When you live with a pack of dogs, your days are full of activity. From the minute your alarm goes off and those little paws patter their happy breakfast dance down your hallway until everyone is tucked into their own special bed at night, you have a very important job.
This is true of every dog parent but especially true for those courageous–and a little eccentric–individuals who feel drawn to the pack life. You may have a lot to do, but when you look into all those furry little faces, you know it’s worth the effort, and you wouldn’t change a thing.
Every pack mama and papa knows that along with the many benefits of living with a pack of dogs, there’s also a lot of work. There’s barking every time a package is delivered, the constant shedding of fur, and the endless picking up of poops.
Then you factor in the usual sibling rivalries and skirmishes and you’ve practically got a part time job, but it’s the best part time job in the world.
If you have a pack or are thinking of taking your two dog home to the next level, here are some tips that will help make your pack life a happy one.
1. Be A Strong, Calming Presence In Your Own Home
Perhaps the most important aspect of maintaining control in your multi-dog domicile is you.
Regardless of who the alpha dog is, the real pack leader is and must always be you. Setting clear boundaries for all your dogs and making sure that they realize you are in charge and everything is under control is extremely important.
It’s also very helpful if each of your dogs has mastered basic obedience training and understands what is expected of them, but that’s just not always the case when you have three, four, or more dogs.
Sometimes your calm, loving authority is your best asset.
2. Meals Should Be Organized And Consistent
Every dog is different. They eat a different speeds, some dogs will eat themselves sick if you let them, and others are nibblers who may take all day to finish a bowl of food.
One thing is for sure, there will almost always be at least one dog who eats really fast and then wants to help your other dogs finish their meals for them. This can cause friction between pack members.
If tensions are starting to build among your brood of hounds, it can partially be due to resource guarding. This occurs when a dog feels he or she is in danger of losing something that’s important to them.
Resource guarding is prevalent when it comes to food. Dogs need to be able to eat without feeling that someone else is going to come along and snatch their meal right out of their own bowl.
One way to ensure everyone eats in peace is to feed your dogs one at a time, allowing the oldest or slowest dog to eat first. Then feed each dog in succession allowing them to finish before putting down the next dog’s meal.
If you have a food-aggressive dog, you can also use crates or gates to separate pups at meal times. This will take less time and still allow everyone the safety they need to finish their meal without stress.
3. An Active Pack Is A Happy Pack
Making sure that all your dogs get plenty of exercise will help prevent them from getting into mischief.
Adequate time running and playing outside will not only use up all their energy, but it can also boost their feelings of well-being and reduce stress.
Dog walks are a great way to help your pack get the activity they need in their daily lives, and it’s good for us humans, too. Whether you walk your dogs one at a time or all together, make sure that they get enough activity every day to help avoid destructive behavior.
4. Bedtime For Dogs
While it’s fine to allow your pups to sleep on or in your own bed, once you are into a pack of three, four or more dogs, you are truly limiting your own ability to get enough z’s.
Dogs have a way of locking your legs into uncomfortable positions or making it impossible for you to roll over when you need to adjust. If that’s your idea of bliss, then enjoy. However, for many people, this can be a problem.
It’s important that you don’t play favorites. If one dog sleeps in your bed, you should allow them all to sleep in your bed. If you don’t allow one dog to sleep in your bed, then you shouldn’t allow any dogs to sleep in your bed.
This will help alleviate any tension between pack members who may think they’re special because they’re allowed on the human bed.
It’s important to make sure each dog has a place to sleep that is all their own. It’s also important to have a dog bed that’s appropriate for each dog’s size and age. Consider a special bed for an aging dog who may suffer from arthritis and sore joints.
A crate with a comfy blanket or bed allows a dog to have a safe space where they can retreat to when stressful times arise and they need some time to calm down or just get away from the rest of the pack.
5. Equality Is Your Key To Peace
Resource guarding also includes high value items such as the favorite squeaky animal or the spot next to a highly coveted human person. It is important to make sure that each dog has their own toys and gets ample attention from you.
Make sure that any time you bring home desirable items, like new squeaky toys, that there’s one for everyone. Be careful not to play favorites with any one dog, and give everyone lots of individual love and attention.
Living with a pack of dogs is a lot of work, but it’s also extremely satisfying and rewarding. With a pack of dogs you get more love, more kisses, more wagging tails and more pattering paws. You’ll find it more difficult to feel depressed around a pack of dogs.
The most difficult part of having a pack is finding someone you trust enough to watch them when you travel or go out of town. If you find someone who’s good at caring for your pack, treat them very well.
It’s a magical gift to find someone who can properly care for your pups when you are away. Even pack leaders need a vacation sometimes.
Do you have a dog pack? What advice would you give to anyone else out there considering taking their passion for pups to the pack level? Let us know in the comments below!