I’m always fascinated to see how dogs change when they change from being the only dog to one of a two. Or two of a kind turn into three of a kind. I thought of this when a friend called after adding a third dog to her home. In a few weeks her formerly sweet, docile beagle turned into a grumpy, growly mess. But the new dog seemed quiet, unassuming and relatively benign.
Every case of multiple dogs is complicated, so many factors after all, but I did suggest that first she read a booklet I co-authored with lead author Dr. Karen London: Feeling Outnumbered: How to Manage Your Multi-dog Household. Here are a few tips from the booklet that can help out anyone in a similar situation:
ONE AT A TIME: One of the things I thought might help my friend was to be sure she spent a lot of time working with the new dog, and each dog really, one at a time. It sounds simplistic, and it takes time, but it’s time well spent. I don’t know about you, but I’ve found it’s seductive to try to train dogs in a group, even if you don’t set out to do so. Sometimes it can work out, for example, training Wait or Get Back at the door. I love the expression on a new dog’s face when I’ve said Get Back and the other dogs did and the newby started to go through and then paused and looked around like “Uh, whaaa . . . “. But for most things, it’s just too confusing to try to work on a cue with a new dog when surrounded by others. That, of course, means being able to put the other dogs away while you work on one at a time, which leads to:
IT’S OKAY TO GO TO YOUR ROOM: I always loved being sent to my room for “punishment” because I loved being able to lie in bed in peace and quiet. You may not end up with a dog who loves going into his or her crate while the other gets treats, but it’s invaluable to have the freedom to pop some dogs into a room or a crate while you work with another without one throwing a fit. Lately I’ve gotten lazy and worked each dog on the balance board while the other watches in a nearby crate. I used to shut them out of the room, but this way I can do it faster and with less energy. Maggie and Skip quietly watch the other get treat after treat without making a sound, and I will be forever grateful that I worked hard in the beginning to teach them that going into their crate is a wonderful thing. Check out Kikopup’s video if you need to know how to get started.
MASTER OF SOME: More dogs, more issues, more vet visits, more everything. That’s why Dr. London and I made a point about deciding what cues you need most, and working toward mastery of those. Which ones those are depends very much of you, your life right now, and your dogs. Perhaps you recently moved to the city and need a dog who walks politely at your side no matter how many dogs you walk by on a narrow sidewalk. Perhaps one of your dog is a big barker when people come by and you need her to go into her crate so that your head doesn’t explode. (Yes Maggie, I’m talking to you.)
Many of those cues might not be the traditional ones taught in training classes (although many progressive classes are doing a great job making the training more practical). I wrote a post almost ten years ago about what “non-traditional” cues I often use, and loved all the comments that came in. You might want to check it out if you’re wondering what you would like your dog to master. I am curious now; I’m going to pay attention in the next few days to what cues I use the most. Off the top of my head it includes Recalls, Wait, Get Back, Stand (stand still), House (go into the house), Enough (petting/playtime is over, go settle down somewhere), By Me (sloppy heel) and Lie Down. You? And oh yeah, Go Pee and Hurry Up (please poop now for the love of god cuz it’s pouring rain). Of course, I should add that the first thing I worked on with Skip was his name. That, recalls and “dogs only pee outside here” kept us busy for two weeks. Then I added Wait, Stand, House and Enough over the next few weeks. What about you?
NOT BEING AN IDIOT WHEN COMPANY COMES I couldn’t care less if dogs jump up on me when I’m greeting them, enthusiastic greetings mean that I don’t have to worry about teeth being sunk into my thigh. (This happens after decades of working with aggressive dogs.) But I don’t want my dog mugging others, barking so loudly no one can talk, or terrorizing delivery people who have heard “She’s fine!” right before the bite one too many times. This is enough of an issue with one dog, but once you have a pack it becomes far more important. Barking, as we all know, is a group sport, and one dog’s barking usually sets off the others. Arousal is also catching, so while one dog might be a tad overly enthusiastic when visitors come, two or three dogs might be enough to prevent them from ever coming back.
