No home is truly complete without the pitter patter of doggy feet. For so many years dogs have been some of our most loyal companions and friends. They are excited to see you every day, they love you at your worst and they make us laugh when we are sad. I wonder often what we did to deserve dogs and always wished I had them sooner. However, I am forever grateful I never got a dog of my own until I truly understood how they worked and what it all entailed.
With 4 personal dogs of our own and a doggy daycare in our home it is crucial we have “house rules” with our dogs. I think it’s extremely important and a major key in how we function so well as a pack. I am not a dog trainer and have never had a desire to be, but in fostering over 60 pups of all breeds, through tears and in laughter I have learned quite a bit about what works and what has not. It has been exciting to learn so much about dogs and I am always still learning from them. That is probably my favorite part about my job and what keeps me so passionate.
Below are some of our “house rules” and why I think they are important. With boundaries and balance our home is both happy and enjoyable. Having multiple dogs doesn't have to mean crazy but it sure does mean more to love!
#1. Dogs as dogs and not humans. Of course I love dressing up my dogs and spoiling them rotten but by realizing they are dogs first I am able to work with them instead of working against them. By setting healthy boundaries like “place” during dinner time our dogs are learning that begging at the dinner table is not allowed. Oftentimes it’s only natural to apply human solutions to dog problems but it can actually be enabling the wrong behavior. I struggled early on with this and see those issues in my older dogs. They have followed me to every room and begged terribly for food. I have since practiced these routines with them and have realized how much more beneficial it has made all of our lives. I recommend “stay" or "place" to be the first command people work on with their pups. It can help in so many situations and sometimes it’s just nice to use the restroom solo, ha!
#2. Energy is everything. You can help create the calm! This is sometimes easier said than done but energy is everything to dogs as it is their primary form of communication. Understanding that dogs can read our energy and body language better than our human language can help significantly in becoming aware of how we are carrying ourselves. Energy goes both ways and learning dogs clues can save you from bad situations and behavioral issues. I’ve seen it many times and even with myself, people becoming nervous in situations and in return their dogs doing the same. This can change instantly by just becoming aware of our energy. #CalmCoolCollectiveAF
#3. Being the leader and understanding that correction is not mean. Most dogs are not natural born leaders and realize their needs are satisfied when relying on humans. They are motivated to please. Strong, stable leadership is very important to a dog. As stated above most dogs do not know what they are supposed to be doing, rather they need to be told by their human. In our home we start with excersize first, a job/duty next and lastly affection. This may seem harsh but by completing those two steps first dogs are in a calm state, they have done what they were told and in return they are rewarded with love and affection. #AllTheKisses
#4. Honoring instincts and working with them. This took me the longest to figure out in my experience with dogs. I thought breeds did not play a huge role in behavior and that all dogs just had the same instincts. I was way off and in realizing this I have experienced dogs in such a more enjoyable manner. Dogs are instinctual while humans are emotional and intellectual. By learning how instincts can drive behavior we’ve been able to meet the needs of all our dogs differently. With our Pointer mix it’s crucial to stimulate the brain with games, interactive toys and scent work. With our herding dogs we play ball, herd sheep and practice learning new tricks daily. With my shepherd mix he thrives doing therapy type work and visiting nursing homes. Every dog has different needs and in finding what their instincts are it is both fun and rewarding for them and us!
#5. Creating a cozy environment that is dog proof. This may seem like a no brainer but truly this has changed the game for us and our dogs. Invest in a good garbage holder for those dumpster divers, work with your family to leave nothing on the counters and provide a fun and secure yard for your dogs to play. We have saved so much frustration by setting up a proper space we all can thrive in. Baby gates are a wonderful way to have boundaries in your home and crates can be a safe, comfy place for dogs. By setting them up for success we can enjoy our home and create a cozy, cohesive living space. The doggies get to enjoy our home to the fullest but they do not get to destroy it.
Finding balance in a multi-dog home isn’t always easy but it is always worth it! We work on things everyday and in return enjoy our dogs so much it’s almost silly. The challenges I find allow me to find strength in myself and I have dogs to thank for that.