Right now, there are multiple dogs living with me: my Terrier and Chihuahua mix Quincy, my yellow Lab Kinsey and a five month old Golden I’m puppy raising and training to become a diabetic alert dog. So, managing three dogs is my normal. A couple of days a week I have my sister’s two dogs, and when my parents went out of town last week I watched their two little dogs as well. So, that adds up to seven. That’s a lot right? I mean when I mention it to people I work with, they’re like WOW. That’s what’s waiting for you at home?
I will admit that there are days when it’s overwhelming! The shrill bark of my sister’s Chihuahua. The piles of poop scattered about the grass. Another hole under my avocado tree. So, out of necessity, I’ve come up with strategies to manage multiple dogs, whether they’re my own or I’m dog sitting.
Know the History
If you don’t know the dog very well, talk to the owner before you agree to dog-sit! Basic questions include:
How does your dog act around unfamiliar dogs? Lays down on the floor? Hackles up, head up, but calms down after a few minutes? Goes for the kill? (If the answer to this is yes, you might reconsider.)
Has your dog ever been in a fight?
Is your dog protective with food? toys? you?
If the answers concern you, perhaps you should suggest a good kennel. While you might eventually be able to work the dog into your pack, it will require time and training.
Understand the Personalities
When I’m out walking the dogs on the wash, they all get along just fine. There’s tons of space, smells and adventure. However, being locked in a kennel run together is another story.
These are the things I consider when I pen up the dogs:
Lucy is ten years old and starting to suffer a bit from arthritis. So, I would not put her in a pen with a five month old, crazy, puppy.
Quincy is eleven, and generally grumpy, so she needs her own space.
Kinsey gets along with everybody.
Sherlock is crazy and needs to be by himself or with a dog that is tolerant.
Izzy barks constantly and cannot be outside to annoy the neighborhood.
If possible, pen up the dogs when you’re home then watch, listen and plan. That way, when you want to take a yoga class, you’ll feel confident leaving the dogs penned up together for a few hours.
When managing multiple dogs, I strongly suggest feeding them in crates. If you don’t have enough crates, feed them one at a time or in separate rooms. It only takes a second for one dog to bite another, and when food is involved problems escalate in the blink of an eye.
Dogs need a lot of exercise. If I don’t take the dogs out they entertain themselves by digging up my potted plants, chasing each other through the bushes, breaking sprinklers and fencing fighting.
I’m blessed because my house backs up to the wash, so taking out seven crazy dogs isn’t a problem. I open the back fence, and we’re off! If that’s not an option, look for an empty field, and go EARLY. Like, as soon as it’s light out. There’s a huge field behind an elementary school not too far from my house, and if I’m there before seven in the morning I have the place to myself. So, seven crazy dogs can run around with no drama.
Managing multiple dogs, whether they’re your own or you’re dog sitting, is a lot of work! I hope that these suggestions help lessen the stress. Because at the end of the day there’s not much better than watching Netflix with a pack of worn out dogs.
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I hope you enjoy the video! I used my new GoPro Hero! My sister just loved the music I picked…