I didn’t get a chance to write yesterday as I am staying out in the country and there is no internet. I am house and dog sitting for one of my trainers who has to be away on business (the only time she travels without her dogs). She has six. I have four. This makes for one busy household!!!
Fortunately her dogs are all highly trained and very obedient, so are no trouble at all to manage. Plus she has an amazing set-up, something I will have to keep in mind when I look to buy my own property. Having a good set-up is key when it comes to managing multiple dogs. The house I’m sitting is set up as follows. There is a large yard, solidly fenced right to the front of the house (instead of just off the back of the house). That means both side and back doors open into the fenced area, with one of them going into a small ‘mud’ room that I like to call the holding tank. I can put some of the dogs in the holding tank while brining others in through the second door. Then I let the ones in the holding tank out through the first door. This way I can rotate dogs without having them meet, which is important when you have two packs with two alpha males. All the beta dogs get along, but there are a couple I need to keep separate and this makes it oh, so much easier!
Having to move my household once again out of town – on the day I started back to work – took up most of my training time. I did manage to spend a little time with Finn working on his ‘get in’ – or sitting and walking beside me facing forward. Most dogs will naturally face towards you, waiting for treat or toy. To do sports where they need to be moving away from you (herding or agility, for example) the dog needs to sit beside you facing the same direction you are. It takes some reinforcing and practice, but Finn is pretty much there. Did I mention this puppy learns by osmosis?
Hannah and Mira got to run around like crazed lunatics (once again) with their buddies from the other pack. So did Finn for that matter, as there’s a pup his age that he has grown up with. They were thick as thieves. Ross, as usual, preferred to hang out with me.
I let them have fun, but can see the danger clearly of letting this continue. I noticed a big difference going from two to three dogs – they went from a nice pair to a pack. Three to four didn’t change much, but did up the energy a little. Six is verging on crazy. Her six dogs are wired for sound when you first let them out of their kennels, racing around and chasing each other for a number of minutes before settling. When I first started house sitting for her she only had four, and there is a marked difference in how much they feed off each other now. Mine don’t do that to the same extent, but I can see it going that way. I don’t let my crew pack up as much, and spend a lot of time with each dog on its own. But it doesn’t take much to bring out the pack behaviour. At one point I had 7 out together (the maximum) and they were pretty insane. I will keep it to 5 or under for the rest of the time, and mostly in groups of 2s and 3s. Thank goodness for that holding tank!