(Of course, all your visitors might not be human . . . )
How you handle this depends on so many things. I teach my dogs to go into their crates if asked when company comes. It just make life so much easier, and it’s easy to train (knock on door yourself, run dogs into room or crate, treat with ridiculously good food). You can also teach dogs to go to a mat, go get a toy (I love this for some object-oriented dogs), or simply to keep four on the floor. But if you are going to increase the number of dogs in your household, think about how you want to handle this, because out of control dogs can cause lots of stress, or even trouble, when the doorbell rings.
IMPULSE CONTROL Dogs, just like people, can get competitive about resources, whether it’s food, petting or a cuddling on the couch. That’s why some of my favorite cues for multi-dog households include Wait, Stay, and/or Get Back. All of these cues teach impulse control, which is vital when you have dogs vying for what they see as a limited resource. I think the impulse control is more important than any individual cue–what feels essential is to have dogs learn that being patient and polite gets them what they want, not being pushy and rude about it. Make sense?
I’d love to hear from you about your experiences with managing a multi-dog household. Dr. London and I had a great time working together writing Feeling Outnumbered?, and are both still amused when we occasionally hear the criticism “Thanks for telling me it’s important to train my dog in a dog training book.” Fair! But . . . And . . . It doesn’t appear to be common or obvious how important it is to work on one dog at a time, to be able to put a dog away while working with another, etc. etc. Let’s have a conversation this week about living with a group of dogs, I’m all ears.
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: We spent Sunday helping to set up an upcoming trial at Cedar Stone Farm. It was great to be able to help set up; it’s massive task involving moving lots of heavy metal panels onto trucks, off of trucks, etc., and a reminder why farmers often had a lot of children. Lots of helpers meant we were all done by noon. A good thing too, it was brutally hot and humid, with not a breath of air for most of the morning. This lamb had the right idea. (We replicated that once we got home, where we unpacked the car and then went full-out horizontal for the rest of the day.
We had a heck of storm Saturday night. I had a lamb roast in the oven surrounded by freshly dug potatoes, while homemade mint sauce scented the house. Almost simultaneously, I got a text from a friend who said “Be safe, dear friends” and a phone call from neighbors to say they wouldn’t be coming for dinner. (They were expected in 15 minutes.) We turned on the TV and booted up, and sure enough, tornadoes to the southwest of us, hail and damaging winds predicted. I was thrilled to get rain (an inch and a quarter, yay!), because we continue to be very low on moisture here. Turns out we were very lucky; the severe weather went south and north of us. The town of Boscobel had at least a dozen homes destroyed by a tornado, which caused major damage to many others.
Another storm is passing through as I write. Lots of thunder and lightning, we’re up to another half an inch of rain already, which is wonderful. Maggie does not agree; if it’s raining hard she stands still, head down, as if being beaten with a stick. She would like you to know that she managed to poop in the rain this morning, but it was a valiant, Olympic effort that deserves couch time and a bucket of treats.
I loved watching Wisconsinite Molly Seidel get the bronze in the women’s marathon. The Kenyan runners (both male and female) are astoundingly talented and skilled, and deserve kudos for their gold and silver, but this was only Molly’s third marathon ever and everyone was “Who is she?”
Best laugh of the weekend: NBC’s new prime-time Olympic announcer, Mike Tirico was charmingly enthused about Molly’s performance, and seeming amazement that some one from Wisconsin could pull this off. (“Molly Seidel from Wisconsin” practically became her full name.) The best part was when Tirico said “What else is there to do in Wisconsin?” I spit out my tea and laughed so loudly I woke up the dogs. What else is there to do in Wisconsin? Oh, I don’t know, win Nobel prizes from ground-breaking research, go to a performance by the American Player’s Theater, considered one of the finest classical theaters in the the country, watch the Bucks win the NBA, eat at restaurants that were key players in the farm to table movement . . . Okay, I’ll stop. But I’m happy with Tirico thinking that Wisconsin is “fly over” country, cuz then it’ll stay as wonderful as it is for those of us who live here.
I had a few more photos from Chanticleer Gardens outside of Philadelphia that I can’t resist including. Meg and I both imagine these flowers as opera stars . . .
