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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I keep my dog's separated. Always. By this I mean a physical barrier. They are either in separate crates or separated outside in kennels with privacy panels or yards. I do this for a variety of reasons.

The primary one is safety. Two high drive dogs running around together can be reckless and truly get hurt. Because I compete my dogs in a demanding sport, injury can be career ending. On two occasions I have heard of reckless play leading to a dog dying. Training a dog for this sport usually entails thousands of dollars and thousands of miles driving and I can ill afford an injury. Secondary to reckless injury is having two bitches together and avoiding any possibility of a bitch fight (bitches fight for breathing rights, males fight for breeding rights!).

The secondary reason is that dogs, being dogs, find it easier to bond to each other than to me as a human. I can do a dance and throw roast beef all day and most (note I did not say all) dogs find it easier to communicate and bond with their own species than with the human species.

Last, but not least, having my working dogs out of the house they never need to learn house rules or get exposed to any conflicts between the people living in the house. I want my working dog to think he or she owns the world and house rules that keep them off counters and furniture and the like can serve to create conflict when I ask my dog to work. Also, in a pack, there is always a loser (dog lower on the pecking order). I don't need a working competition dog to learn to think they are lower on the ladder than anything or anyone else.

So, to that end, my 3 dogs are kept separately. There is a house dog (retired competition dog) and then the two working dogs (one currently IPO3 and one is a puppy). The working dogs rarely come into the house and, if they do, it is one at a time and the house dog is out in a kennel. It IS a lot of effort, but in the end I believe it is worth it. My dogs are happy and they are healthy (if they were not, they would not enjoy their work!). I also alternate dogs "with me" doing outdoor chores.

I know that a LOT of people keep their dogs as a pack and do so with few notable issues. It certainly is easier! This includes people who compete their dogs successfully in various demanding sports from Agility to Dock Diving and including IPO. I have been maligned here for suggesting not letting multiple dogs run together. I find dogs running as a pack impact my training and my relationship with my dogs as well as their outlook on the jobs I ask them to do.
 

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Its good to see you have a clear vision/focus, purpose and structure for you and your group. Think that is what most households are missing. Dogs are very confident in a clear structure environment allowing them to be dogs.
 

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That's great that you have a good system and that works for you. Nothing wrong with that, as long as you do not judge others for keeping their dogs together.

My household could not function properly at all with a rotate setup in my currently residence. Not enough room and would just be a messy disaster with unhappy people and dogs. I don't necessarily think having them together leads to any kind of lack of bonding with the human. My dogs play and interact but mostly on occasion. One is bonded to me, the other to my husband. They would rather be with us despite having tons of time with each other.
 

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That's great that you have a good system and that works for you. Nothing wrong with that, as long as you do not judge others for keeping their dogs together.

My household could not function properly at all with a rotate setup in my currently residence. Not enough room and would just be a messy disaster with unhappy people and dogs. I don't necessarily think having them together leads to any kind of lack of bonding with the human. My dogs play and interact but mostly on occasion. One is bonded to me, the other to my husband. They would rather be with us despite having tons of time with each other.
Yep. 4/5 of my dogs were raised 'out and about' with the adult dogs and I have not a single bonding issue - and like you, I have no problem competing in the sport of my choice with them individually (I know you didn't say that but I also know you do). I don't care what other people do but the idea that dogs will prefer to bond with dogs instead of people is... well frankly outdated bunk in most breeds and probably related directly to outdated training. Of COURSE they're going to have less interest in you than other dogs if the 'training' they get involves pain or unpleasantness and probably one of the primary ways to make that not be such a big deal is to make sure the dogs lives are ENTIRELY boring and without value except for interacting with the owner. I'd certainly put up with a lot of crap if the alternative was 'do absolutely nothing at all'.

With positive methods and things like separate training sessions, really not much point in bothering. I promise my dogs all value my company a lot more than they do that of each other or other dogs. Any one of them will scream and bounce and beg to play with them and run out of dog-dog play for a chance to train. So, basically, I'm not going to make work for myself to fix a problem that doesn't even remotely exist.
 

