4 dogs in the house

Posted by ninnis38
Jul 11, 2009
[FONT="Comic Sans MS"][COLOR="Purple"][I][/I][/COLOR][/FONT],
Well, we have 4 dogs total in our house. I have 2 Shih Tzu's, Lolla 2 yrs & Domino 9yrs. My neice has an Akita, Tawny 2 yrs and a Shepard/Wolf-ish mix, Brooke 7yrs, she is the older Matriarch (?).
Domino is the only male and is an older guy, also the pack leader. Lil Lolla is the baby of them all, weighing only 9 lbs.
Here is my problem: Tawny has become the age of wanting to challenge Domino for pack leader. They have scraped a couple times for just about 2 mins before one of us has broken them up. I think Domino knows he would get hurt, so he wants nothing to do with it. Tawny however will stare him down, go out of her way to get closer to him with her hackles up. So, this leads to distension in their pack and in our house.
My husband and I are always disagreeing over the situation. He just puts the 2 bigger dogs in the back yard and leaves them there with no attention. Which is not fair to them being around family all their lives.
I know that dogs pick up body language from my hubby, because he gets all stressed out and over-reacts to the situation which does make all 4 nervous.
Question finally: who do I work with? where do I start? and outside of building a doghouse for hubby, how do I get him to relax?
PLEASE send help! We also have a 1 yr old baby in our home, she is a main concern too!
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Jul 14, 2009
Hi ninnis38,

Wow! 4 dogs and a baby! That sounds so handful, and you don't want any conflicts among them, especially when the baby is around.

I have 4 dogs (3 of my own and 1 foster most of the time) but my dogs are somehow similar sizes (30 to 47 lbs) and I have implemented a "seniority" system so they all live in a harmony.

In my house, longer the dog with us, more respect he/she gets. I always follow the pecking order I implemented. They all have to obey my directions as their leader.

Do you have a power and respect from them to straight them out? Are they all obedient to you?
Since the two bigger dogs belong to your niece, they might not see you as the leader. That is another challenge too.

I would suggest you give some power and special favor of yours to Domino and Lolla, since they are YOUR OWN dogs while the other two don't belong to you. You should protect your own dogs especially the others are much bigger in size.

If Domino and Tawny are the only ones that get into fights, I would create the situations where Tawny tries to challenge Domino in front of your eyes. As soon as you see any signs of challenges by Tawny, stop her and make her "Down" while you comfort Domino. Keep telling Tawny such behaviors are not acceptable. If she calms down you can bring Domino in your arm (since he is small) in front of her and ask her to be "Nice to Domino". If she does give her a nice attention, give her praise and treats.

It is a little different situation but that was how we introduced my grandsons and my daughter's adult cat to my 4 dogs. They all tried to be nice to the cat and the kids. They understand something/someone that is very valuable to ME, the leader and they will not want to jeopardize my trust and love by doing something that will hurt me.

Anyway, my point is to train Tawny to treat Domino as her senior buddy. Hope things will work out.
Posted by KOPsarah
Jul 15, 2009
Hi ninnis and thanks for your post,
In a multiple dog household the dominance order can easily be confused when new dogs are introduced to the pack. Just as it is important for your dog to know where it stands in the pack order in relation to humans it is also important that each dog in a multi-dog household knows where it stands in the pack in relation to others. You can use the basic principles of alpha dog training to sort this out too.

In a wild dog pack the dominant pack member controls :

-access to food

-access to favoured or important areas

-any interactions with lower pack members

-access to favoured items such as toys

You want the order of your pack to be; you, other people such as your baby, (other pets such as cats), and then your dogs in order of calmness, age and/or size. The exact order of the dogs shouldn’t matter too much as long as you pick one and stick to it. In general however calmer, older dogs are better as dominant. Aggressive dogs should be placed lowest in the pack.

In order to show each dog its position in the pack you and your whole family can take advantage of the keys points of dominance in the following ways.

1) All dogs must eat after all people at every meal and should never get treats from the table. When it is time to feed the dogs ask them all to sit and give the dominant dog its bowl first and then a little while after give the next most dominant dog it’s bowl and so on.

2) They should never walk through doors before you. A good way to practice this is to walk around the house and make them sit at each doorway and wait. Similarly the most dominant dog should always be taken in or out of the car or house first and then the next most dominant etc.

3) If you intend to allow access to areas such as beds or couches first access should go to the most dominant dog. If you have an aggressive dog (which will therefore be lowest in the pack) do not allow it access to such places.

4) When you arrive home completely ignore the dogs for 15 minutes. Don't look at them, talk to them or pat them. After this go to them one at a time in order of dominance and give them some quiet attention only as long as they are relaxed and calm.

5) Give first access to prized items such as toys to the more dominant dog and then later to the others in dominance order.

This may seem unfair or like favouritism but remember the dog pack is not the same as the human family and non-pack leaders are familiar with such controlled access by their dominant pack mates.

Other things that may help reduce inter-dog problems

If your dogs are not de-sexed you should consider de-sexing them. De-sexed dogs have reduced sex hormones which reduces their interest in dominant and aggressive behaviors. On top of this de-sexing your pet greatly reduces their chance of getting a number of common cancers. If you are considering de-sexing discuss the pros and cons with your local vet.

You can use a DAP dispenser in your house to help reduce the stress of all dogs. DAP is a dog appeasing pheromone which mimics the one that mother dogs give off to calm puppies. By calming the dogs DAP will help reduce the incidence of aggressive behaviors.

IN regards to your husband I would explain the technique above that you are going to use and ask him to help implement it with you. If he is doubtful ask him if he will agree to follow the training for four weeks and if there is no difference he can try something else.

Best of luck and let me know how you get on,