It might be hard to find a better ending to a workday than the tail-wagging dance of a happy dog welcoming you home. However, when you've got more than one furry friend in your pack, the homecoming can turn into a grumbling clump of canines fighting for first place at your feet. Fortunately, there are solutions that will restore peace to most multiple-dog homes and even prevent many of the brawls from occurring in the first place.
Be Fair, Balanced and Firm
When you create and consistently enforce household rules for your dogs, such as no food fights, you establish yourself and other responsible members in your home as people to be obeyed. Remaining gentle, firm and consistent in your discipline and spreading expectations evenly between your dogs helps prevent confusion and jealousy. Small or frail dogs need protecting at times, but allowing Tiny to steal Fido's treat because Tiny is so darn cute upsets the balance.
Start With the Basics
You can lay the foundation for a peaceful community by teaching all of your dogs at least simple obedience skills, such as come, sit, down and stay. Obedience training helps reinforce your leadership role as it builds the behavioral talents your pups need to live harmoniously. With practice, they'll eventually learn to sit or stay without hesitation -- even in the midst of play that's getting a little too rough or a pending duel over a favored toy. Each dog will need individual, daily practice sessions until they follow your commands immediately.
Avoid Anxiety at Feeding Time
Feeding your dogs in different corners of one room or in separate rooms altogether will help diffuse the potential of battling over food, a common trigger for canine spats. If space is limited, an alternative is to feed them one at a time and have the others wait in another room or behind a baby gate. You can take advantage of feeding time to train Rover to sit before giving him his dish. Fido, waiting behind the baby gate, can learn down and stay as Rover eats.
Pick Up the Pace
Exercising your dogs daily burns off energy they may otherwise use to create havoc in your home. If you have different breeds with different exercise needs, you can take the high energy dogs on a run and then come home for a rousing game of Frisbee or fetch in the backyard with the pups who need less movement to tire out. Many dogs also enjoy extracurricular canine sporting activities like agility and fly ball, which offer you the opportunity to spend some quality time with your pups as you train and compete with them.
By Sandra King
The Whole Dog Journal: Managing a Multi-Dog Household – How to Keep the Peace
VeterinaryPartner.com: Feeding Multiple Dogs at the Same Time
Karen Pryor Clicker Training: Happy Together: How to Train Successfully in a Multi-Dog Household
About the Author
A medical writer since 1990 and successful home-based business owner for more than 14 years, Sandra King holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications. She uses her formal education, professional insight and extensive volunteer involvement to cover topics on health and fitness, pets, parenting for a lifetime, building healthy relationships, conquering business basics and developing career goals.