As Valentine’s Day is coming up, I thought this week’s post should be related to love. In an ideal world, everyone would get along: we’d never fight with our loved ones, and all our pets would love each other and be best friends forever. But what happens when that doesn’t happen? You love him, he loves you, you love his dog, he loves your dog … but the dogs just don’t get along at all?
When this happens, there are a number of options that you can consider:
- re-home one of the dogs
- permanently separate the dogs into different areas of the home
- help the dogs find a way to live together without conflict
Rehoming one of the dogs might seem like the easiest way forward, but which dog? Who has to give up their best friend? This idea might actually turn out to be the most problematic of all because it seems the most unfair.
Separating the dogs into different areas of the home is only managing the problem. You can do that; but it doesn’t do anything to fix them problem in the long term.
At our training center, we see a lot of dogs that exhibit behavior that some might call aggressive. Everything from a little growling to full-blown rage, and quite a few cases where clients thought they were seeing rage but thankfully weren’t. And in most of the aggression cases we do handle, most of the time there’s not another dog involved.
But since more and more Americans are getting dogs, we’re probably going to see more doggie step-families being formed, whether it’s because of people falling in love, or even just roommates coming together with their best furry friends. And unfortunately, as nice an idea as it is, we can’t expect our dogs to love each other the way we do.
A dog’s capacity to learn never ceases to amaze me, whether it’s old dogs, dogs with disabilities or those with issues like aggression. Before considering something as serious and stressful as rehoming a dog because of problems with another resident dog, here’s a few things you can try on your own to see if the dogs can learn to live together:
- Baby Gates & Crates
If the dogs are already in the same house, then it’s safety first – use a baby gate to separate the dogs whenever both are home at the same time. If they aren’t already crate trained, this will be a huge help in providing both dogs with a safe, quiet place to go when being together is just too much for them.
- Step By Step
Using one handler for each dog, start walking the dogs at the same time, in the same direction on daily walks. If they can’t handle walking side-by-side, walk one in front until they can. Doing this regularly will desensitize them to their proximity to one another, as well as help them burn off some of their anxious energy.
- Neutral Territory
Once the dogs are starting to get used to each other, you can try again. Find a park (not a dog park) that you’ve never been to before, and introduce the dogs there. Remember to keep everyone safe and on-leash, and take it slow; if the dogs don’t play, remember that the first priority is just getting along.
If you’ve tried these tips or just want some help putting it into practice, feel free to give us a call. Here at Applause Your Paws, we not only have trainers with the right experience, but our center provides a neutral location for the dogs to work on their relationship.
(Photo Credit: The photo in this post was taken by Jessica Trinh in a project for her local shelter in Orange County to show how beautiful adoptable dogs are. If you’d like to see more from the series, please click here)