Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Living with Multiple Pit Bulls - One Version

Meet my household: there is Sydney an 11 year old spayed, female pit bull, Murphy a 4 year old neutered male pit bull and Foster a 2 year old neutered male pit bull. I have been fortunate so far in that I have not had to implement a crate and rotate lifestyle within my multi-pit bull household. However as the owner of several pit bulls, I know that the potential for complete separation is there. I hope I never need it but am perfectly willing and prepared to do whatever is necessary to keep all of my dogs safe.

So how do I manage three pit bulls at once? Supervision, separation and training, that's how!

Basic obedience training is a must for all dogs, and we practice our obedience training on a daily basis. This doesn't mean I set aside an hour of practice for each dog every day, I certainly don't have an extra three hours a day to spend drilling obedience exercises. What it does mean is that I make the most of the many training opportunities we have throughout the day. When my dogs get fed, when I give them treats, let them outside, take them for a walk or ride in the car, play games with them, all these are opportunities to ask for a sit or a down or some other command they know.

Supervision! My dogs are supervised 100% of the time they are together. When they are playing together, I watch them. When they eat their meals, I'm standing amongst them, when they are chewing on bones or playing with toys, I'm watching them. Supervision is not just being in the same room, supervision is actively watching their interactions, reading their body language and tone of voice, observing the reactions of the each dog to the actions of the other dogs. If someone gets too excited during play time I can quickly call them to me and make them take a break to cool off. This prevents fights from happening before they happen! Preventing a fight between dogs of any breed is a whole lot better than trying to break one up after the fact.

Separation! I have the benefit of having a house big enough to give each boy their own bedroom. They have extra tall metal gates that are permanently and securely attached to the door frames of their rooms. Whenever I am unable to supervise my dogs, whether I am leaving the house or just taking a shower, the boys go into their rooms with their gates closed and Sydney gets the rest of the house to herself. This has multiple benefits. Not only are my dogs not going to get into a fight with each other, they cannot harass the cat, they can't get into the trash and they can't destroy things out of boredom. They each have plenty of chew toys to keep them occupied and can watch the squirrels out the windows without the danger of a redirected fight happening. When I lived in a much smaller house, each of the boys had their own crates that they stayed in quite willingly. This separation takes only an extra 60 seconds during my morning routine, but the peace of mind I get knowing my dogs are safe in their rooms is priceless while I'm at work.

I don't allow rude behaviors such as mounting during play time, intimidation or pushy tactics to take toys/bones away from each other. All of my rules are designed to give my dogs the most freedom I can while still preventing any altercations between them. I own a set of breaksticks and know how to use them, my dogs wear sturdy collars at all times and I know immediately where leashes are located so if there ever is a fight, I hope that I'm prepared to break it up quickly and as safely as possible for all involved. I know that the potential for dog aggression is there in my chosen breed and will do everything I can to keep them safe.

Not all dogs will get along together and I consider myself very lucky that my dogs do. The strategies I use will not work for every dog since every dog is an individual.

If there comes a day when they no longer get along, I will crate and rotate them and not rely on abusive tactics to try to force them into being something they are not.

~ Amanda


Amanda4APS said...

Good post! If a pit bull owner is not willing to do the things you mentioned, they shouldnt own multiple dogs, period. Your dogs are gorgeous, I hope they live out their lives as friends :o)

Amanda T said...

I love that you mentioned the rude behaviors such as mounting and taking away bones/toys. My male pit tries to do both of those things to my female and even though she is not aggressive toward him, I definitely do not want him thinking that is ok. Are there particular "punishments" that work best or any suggestions on how to minimize those behaviors in a healthy and respectful way?

Anonymous said...

this is crazy talk

supervise & separate?

the pictures that you show all exhibit terrible behavior that will lead to aggression. playing tug of war is a big no-no, especially with pitties. Lying on the couch!? seriously your dogs should never be on the furniture. It's SO important that you establish pack hierarchy, food, physical boundaries, affection should all be done in a controlled yet assertive manner. Good luck!