By Verina, Zenimal Natural Therapies
If you have more than one dog you might have noticed a bit of a rivalry develop that manifests in them fighting for your attention.
Don’t pass this off as friendly play-fighting, as even if it starts this way it can cause irreversible problems down the track if it isn’t addressed.
How do you manage sibling rivalry between my your dogs, and show them that you love them equally?
The first thing to note is whether your Dogs are actual siblings or adopted siblings. As proud fur parents, we tend to see and treat our fur babies as siblings even if they aren’t actually related, but you can’t fool nature.
If your dogs are siblings, they’re going to be very close, as they would have grown up and spent their entire lives together. So a sibling rivalry needs to be addressed early on to avoid bigger problems down the track.
If your dogs aren’t siblings, but rather just two dogs living together, it requires a slightly different yet similar approach.
Give them one-on-one time with you
If you have more than one dog, it’s important that you take the time to do things with them individually.
This may seem counterproductive as you might think you’re neglecting the one that isn’t with you, but there’s also a need to make each of them feel special. 1-on-1 time with your dogs lets them know they’re important to you as individuals and will help them get out of the habit of feeling like they have to compete with their sibling to get your attention.
It should go without saying that the point of this is to make them feel as special as you know they are.
You also need to make sure they get an equal amount of special time to avoid inadvertently making the problem worse!
Stopping sibling rivalry when you’re all together
One-on-one time should really be a bonus, as it’s still most important you do things all together as a family. The aim here is to stop dogs 'resource guarding' you from the other dog (where dogs growl or display behaviour to try and convince other dogs or humans to stay away from a particular treasure - usually you!)
How do you do this?
If you notice that one dog is trying to guard you from the others, diffuse the situation by doing two things:
1. Move away from that dog, discouraging them from thinking they can control you over their siblings.
2. Get your other dogs involved and bring them into the space that has been created apart from them. This encourages all your dogs to know they’re part of a collective and no one is more important than the other (not even you!).
You must address this early on so that you can cultivate a healthy relationship between you and all your dogs.