Flowers are lovely, so glad for the rain too. Off topic, but you were looking into booties for your dogs last year and had found a company you were going to order from, can you respond with the name of the company please. I have had no luck looking in you archives
I put a lot of effort into teaching my multiple dogs to take turns. This uses many of the cues you mentioned, and keeps the mayhem in check when needed, but also reduces the chance for resource guarding to rear its head, since they learn that seeing another dog get something desirable predicts it will soon be coming to them as well. It’s important for many reasons to consciously choose the order of turns so one dog doesn’t always end up first or last. I just added a fourth dog and she currently gets to go first a lot of the time to get her used to the concept of taking turns, and that it’s her turn when I say her name, even though she doesn’t yet know many of the cues you mention.
I was lucky with my two – Sophy is a born leader, and Poppy a born follower, so life was comparatively easy from the start. Sophy was so desperate for a playmate her size that she welcomed Poppy at once, and Poppy really benefitted from a sensible slightly older sister to show how the world worked and give her confidence. The one thing I really emphasised with the two of them together was turn taking – lots of named treats, play and cuddle sessions, really reinforcing the idea that a little patience now will pay big dividends when your own turn comes. I did walk Poppy separately and take her to training classes but I wish I had spent more time one to one with her, as I think it would have built up her confidence more quickly. But there are only so many hours in the day…
We have a very energetic 15 month old male newf. In Sept we will have an 8 week old female. Unfortunately this pup was not crate trained, but I’m going to be implementing this real fast because I see the issues arising, like you mentioned. Nervous and excited all at the same time I wonder if I’ve bit off more than I can chew here!!
Melissa Trippe says
We have 7 dogs in a relatively small house-5 are border collies and 2 are chihuahuas mixes. We love each and every one but Oy! It takes a lot of energy to pay attention to their body language. We absolutely use crate time to prevent kerfuffles at the door when visitors come, when their meals are being prepared or when one or another start to get wound up (imagine a border collie getting wound up 😂). I don’t have balls or tugs or other toys laying around and I carefully monitor treat distribution (and especially monitor my husband when he is distributing treats 😏). It’s a lot to handle-especially this combination-even when they live on a 40 acre property of which 3 acres is fenced.
We never intended to have five dogs but that is where we are now due to an aging population that isn’t really up for working anymore, a dog that considered rattlesnakes his mortal enemy and could not longer work during the summer months, etc. Our dogs are working guardians (Kangal & GP) with a cattle dog thrown in for good measure. Its incredible how much the younger dogs learn from the older ones but the individual training is a must with the LGD breeds. If I don’t keep up with them, they decide to make their own rules, none of which work well in a multi-dog home! Can you say resource guarding?! They will resource guard food, the idea of possible food in the future, locations and people. Three of our LGDs are also females which adds an even more challenging component. I do lots of individual training AND group training so that when I have them out as a group, they know what I am expecting and what the rules are. All my dogs are crate and muzzle trained. They end up graduating from their crates when they are trustworthy but I love knowing they will be ok with confinement should they ever need it. None of the dogs are bite risks but I also muzzle train all of them knowing that if we were ever in an evacuation situation, that type of chaos or a lot of unfamiliar people around “their” humans, might be very stressful and cause them to make poor choices. After positive training to acclimate them to the muzzle, they actually prefer it to a cone after surgery, when healing from rattlesnake bites, etc. With this many dogs, it can be a temptation to look at the group of dogs and stop considering the individuals but considering the individuals is the name of the game. I do a lot of management to set up the individual dogs for success. Four of the dogs are loose in the room for daytime napping, the boss female gets to sleep in the bathroom with a privacy curtain because it helps her relax. Sometimes I think I spend half my life setting them up for success but it is so worth it.
Rachel Lachow says
I couldn’t live without my ” off” cue which means “back away from that thing,” be it my dinner plate, a snake, your tiny chi sister’s neck, etc.
Awesome post about multiple dogs in a home! I always have at least two of my own, plus I foster for a husky rescue. Introducing a new dog is something most people do once a decade or so. I do it several times a year. It’s tricky to get a new dog into the house calmly and without any drama. I usually take the new dog for a nice long walk before even getting inside. I teach the new dog to walk at a heel. They don’t have to be perfect, but I’m looking for them to understand the concept. Then I take all dogs for a walk together. They are meeting on neutral ground and walking toward a destination instead of facing each other. Casual sniffing of butts is allowed if everyone is calm. Once we get inside, new dog drags a leash until I’m sure everyone and everything is going to remain intact. The training piece is often done with the new foster dog while the resident dogs are outside or in their crates. I also do the sit and “wait” at the door before going through and it doesn’t usually take long for the new dog to figure that out. The biggest thing I try to train is impulse control at meal time. My goal is to get the new dog to sit calmly next to their bowls and wait for me to feed my dogs. I almost always succeed within a few weeks, with lots of effusive praise when they do the sit and wait without approaching my dogs while they are eating.
