Balancing Attention for Four Dogs
I have two Labs who are two years old and two Saint Bernards, who are 6-and-a-half months old. Both sets are littermates. I’m guessing you won’t be surprised to hear me say that the Saint Bernards are already bigger in size than my Labs…and running at about 80 lb. Because the Saints are getting too big in size, my Labs are afraid to play with them, because they freak out with their heavy paws.So I have to step in and tell the Saints to leave whomever they are trying to play with alone. This has pushed me to create boundaries of play between the Saints and the Labs because of my fear that they will fight when the Saints get older and bigger. But I am not creating a negative boundary line between them as I often kiss and rub the stomach of one of my Labs and Saints at the same time. I don’t favor either side over the other and make sure they see that. With that said, my plan is to supervise ALL the time, and when I am not around, I separate them, putting the puppies in crates. The Labs were crated until they were one year old and now spend time in the dog-run when I am not home. I am building a separate dog-run for the Saints. I found that when raising littermates, crating them helps keep things in order, not giving them unsupervised time when I am not around.
Anyway, my goal with them is to respect each other’s boundaries, am I doing the right thing?
Thank you for your advice.
El Paso, TX
It is hard for me to respond without seeing all behaviors close-up, but, based on what you’ve told me, I would advise you never to put a dog with another dog that will overpower it. I would recommend always tiring out the Saint Bernards before allowing them to interact with the Labradors. Another idea is to let the dogs swim together. Since Labradors are great swimmers, that will make the Saint Bernards less powerful…and the Labs will feel better about themselves.
The bottom line is, make sure that the larger dogs do not have the same level of energy as the smaller ones. That way, you’ll help the Labradors to see the big guys as lower energy dogs. When it comes to energy, as they say, “size doesn’t matter.”
Stay calm and assertive,