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Well, I have four dogs who are strictly pets, as I don't participate in any sort of organized dog sport. I do, however, spend individual time with each of them daily because they all have their own personality as well as favorite activities to engage in with me. I also truly enjoy watching their interactions with each other - love to see a good game of 'catch me if you can' or serious dog-on-dog wrestle-mania. I can't honestly say that I think their relationship with each other in any way lessens the relationship they have with me - it's different - and I think they get different enjoyment out of both. They aren't so co-dependent that they can't be separated, and usually choose to engage with me before any of their 'siblings'.

I also disagree that allowing resident dogs to spend time with each other necessarily turns them into a 'structured *pack*' where someone is the 'loser' (what ever that really means) My dogs might have a very loosely structured social hierarchy, but there is no 'alpha' dog who always 'wins' everything. I don't allow them to bully one another.

And while I certainly understand having to crate & rotate for safely reasons if you have resident dogs that simply do NOT get along, I just think that depriving them of social interaction with their own species 'just because' ... I dunno, just doesn't seem right to me.
 

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Ah yes. I do compete with my dogs in multi dog sports. They almost never go to the same events and they are fine. They are fine when they do as well. They don't care about the other dogs there.. just the task at hand.

I definitely believe in making sure from a young age that they learn to train and bond with me separately. I HAVE seen dogs that one can't deal well without the other because the owner literally never separated them for anything.. but it is really easy to prevent. I don't care what people want to do with their dogs or whatever works for them.. but yeah.

Oh and there is no pack order in my house either. I have two girls. My Border is extremely bitchy but insecure. The Aussie is extremely confident but sees no point in starting crap. No fighting for breathing rights here. It really depends on personality more than gender IMO. Also maybe intact vs spayed.. but I grew up with two intact girls no issues. Dunno.
 

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Oh, yeah. No. No pack order. It varies by day and resource and frankly how much a given dog wants a thing at any given time. They don't fight or even bicker, they do play some (especially the puppy/with the puppy), but mostly they just exist along side each other.

And, absolutely, I can take any combination of dog or dogs to an outing or sport or trial and they're fine. Certainly I train and spend time with them separately. The only issue I have at all is the puppy being *excessively* bonded to me in a separation anxiety kind of way except it only applies to me - anyone else can leave him and he doesn't care.
 

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Yeah I keep mine separate. But mostly because my older boy doesn't like other dogs and is a resource guarder. They can do stuff with me together under supervision. Puppy is in a pen during down time. I don't think too much about it other than for the sake of my older dog's comfort and teaching the puppy to settle (ie, my sanity). I don't think there is any 'order' among them either. The older one will guard from the younger one and the younger one will relinquish access to the older one. But my old guy still respects the little guy if he already has possession of something. Dogs do what work for them, and they both know things only work for them if they go through me. Simple as that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I am glad for the people who keep their dogs together and feel it is successful. Kudos to you.

Here are a couple of stories you might want to think about. One a friend told me the other day (former vet tech). Brace of good hinting dogs. Best of friends. Out blasting along.. having a good time and not really paying attention. Dog ran into a sharp stick. Love nor money could save that dog's life. Dog was worth a good sum of money (trained field dog) in addition to being just a great dog.

Another story.. dogs were playing and running focused on each other and the young one ran into a solid obstacle. Broke his neck and died right there. I cannot begin to imagine that heartbreak!

I have also heard of other dogs playing and one ending up dead.. and there are the other stories of calling dogs in. All come but one is missing because the group killed it out in the back yard.

Freak accidents? yes. I cannot afford those.. and I am OK with that.

FWIW I do not use "old school" methods. I do use balanced methods but I use markers (both YES! and a clicker), food, Free forming behavior to get the dog to think and so forth. Corrections? Yes. I use those too, but ONLY when the dog has learned how to and wants to. You cannot correct a dog for what they do not know as it causes conflict. Dog must be happy to work and mine are (and have the scores and judge's remarks to support it).

Anyway, I thought you might want to know the reasoning behind why my dogs are not together. They DO see each other but are not loose together.
 

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I have lived with multiple dogs for nearly 40 years, at this point, and as an adult owned multiple dogs near constantly for more 20. I can honestly say that to me the risk of a freak accident happening *while I am there* supervising is lower than the risk of being my house being struck by lightening and starting a fire. Okay, maybe not mathematically, but the lightening thing has happened, the dog accident thing has not.