Paula Sunday says
I have seen profound changes in my dogs when one of them passes, too. I had a calm, dog friendly chow female and a younger chow mix and at the same time a very soft hearted lab, who had moved in from next door. On the surface they got along very well. But after the older chow passed away, the two younger dogs started to play occasionally with each other. I can only imagine how much of the subtle “stop it” chow messages I was missing. I had seen her communicate with other dogs in a very low key manner. I used her as a puppy teacher for unruly pups in classes for a while. She was very good and would never hurt a pup. But they took her seriously!
Brilliant policies MinnesotaMary, the husky rescue group is lucky to have you!
Anton, I love hearing how you handle your LGDs, so wise. Totally get how much time you need to work on it, and give you a standing ovation for keeping the peace between 3 female LGDs!
Melissa: A border collie “wound up”? I don’t know what you are saying . . .
Hang in there Nora! Let us know when the pup comes, can’t wait to hear about it!
Frances: Brilliant to emphasize turn taking, or what I call impulse control. I agree it’s one of the most important things one can do. And also, so lovely to have dogs who make it easier, isn’t it? I too am blessed with Maggie and Skip being totally comfortable with each other (although I did spend over a year choosing exactly the right dog, so there’s that!)
Alaska: Yes, yes, I agree so much! It’s all abut turn taking and impulse control, isn’t it! Good on you!
lak, sorry about the bootie search. I got overwhelmed by all the things I tried and must have dropped the ball. So far the ones I like best are Muttluks. The size I ordered was too small though, so I’m about to order a larger size (LG instead of MED). I also had a lot of luck stuffing some kind of insulation (I used sheep wool straight off the sheep!) inside of PawZ. Pawz stay on well, but ar also super tight and don’t protect from the cold at all, just from nasty stuff on the ground, hot pavement etc. But because they stay on well and I only used them for short 10-15 walks and I could stuff them, they worked out well for me. Let us know how it goes for you.
M.H. D. says
My neighbors added to their two larger rescue dogs, a male & female, a male pocket-sized Yorkshire-style[not the breed, just a description of the size] rescued terrier from a county shelter. This small dog, about 4 years old & older than the other two, had a history of abuse, tossed out of a car, etc. While he has somewhat settled down over the almost year the neighbors have had him [occasionally running away, etc.], he gets in scraps with the other two dogs and has bitten several people, the owners as well as children who’ve tried to pet him. The male neighbor is given to physical punishments – swats & holding up the dog off the ground by the leash – although generally they get along well. At the last biting episode, the female neighbor was holding the dog in her arms when the child tried to scratch the chest. No skin broken but surprise and distress.
Any suggestions on what to do, or will this go on forever while warning people “not to pet the dog.” Always difficult to do because people impulsively reach out. All suggestions gratefully accepted, although the male neighbor may not implement them.
Anne Jespersen says
When people come over I like to have just one or two dogs loose (the calmest) and then let the others out one by one later on. Otherwise the door scene is chaos. Also, some of my dogs are control freaks who bark at each other when one of the other dogs comes in a door. So I have taught the worst offenders (Pepper and Qwill) to either back off or go lie on the couch when I’m letting one of the others in. Pepper only responded to praise and treats, and Qwill responded best to being told to just “get back” and making a shoeing hand motion.
They each have their own spot for dinner (room or crate) and the most pushy ones have to lie down and wait to eat. The milder mannered ones I don’t expect as much at every single meal, but they all do learn to wait when young.
Darlene Pearson says
I don’t do much training any more – when we learn something new, it’s usually by accident. I have 6 dogs – 4 chihuahas, 1 Pom, 1 Pekingese mix. All are foster fails – ones no one else wanted and all are now seniors. So it’s not like they’re working dogs or competing in anything. All walk well on a leash. Surprisingly, my home is very calm. My commands are very simple and seem to appear out of nowhere, although I realize that they are the result of consistency. I use “enough” when I’ve had enough of behaviour ie barking, “in the house”, “excuse me”, “show me”.
