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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Do Your Dogs Like Each Other?

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Leadership Helps Your Dogs Get Along
Now and again I run into a dog owner with pack problems. Their pups just are not working as a team. Those of us who have successfully integrated multiple dogs into a happy partnership know that there is one ingredient necessary to make this work: Leadership.

Without a clearcut sense of who is in charge, your dogs--both large and small--will jockey for position as the boss. This competition is not what it might be with children; its more about someone stepping up to set the rules. The unfortunate part is that some owners just don't step up.

It's not that they don't care, but more about not knowing. That's why I'm sharing this here. With three dogs in my home, and a highly diverse three they are, I knew from the getgo that I had to be the one in charge. You see, Xena is 13. She was the 'only dog' for 10 years. Along came Tanner, who became her best friend, albeit her student. She continues to play the role of mom to him, putting him in line the minute I ask him to do something.

Even at 13, I have to discipline Xena for trying to be the boss. She may employ her mothering instincts when she washes his ears. She is welcome to play the companion when she invites him to have a tag game. But she cannot, under any circumstances, be in charge.

Oliver, our adolescent at only 2 years of age, often tries to pull rank on Tanner, as well. You can probably guess that Tanner is the submissive one in the bunch. That's actually a good thing, because he is the largest of the three. We don't need a BIG BOY taking over either. Despite his slight submissiveness, Tanner still maintains a healthy self-confidence. 

I suppose I could say he is more easy-going than submissive. He tolerates most anything our senior citizen or the juvenile dole out, and all in his good natured way. "Bring it on, gang; I love to play."

And play he does. Tanner is a social butterfly at the dog park, making sure he greets everyone--both human and canine. When he visits his favorite daytime play-place, Bow Wow Resort, he employs the same set of rules: don't leave anyone out.

Oliver, the Papillon, has what it takes to occasionally try to assert his own dominance. At 9 pounds, his method is more mouth than brawn. Sorry, little buddy; that job is mine. You'll have to remain part of the pack, bringing up the rear in our walks.

I hope this scenario has given you a vision for your own pack. I'll try to address this situation more in a later post. Meanwhile, here's your homework:

Prefer an easier approach? All Things Dog Blog will be announcing its new ASK THE TRAINER column soon. You're going to love this lady. She is no nonsense and all about what YOU want your dog to do. None of that "My way or the highway" business!

Watch for it sometime in the next week or two. And of course, don't forget to start thinking of questions. You can leave them as comments on a post, or email them to me at Take your pick.

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