When Violet, the chihuahua, moved in along with my son, I was worried about how she’d get along with my two bigger dogs. Daisy, the Russell Terrier, is 20+ pounds, and Pepper, the lab mix, is 55 pounds.
We have a system. Violet enjoys the added wing of the house with a child gate across the doorway. We use the gate when she doesn’t want to be bothered by the bigger dogs and when she is having a treat.
I grew lax about gating off the smallest dog during treat time one day last week. Son and I were empyting out the pantry of expired canned goods – there were a lot – when I doled out treats to all three dogs while in the kitchen. I stood over Violet until she was done and then got back to the pantry.
The next thing I knew Pepper had jumped Violet, rolled her over and pinned her down. Violet yelped and we both came running. Son pulled Pepper off of his dog. NO bites, just a wet neck and a scared dog.
What had happened? Was Pepper saying, Why are you here in my house? Or maybe, Don’t think I can’t take you, little girl! Perhaps, I am wathcing you!
Whatever it was, after that I was careful to walk Violet over to her little wing of the house, throw in the treat and put the gate in place.
Yesterday, during the happy chaos of my birthday with two of my offspring, I sat with my laptop while the other two watched the Bachelorette and ate their In-and-Out French fries. Daughter was explaining what group dates are and how they work (weird). The next thing I knew she was offering up her last French fry, on a plate no less, to the chihuahua sporting her new watermelon bandanna.
The other dogs were lying closeby in pack-animal style. Daughter tipped the plate, the French fry hit the floor, and Daisy came flying over to claim it. Now the chihuahua was being pinned down in a violent manner by the Russell Terrier.
Son grabbed Daisy and lifted her into the air while visiting Daughter grabbed Violet. Meanwhile I had managed to set down my laptop (slow). I grabbed Pepper by the collar in case she had any intention of getting involved.
Son checked Violet for bite marks (none) while I stormed off to the kitchen and came back announcing to my children, “No more dog drama!”
Then I ranted on for another minute about how a high value treat like a Fench fry should never be offered to one dog in front of the other two.
“It’s not all Daisy’s fault! “I continued. “Dog training is really training the humans!”
Rules for Humans
- Be consistent
- Treat the dogs in order of Alpha. The biggest dog is usually (not always) the top of the heap.
- Do not offer only one treat when there are three dogs involved.
- Bigger dogs need praise for peaceful interactions with chihuahua.
Daughter apologized for what will forever be known as the French fry incident, and we all felt bad that any of it had happened. Daisy was just being a dog. She is younger, bigger and stronger than ten-year-old Violet. Pepper is, too. They have their issues, but they shouldn’t take all the blame for their reaction to a single dangled French fry.
Couldda Wouldda Shouldda
If Violet were left alone in the wild, she would become somebody’s meal real quick. The younger dogs know that. They think they are more deserving of the deep-fried potato stick. Actually, no dog should be eating a French fry.