Pack therapy – when dogs visit
There are lots of dogs in our family so often they come to our house when the humans are visiting together. Over Labour Day weekend, we had our cousin doggies drop by for a few nights so there were 5 of us in total (plus our cat) to make for one busy house. We’ve found that each time they visit, things run a little bit more smoothly, but early on things were kind of stressful (for mommy and for us). Especially with Riley’s anxiety, he would have a hard time remaining calm with all the dogs and people in the house, and it even lead to a couple of minor brawls between him and our cousin Kuma, a chocolate lab that’s the same age as me (Ripley)!
There are some things that have worked well to get us adjusted to one-another during visits, and we hope they will help you, too!
1. Don’t let everyone meet each other in the house – when doggie guests come to visit, we always try to say “hello” on neutral territory. If it hasn’t been late at night, we all go for a walk together so when we get back it’s less exciting. Or, mommy shoves us all out into the backyard where we seem to be a little bit calmer. Removing the territorial aspect of the house seems to help, plus it’s a bit calmer since all the humans talking loudly and greeting each other can make us more excited.
2. Walk together – we’re a pack of three, but as of this last visit, our doggie pack has two more members! We go on lots of walks when we’re together, it helps with the pack mentality. Some of the humans even took turns walking all 5 of us at once just for fun! We walked calmly together, and when let out on a loose leash, we all walked in a row together in front of the humans. Another dog growled at us and we were all ready to truly prove we were a pack.
3. Have some separate time – we didn’t have to do it much during the last visit, but often we split up to have some quiet time. We’ll spend some time in our crates while the other dogs see the humans, and then the other dogs will go and lie in the guest rooms while we visit. This works especially well when Riley has become anxious from too much activity.
4. Leave space during meals – the three of us have a system for meals, so for the most par twe don’t have any problems. But that’s not the same when there’s visitors. It’s more likely that someone will become territorial over their food, or that it will get eaten by the wrong dog. If we stayed together for a long time, we might be able to work together. For visits, we have separate spots to dine!
5. Don’t focus on us too much – I’m speaking to you, humans! If you dwell on what we’re doing and constantly try to interfere, you’re just making it worse. Don’t just sit down and stare at us. Stick with your business around the house and converse with your guests and let us get to know each other our way!
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