How to stop a dog fight

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If you have a two-dog (or more-dog) household, chances are, they get into fights from time to time. Fights about who gets to come in the house first, or who gets to eat first, fights about who gets to snuggle nearest you on the floor… Fights that, to us humans, seem pretty darn silly!

But, when you look at it as sibling rivalry, it makes a bit more sense–if you have any brothers or sisters, I bet you got into weird territorial spats for no good reason from time to time (I know I did!).

The most common cause of dog fights is when your dogs are unclear about the boundaries. So, it’s important that you make a firm decision about who the alpha dog will be and treat that dog as the alpha. That dog should be petted first, given a treat first, leashed first, and fed first. Always. It may seem “unfair” to us people, but to dogs, anything else is confusing and can lead to snarls and snaps.

Next, make sure you’re consistent with the rules. If the dogs aren’t allowed on the furniture, never let them on the furniture. If they’re supposed to sleep in their crates, always put them in their crates for bed. Confused dogs are more likely to get into fights.

Finally, make sure each dog has his or her own things–a separate food bowl, a separate leash, a separate sleeping area (or crate, or both), separate Kongs. Some sharing can go on, certainly, but of the most important things, each dog needs his or her own.

If you have a multidog household, how do you avoid fights?

A dog training routine makes dogs happy

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It’s time for Vance’s dinner and I was thinking about how important routines are in dog training, but how it’s just as important to keep things from being too predictable. Seemed like a great topic for today’s post!

See, your dog needs a routine–without structure, he may be harder to train, disobedient, or just plain confused and unruly. Just like kids.

But, if you keep to too stringent of a routine, he may have trouble dealing with change, and change is always inevitable in life.

So, where do you find the balance? To a great extent, this depends on your dog’s personality and your lifestyle, so to get individual recommendations, find a good dog trainer.

For now, though, just know that you need to find that balance between structured routine and variety to keep your dog both obedient and relaxed. The variety reminds him that you’re in charge (because you get to come and go as you please) and the routine reminds him that his world is safe (because he never goes without dinner). With Vance, we keep mealtimes very structured when it comes to time, but not as structured when it comes to place (since we like to travel with a dog) and we’ve found that strikes the perfect balance for him.

So, talk to a dog trainer about the right balance of routine and variety for your dog. And, I’m curious–do you think your life currently has too much of one or the other?

Joel Silverman: What Color is Your Dog

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When I was a teen, I checked out Joel Silverman’s videos on dog training over and over again. I was transfixed by the way he taught Hollywood dogs to do interesting tricks while being really positive and gentle. I trained many a dog to do the tricks on his video and consistently found his methods to be easy to use and to work reliably. It was amazing!

What Color is Your Dog book I just discovered he’s the author of a brand new book called “What Color is Your Dog” which delves into the way you train your dog based on his personality. For instance, if you’ve got an energetic, bubbly Lab (I do!) treats should be used sparingly and the focus should be on verbal reinforcement. Boy is that one true with Vance–when the treats come out, he trots out every last trick he’s ever learned in an effort to “win” the treat.

What I’ve always admired about Silverman’s approach is that it’s so customized to each dog, and this book will help you bring that personalization to your own dog training habits. Because each dog is unique, you can’t just apply the exact same techniques with no regard for your dog’s personality, and this book will teach you how to make the necessary adjustments so you don’t inadvertently reinforce a dog’s shy nature (or bubbly inclinations).

Check it out on Amazon at: What Color is Your Dog.