Living with multiple dogs can be tricky when the personalities don’t mesh. If the dynamics of your house is tense, or you are considering adding a second dog , please read on
•Step up your leadership. Effective leaders know how to read the room and are good at managing flow. Learn how to read dog behavior & work individual obedience ('come when called' and 'go to place' are a must ) in all your dogs before working them as a group
•Crates. It’s a must in a multiple dog home. Management & structure is key to getting success. The more space you give a dog the more responsibility you give the dog to behave in that space. If you want order in your home, you must create it by using crates and maintaining a routine. Crates should be used for feeding, naps, and general management through out the day.
•Feed separately (preferably, in crates). Some dogs can get possessive over bowls (even empty ones). So pick up bowls after eating
•Understand that not all dogs will be friends. Each dog is an individual and should be treated that way. Dynamics of a pack can change as dogs age, pass away, or if a new dog or puppy is brought into the family. Part of leadership is always paying attention to those dynamics & adjusting the management as needed.
•Pay attention to play styles. Don’t allow humping, neck biting /excessive leg biting or intense chasing games. Play should be cooperative with loose bodies. Keep the play bouts short and give the dogs several breaks. If unchecked, play can quickly turn into aggression.
•Unfortunately, some dogs will never get along. Dog fights can be dangerous, and each fight creates more and more tension between the dogs and in the home. Training can help with control, but not necessarily repair the relationship between dogs. Sometimes the safest choice is either crate and rotate the dogs, so they never interact, or rehome one of the dogs. The decision of rehoming is never an easy one.
Every household is different, and every pack has a different energy. This article gives general information. If you are struggling with your pack, an experienced trainer will be able to help you navigate a solution. It’s never advised to let the dogs ‘work it out’ on their own.
The crate is the easiest, most practical tool to manage a dog in the home, and if there is space for it, in the car. We see about 6-10 clients every week for basic obedience to problem behaviors such as reactivity.
One of the first questions I ask is: ‘How often is your dog in the crate?’
The answers are mixed between:
Here are some reasons you SHOULD be using a crate:
How to get started:
If your dog struggles going into a crate or you have a new puppy, then check out Susan Garrets Crate Games to help you with crate training. Feed your dog all their meals in the crate. Make it a comfortable place with a bone or two. Have one crate for sleeping and one for ‘hanging out’ in during the day. Structure your dogs’ day having crate time between playing, training & exercise.
So when can you start to fade the crate out?
Not so fast....once a dog has matured, can move about the house & life in a respectful way the crate can be fluid. You can crate as you need to when you need to. Teach your dog a 'Place' command and use place as a middle man for the crate to ease the dog into having more freedom. If you have multiple dogs, then you should plan on crating more often to ‘rest’ the pack and to keep dynamics in check. The crate can be a part of your dogs entire life. Some dogs (even old ones) like to have a place of their own
Learning something new is never a straight line progression. Let’s repeat together: Learning something new is never a straight line progression. There are dips that come from lack of understanding, lack of time spent & lack of motivation.
We all want the end result of a perfect beach body but are we willing to do what we have to get it? If the motivation is there to do the work, it will come. Maybe you will fall off the wagon a few (or many) times…have lulls in your motivation of exercising, enjoy the taste of pizza a little too much (guilty) but if you work at it, the benefits of a healthier lifestyle will emerge. Maybe not in the form of a rail thin model, but feeling better & having more energy is its own reward.
It took me at least 10 attempts to quit smoking until I actually stopped for good. The habit was 15 years hard and…I enjoyed it. But for my own health, I needed to stop. I have been 18 years smoke-free. I don’t even think about smoking anymore…the idea of it is so foreign and gross. The idea of staying off social media, however, gives me a slight panic attack. ‘Fear of missing out’ wastes so much time, but that knowledge won’t stop me from picking up my phone & checking the newsfeed. It’s like quitting smoking all over again and I am not alone.
Dog training fails because it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Teaching complex behaviors or modifying behavior takes time, skill building & the patience to work through all the dips and valleys. Dog training (like all learning) is NEVER a straight line progression.
Visualize the picture of behavior you want, evaluate the environment & your teaching skills. Learn how you can set the best stage for success. If you are struggling, then call a pro to help you. If you are committing to a training class or program, then commit to the homework and lifestyle change that goes with it. If you want to teach your dog to come when called, but you are letting him off the leash 50% of the time and your dog finds the air, trees and other dogs are more interesting than you, then you are setting the dog up to fail. Dogs are pretty darn good at being the honest, wild creatures they are born to be and won't self loath after rolling in poop or chasing a squirrel.
Our job is training dogs and teaching people. Which you think is harder? We love what we do; being educators and advocates for the animals we chose to spend our life with. We continue to learn all the time, and no, we aren’t perfect. No dog trainer is perfect. The flawed human side is always there. And dogs love us despite it.
Leash reactivity: this general term that describes dogs barking, lunging, growling and seemingly ‘lose their mind’ at the sight of a trigger. Triggers are generally other dogs, people, cars, bikes, skateboards etc.
The dog has an emotional response to what they are seeing which creates arousal. Arousal creates the crazy leash behavior. The INTENT of the dog could be aggression, excitement, fear, frustration, but the behavior we see is usually the same.
So how can you help your dog?
From time to time, you may see videos and pictures of our dogs biting sleeves, barking at the 'bad guy' in the blind, climbing walls to grab a tug or pulling a sled.
What is this all about and why do we do it? First…we are nutty dog people, so dog sports is in our blood. Once a person starts down the rabbit hole of a dog sport, there is a natural deep appreciation for a dog's intelligence, genetics and power. What a dog is bred to do...or capable of doing despite the genetic map is mind blowing.
‘You don’t need e-collars to help with reactivity. All you need is patience.’ The story of a deleted comment.
Last week I posted a pack walk video of my awesome students and their reformed reactive dogs, on the Eastern Prom. Some wearing muzzles...all calmly passing dogs, bikes and people. Triggers that used to make a field trip like this impossible for these teams. Owners were relaxed, laughing, chatting, and connecting with each other…something that people who don’t have reactive dogs take advantage of. No one was hyper aware, blocking their dogs from view or running off the trail with cookies begging for attention. Other path walkers cheered at the ‘parade’ of dogs and it was a beautiful and successful event. I am proud as hell of these people who worked and continue to work their butts off to enrich their dogs’ lives.
But one person who saw that video, didn’t see relaxed dogs and owners. She saw an owner or two carrying a e-collar receiver and that’s all she saw.