My mom’s idea of a good time in WI was going to the Rutabega Festival! 😆
Ozark Dogs Rescue says
I currently have 12 (13 when the neighbor dogs visits) Pyrenees and Komondors. I just recently ‘moved’ to another place on my property so everybody was unfamiliar with the new surroundings and living quarters. A new routine had to be established. I let my pack determine where they chose to have their food bowl set. There was some trial and error, but never any bickering. For me, the key is CALM. I need to be calm. Sometimes that is sure not easy, but just a “ahah” and ones name settles things. In 19 years of rescue and feeding as many as 16 in close proximity (4 to 5 feet apart) I have never had a fight. One does have to ‘read’ the dogs and many rescues come in starved, but once their weight is up and they know they will not be deprived of food, they can join the group at meal time. No, not every dog is going to like every other dog. Nothing is perfect.
I have an 11 yo mini poodle, a almost 7 yo BC and last fall added a BC puppy who is now 11 mo. The 2 olders get along great nary an evil look between them. The poodle was great with the puppy when she was a puppy and has never seemed to have a problem with puppies or other dogs. He was fine with the puppy at first. Now, not so much. Much of the time all is calm and no problem. However … sometimes he wants to eat her alive. And she is now twice his size, not a good set up. It isn’t over me or seemingly resources. Seems to happen mostly when energy gets high. I had been allowing all 3 outside yard time together without me. but that now seems to be when he will attack her. So that’s stopped. I can’t predict when he will go after her but he doesn’t hear anything once his switch flips. ( this from a dog who wants to be right next to me all the time and is very easy and obedient!) The other problem is that the other BC (who adores the puppy and was the best puppy trainer ever) will join in and attack the puppy also. So now we have a huge skirmish. Sitting around the house, no problem. I’m struggling with how to manage this and regain a peaceful household. I’m looking for a good behaviorist to help us out. If you have some suggestions I’d love to hear them.
Christine Johnson says
So funny that the article leads with a pack of Corgis – could be my house! Plus I have a tailed tri Pembroke too 😊. My late husband used to say that we didn’t have pets, but that we live with dogs. I’ve worked hard to breed on only the very best of temperament (most folks who fall for Pembrokes end up with more than one). I do train and spend time with each of mine individually (I compete in several sports with them) as well as personal down and play time. When you live with several dogs one gets very attuned to canine body language and pack dynamics (or you’d better!).
Deborah Mason says
I hate to admit it, bit we only “had” or first 2 dogs (one at a time). We were unaware of any local training opportunities. Our current 2 have been lucky & we’ve been doing Agility, Rally, nose work training with them. For at home practice we started taking turns with one locked in their crate, then switching. Later they only needed to go in it, but I no longer had to secure the crate door. Now, we use a “hammock” (raised bed, no padding). As soon as I set it flat, the younger dog gets in it to wait his turn. “Go switch” tells them it’s time to trade places. For indoor training out works well for us.
I’ve taken in a series of (mostly) neglected or homeless dogs over the past 20 years, so my canine group has shifted and evolved a lot. Two things I’ve learned the hard way: A new dog will *always* change the individual dogs’ behavior and the overall group dynamic, often in ways I least expect; and it’s essential to keep an eye out for subtle signs of conflict, so I can take preventive measures before there’s a fight. I do make a point of spending one-on-one time with each dog, and I never let them jostle for access to me. Crates are key — I don’t know how anyone manages a multi-dog household without them. I’m a believer in very slow, cautious introductions for the newcomer. And by very slow, I mean a couple of weeks of progressively closer encounters leading up to the moment that I let the newcomer meet the established dogs with everybody uncrated and off leash. It might seem a little extreme, but it has worked well for me, and it sure beats racing to the vet with an injured dog.
