Friday, September 2, 2011
This first one comes from Haney. She writes that she has one pit bull and is considering adding another to their family. She says that she has heard that pit bulls-even in the same family-should not be left alone at home together and asked my opinion on this and whether or not it is necessary to crate them while away....
Thanks for writing in, Haney:
We have a male and a female as you may already know- which I believe to be the best combination- that's not to say that it cannot work between to females or two males, but it is much harder.
We read a lot about multi-dog homes before we made any decisions on how/where to keep them while we are away. This is a great resource by the way--Pit Bull Rescue Central and other sites will tell you that they absolutely should not be kept alone together.
They write, "Never Leave Your Dog Unsupervised With Other Animals
We can't emphasize this enough. If no one is around to keep an eye on them, dogs should be safely crated or in separate rooms, even if they are best friends. Dogs can fight for many reasons—status, food, toys, or rawhides—and if you’re not there to manage them, things could escalate. Your dog does not need “company” when home alone, and the routine of going into a crate every time you leave can be quite comforting for your dog. It also provides you with total piece of mind. There is no chance that your dogs will fight, and they won’t chew up your favorite pair of shoes! "
For these reasons, we do keep our dogs separated during the day. I Winnie and Bruno get along fantastically, and have only had a couple spats in the year they have been together-- the longer dogs have been together, the more they work out their status in the family structure and their relationship, so that the possibility of fights breaking out among two dogs that know eachother very well is very low, but not impossible.
While we feel that Bruno and Winnie have an almost 0% chance of having a bad fight, we do know that they are rough with eachother. When playing (even supervised) they come away with small bloody scratches around the ears and knees. This of course is not because they want to hurt eachother- but because pit bulls play more roughly with each other than other dogs do. However, they are capable of inflicting much more damage on each other than other breeds of dogs. Once you have had your dogs for a long time, you probably will be able to pick up easily on their body language to know whether or not they are feeling playful, social, uncomfortable, iritable etc- but as long as both of your dogs are somewhat social- they will transmit these clues to one another as well, and you shouldn't have any problems. (I suggest reading Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz to learn more about dog interactions.)
On the issue of crating-I do not think it is the best solution, although we have a crate and bring it with us on trips because Bruno loves it. We crated Bruno for some time because we felt that he liked it there and felt safe (he would go there with the door open when we were home anyway) and because he would have accidents and chew up things in the house if we gave him any more room (such as a whole box of oreos the other day!).
Recently, we came up with a good solution, although your specific solution will depend on how many rooms are in your home and its layout. We keep Winnie in the bedroom with the door closed. She is trustworthy around leather, shoes, and personal items, so she is well-behaved there and doesn't need to be crated. Bruno, on the other hand, is a more difficult problem. We tried different solutions and he was able to escape places we put him and reeked havoc in the rest of the house. Finally, we found very sturdy baby gates at Target for less than $50 a piece and blocked off the Kitchen for him. He seems to like it there and cannot knock the gates over as he had done to previous gates because they are actually screwed into the wall. He also cannot destroy anything because we keep the counters clear, and if he has an accident, at least it is not on the carpet and it is easy to clean up when we get home. I suggest trying this in your kitchen before crating and only use crating as a last resort as it can drive some dogs crazy if left for too long. If it is possible not to keep the dogs on either side of a gate- that is also preferable so that they don't feel the desire to jump the gate to get to each other.
Again, I would recommend always having the dogs together when you are home so that they can develop their relationship- and leaving them together for short periods of time once you are sure they are compatible, but for long periods away- keeping them in separate rooms has been a good solution for us.
I'm so glad to hear that you are considering a second dog! I hope that the process of adding to your family is as wonderful as ours was and that your pitties become best friends!
Best of luck!!
Thanks for reading and for giving your time to animals in need,