I get a lot of different questions from all over the place, and today one of my clients sent me a text saying “hey, we’re going to be caring for a friend’s dog, what should we do?” I wanted to share the advice I gave to them, in case it may be helpful to any of you as well.
The first thing I told them was to let the dogs play together. Now if you’ve trained with me, you know I can be a bit of a hard ass and I don’t necessarily let my working dog prospects play with other dogs as adults. However, as a pet owner, you should let your dogs play together. When you’re letting those dogs play together I think it’s a good idea to keep a leash on them because sometimes disagreements can happen or excitement can escalate into some kind of unwanted biting. If that’s the case, having the leash there helps to sort out the problem quickly if they get into it.
You should also know the temperament of your dog. If your dog doesn’t have a playful or friendly temperament, you probably shouldn’t be taking care of a friend’s dog, but there are still ways to do it. When you’re letting them play together, and also when they aren’t playing together, keep leashes on them. It just makes it easier on you, that before or right when they start doing something unwanted, you could use the leash to help control the situation.
Another thing you can do, after the dogs have played, perhaps you can have them settle separately. Most people know I’m a big fan of place training, it’s such a fantastic way to calm a dog. So, having both dogs on their own place when settling will be really good.
Now, this one is challenging, but if you’re up for it you can play with one of the dogs while the other stays on their place. Obviously, this would be much easier with another family member to help make sure the other dog stays and reinforces that. I love to play the treat toss game where one dog is on the place stay, and the other is running back and forth interacting with me. Switch it up and let them take turns. If the dogs are doing really great, then why not get on the floor with them and play altogether.
One thing to watch out for is resource guarding if there are toys and food around. Be careful about having too many things for the dogs to become possessive over because those things can turn into fights.
I hope this is helpful, happy training!