Alternate title, “Tips on being a multi-dog household AND NOT LOSING YOUR EFFING MIND ON A DAILY BASIS”.
#1: Go to puppy class
I cannot stress what an opportunity it is to take your new puppy through obedience class! We had Luke & Leia enrolled in puppy training within 2 weeks of getting them, and I called and signed Chloe up for classes literally the day after we adopted her. We have a favorite trainer at our local PetSmart but you can find classes just by googling “dog obedience class (your town’s name)”. A puppy class focuses on basic commands – sit, lay down, sit-stay, down-stay, come, leave it, drop it, and a trick like shake or high-five. At PetSmart the classes are limited to 6-7 dogs and are one hour long. Our trainer starts out explaining the new command for that week, demonstrating how to teach it to a dog, and then we all work with our puppies individually. She observes each dog at work and offers tips & corrections to make sure the command is being taught properly.
I’m not saying that puppy classes are a magic fix-all for a rowdy dog, but it teaches your dog valuable socialization with other sizes/types of dogs, scary new people, and puts your puppy in an unfamiliar environment where it is easier to concentrate on learning. Our puppies are consistently obeying each new command at the end of only 1 hour of training! If going to a weekly obedience class is too much for you to handle right now, you can also check books out from the library or even search the internet for tutorials on how to train your dog without a trainer. The Hubs and I felt like having a LaShae on “retainer” for the awkward & chaotic puppy months is worth it, but we know that isn’t for everyone.
POTTY TRAINING TIP FROM OUR TRAINER:
10-15 minutes after your puppy eats or drinks anything (seriously, eh-nee-thang) take him/her outside to do their business. Give them 5-10 minutes to run around, and if they haven’t peed and/or pooped after 10 minutes, take them back inside and put them in their CRATE. No play time, no toys, no treats, just right into the crate. After 15-20 minutes, take them back outside for another round. Repeat this cycle of yard-to-crate-to-yard-and-back-to-crate until they’ve gone. Then, lots of praise and play time! Basically, this teaches the puppy that they don’t get any lovin’ or fun until they’ve done their business.
Guys, it took 3 days for our mini doxies to get it, and now they’re *nearly* perfect! (notice I didn’t mention Chloe…1.5 weeks in and she’s still regularly peeing in the house. Geez)
#2: Have a routine
Our dogs have learned their daily schedule and there are no surprises! Monday through Friday, they get up every morning at the same time, have breakfast at the same time, potty at the same time. The puppies go into their crates at the same time, and we get home from work at the same time every day to let them out to potty and feed dinner. Weekends, they “sleep in” until 8 when momma gets up and makes her coffee and lets them out to play. They know it’s dinner time when they see momma getting out their food bowls, they know it’s time to go potty when they see us pick up Emma to carry her outside (she has a sensitive back and can’t go up/down stairs easily). Having a predictable daily routine helps dogs feel secure, knowing that their needs will be met, because they’ve been met exactly the same way many times before. This reduces anxiety, nervous behaviors like barking and chewing, and indoor potty accidents.
#3: Keep lots of toys and rotate them
We have 5 different chew toys kicking around (we prefer the Nylabone durachew bones in large size), as well as a couple tug-of-war rope toys and squeaky balls. The dogs play with each other, prancing around and flipping the rope toys into the air, jumping up on the ottoman and playing “king of the hill” sitting on a pile of scavenged chew toys, and excavating under the couch for lost squeaky toys. After their energy is used up, they all plop down on the rugs and couches with their chew toys and keep themselves occupied for hours. Having multiple toys ensures that each dog gets something to play with. They still fight and play-tussle over the toys, but eventually, everyone settles down and it’s blissful. Remember, a bored dog is a destructive dog! Several times this past weekend I had to hunt out a lost chew toy (usually under the chair where they can’t reach) and trade Chloe for the yummy throw pillow she had been gnawing on. Also, periodically removing a toy and adding a new one helps keep their interest. (I’ve heard that some dog owners train their canines to put their toys away when they’re done with them! This, I’ll have to see to believe!)
#4: Stay on top of the clean-up
I am very sensitive to odors and ever since my Aunt recommended Nature’s Miracle I’ve been hooked. The enzymes in Nature’s Miracle naturally destroy odors and leave rugs, cushions, and carpets fresh & clean. Febreze masks smells, Nature’s Miracle destroys them! The thing to remember is that, like with any ongoing task, if you slack off on cleaning up after your furry roommates you’ll quickly be overwhelmed. Saturday mornings are my time to vacuum, sweep, mop, wash the blankets, pillow covers and floor rugs, and (depending on whether Melanie has vomited on them recently, or if they are covered in muddy pawprints) wash the sofa & chair slipcovers. I turn on the TV, throw back some coffee and get everything done in a couple of hours, all while The Hubs is snoozing away. That’s my time! Also, you may recall that back in December we bought an air purifier. It was pricey, but I can honestly say that it was worth every penny. Even with bathing the dogs weekly (Nature’s Miracle shampoo!), mopping up muddy paw prints and misting the couch, chairs & rugs every evening with Nature’s Miracle Stain & Odor Remover before bed, odors can creep in. We keep the air purifier running 24/7 in the “dog area” and you can’t even tell that we own 5 dogs when you walk into our house (if the dogs jumping at your feet don’t clue you in, that is).
#5: Remember that they are dogs!!!
This is arguably the most important thing to remember when living with several dogs! They will have accidents, they will chew things you leave on the floor accidentally, they will think that buttons on your throw pillows are edible, they will get upset stomachs and vomit on your rugs. They will do things that gross you out, run in noisy circles knocking into furniture, and pee on your upholstery (even if you just washed the slipcovers). The more dogs you have, the more likely it is that someone will do something stupid every. single. day. And then, right when you’re at the end of your rope, they pile on your lap and give you puppy kisses. For a multiple-dog owner, that makes it all worth it. (Also, dogs look ridiculously angelic when they’re sleeping) Watch your dogs tumble around the yard or burrow after each other under cushions, barking happily, tails all furiously wagging, and know that it is all worth it. You are everything to these little guys. See how their eyes follow you around the room as you walk past, or how when you’re cooking dinner they park themselves at your heels. If that doesn’t mean something to you, then you probably have too many dogs.
Dogs didn’t choose to be born, and they don’t exist solely for your pleasure.
We’re all on this planet to enjoy the trip called “Life” – dogs just as much as humans. If you feel that you can give multiple dogs a good home, with food, interaction, shelter, company, and love, then go for it! Don’t think that having 2+ dogs means you’re going to live in a pigsty and never own nice things. If you train them, give them exercise, clean regularly, and recognize their doggy limitations, you’ll have fun. Owning multiple dogs is an adventure and can be very rewarding! If you have any questions about things I haven’t mentioned, or just want to vent over what crazy thing your silly pups did today, feel free to email me! Use the “Send Us Some Love” link at the top of my blog page. I’d love to chat! 🙂