I went to a very busy house yesterday, with three generations of family and three dogs. Two were Jack Russell/Staffie crosses called Lucy and Brandy, both quite small, and a beautiful Cairn called Maddie.
Maddie is the barker and they will be working on that, using a behavioural approach rather than the citronella collar they have understandably resorted to. I feel it is unacceptable to squirt citronella up a dog’s nose – it’s most sensitive and primary sense. This would be like someone shining a powerful light into our eyes until we were blinded. Lucy is the most needy, having been the only dog for a while and babied. Brandy is the newcomer. She joined the household a month ago and previously belonged to another family member.
There is now a six week old baby in the house, and all the dogs are very chilled about this. They are used to grandchildren and babies.
However, the three dogs, all bitches, aren’t chilled with one another. They were at each other most of the time. As soon as anybody came in or went out, which happened frequently, there was some sort of turmoil, ending in Brandy humping Cairn Maddie and then Lucy joining in to hump her also. then Maddie would get cross and turn on them. It has never actually deteriorated into full-blown fighting – yet.
Because the dogs redirected any sort of tension or frustration to one another, they are unable to walk the three dogs together without Brandy attacking one of the others. They have only had Brandy living with them for a month, so this needs to be worked on.
The atmosphere is going to be kept as calm as possible, the dogs won’t be stimulated unecessarily with exciting sort of rough and tumble or tugging play (they can manage to get excited without any outside help!), and each one walked separately for a while until they learn to walk calmly on loose leads. Then the two calmest will be paired up and the pairing will be mixed until all three can be walked together.