Sorry to disappoint everyone, but this isn't Parker. I realized that Park only knows a little bit about the training magic I use to teach him to share, so it wouldn't be all that helpful for the other humans out there. To be honest, I wasn't entirely aware of the training plan I was following at first. When I brought Skye home, I was more concerned about teaching her that following the rules meant good things happened, and that the fun stopped when she broke the rules. Parker followed the same protocol, but for a different reason.
Then when a certain someone came to stay, the problem resurfaced.
|Parker knew this guy was trouble.|
Sinatra's possessive behavior was pretty obvious and in small ways it applied to me as well. Parker reacted to this by becoming more jealous and needy. When I picked up on that, I made a real training plan. Recently my pal Ginger Rogers had a run-in with jealousy from her foster brother Turk. While it is normal for conflict to happen on occasion, we the humans need to evaluate the situation, learn from our mistakes, and move on.
Don't just set rules, teach them! Just because you sat down and decided that things are going to change doesn't mean your dog knows. I decided that Parker and Sinatra needed to accept that they both can't get attention all the time. But for that to make sense, I had to break it down. I began by having both dogs sit. One would get attention, the other dog got a treat. Then swap, swap, swap. In the morning, when both dogs wanted all the love, I ignored them both. Whichever dog was calmest got first access to my affection. Any jealous behaviors landed the offender in a crate for a minute, while patience resulted in a share of the love.
What are jealous behaviors? Parker talked a little bit about this yesterday, but your dog may show something else. Just remember that dogs use a lot of body language that we won't notice unless we're looking for it. Sinatra loved to use body blocks; he'd just get in Parker's way, even if he didn't look like he was trying to get to me. Some dogs give looks, others do lip curls or low growls- depending on your dog's personality they could be very obvious or extremely subtle.
Create safe zones for alone time. In our house there is a large crate, a small crate (the man cave), and the couches. There is no dog-dog interaction in these areas other than cuddling. If Parker wants Skye to leave him alone, he goes in the man cave. When I dog sit, my dogs know they can get on the couch and I won't let the annoying puppy bother them. If Sinatra went in his crate with a bone, Parker was not allowed to approach the door. It took some vigilance on my part, but all my dogs know 'crate' or 'go lay down' so that if they break a rule I can send them away without ever touching them.
Also, add alone time to your dog's daily routine. Put one dog in their crate, bring the other for a walk. Later, bring the other dog in the car when you run errands. Get the dogs used to being together and alone, but make together time special. Train together, play together, go fun places together. Alone time should be routine, but save your best stuff for together time. When you have multiple humans, your job is that much easier. One person per dog cuts down on jealousy automatically.
Exercise. I am not a fan of Caesar Milan's training methods for plenty of reasons, but he does make a great point about exercise. When our parents had dogs, they ran loose in the neighborhood. They probably covered miles each day, interacting with dogs, people, chasing squirrels all they wanted. Now, most dogs are lucky to get an hour of on leash exercise each day and they can't evolve fast enough to meet our lifestyle changes. If your 4 dogs are getting minimal exercise, you're going to see more conflict in the house. Boredom and excess energy can lead to bullying or an increase in resource guarding.
Since Sinatra couldn't do day camp, he needed his own exercise routine. Each morning (sometimes at 5am) I would walk him with Parker for 45 minutes before work. Mid day he and Skye would play fetch out in a fenced in yard at work, then in the afternoon he got another leash walk or 5 minutes with the flirt pole.
Don't be paranoid Dogs have an amazing capacity to bounce back. Yes, you need to establish rules and boundaries to teach your dogs that life isn't always fair, and that's okay. They get what they want when they follow the rules. But don't assume that one slip-up will dictate the rest of your life. Your dogs should still interact with each other if they've had a fight. They can even have a better relationship in the future- that's the great thing about dogs! Now, after repeated conflicts that result in injury, you need to reassess the situation. But a spat is exactly that. Trust that your dogs are learning from your training- they won't stay the same as time goes on. Sinatra would have attacked Parker or Skye over a bone when he first came home, but learned to happily share and interact as time went on.
The best resource I can recommend is Patricia McConnell's book Feeling Outnumbered? How to Manage and Enjoy Your Multidog Household. It is cheap and full of great training exercises you can do to teach your pups that life is better together. Plus, it's only like 20 pages long, so you can actually read it in one sitting!
Just remember, dog's aren't people. They need to be taught our rules, or else they'll resort to their own.
|I guess he's cool.|