Any advise on multiples getting along?

  • We have 3 Basenji's now – a nearly 12 year male, Ramsey which we've had since a pup, Bonnie, a 11 month old female, also since a pup, and now Smitty, a 10 month old male which we got a month ago. We had to put down our 14 year old female earlier this year.

    At first all seemed fine once we got Smitty, then on the 3rd day of having him, he and Ramsey got into outside at the fence (another dog came by). I stood about 30' away and let them work it out. Smitty backed off, but not before getting bit on the nose and Ramsey on the ear. However, since then Smitty has gotten more and more assertive and isn't backing down.

    Usually fights break out when Smitty and Bonnie, are playing. Ramsey nervously follows them around grawling as though to say "knock it off you 2". Once Smitty invades Ramsey's space a fight always breaks out. Ramsey starts it. Now neither backs down until I pull them apart.

    When the younger ones are tired they are all fine together. The males can sleep in the same sun spot during the and even chew on treats in the same room. I try to monitor their play when I can and often crate Ramsey when they are running laps around the house. Still I have to be ready any second to bolt across the house when they're loose -- like I did just a few seconds ago!

    We have 2 little kids so I don't want them to get in the middle of anything and also I don't want either dog badly hurt (they could have gotten a couple stitches from their first fight -- poor guy will have a nice scar now). We have even talked about giving Ramsey up to a family we know, but would hate to loose our buddy of 12 years -- already went through that once this year!

  • It is really hard to give advice in this situation, without actually seeing it. But, my suggestion would be: if you can predict when the fighting is going to happen, don't let that situation occur. If the younger two playing make Ramsey try to reprimand, put Ramsey somewhere else when the younger two are playing.

    I have found one of the tricks to having more than two dogs, is that sometimes one of them needs to be separated from the others to avoid fights. Sometimes it is a passing thing, sometimes it is a permanant thing. Like BasenjiBoy, we run two small packs at our house. Our male goes back and forth between two groups of girls. There are situations where all of our girls can get along…usually on walks, when everyone is on lead in a neutral territory.

    It probably would have been easier for you if Smitty was brought in as a baby would have been much easier for Ramsey to let him know that he is in charge. By ten months old, it is difficult for many basenjis to let another dog boss them around.

    A good book to read would be "Feeling Outnumber" by Patricia McConnell PhD She gives a lot of great tips for living with multiple dogs. If things don't go as planned and the dogs don't get along, it can mean a lot of management; either behavior management (training), or household managment (separation) or a little of both.

  • It's been nearly 3 weeks since my first post. No new updates really, but new observations. I don't think this is a domination issue at all. Actually of the 3 dogs, Bonnie seems to be the most dominant – she leads on a walk, is the first through the door, etc. But she isn't part of the problem. Watching how the males interact they don't seem to be fighting for position. Ramsey and Smitty are normally fine together. They can eat near each other, chew on bones right next to each other and sleep side by side. BUT when Smitty and Bonnie play, Ramsey nervously shakes and looks very worried. It may be a behavior he's not use to for the last 9 or 10 years.

    For example, just a few minutes ago Ramsey's anxiety was building. Smitty and Bonnie were just playing. Smitty actually didn't want to but Bonnie wouldn't stop biting Smitty's neck. Smitty kept coming to me as though to say, "can you get her off my neck!" I couldn't get Ramsey to calm down and knew were it was going. So I crated Bonnie in this case. She is now laying down in her crate and the 2 males are by my side asleep after 3 minutes. Quiet, calm and nice!

    95% of the time it is due to playing, but we don't always know when they are going to play. I've taken some steps to address the behavior. I try to calm Ramsey down (never works). If he growls I'll correct him. If he nips as the others run past, I make him sit and don't let him go until he is calm. If he acts like his about to attack I force him to lay down. If he just can't handle it I put him in a crate in the other room apart from the others (I can't hardly crate 2 excited playing . Now if Smitty shows ANY bad behavior, I tell him NO! and make him lay down right away. He has a zero tolerance policy with that! But after 3 more weeks its only getting more frequent -- not exactly what I had hoped.

    Our vet suggested trying an anxiety medication. I hate to drug up the old guy, but we've had some close calls with the kids. So we're going to try Clomicalm. At $50 for a 2 month supply its not cheap, but what are you going to do? Our vet said to try it for 6 weeks before we come to any conclusion... though if it doesn't work I'm not sure what is next. Ramsey may just have to be crated any time the others want to play.

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