Lisa R says
I had a lovely Aussie x type rescue boy – soft, sweet, a little lacking in confidence, and not so great at dog language – not aggressive, just clueless. He was pretty much a velcro boy, and someone suggested teaching him ‘go around’ to get him comfy with going a bit away from me. Go around (the tree, the post, eventually the house). Then I brought another shelter dog home as a foster (turning into a foster fail). This one is some sort of tall, gangly, beautiful sighthound/Dane/goof with the most beautiful run and exquisite dog manners. Would not be restrained or held.
#2 was younger, bigger, faster, better on the beach or any situation. I felt that #1 was first in, first loved, and ‘deserved’ to be first out the door, into the car, bowl put down. Over time I realized that #1 would rather be second thru the door, second to be greeted and let that happen. All of a sudden both dogs were better – #2 would self handicap himself for the fun face fights… he would lay down and let #1 stand over him. The big fast boy adjusted wonderfully to letting my 1st boy come with him, block any too exuberant dogs from coming in too fast or bumping my aging older guy. #1 was less anxious, #2 was not overbearing. We probably had 20 foster dogs during that time – too young, to fearful, too something to be at the shelter. My #1 was the trainer in manners, #2 was the overly permissive uncle. Ended with fosters of all types being well mannered, happy, socialized dogs going to good homes.
I lost my older guy a few years ago. My big guy is now definitely the older guy – going on 19. I miss them being together, but I learned so much – not the least of which is YOU can’t decide which dog ‘should’ be in charge – when you (and they) figure it out, your chances of working it out increase greatly. Of course I know I was lucky to have one who wanted to be (benevolent leader), and one who was happy to follow. (and BTW, the cats have always ruled. That’s how both dogs were initially allowed to come in to make this house a home).
Thank you for your blog. I love every one of them and recommend them to everyone I’ve ever adopted a dog to or spoken to about an ‘issue’ they bring up.
Laurie Campbell says
We have four and are adding a feist puppy in a few weeks. Its a mixture but they are all happy campers right now. The twist could be that the most recently added is an intact street dog from the south, being treated for heart worms. I am sending off Embark, and we have no idea what his parenting could be, but he is the sweetest, most gentle and loving guy we have owned. He does have an incredible amount of facial and front leg scars even though his teeth are that bright white you see in one yr old dogs.
The twist is I really prefer waiting to neuter the feist puppy.
Hoping the two intact males can get along ok for 3-4 months….anyone done this?
Laura Harrington says
I got a great piece of advice about multiple dogs from Ken McCort. He said we humans have plenty of resources we give out to our dogs and if one dog leaves a resource for another dog, then he gets another resource from the human (paraphrasing here, so Ken, if you’re reading this feel free to jump in). The dogs learn there’s no need to argue, give up a bone and mom will give you something else. This has helped me keep the peace in my house and has helped lots of my clients too.
You were right around the corner from me if you were at Chanticleer! Glad you enjoyed it😃
We have been a multi-dog household for 30 years. Different dogs, of course. Most of that time we have had two or three home dogs, but also frequently have short-term and long-term canine visitors. So the house is often lively and furry.
I like to start with an adult dog and do training/socializing for six months to a year before considering adding another dog. When the home dogs know with the house routines, new or visiting dogs often seem to follow their example. This makes everything go so much more smoothly.
For commands, I find Wait, Come, Down, and Leave It most useful. We also require the dogs to sit and wait before eating. I like having a “fun” command, too, which can help put people at ease (“If the dog is willing to roll over for a treat, she probably won’t tear my face off.”).
For visiting dogs, we have found that managing the initial introduction carefully (meeting outdoors, neutral territory, etc.) and avoiding conflicts over high-value resources (food, toys, beds, etc.) are vitally important. Once the predictable points of potential conflict are managed, most dogs are able work things out peaceably.
Laurie, how old is the pup? Truly a pup or more an adolescent?
I didn’t realize how much BC #1 taught BC#2, and I just got BC #3 but unfortunately #1 died in Jan. 2020 and #2 unexpectedly died six days before the puppy came home in June 2021. Now 8 weeks later, I’m seeing how much harder some things are without a trained role model, specifically recall, plus I feel badly at times seeing how much he wants to be with other dogs. He & the cat (18 months old) are BFFs but dogs attract all his attention. Jury is still out on getting a second dog down the road – there are pros & cons. Logistically its easier with one dog, but emotionally it may be harder for the solo dog.
