How we socialised three dogs to enjoy time together.
Hi everyone! The bank holiday is upon us again. Thanks for joining us with your morning cup of coffee. Our clients ask us all the time how we are able to control four dogs at the same time. (Sometimes even five!) Well, I’m here to let you in on a trade secret. It’s really easy! Our newest group is Winston the Poodle, Lexi the Weimeraner and Murdoch the Foxhound.
One of the biggest things when working with dogs in general is trial and error. This is your best friend! Every dog is different, just like people. They have their own personalities and who they gel with better than others. So Lexi started in a group with a Corgi-cross and a Staffy. This did not go well! Lexi was far too excited, and the Corgi-cross didn’t like her at all. Lexi wanted to play, but like I say, some dogs just don’t gel together.
So we tried her with Winston and Murdoch instead. Lexi and Winston are of a similar age and I have to be honest, Murdoch was a bit of a risk. But what is life without a little risk! Now as you can imagine, these dogs are all rather large. With size comes strength so this is the primary reason that I roped Victoria into my plan. Trying to walk this gang is like trying to walk a steam train! Victoria is another one of our newly qualified trainers that specialises in Weimeraners. Not intentionally, she just loves the breed! With Lexi and Winston being so young, at only two years old, they are so excited to get out and play, but safety first (party poopers!)
We found the perfect place for the dogs to have free roam off lead, get to know each other and test each others social boundaries. First step, give the group time and space to get to know each other, but be aware of any behaviour that tells you that they are not comfortable. If any dog does become uncomfortable, nobody panic! See what it is they don’t like, whether it be how playful another dog is or a certain breed. Use this to your advantage. Observation is also key in a scenario like this. Take Murdoch for example. There is a quite a large age gap between the youngsters and Murdoch so this was the risk with him. Sometimes he loves to play with Winston especially, but you can see immediately when it’s too much for him.
Over time, Winston has learnt when Murdoch has had enough and moves onto Lexi instead (poor Lexi!) If we had intervened instead of letting the dogs learn for themselves what their boundaries are, Winston wouldn’t have learnt when enough is enough. This is something he can then use in other social scenarios. Win win! Like I say, observation is the key one here and if you do see that it’s getting too much always take charge before anyone gets hurt.
Now we are at the stage where we are noticing similarities between the dogs. Bonding is another key word we like to use when socialising a new group. Using that magic technique of observation and trial and error, find out what they like to do. Do they have a common interest? For these three, it’s sticks. I first discovered this when Victoria went on holiday and I had to walk them on my own. I held up a stick for all three and instantly I had all of their attention. I said “sit.” They all sat! At the same time! It was amazing. I through it for them and all three chased it and then chased each other trying to gain the stick for themselves. Having that bonding time between dogs and giving them a positive experience is something they’ll remember and want to do again. So next time when you get the three dogs to the same area, with the same dogs they’ll remember how much fun they had.
I hope this has answered some of your questions, now go out there and set up a play date! Do any of your dogs have friends they just can’t live without?
Until next time, keep those tails wagging,