Archive for April, 2010
Does your dog’s breed make a difference in home alone set-up?
The answer to this is, it depends. As discussed in the book, sometimes you have dogs that you will always have to separate for safety’s sake when you are not around to supervise their interactions. This is especially true when you add a new housemate to your crew. More info on the details of this can be found in the chapter “Since You’ve Been Gone”. But breed differences are not discussed in as much detail as I will talk about here. I have a Pitbull mix among my crew. It is the opinion of many Pitbull advocates that Pitbull owners should always separate when unsupervised when there is more than one dog in the home, even of the opposite sex. Although I strongly disagree with blanket statements, I do support this train of thought when all the dogs in the home are Pitbulls or of primarily Pitbull ancestry.
However, I can say the same thing about several other confident breeds. Dobermans, Rottweilers, Akitas, and some mollosser breeds also come to mind. Some can be same sex aggressive and some can be simply easy to anger when jostled, regardless of whether the jostler is the same sex as they are or not. But one thing these breeds don’t share with Pitbulls is that Pitbulls were originally bred to fight among themselves. This means that for many, it is easier to stay aroused inappropriately and to take a simple disagreement further than it would normally go with some other breeds. So with a multiple Pitbull home, my on record advice is to separate when unsupervised. It will help you have peace of mind.
However, like most other breeds, Pitbulls have been mixed a plenty. A lot of people have a mix of a Pitbull and some other breed among their crew of multiple dogs, just like I do. I don’t believe that separation in this case, is always necessary. My take on this is to know your dog, plain and simple. I have separated my Pitbull mix, Trent from the rest of my crew when home alone, when he was new to the home. That lasted for about a year. I gradually tried him with the others for small periods of time and eventually, he was integrated into full time. My concern was not that he is a Pitbull mix. The concern was that Merlin, my Dobe mix, is not terribly tolerant of rudeness with other males and I needed to be sure that he fully accepted Trent as a crew member before I took a chance. Trent is deferent to my other dogs. That may not be the case if he were not a mix. Or yet again, it may.
Mixes can display the primary traits of the breed that they most resemble or they can just as easily not. This is true regardless of whatever bree(s) they are a mix of. If you are in any way unsure of whether your dogs will get along without your presence, then err on the side of safety, whatever their breeds. But don’t assume that just because you have a Pitbull mix among your crew that you must always separate. But what you MUST do ,it be capable of being truthful to yourself whether there are ever issues between your dogs, even a slight one. Some dogs need an audience to have a spat. Some don’t. You need to know which kind of fighter you might have. Even a raised lip from one that the other would not back down from, if you were not present, is cause for worry. So my own blanket statement is this…when in doubt, separate. Integrate with care and honesty within yourself. And stay safe.