Adding Rules and Structure to Bring Balance to a Pack of Excited Dogs

Peaches Bear Buddy Bugs Bunny Jackson and RamboBoy did I have my work cut out for me with this pack of dogs. They are (from left) Peaches, Bear, Buddy, Bugs Bunny, Jackson and Rambo.

When I first arrived for the session, this pack of six dogs was a blur. Jackson and Buddy kept on trying to dominate or fight each other, the rest competed and tried to block one another from getting their owner’s attention, they ignored their owner’s commands and personal space and basically did whatever they wanted.

As soon as their owner sat down with me to discuss the situation, all the dogs attempted to get their owner’s attention and the largest dog (the Weimaraner named Bugs Bunny) kept squeezing between any dog his owner was petting to try to control the situation and keep the attention to himself.

Their owner said “see what I mean,” then immediately started to pet Bugs Bunny after he pushed away the other dog. It took a minute for his owner to register when I told him that he was rewarding Bugs Bunny for pushing the other dog away by petting him.

I suggested that in the future, when he is petting one dog and another tries to push its way in, that he ignore or, if necessary, push that dog away and continue to pet the original dog. Repeating this every time a dog tries to push his way in sends the message that the behavior won’t be rewarded. If applied consistently for the next few days or weeks, the push-your-way-in-for-attention technique should stop.

But that was just one of the issues these dogs had. Fundamentally their owners were not correcting or disagreeing with unwanted behavior in a way the dogs understood. This resulted in the dogs not seeing their owners as authority figures which meant they didn’t look to them for guidance or leadership.

While I was explaining this, I noticed Jackson attempting to dominate Buddy by walking over and sticking his chin over Buddy’s back.  Even though Buddy was considerably larger, Jackson kept at it until Buddy had enough and snapped back. Jackson responded in kind and a small fight broke out. As soon as it did, Rambo started barking which added unwanted excitement to the situation.

I separated the dogs and kept them in a time out until they calmed down. As soon as they were calm, I let them go and they went on about their business for a few minutes before Buddy tried the same move with Jackson. Bt this time, I used a correcting sound to disagree with the behavior which stopped it right away.

Its always easier to stop dogs from getting into trouble BEFORE things really get started so I pointed out the things to watch for between the two dogs. By using the sound to disagree with attempts at dominance and separating the dogs before things escalate, their owners will be able to stop the fights before they start.

Because the dog’s clearly did not recognize or respect their owner’s authority position, I went through a leadership exercise to help change that. The exercise helps introduce the concept of boundaries while also helping put the human in a leadership position. It only took a few repetitions before the dogs understood the exercise and figured things out.

I suggested that their owners practice this exercise with all the dogs separately for the next week or two. When you have multiple dogs living together, its important they all understand and respect the same rules, boundaries and limits.

Next I fitted Bugs Bunny up with a Martingale collar and added my special twist to the leash so we could go for a short walk. Bugs is a big dog and had developed a habit of stepping in front of whoever was walking him. But once we put him on a Martingale collar this way, the stepping in front and pulling subsided considerably.

If you have a dog who pulls, I invite you to view the short video I posted to my Facebook page that shows a Martingale and how to add the special twist to the leash to stop the pulling immediately.

By the end of the session, the dogs were considerably calmer and much more responsive to their owners commands and corrections. I snapped this pic as one of the owners took great delight by asking one dog to sit and getting the same response from the rest of the pack. Picture proof that dogs will gladly obey once they see their owner as an authority figure and understand what their owner wants.

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