smoothly if you do.
Managing a multi dog home can be a daunting task – but it doesn’t have to be if approached logically.
For example, set a boundary at a reasonable distance from your front door – 10’ back or use the foyer as off limits when greeting visitors. This works, depending on your dogs and your dedication to training. Some folks just crate their dogs when visitors come over. If that’s the case (crating) then being able to quickly and calmly crate them after a door bell rings is your training task.
Having a plan and practicing it on a frequent basis is important so that you can be assured you get the compliance you need from your pups. There is no substitute for solid obedience training. Each and every dog needs training and each dog needs to know their name. You will never regret it.
Remember, knowing a command is not the same as being able to perform the command around distractions. So add your distractions to your training when your dogs are ready.
Teach your dogs to be calm in a down stay when you are petting another one of your dogs. Teaching them to be tolerant of not always getting what one of the other dogs get from you – be it a treat or affection will minimize fights and resource guarding.
So just like kids, they need to learn to cope with not getting everything they want all the time when they want it.
Pack conflict of some kind is always inevitable, so it’s important for you to minimize conflict by presenting yourself as a strong role model to your dogs.
You do this by setting reasonable rules and expectations and controlling your personal space. Your dogs will learn to count on you to always be in charge.
If done consistently, your dogs will learn that patience and politeness gets them more of what they want – and gets you to what you really want – a pack with peace and harmony.
I’m always curious about your input – it’s important to me. Let’s chat below in the comments, on how you manage your multi dog home.
We’re always learning and there’s a bunch of you out there we are grateful to be able to serve and learn from.
I’m really interested in your thoughts and opinions on this. Remember, I’m here to help.
“Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”
Jim Burwell, professional dog trainer for 25+ years, serving 8700+ clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad. Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.
His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is the culmination of these years of training into an easy, step-by-step process so that your dog understands what you expect of him, you empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you empower him to be successful at living in a human home.