How to Get a Pack of Dogs to Get Along Using Counterconditioning

By: Sam Kanouse

Published Date: August 4, 2017

Foster is a two-year-old Weimaraner who lives in Omaha with his dog family of Weimaraners, Labradors, Basset Hounds and a ten-year-old Poodle mix Scooter. His guardians contacted us to set up a dog behavior session to get the dogs to stop barking and build Scooter’s confidence around Foster.

When I first arrived they were all excited dogs, barking and jumping up. This is a nine-dog pack and they feed off of each other’s energy, which makes it even more important to have rules and structure. When I talked to the guardians I learned that the dogs didn’t have many rules in place, so I suggested a few rules to include such as no furniture for a minimum of 30 days and sitting before going in or outside.

I also noticed that when the dogs would start demand barking, the guardians would try to pet them to calm them down. When we pet our dogs we are rewarding them for their behavior. I taught the guardians our Petting with a Purpose technique, where you only pet your dog for good behavior.

One of the main dog behavior concerns the guardians had was Foster intimidating the little dog Scooter that lives upstairs. To build a positive relationship between Foster and Scooter I used a counterconditioning method, which you can see in the video below.

In the video above I forgot to mention that we started with the least amount of stimulus for Scooter and Foster. Scooter was standing fairly still, which made it easier for Foster to get closer to him through counterconditioning. The guardians will want to keep practicing indoors and then move outdoors with Foster still on a leash for safety. Going outside will increase the difficulty for Foster to not react to Scooter and as Scooter moves around the yard at a faster pace it will be even harder for Foster to build self control. At each stage you will want to use counterconditioning to build up Foster’s self control and keep the relationship between the two dogs positive.

By the end of the session the dogs were calmly laying down in the house, stopped barking and were learning to use our structured feeding ritual. To keep up this good behavior the guardians will want to enforce the rules that I gave them and work on the techniques that we covered during our session. We ended with the dogs’ Roadmap to Success video, which you can watch below.

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This post was written by: Sam Kanouse

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