Certified pet dog trainer Laura Yaghy gave an excellent presentation last night at the Humane Society of Rome on planning and managing multiple dog households to a standing room only crowd. Laura speaks from years of experience – as a dog trainer and instructor, as a pit bull rescue person and as the personal manager of thirteen dogs in her household! Laura’s dogs include a Poodle, a Labrador Retriever, Australian Cattle Dogs and Pit Bull Terriers.
Laura’s advice was practical and to the point. She has four basic “rules to live by”. These are good basic rules even for a one dog household.
First, your family needs to decide on the “dog rules” for the household ahead of time. Everyone must follow the rules and be consistent. It is not fair for the dog to be allowed on the couch on Saturday when he is clean and dry and then not on Monday when he is wet and muddy.
Second, all dogs should be crate trained. This is for the safety and sanity of everyone in the house. Used properly, a crate gives each dog a place of their own; a personal sanctuary.
The famous NLIF is the third rule – Nothing in Life is Free. Each dog must earn privileges and rewards. So if your dog wants to go out in the fenced backyard, he must sit and wait at the door until you release him. He wants a treat? He must sit or down on command. With a group of dogs, they can, and should, be worked together. So everyone waits at the door and they are released individually by name. In this example, it is best to release dogs by social order. This may not be “fair” in that Dog A always gets to go first and Dog D always goes out last, but routine and structure are important to dogs.
Lastly, dogs should not have to compete for food, water or toys. Have extra toys so every dog can have at least one. Separate dogs for feeding and special treats like chews or bones. Make sure there are plenty of dog beds and water bowls.
Laura also emphasized the importance of matching up temperaments and personalities when adding a new dog to your household. People tend to fall in love with a dog of a certain color or breed without always thinking about how that dog would fit into their family group.
The evening ended with Laura fielding questions from the audience. The Humane Society of Rome is to be commended for offering these great seminars/workshops.
Central NY Kennel Club will be offering a free canine nutrition seminar next Wednesday evening at Cornell Cooperative Extension. More on that to come. For up to date dog news from centrlal NY, hit the subscribe button near the bottom of the article. This column will come to your email free!