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One Big Happy Family

Author: Lindsay Rapp | Date: February 1, 2012

I’m sure most of you know that I have three dogs in my household. I know what you are thinking… that’s crazy! I have two little ones I call the ChiChi’s, short for Chihuahuas. Dolce is 10 and is the perfect angel, but Moxie has issues. The first day I brought him home he would only walk along the baseboards. He has OCD and obsessively spins, licks, and follows you EVERYWHERE. A few years ago I put him on Prozac to make his life easier, and he can now sit still for longer periods of time. He may have his issues, but he sure is cute!

I love my little Chichi’s, but I always wanted a big dog too! So, three years ago I started looking for a dog to adopt. I thought if I adopted a puppy I could integrate her with the other two and we would be one, big happy family. I found my pit-bull mix Kayla at STAAR rescue. She and her littermates were found in a box on the side of the road and were picked up by Animal Care and Control. While she was there, she was attacked by another dog and had to get stitches. Poor girl!

Once I got her home it was perfect! All three dogs fell in love and would all sleep on the same bed and chew on a bone at the same time. When Kayla was 8 months old, I started AnimalSense Academy (now CanineLink) and started learning about canine behavior. Everything I was learning I started seeing in my own home. Kayla hit one year old and she started looking at the Chichi’s differently, less like siblings, and more like prey. She also started becoming leash reactive toward other dogs on walks. I asked Jamie (AnimalSense’s former owner) to come to my house and take a look at my dogs’ relationship. I already knew what she was going to say… but I needed to be reassured that what I was seeing was correct. And it was.

To make sure all my dogs were safe, I had to make a decision.

I didn’t want to give Kayla up, but I had to do something. I had to separate them. I knew it was going to be a very hard thing to do, but I was going to give it a year and see how it went.  I wanted to give Kayla some time to grow up and work on her leash reactivity, which is now under control: she can walk by most dogs and is completely fine. I also wanted to change Kayla’s mind about the Chichi’s being prey. So there is a strict schedule in my home: the dogs take turns being loose in the house and being in their crates. It’s actually pretty easy! They get switched out every few hours. It system them their space and they all have learned to be quiet in their crates while I am home.

Soon, I’ll start working on re-introducing them. It will be a slow process, but I am hopeful that one day they can all be together again. But as an advocate for all three of my dogs, my top priority is making sure everyone is safe.

Having these issues has made me learn a lot about dogs and canine behavior. I know that this scenario is not ideal for most people, but I am okay with it, and it has actually made me a better trainer!

Things to take away from this post:

1) Even if you get a puppy it doesn’t always mean that dog will grow up to get along with other dogs in the home.

2) Things that happen to puppies (Kayla being attacked) can and usually do impact them for the rest of their lives. A puppy that is 8 weeks old is in its biggest fear period, so get all the information you can about your dog.

3) If you see any changes in your dog don’t ignore it. Ask a professional to take a look and figure out a plan to help your dog. The quicker you start working on unwanted behavior, the quicker you see results.

4) Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Our team here at AnimalSense has over 75 years of collective training experience. Just call the office and talk to a trainer.




I really don’t know what it would have been like without the support of AnimalSense.

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