Would you like to live in harmony in a house with multiple dogs?! It can most easily be obtained when positive reinforcement training techniques are used, along with proper living space management and good feeding habits. You’ll learn how to do all those things in this book.
You’ll also learn techniques for adding new dogs, group training and exercise, playtime, resolving issues with problem dogs, and all the other things you need to know to guide you through your life with multiple dogs. Throughout the book there are examples of real life experiences of people using these techniques.
Whether you live two dogs, six dogs, or more, How Many Dogs?! will help bring joy into your home.
Debby began training dogs and their owners in 1998 at the Animal Friends shelter in Pittsburgh, PA. In 2002 she started her dog training and behavior consulting business, Pawsitive Reactions, LLC. She is a founding member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC), a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant (CDBC), and a long time professional member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT). A member of the Doberman Pinscher Club of America, she is also the founder and president of Damon’s Den Doberman Rescue of Western PA. She lives with four personal dogs as well as a rotating crew of rescues and would have it no other way.
Published 2010 Distributed by Dogwise Publishing
McMullen has trained dogs professionally since 1998, and like many owners, her canine menagerie grew without much planning. She adopted an unwanted puppy, took in a stray, and fostered a rescue or two. These dog acquisitions might have happened without a great deal of forethought, but McMullen stresses that a relaxed approach to a multi-dog home must end there. How Many Dogs?! is a straightforward, realistic book full of valuable guidance. McMullen’s methods are based on real-life experiences living with multiple dogs. She emphasizes that owners must establish leadership to avert chaos, but a domineering approach rarely achieves desired results. “It is not your job to dominate your dogs, nor to let them dominate each other,” McMullen writes. “It’s all about benevolence. You are the benevolent leader.” She discusses strategies for feeding a gang of dogs, sleeping with a bed full of dogs, ensuring the comfort of old or infirm dogs, and the tricky business of group training. For multi-dog households, training is an ongoing experience. She explains how to incorporate it into everyday life, as well as how to avoid complications caused by unintentional training: “Every interaction you have with your crew trains them in some way.” The book is full of advice and ideas, but McMullen admits there are no standard rules. Owners must tailor their routines to the dynamics of their particular dogs. However, dogs will be dogs, and she is realistic about situations likely to arouse pack mentality, such as walking multiple dogs, visiting a dog park and the arrival of a new dog. “You will know when the mixed group can be trusted to be left alone together when you are not home,” McMullen writes. “And in some cases, the answer may be never. But if integration is to happen, you must never move toward this goal incrementally.” Most importantly, she makes readers aware of signs that trouble is brewing, and steps they can take to defuse conflict before it escalates into a dog fight. Amy Fernandez
THE APDT CHRONICLE OF THE DOG
“As the title suggests, How Many Dogs?! is a guide for dog owners coping with life in a multi-dog household. The book covers topics such as maintaining calm during feeding times, negotiating sleeping arrangements, managing the group when you are not home, traveling with multiple dogs, and how to keep playtime safe, as well as offering insight for owners about when there might be a problem in their multi-dog home. It ends with the training cues McMullen deems most valuable to teach dogs who live with other dogs. There is a lot of very valuable information in this book, I was thrilled that McMullen put such an emphasis on safety, always recommending a “better safe than sorry” approach when it comes to leaving the dogs alone, feeding, and navigating sleeping arrangements. This came up multiple times throughout the book, and McMullen hit it spot on – advising owners to use extreme caution, especially with a newer dog joining the group, but without being unnecessarily doom-and-gloom on the subject. She also makes an excellent point about trusting one’s instincts when it seems a problem may be arising. I also appreciate that McMullen was very clear with the reader regarding the scope of her book; she did not write an exhaustive manual on positive reinforcement training, nor did she need to. Her outline of useful exercises to teach dogs in a multi-dog home (including “wait,” “leave,” “drop it,” polite leash walking, crate training, recalls, and many others) is thorough, but she does not intend it to be the only resource for a novice handler coping with multiple dogs. Additionally McMullen is very good at instructing the reader when s/he should seek professional help with a problem behavior such as resource guarding, or when fights have already taken place between dogs in the household. The book includes the input of a number of multi-dog owners, including the different ways they navigate the various ins and outs of their lives with the pack. These generally appear at the end of each chapter. At times this was very useful, in that it provided an additional perspective on how things might be done, and how people adapt good practices to their own group of dogs. At other times these anecdotes didn’t add much to the chapters they followed. But it was good to be aware that McMullen had examined several multi-dog homes in writing the book. Another nice element of the book was text boxes that appeared on many pages, summarizing the main points of the page. These helped to break up the pages that did not have photos, and drive home the key messages in each section. They kept me more focused on the topic at hand! I had a handful of complaints about this book. The first is that it was in need of a good copyeditor. There were multiple typos, misspellings, grammar and punctuation errors, and some clunky language that did at times make it difficult to read. As someone who makes a living proofreading, I admit that I am overly sensitive to these issues in printed materials. I can’t help but be distracted when these things jump out at me. The second is merely a stylistic difference between me and McMullen. I found certain things that she said to be a bit too anthropomorphic for my tastes. When she described bringing Kera home in the car with Merlin, she stated that Merlin seemed to understand that he was now going to have to share her (McMullen’s) attention with the new dog for the rest of their lives. I give dogs a lot of credit for their intuitive capabilities, but I found that hard to believe. While statements like that are likely harmless, they give me pause and make me question the author’s credibility, even if momentarily. One final and very small concern I had was about McMullen’s clear preference for feeding raw. This is a controversial and complicated topic that I think it should have been left for a book about nutrition. While nutrition affects every area of a dog’s life, and can certainly affect behavior, McMullen speaks at length about the benefits of a raw diet, and this much information on the subject seemed out of place in a book about the multi-dog home. I was glad for the mention of good nutrition in helping to bring out the best in a dog’s behavior, though. Despite the above concerns, I do think this book offers a great deal of very valuable information to anyone managing a multi-dog household, or anyone considering adding additional dogs to their home, and I will refer back to it when I start getting serious about adding #2 to my home.” Adrienne Hovey, managing editor of The APDT Chronicle of the Dog
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