I was performing some modifications to a Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® system in Jupiter last week for a client and Winston, his 2-year-old Beagle. He needed to have the perimeter extended to include the back acre of his property and to have some new areas blocked off from Winston’s wandering. Luckily, there was no poison ivy or prickly bushes with thorns, so the work went pretty quickly. As I was finishing up and loading my equipment back on the trailer, he walked over and had a “dog training and behavior” question for me. His other dog (who never had a problem in leaving the property) and Winston often get into fights. No matter what he did, it was difficult to stop them. Was there anything I could suggest to get them to behave and to help him “break it up” if they start to misbehave.
Just like siblings, dogs in multi-dog households will often posture for authority, territory, and food. The way that they posture is to gain dominance over the other. This normally doesn’t include “mortal combat”, but it can include “nips and rips”. All this is part of their natural communication. This might be acceptable to them, but it is definitely not acceptable to us.
We don’t want our dogs being aggressive towards each other because that is a large disruption to our household. This type of activity can also become dangerous if our family members begin to become involved in the waylay.
To stop this activity, we must take charge and clearly communicate to our dogs that we are the only ones who can tell them what they can do and when they can do it. Neither dog has authority over the other; we have absolute authority over both of them. Period.
We accomplish this through calm, clear, canine communication. We do not have to become physical with them, but simply gain their respectful focus and send a clear signal of calm, consistent authority. Here is what I suggested:
- Put basket muzzles on both dogs. This is not a solution, but simply a tool that will eliminate their ability to nip as we go through the learning process. We suggest the use of Baskerville Basket Muzzles. These muzzles can be safely worn for long periods of time. They allow the dog to eat, bark, pant, and do everything they would normally do as a dog. The only they don’t allow the dog to do is to nip. And, that is what we are trying to deny.
- Put standard, six foot leashes on the dogs. This is a tool he will use to guide and direct the dogs in the event they become adrenalized and improperly focused. The leashes should only be worn when he is home. He must always have them in his sight or earshot.
- Initially keep the dogs separated when he can’t supervise them. Since this is a teaching process and they still don’t understand what to do, leaving them alone could easily lead to the aggressive, posturing behavior. If he isn’t there, he can’t teach the correct action.
- Have them out (with muzzle and leash) when he can watch them. Keep them separated by stepping on the leash and guiding them away.
- Give each dog equal attention without coddling or babying them. Have them perform simple obedience commands that could include Come, Sit, Stay, and Walk.
- Continually maintain the dogs focus. This could include the repetition of the commands or simply stepping on the leash and directing their focus back to him.
- As soon as one dog begins to give too much focus on the other, step on the dog’s leash and bring him back to him.
- If both dogs are improperly engaging at the same time, have a family member take charge of “dog number two”. That family member will then make sure that the dog focuses on him (or her) instead of the other dog.
- Feed the dogs separately and do not let them have “problem toys” when they are together. I told him to practice “this is yours and that is yours” by having both dogs on two sides of the room while one person gives one dog a small, quickly consumed goodie and another person does the same with the other.
- As soon as they begin to act up, step on the leashes and move them back to their assigned family member (the one on the other side of the leash). Have them calm and focused on that person until they are completely disengaged with the other dog.
- When they become fine at one distance, allow for a slightly closer engagement.
- From their observations, they should quickly establish “when an incident is about to occur”. This should be their “Don’t even think about it” moment. The appropriate family member/handler should direct them back to him immediately.
The goal in this exercise is to control their behavior is such a way where the rule of “don’t mess with the other dog” is consistently maintained. It is done in a non-threatening manner through the use of calm redirection back to the family member. Since the family member is maintaining absolute control (leash in hand) in a calm manner (before things get crazy), the dogs will easily refocus and understand what is allowed.
When we clearly communicate the guidelines we want for our “household”, we can establish the appropriate rules that don’t include misbehavior. Once we establish our proper leadership, we will have our dogs naturally and respectfully focus on us. Please call us by going to Dog Fence Training Help Jupiter South Florida or phone (954) 472-4724. There is a long list of Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® and dog training articles on Best Out of Sight Dog Fence Trainers Jupiter South Florida. We are excited to be your neighborhood canine experts for over eleven years in Jupiter and the rest of South Florida. Does your dog require standard behavior or obedience training? On top of being dog fence experts, we are also professional dog trainers. Learn all about our Behavior and Obedience Home Dog Training Programs by checking out Home Dog Training Jupiter South Florida.