Dogs Without Jobs
At one point not that long ago, dogs lived with humans because they had a job to do, something that benefited the humans they lived with. The jobs were as varied and unique as the different breeds of dogs that were selected for their ability to do those jobs well.
It often seems that when it comes to dogs in your home, 1+1 isn't 2, it's more like 3 or 4! Don't get me wrong, I love having more than one dog at a time, other than about a year after Reese passed before Tristan came when Tilly was an only dog, I've had 2 or more dogs since 2003. However, it does involve some extra challenges. So lets look at some ways to set your multi-dog home up for success!
This is important for several reasons. If you want to teach your dogs something, it is best to teach them individually, then to practice with both of them together. If you've had multiple dogs before, you know how much they can feed off each other's excitement! Also, especially if your dogs are close in age, or littermates, individual time allows them to practice coping with things on their own, and builds their confidence. If you dogs are always together, and a time comes when they need to be separated (i.e. injury, illness) it can be very distressing for the dogs if they are not used to it.
My preference if I have two dogs and I'm taking one dog out for an activity/training is to leave the other dog with a special treat/toy/stuffed Kong to enjoy. If it is a training session, I'll then switch dogs and leave the other dog in with a special treat while we're out working. It makes me feel better, and I feel it helps the dog who isn't currently the focus of the training/outing.
Summer time is often family time, and in some families, that means your dog may be joined by other dogs or kids they don't live with. Some advance preparation can help ensure a happy time for all. You will see I tend to err on the side of caution, as I find that if the first few gatherings go well, future gatherings are easier and less management is required as the expectations have been set from the start.
Often emotions run high when we first get together. People are busy greeting each other, often hugging and exclaiming. Kids and dogs arriving may be full of energy after the trip. This can be a prime time for canine chaos. Therefore, consider how your dog might react in advance. If you think they will be extra wound up from the excitement, then consider getting the initial greetings out of the way before involving your dog in the mix. Perhaps a leash would be a good idea to prevent any jumping up or accidentally scaring kids - some dogs get very excited and forget their size, potentially knocking over kids from enthusiasm.
What is it?
There are some dogs that will bark at you to prompt you into action to gain something they want. The purpose of this barking is to prompt you to take action on their behalf. In some situations it may be desirable, for example, some people like their dog to bark to communicate a need to go outside and potty, however, with some dogs it can become an issue.
How to stop it?
The keys to addressing action prompting barking are
Clearly instigate activities
When your dog is resting calmly, tell him/her what is next i.e. “time for dinner”, “let’s go for a walk” etc. THEN put your book down, get up, close your computer, etc. When your dog learns that the relevant cue is you announcing the desired activity is next, he/she will stop being so excited when you get up without saying anything.
Teach appropriate ways to request things
Ingredients for success:
We all want to have that picture perfect Christmas with our dogs as part of our family festivities, but not in a stealing the turkey, pulling the tree over, knocking over Grandma and stealing the kid's presents kind of way. While some dogs are quite relaxed about changes, guests etc. and remain calm during the festivities, many dogs find some or all of these things quite interesting and exciting, and in the absence of guidance from you will do natural dog behaviours that result in problems (i.e. jumping, eating, grabbing). So let's look at how we can set these dogs up for sucess!