Some of you know I just brought home a fourth dog. Yes, I currently have 250 pounds of dog in my house. That number will be a little lower once Toad looses some weight. Poor Fat Fat.
How do we make this work, and how do we keep the peace? I am going to give you the tips that are most important to keep in mind when coexisting with multiple dogs.
How many times have we mentioned this in your life? Enrichment is the most important thing we do to keep everyone happy. Enrichment makes the dogs happy, and allows them to be dogs for a while. When Toad came home we taught him how to shred boxes, how to eat out of a slow feeder bowl, and how to work on a Kong toy. He is steadily improving but I chose these things over obedience skills because a stressed out dog can’t learn.
A few weeks ago, Cargo started peeing in her kennel. Blankets were washed, she was let out more often, but the truth was she was feeling a bit displaced. So an afternoon decompression walk and a nap on the couch with me, and we were back on track.
Decompression walks are so beneficial for both dogs and humans. They are good exercise and being outdoors and in nature is calming to both dog and human as well. Plenty of studies on that one. That leads me to tip #2..
One on one time
Each of my dogs have things they enjoy, and things they do not. I make sure i take time most days to give my dogs what they enjoy and some time with me. Yesterday Cargo and Toad went to dock diving. Toad is fat, so he just swam, but Cargo had a good time jumping in the pool.
Giving each of my dogs their own one on one time helps me maintain my relationship with them, and my dogs with each other. My dogs doing fun things together help them create positive feelings with each other and with me. Positive feelings prevent behavior issues. Opie is on the couch with me, the girls are in their kennels and Toad is outside. The dogs also want one on one time.
I watch for signs that they need a break. Hanging out away from each other, wandering into another room, or the opposite, getting over excited and pushy with playtime that is not reciprocated.
Crate Training is a must with multiples
Each of my dogs is comfortable sleeping in their crates and behind barriers. As we brought Toad home, we had to manage everyone’s interactions until they were comfortable with each other. (More on that process later) We worked on Toad being comfortable in his crate and Cargo accepting him in the house on the other side of a gate. Having dogs who are comfortable in their crates makes sure everyone is getting the sleep they need and gives me more control over their interactions.
I want to make sure my dogs are happy with the set up I have for them. To make sure that happens I want to pay attention to how they are feeling. Those subtle signs give me the information I need to keep everyone happy and settled here in our home. If you have multiple dogs, take a minute to put your phone down and watch them. Could they benefit from some one on one time or something fun?