I don't leave my dogs with access to one another when I'm not home. But freak accidents causing injury? Have happened when I was one on one with the dog. Every. Time. Crap happens. It's unfortunate, but it's the nature of living with dogs (or cats, kids, rabbits, birds, horses, goats, or even fish). It is DEFINITELY the nature of living with athletic sports dogs. My dogs are at greater risk from their various sports than from one another - especially if I base it on stories I know of injured dogs. I know a lot more of those 'dogs injuring themselves in some one off incident' involving those than play or life with other dogs.


And yet, they still do those things. Because they add value to the dogs' lives and to mine.

And honestly, you do IPO. Your dogs are leaping off the ground and spinning in a circle by their face, never mind the jumping and climbing that happens in IPO. You really, really think there's no risk of freak accident to the dog there?
 

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A LITTLE bit of deprivation? probably a good thing for working dogs, sport dogs, comp dogs and the like.

OTOH, to deprive a dog of virtually ALL social contact with members of its own kind, at home and at play, 24 / 7 / 365 ? for the sake of better scores, a judge's approval, and preventing freak accidents ? ... that still seems over the top to me. And quite frankly - selfish.

But, hey. Whatever makes you feel successful.
 

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Well, yes, stuff does happen. A couple years ago one of my dogs suffered one of those 'freak accident' occurrences. He was running downhill through the woods in a chase game with one of the other dogs & as he jumped over the gully his side caught on a sharp branch & he tore himself open. Took 32 staples on the skin & countless sutures below to close the wound up. Several months of recuperation time until he was fully healed. We were lucky - he did heal. I realize that it could have ended very differently.
Our property is 10 acres of dense woods. Does it make me nervous when they chase each other through there? Yes, I admit it does, but the accident could have occurred with him chasing a squirrel rather than another dog, so I can't blame the 'dog play' on his injury. I blame it on 'stuff happens'.
Could I prevent any possibility of this happening again by never allowing the dogs to run & play in the woods (together or separately)? Sure. But the enrichment their lives get by being able to 'be a dog' and engage in natural behaviors, to me, outweighs the risk involved. I won't bubble-wrap them & treat them like china statues, or tools in my own personal toolbox that can't be left out in the rain for fear of rust.
And honestly, 4 dogs running through the woods daily for going on 8 years now with only ONE injury? balanced by countless hours of pure doggy joy? My dogs will get to keep on being dogs.
 

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I will admit my dogs have some depravation. There are toys they only play with as rewards in training, foods they only get for training and, certainly, they have to sit in a crate and watch me work other dogs/trial other dogs and get frustrated by it.

But I don't see much benefit in much more than that. Personally, anyway.
 

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And honestly, you do IPO. Your dogs are leaping off the ground and spinning in a circle by their face, never mind the jumping and climbing that happens in IPO. You really, really think there's no risk of freak accident to the dog there?
Most definitely the chance of a freak accident.... I knew of a promising young Doberman... hit the hurdle wrong during a training session... died after surgery to try and repair the damage.
 

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I think this is essentially the same argument horse people have - many people with high end competition horses (and if you think a dog is expensive, try a nice horse) keep their horses basically bubble wrapped and do not let them be turned out much, if at all, while others value allowing their horses to behave naturally and have more freedom at the risk of potential injury. Personally, we keep our horses who have hind shoes separate from others (not in a herd) although they can still interact over the fence and they still live outside barring bad weather.

When it comes to dogs, ours are always together. They live in harmony in the house, play in the yard, go on outings both together and separately. I do not compete extensively, but even if I did, I cannot picture myself not allowing my dogs in the house or to interact with each other.

I value my dogs being able to be a part of the family and not strictly as competition animals. Obviously, depending on what you want out of your dogs and what you value most, everyone will care for them differently. I don't believe there is a right or wrong, and while I think it is good to be aware of the freak accidents that can happen, I don't believe in using those to advocate a certain way of caring for dogs.
 

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agree there is no right or wrong been around both, as hunting dogs were kept in kenneled, and as kids over at friends house (it was just respectful) never to upset the hunting dogs at someones house. Never thought those dogs were missed treated since the owners put the dogs welfare and value above all else and were extremely active with them on personal levels . Those dogs knew who they were and got to do what they loved. Always so sad that people get dogs as pets and have expectations that need time, or will never be for the individual dog that they have, and the dog lives lessor lives being a round peg being punished for not fitting in a square hole. A dogs life and purpose should fit the individual dog and not always perfectly to the owner only...
 

