Thursday, May 1, 2014

Multi-Dog Blues

I apologize in advance: this post is going to be whiny and woe-is-me and venty. I don't usually do downer posts, but you know what? This is my blog, and this is what my life has been like. And if you all have good advice or can just commiserate... well, that'd be even better.

So I have four dogs now. I love my four dogs; they are each such just really cool individuals, and I honestly wouldn't give up any of them. But dear god, it's hard to have four dogs. Especially because I have two resource guarders and another who won't hesitate to fight. And bite. And even though I know you don't break up a dog fight by reaching between them to break them up... well, I'm a slow learner, I guess. On the plus side, I have matching bite-scars on both forearms.

This is a total blow to my pride. I'm a certified trainer, after all! Surely I should be able to handle this better! Plus, one of my good friends has eight dogs living in her house (six of her own, one foster, and one that belongs to her roommate), and she doesn't seem to have even half as many problems as I do! (She tells me that she's been doing this longer and has carefully chosen each dog to fit in with the rest, but mostly I just think she's smarter than me.) 

I keep telling myself it will get better. Only Maisy has really had any training, but we're working on the others. As the rest learn more, it should be easier. Cesar and I are getting better at predicting what will and will not cause fights, and therefore are getting better at management. And soon we will all live in the same house, which will be bigger and have a crate for each dog. This should make management easier, and will provide more consistent routines. I hope.

I don't mean to give you the wrong impression. In all honesty, we probably only have one fight a month, it's just that the fights tend to be much bigger than I'm okay with. And really, for the most part, all four dogs get along fairly well. They will all play together, though we limit that because of noise/shared housing concerns, so most of the time, it's Pyg and Napi playing. In the quieter, nap-type times, though, they've paired off in an unexpected way. Where Maisy is, Napi is, and Pyg and Lola tend to like each other's company.

But some days are just so hard. Please tell me I'm not alone? And maybe tell me what's worked for you?


Ninso said...

Jun has ANOTHER new scar on her face courtesy of Elo. I think that's 4 total. I can totally commiserate. Sometimes life with multiple dogs sucks. Hell, sometimes life with one dog sucks! Like this week Jun is staying at my mom's while I'm out of town, but staying at my dad's for a few days, but HOW to get her to my mom's was a huge issue, since she can't just ride in a car like a normal dog. And oh yeah, I still can't take either of them out of the house without an elaborate plan. And even though I have a fenced yard I have to take Jun out on leash because she can't even handle being in our yard to potty without flipping out. I feelya. Dogs are hard sometimes. /whining

Juniper said...

Posting to commiserate. My housemate has five dogs, and was gone for a week recently. Even though the only problem the dogs have is that they bark a lot, I was still tired of having so much responsibility (six dogs total!) by the end of the week. It takes a lot out of you!

And I want to stay here long-term because it's a great housing situation, but I'm dreaming about getting a puppy later this year or next year...

Chris and Mike said...

Just think of it this way - assuming you all survive (and of course you will), you'll be one heck of a better trainer, having been through a whole different kind of learning curve than with "just" Maisy. And you did a fabulous job with her!

"Put up in a place/where it's easy to see/the cryptic admonishment/TTT.

When you feel how depressingly/slowly you climb/it's well to remember/that Things Take Time." Piet Hein, author.

Kimm and the Kimmlets said...

7 dogs and baby gates are my best friend. When I know someone is coming, or there is going to be some exciting things happen, I separate my dogs into groups. If I am going to be out, they are separated into 3 groups, though one group is just one dog. I have had a multi-dog since the early 80's and have had up too 11 of my own (WAY too many). If my dogs do get out of it, though I know you said you have resource guarders, I do a wide spread kibble toss, so they are busy looking for kibble while I separate them.