Thank you for writing such a wonderful post about multiple dogs. I’d been living alone with my Golden Irish (Irish Setter mom, Golden Retriever stud) until the pandemic hit, and then I moved from Los Angeles to Michigan to take care of my 84-year-old mom during lockdown. My dad just died, so we decided to get Mom a Havanese puppy so she’d have someone thing love and hug. The male puppy is very sweet and gets along with my older female Golden Irish – who is a trained Therapy Dog and does hospital visits/schools/nursing homes… but from the moment the Havanese pup arrived, he’s been trying to assert himself as the alpha. Despite being 13 pounds to her 70. The toy dog always jumps on laps and tries to monopolize whoever the Golden Irish moves towards, and then started defecating in my room where me and my dog sleep. At first it was just here and there on the floor, but now and then he poops and pees on my bed, in my home office, by my painting easel. Wherever me and my dog go, the Havanese finds a way to let us know he was there. I’m not sure what to do. He is no longer a puppy, and seems like a psycho, but otherwise he’s perfect with my mother, sweet-natured, never barks and we all adore him. Have you encountered this poop aggressive behavior before?
Thank you for this post. How do you train “enough”? I have a 4month old border collie with a 4 year old cavapoo. They’re playing pretty well but i feel like as they border collie pup is starting to get bigger than the cavapoo, she can hurt her. I’ve heard couple yelps. Should i continue to let them play? Or stop the pup when i feel like she’s too rough? The older cavapoo does keep coming back for more play.
Jenny Haskins says
I have always had more that one dog at a time (well since I was married).
Problems can arrive when the dogs have not grown up together. I have rehomed a few – two because the problems were incipient, buy good home became available. One I took as a rescue because the ‘older dog didn’t like her’. She turned out to be NOT a Kelpie (at a Guess Schnauzer X Jack Russsell, and she was biting the other and larger dogs heels. I was afraid that the older dogs might kill her.
The other dogs I successfully manage,
Scott, the Working Kelpie was very possessive of me. He would snark at other dogs who came close to me, I overcame this by teaching him a send-away. And IF he snarked, I sent HIM away from me. He was a wonderful dog and this solved the problem.
Currently my German Shepherd bitch (Sallee) is a nervous, needy dog and doesn’t like Mad Milly, the Speagle, near me. I tell her to desist, and that is enough. Milly chose to stay here after I had minded her for several months. When her owners (finally ☹) came to collect her, she hid from them. Being a Beagle she just loves being with ‘other dogs’.
The funny thing is, when I am NOT near I see Sal and Millie getting along fine!!
But I never leave the dogs alone when I am not home. They are crates and all accept that.
I am actually more worried about strangers coming in and letting the dogs out, or getting attacked – when they throw things at th dogs ☹. They are crated and all accept that.
Lindsey Norman says
I am owned by Bloodhounds, lots of them! Five of my own and I have a Bloodhound rescue with a training facility located at my house. So I deal with a multi dog household and all the fun that goes with that . When I had my two females I had a lot of resource guarding issues and to be honest a lot of tussles between them. They are also my search and rescue partners. I needed to add a puppy for future training since my oldest girl unfortunately developed arthritis early and needed to take some time off. I went with a male to balance things. Best thing I ever did. He was the only puppy I ever purchased from a breeder, who was fabulous. But he balanced the group tremendously. When the girls would start to get into an argument he just steps between them like nope not today. I also learned that with my increased education on training skills and how to react to the fights it also changed the dynamics. Before I would try and get what they were fighting over and I would feel myself brace for the fight probably increasing the tension. It would escalate the situation and they would go after each other. Now that I have learned so much about body language and behavior I just go grab a handful of treats start a quick training session with all of them and I can go pick up whatever it was they were so excited about. A super valuable lesson for me with lots of large dogs in a household by myself. I trained trade, leave it, wait, and super strong sits with distance. Those all come in handy as well. Just my take on my large multi dog household, the dynamics are fascinating. I truly could just sit and watch my kids interact during the day.
