Maintaining healthy relationships between dogs in a multi-dog household can be more complicated than people may think. As an owner, you need to be observant of stress signals, be aware of healthy play and play with tension, and learn to teach needed life skills to keep all dogs happy and safe. We never want to allow dogs to “just work it out” and in fact, we don’t even want our dogs to get to a place where they feel they need to defend themselves. This means we have let something undesirable go on too long.
Teaching dogs behaviors can be very helpful in navigating your day to day life. But in multi-dog households, certain behaviors can help you keep the peace and maintain a happy home for all. Attention on Cue or Positive Interrupters
Grabbing our dog’s attention is a necessary foundation for all other training. Once we have their attention, we can ask them for any other known behavior like coming when called or lay down. In multi-dog households it is tremendously helpful in getting them out of trouble.
As owners become more proficient at reading dog body language, they will become more aware of the interactions between their dogs – both positive and undesirable. To help keep the peace and prevent stressful moments from escalating into an altercation, grabbing attention can help stop those tense moments and give you a chance to redirect the dog. By positively training this attention getter, you help ensure that this noise, even in a heated moment, is less likely to escalate a situation or increase stress.
Now with everyone’s attention I can easily redirect them to get them away from one other with more cues. Generally, after my attention grabber I will ask the dog that might be instigating to come to me or ask both dogs if they are too rowdy to go settle on a mat. In my single dog homes, I generally teach eye contact on cue with the dog’s name. When more than one dog is in the home I increase my practice sessions to also include a generic sound or cue like “watch me” so that I can either grab a single dog’s attention or even grab the attention of all dogs in the room.