If you’ve ever had more than one dog at a time, chances are you’ve had at least a few multi-dog behavior challenges: squabbles, dislikes, and the rest of it. Often this is no big deal — hey, if you live or work in a multi-human situation, you’ve noticed that our species has its own behavior challenges!
But sometimes living with multiple dogs gets more stressful. What kind of positive dog training can you do to forestall serious problems or to deal with them if they do develop?
Forestalling serious multi-dog problems
Traditional dog trainers have emphasized the idea that you must be in charge of the pack or that certain dominant dogs will take over that role. I certainly agree that it is up to you to set the tone of communication in the household, but from there it seems to me that most dog trainers using positive methods would emphasize training the dogs to get along with each other.
Things you could do would include
- Observing the dog interactions closely enough that you understand the general situation
- Bringing any new dog into the family very attentively and with patience
- Separating dogs who don’t much like each other as needed
- Feeding your dogs in different rooms if there are issues around food
- Being sure that every dog gets some good one on one attention from you
- Doing individual training to enhance the dogs’ basic skills (like sit and down) as well as their patience
But what if multi-dog behavior problems get out of hand?
Then it’s time to get some help. You may want to find a dog trainer in your area who uses positive methods… see the Association of Professional Dog Trainers for a list, and then talk to anyone about what they do.
Consider giving one of your dogs away. I had to do this once, and our trouble-maker was reportedly well behaved when she was the only dog in her new home. Our other two dogs were obviously much happier after her departure.
An Excellent Resource for Further Ideas
Feeling Outnumbered? How to Manage and Enjoy Your Multi-Dog Household. by Karen B. London and Patricia B. McConnell, is a 44-page page booklet chock full of ideas… the link takes you to it at Dogwise or see my book review of it here.