It’s a revolutionary idea: You don’t always have to be fair when you have multiple dogs.
At least, it’s revolutionary to me.
I recently read Feeling Outnumbered? How to Manage and Enjoy Your Multi-Dog Household* by Karen B. London, PhD and Patricia McConnell, PhD. In it, they write (I’m paraphrasing big time) that it’s okay to alternate walks or to exercise one of your dogs in the yard or to not give treats to everyone at once or to work with one dog at a time. In other words, you don’t always need an equitable distribution of time and resources.
It was totally a light bulb moment for me. I practically shouted AHHA! YES!
Then they wrote, “That may seem like a stunningly obvious thing to say, but when you’re the one in the middle of a forest of paws, it’s easy to lose track of the path out of the woods.”
Of course, I’m not advocating that you pour all your time, attention, and treats onto one dog and ignore the others or anything like that.
However, this concept helped me feel less stressed almost instantly. As I mentioned yesterday, the walking situation around here is stressful with a dog-reactive dog like Lucas. Because I want to walk him when John is nearby for back up (exactly because of incidents like yesterday) I haven’t been walking him much. Then I feel guilty walking Cooper and Emmett because poor Lucas is stuck by his lonesome. So we play an indoor game like “chase the treat” instead. It never really occurred to me that it’s okay to walk Cooper but skip Lucas, or take Emmett to the pet store and leave the other two at home. It never really occurred to me that Emmett and Lucas didn’t also need treats while we were cleaning Cooper’s ear, or that just because Emmett is getting wet food to take his medicine the other two don’t need wet food, too.
If you struggle with this same feeling of guilt, the desire to be equal, I encourage you to let it go! It’s only been a few days for me, so it’s not habit yet, but I love the “Hey! It’s ok!” concept of it all.
For those of you with multiple dogs: Do you strive to keep everything equal all the time? How do you divide time/resources among multiples? Have you already let go of this idea of equitability at all times?
Disclaimer: I bought this book through Amazon. The link above is an Amazon Affiliate link, which means you don’t pay more, but if you purchase after clicking that link, OMD! gets a couple cents to help alleviate our costs.