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Keeping the Peace in a Multi-Dog Home

Posted by Jennifer on January 2nd, 2013

Ever wonder how some people can live with a pack of three, four, or even more dogs who all get along? Maybe you’re reading this article because you have a dog and are wondering how you can adopt or foster a new dog and be sure that they will get along well, if not become best friends. Dog to dog aggression was very much a mystery to me when I started working with shelter dogs as a volunteer. To educate myself I read books, took training classes, watched videos, and attended workshops — but that was before BadRap.org had their online resources available! They include what I think of as the essential articles for Multi Dog Homes. Though BadRap’s primary focus is Pit Bulls, their basic truths about dog behavior do not breed discriminate. The down-to-earth advice helps people in understanding levels of dog aggression, how to safely introduce a new dog into a home with one or more dogs, and most of all how to keep the peace in a multi-dog home.

Since there is a lot information on their website, I’ll share three pages that I’ve bookmarked for sharing with potential and current dog fosters and adopters.

1. Understanding Different Dog Tolerance Levels
Normally, I’m not a big fan of labels. But understanding the different levels of how friendly a dog is towards other dogs is incredibly helpful if you are thinking of adding a new dog to your mix. Plus there’s a bell curve graph.

2. Slow Dog-to-Dog Introductions
Before I read this article’s six steps, I thought I could never integrate a new foster dog because of my dog “aggressive” older adult dog. This article gave me hope, and a plan. I followed the steps with a very dog social shy adolescent foster dog, and was able to progress from crating and rotating, through walks together, to short sessions out in the yard off leash. It felt like a miracle! I continue to use these steps with my dog now for every new dog I foster. How far we get each time depends on the dogs’ chemistry… and how long I have them before they get adopted!

3. Living Peaceably in a Multi-Dog Home
This is the main page of their multi dog library.  It briefly touches on choosing well for good chemistry, being the boss, separating dogs before leaving, avoiding fight triggers, breaking up fights, but it starts out with one of my favorite parts,  the not-to-be-missed…

The Golden Rules of Multi-Dog Management

  • Select your pets carefully. Some dog pairs have great chemistry while others are Jerry Springer material – Nothing but conflict and strife.
  • Maintain a strong leadership role so the dogs respect your house rules.
  • Especially while dogs are getting to know each other, separate before you leave the house.
  • Know the most common fight triggers and work to prevent them.
  • Know how to break up a fight, then promise yourself you’ll never let them get into anything bigger than a spat.
  • Involve everyone in the household in multi-dog management.
  • Understand that dog dynamics can and do shift along with life changes.
  • Give your dogs individual attention to strengthen bonds.
  • Proper intros between new dogs are KEY.

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