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I personally don't keep my dogs separated when I am home, but I can see why someone who is working competition dogs would want to do that. We are asking for a tremendous amount of focus and obedience from dogs who are very high drive. Yes, if you keep your dogs separate and only good things come from you then you will increase the value of yourself to your dog and your dog will be more willing/eager to work for you. There are however, A LOT of dogs who compete at very high levels who live in a pack. I think separation could benefit working abilities of certain dogs, but it is not necessary for the majority of dogs.

There is really no reason that dogs need to run with other dogs. I let mine because it is more convenient for me, but all of my dogs would be perfectly happy if they never played with another dog again.

IPO is a very high impact sport and injuries are extremely common so it's more likely that your dogs will get hurt doing that rather than playing with other dogs.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
There is really no reason that dogs need to run with other dogs. I let mine because it is more convenient for me, but all of my dogs would be perfectly happy if they never played with another dog again.
THANK YOU. This is EXACTLY spot ON. Most people let their dogs run together because it is convenient. "all of my dogs would be perfectly happy if they never played with another dog again.

IPO is a very high impact sport and injuries are extremely common so it's more likely that your dogs will get hurt doing that rather than playing with other dogs.
This is true but so are other dogs sports such as agility, obedience with jumping, ring sports and so forth.

I have seen dogs hit a SOLID jump and be damaged physically and/or mentally (why I do not tie or stake my jump down). Last year I saw a dog hit the scaling wall.. he just did not judge distance or obstacle.. and man oh man.. OUCH! I saw an agility dog fall badly off a dog walk and another one off a teeter (and I rarely watch agility). I have also seen an AKC Obedience dog get injured jumping a wall.

I will say, because I am highly selective on the decoys who work my dog either in training or at a trial my dog has had MUCH LESS impact there than it appears. In fact, a good decoy (training or trial) may make a rare mistake but truly absorbs the impact of the dog without damage.

On the long bite, where decoy and dog run at each other, the decoy sets the sleeve up so the dog has a target and absorbs the impact (his arm is away from his body) and dissipates the impact shock by spinning and setting the dog down gently. The dog with the full, calm grip on the sleeve (which is genetic) will have little issue here with a good decoy. Any decoy can make a mistake.. but most will do all they can to preserve the dog. THAT is the JOB. Bad decoys can injure good dogs.. so you need to be very cognizant of who is working your dog (and especially who is training your dog because young dogs can be reckless!). While dogs still can get hurt, the odds are reduced by careful work. The injuries are often to the neck and are often cumulative (arthritis) if that decoy is not good. My dogs go to the chiropractor every 6 weeks during competition season. I also do massage on them.. which they absolutely LOVE. Warm ups.. cool downs.. walks.. etc. to keep them fit (they are athletes).

As I have said, the post was mostly just an explanation to elucidate after being told, in so many words, that it was mean etc. to separate the dogs.
 

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Of course agility is dangerous and can cause injuries. In fact I already said so. It's high impact, it requires a lot of athleticism, a lot of dogs suffer various forms of injury over their careers. Disc is STUPID dangerous and I play that - happily. Flyball - also high incidence of injury. I do that one, too - though not very much because the noise bothers me. Also lure coursing and dock diving come with pretty decent injury risks.

If I allow them to do sports because they think it's fun and rewarding, and I think it's fun and rewarding, the mental math involved in 'keeping them safe' via not allowing them to play with other dogs becomes even more convoluted.

Why would I NOT allow them to do the relatively safer thing they enjoy with an argument of 'but dangerous' when I PAY to have them do the more dangerous thing that they also enjoy a lot, but not as much as playing with another dog? (well, at least if the activities are taken alone, they'd always prefer to train with me, but playing with other dogs is sometimes playing with me and it's free of both training/class/lesson/equipment fees and trial fees.)

Does not compute.

So basically: Your point here is which? Because I seem to be missing it.
 

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And also I could VERY easily start making arguments and citing studies that show that allowing dogs free play - especially as puppies - LOWERS the incidents of joint and orthopedic injuries and problems. I won't, though, because I recognize that there are ways to play with a dog that aren't with other dogs and still build conditioning and have enough impact to gain those benefits.

But 'bubble wrapping' to prevent injury off the field and still expecting the dog to be athletic on it is not a recipe for a sound dog. It's a recipe for creating injuries due to lack of proper conditioning and typical 'weekend warrior' problems.
 
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