6 Sanity-Saving Tips On How To Manage Your Multi Dog Household
You have a lot of love to give, so living with multiple dogs is a no-brainer for you. When we add to our family, there are more things to manage – and living with numerous dogs is no exception to that rule. But your home doesn’t have to descend into furry anarchy! We have a few handy tips on how to manage your multi dog household.
- Don’t pick favorites. Just like you wouldn’t single out a child as a favorite, you wouldn’t do it with dogs. Every dog gets equal attention and love. When you bring home new toys or treats, each dog should get something special. And when it comes to cuddling and belly rubs, leave no dog unloved. Some dogs are more cuddly then others, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t lavish every dog in your home with as much affection as they need. You know your dogs’ personalities best, so if one needs some alone time, be sure to give it to him… and give him some love when he’s ready for it.
- Siblings fight – even furry ones. They can be getting along one moment and the next they’re fighting. You need to stay on top of these tiffs from turning into all-out brawls, because prevention is the best way mange these situations. Know your dogs’ body language and if you sense tension, separate the dogs immediately until they calm down. Some body language signals that you should watch for include raised hackles, low growls, hard stares, and stiffening of the body. Fights can be caused by stolen food, toys, vying for your attention or a dominance struggle. You may choose to have your dogs neutered, as this puts a stop to raging hormones (a big factor when it comes to dog fights). No matter what it’s about, remember that you are the boss and the head of the household – if they live under your roof, they have to live by your rules (thanks for that one mom!).
- Good manners for good dogs. Get on top of basic obedience training as soon as a new dog enters the household. Every dog should obey your commands and know that you are in charge. If your dogs are properly trained and exhibit good doggy manners, you’ll find that your multi dog household will run smoother.
- Feeding time. Dogs need to be fed separately. This is because one dog may finish his dinner and start hassling the other dogs for a taste of their food. This can cause fights (I’d be pretty mad too if someone tried to steal my yummy vitals). Each dog gets his own bowl and his own time to eat. Start off with the calmest dog in the pack, and once he finishes, start with the next dog, and so on. If you can’t schedule feeding times like this, you can feed them all at once – you just have to keep them apart. You can feed one dog in his crate, another in a separate room, and the other outside (just an example, feel free to change it to your living situation). Keep an eye on all the dogs to make sure every dog eats his own food and doesn’t try to slyly steal what’s not his.
- Marking your territory. We don’t mean you should pee all over your house, but you need to take control over the rooms and furniture. Because dogs are spatially oriented, they’ll want to claim their territory. You are the boss, so this needs to be your job. There’s nothing wrong with letting your dog on the couch or in the bedroom, but keep an eye out for possessive behavior that can accompany a territory dispute. These include growling, lip lifting and baring teeth. Don’t let these signs go – take care to address them as soon as they happen. If you don’t, it could lead to a serious fight. The house and everything in it belongs to you… make sure your dogs know and respect that.
- Monitor play time: For dogs, wrestling, play biting, tugging and grabbing necks is all part of the game. You need to be watching to ensure that play time doesn’t escalate to fight time. Be aware of the dogs’ energy and bring it down to a manageable level if you feel that it could escalate. This will help the dogs develop self-control and lead to well behaved play time in the future.
Living in a multi dog household can be a joy, but it’s your responsiblity to run a tight ship. Establish rules early on and hire professional help if you feel like you’re losing control. Remember that every dog has his own personality, which will affect the dynamics of your furry family. With consistent planning and training, your multi dog household can run smoothly and happily.
Do you live with more than one dog? Please share your experience, tips and issues with the community in the comment section below.
Amy Tokic, Editor of PetGuide.com, is a passionate animal lover and proud pet parent of Oscar, a Shih Tzu/Chihuahua cross, and Zed, a Japanese Chin. Her love of animals began in kindergarten, when she brought her stuffed dog Snoopy into class with her every day. Now, she writes about her adventures in pet ownership and tirelessly researches products, news and health related issues she can share with other animal enthusiasts. In her free time, Amy loves perusing used book and record stores, obsessing over the latest pet products available and chasing squirrels with wild abandon (a habit attributed to spending too much time with her pooches).
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