There’s only one thing better than having a dog as a pet and that’s having MORE THAN ONE dog! Of course, while this can be a tremendous experience for you and your dogs, this arrangement is not without a few “minor” complications.
For starters, with the exception of one or two breeds , and Malamutes are among these (having experienced this myself), dogs love hanging out with other dogs. They do and will, however, tend to compete with other; whether it’s for a meal, a chew toy or your attention, you must be prepared to do a bit of referee-ing. Training one dog can be challenging enough, training two even more so but if you ever hope to create a harmonious household with two competing pets, good training is essential. Both dogs must be trained to accept that there are no rewards if they bully or misbehave toward each other. Only then, will they get from you what they want… which is, most often, attention. Don’t make it hard for them. Make it easy. And you can do this by making sure that there is always “enough to go around,” from toys to food. Start with two food bowls and two water bowls with plenty toys for each so that, in theory at least, there are no excuses for conflict.
Competing for food, or “food possessive” behavior can, for instance, quickly spiral into food aggression, where both the companion dog AND the pet parent can be at risk of harm. Food aggression, where your pet will finish his own mean, then go after someone else’s, can range from mild growling to biting. Should you dog show any signs of food possessive or food aggression behavior, meet with your Boca Raton vet, who is qualified to advise you on a course of action.
Things you can do when you have two
So, what are just a few of the steps that you can take to ensure that your pair of pooches can live happily ever after?
1) Call your dogs by name routinely so each knows whose attention you are after. If the other dog gets involved when uninvited, turn your back on him or look away.
2) Don’t pet your dogs when they push themselves on you, jump on you, or mistreat each other in order to get your attention. When you’re petting one dog and the other attempts to become the center of attention, ignore him. If you reward him with attention, the message you send is that it’s okay to “push your way in” when not invited. If both dogs are allowed to compete for affection, one will inevitably win and the other will be driven away. You are in charge and need to make it clear that only you can dictate what is acceptable behavior.
3) Both dogs should wait, patiently, for treats and meals. They should each have a place of their own to go to when fed so that each can do so uninterrupted.
4) Dogs should wait be taught that barging through doors is not acceptable. When letting them out to eat, make them sit before going out.
5) If you are petting one dog and the other barges in and pushes that dog away, ignore the dog who intruded by looking away or turning your back to him. Continue petting the other dog. If he begins to nudge or growl at the dog who is receiving attention from you, stand up and look away from both dogs. When the dog who growled or nudged his way in sees that his behavior did not work for him and loses interest, go back and pet the dog you had been giving attention to.
6) If your dogs growl at each other over an object or a bone, remove it. If a dog has a toy or other object and another takes it, return the item to the dog who had it originally. The message: No bullying!
While you may need to work at it, repeating these lessons many, many times, eventually your dogs will come to understand what behavior is acceptable and what isn’t. Take it from someone who has gone through it. It isn’t easy, but the effort and the training will be well worth it in the end!