I may have only 2 small dogs now, but there was a time that I pet sat in my house, and usually had 2-6 additional dogs in my home, that was on top of the three I was Mom to. So managing a many dog household became a daily duty. Minnie my Jack Russell Terrier was not fond of having all those dogs in the house, so keeping her happy kept me on my toes.
Think about when you stay at someone’s house. You want to learn their routine as quickly as possible so you know what to expect. Same with dogs.
Here are some tips for your dog household of 2 or more dogs. I’ll dive into some of these behaviors like “wait”, in a different post.
Be the Parent! A parent keeps the kids safe and always has their back.
This is about:
- Having your dog look to you for direction
- Parents enforce limits with kindness and respect for the other being
- Letting your dog know that you will take care of things
- Being clear with the rules, so your dogs know what to expect
- A good parent has confidence and presence with their dogs
It is not:
- Using anger or violence to communicate
- Letting the dogs “work things out among themselves”
- A parent does not manhandle
- Using violence to communicate
- Using force
How to build Trust:
- Dogs need to know you will take care of things
- Have routines for eating, potty breaks, walks
- Always keep an eye on interactions within the pack
- Don’t hesitate to step in to redirect an inappropriate behavior
- Don’t let any dog get picked on
- Know your limits with # of dogs so you don’t over extend yourself
- Use positive reward training
- Teach each dog basic commands, sit, down, stay, wait, come, drop it, leave-it.
Tips for keeping the pack happy
- Exercise your dogs daily.
- Use calming accessories like D.A.P. Comfort Zone.
- Try Rescue Remedy by Bach, put in water or on tongue of nervous dogs.
- Have a mat/bed for each of them to lie on. Do not allow dogs to sniff or get to your food or dog bowls when fixing dog dinners.
- Do not allow a dog to guard a place, person or toy. Seek professional help if persists.
- Always supervise dogs chewing on treats, Kongs, chews, bones.
Feeding Tips & Tricks for a calm dinner time
- Supervise, supervise, supervise. Do not leave the room until all dogs are finished and the bowls are picked up.
- Have a solid “leave it” command with each dog.
- Do not let any dog stand over another dog eating or try to steal food
- Every dog deserves to eat in peace, make sure this is possible
- Allow enough space around each dog to be comfortable to eat
- Feed dogs in a different order each meal
- Have a “wait” command for the dogs with a release word for them to eat.
- Feed new dogs separately, in another room or behind a gate until you know this dog’s eating habits.
- Each dog should have their place that they always eat at.
- For example: I’ve got 6 dogs to feed. My 3 dogs each had their spot where their food bowl goes down. Sally is a regular customer so she has her spot; the next 2 dogs will get their bowls in the same spot for their visit. I chose corners and little spaces that they could each have adequate space.
- If a dog has space issues, feed them in a closed room, like a bathroom.
- If a dog eats fast and then bothers the other dogs, escort them outside or to another room until the other dogs are finished.
- Pick up all the bowls after mealtime and wash them.
This can apply if you foster dogs. Very important to establish a routine right away, so the visiting dog feels comfortable as soon as possible.
If you would like more information on managing your multiple dog household, read this book by Debbie McMullen.
Thanks for reading.