I am remembeing when I first brought Poppy home. Sophy was about 10 months old – I had planned on waiting till she was older but she so wanted someone to play with, and the trainers and behaviourists I was working with agreed the time was right. Poppy was around 3 months old. I introduced them at my sister’s house, where they played happily, then brought them home to my own home. Poppy picked up a toy – “Mine!” said Sophy. Poppy picked up another – “That’s mine too!”. A third – “That’s my BEST one!!”. I kept putting out more toys, and at five Sophy was ready to share, considering there were now plenty for everyone.
Abundance and reducing competition for resources does seem to have been a part of keeping things running smoothly – when there have been minor squabbles it has been because I have not been clear about naming a tossed treat, or some other valued resource is briefly in short supply. Poppy did try to keep my lap for herself for a while when she was young- that got a word of warning and if she persevered she found herself lifted down onto the floor. It took a week or two, but she soon learned that polite dogs got to keep half a lap, which was much better than none at all.
Tails Around the Ranch says
Such lovely images, Pat! Trust me, Wisconsin’s turn is coming. I remember (and now lament) Denver’s cowtown image. Ahh, those were the good old days I’d take back in a NY minute!
Mary F says
We have 2 dogs, a 7 year old Cavalier King Charles and 1.5 year old Westie, both girls. We did a lot of our training with a local company and we’re still working on Recall and greeting visitors…it’s a work in progress.
What command do I use the most? That’s easy…”Out of the Kitchen!” We started using that years ago with our last two dogs (Westie and Springer) and we are using it with our current dogs. I use it when it’s time for us to eat dinner OR while I’m cooking (and don’t want dogs underfoot!)
Just popping in yet again to mention one of the advantages of having two or more dogs that we might often overlook. For weeks before Poppy was diagnosed with acute liver failure Sophy had been unusually interested in the smell of her urine, sniffing her for much longer than usual and coming back repeatedly to sniff again. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but in retrospect wish I had paid more attention – perhaps had I listened better to Sophy then Poppy’s long term liver damage might have been less. We often hear about dogs alerting to changes in the health of their human companions – I suspect they are even more aware of changes in their fellow canines.
Melanie Hawkes says
Well done Molly (how did she qualify with only two marathons prior?) and Maggie! Glad Upton isn’t the only one who doesn’t like rain. He’s gone about 30 hours without a wee or poop because of the rain before. Can’t be good for him. Maybe a future blog topic on what could help?
I couldn’t imagine having more than one dog. Twice the food, costs, time etc. Upton would only teach the new dog bad habits, so I won’t be getting a new dog until he’s gone.
Kay Weber says
LOL! I’m one of 10 kids who grew up on a dairy farm. Our most popular complaint to our parents ?
“That’s why you had so many kids! So you don’t have to do anything!”
I find this post really interesting as someone with a one-year-old dog considering getting another dog when this one, Bea, is “done” training (lol), maybe in the spring. My thinking is this: Bea is great in many ways – medium energy, low-key around the house, no issues being left alone, mostly-non-chewy, smart, trainable, and close to being off-leash safe on our morning walks in the woods. She loves other dogs more than anything. Her main issue is that she’s very nervous around people other than me. Visitors to the house are greeted with shrill barking that doesn’t stop until she’s parked on her bed, and even then she might pop off and start barking if the group stands up or gets animated. Outside the house, she usually doesn’t bark at people but definitely doesn’t want a stranger touching her. I’ve tried to do my best, but she was adopted in the middle of a pandemic, and part of her aversion is almost certainly innate (all of her littermates that I could contact reported similar fear reactions). When I started going back to work twice a week, I arranged for a dog-sitter to come by for an hour in the middle of the day. Of course, I was really nervous that she’d freak out, but it’s been fine – and I think for two reasons. One is that I am not home when the dog-sitter comes, so she doesn’t have to protect me (if that is driving the nervousness). The second is that the dog-sitter occasionally brings another relaxed, people-loving dog with her that Bea can romp with. That really seems to have gotten Bea to warm up to and relax around the sitter, who she now snuggles with and accepts pets from.
So my thinking was: if I get an extroverted, people-loving dog and manage a better job of socialization to visitors than was possible for Bea, that may serve to get Bea more comfortable with visitors and people generally. (“Hey – Fido seems cool with visitors. Maybe it’s okay?”) It hadn’t occurred to me that it might be the other way around – Bea’s nervous energy would translate to the new dog, magnifying the issue. Now I’m nervous!