Stormi, I agree with a lot of your posts and much of your advice. However, I think you've taken just a few things to an extreme, or at least given that impression. This is not an argument simply to argue, but an alternative or expanded view on some of those items.
Stormi wrote:Its a pretty general concensus around here that leaving 2 or more dogs alone together unsupervised is a bad idea. Anything can happen (dogs get into arguments just like people do), and if you aren't there to intervene, who knows what you'll come home to. There's quite a few members here who have their dogs on a strict crate and rotate system as the dogs cannot be fully trusted together even while supervised. I doubt you'd need to take such a step with 5 month old puppies, but it could be a necassary precaution in the future when they do mature.
For new meetings, of course I agree. Yes, there are cases where that continues to apply. But it's certainly not a general rule. With the rescues I work with, many of their directors have multiple dogs alone for extended periods. Yes, if you're unsure, always be cautious. But, more dogs live together well than have problems. Take a look at Best Friends in Utah and you'll see many groups of 4-6 dogs living together. Occasional fights, but not many. Again, I do agree that some cannot be trusted together, or that the person may end up being the limiting factor. That same Best Friends has other kennels limited to 1-2 dogs.
Stormi wrote:Every time a dog is allowed to experience and emotional response, their bodies undergo a massive chemical dump, similar to us humans when adrenaline is pumping full force in a frightening or stressful situation. In the dog body, once this occurs, it does take days for their stress level to resume back to normal. It’s important to keep this in mind, because while working with any behavior modification plan for these scenarios, management is absolutely KEY to your success. If you’ve just finished up a great training session of desensitizing and counter-conditioning your dog to the presence of another dog, and take him on a walk only to pass too closely to another dog on the trail and have him react, all of your hard work is out the window, and it may take up to a week or more for you to restart the process.
I feel that is extreme and has no basis in fact. Perhaps you meant to qualify "stressful", but you seemed to leave it as applying in every case. There is a vast difference between a mild correction between two dogs, and an incident that leaves a dog traumatized. Those corrections we see all the time in play groups and recovery is typically in seconds. When puppies are brought in, a greeter dog works with one for a few minutes, then often breaks off, returning five or ten minutes later, to allow recovery. When a mild fight breaks out, we assess their reaction and recovery, and they are often brought back into the group in minutes.
On desensitizing and counter-conditioning, the repeated sessions may range from only daily, to perhaps twenty attempts in an hour's time. For the dog who's mouth was wrapped with duct tape and was near death, several weeks were needed to really get started, with very mild and spaced exercises. For the resource guarder who attacked other dogs, he had dozens of controlled interactions each day, and changed in just a few days. There was no massive chemical dump, and he recovered each time in just seconds. If that same resource guarder had also exhibited defensive aggression, the schedule would have been much slower, but he did not.
The same applies to your "Tarzan" dogs. One recent dog, over several months, learned to play occasionally with certain dogs after knowing them for a few days. She may never go any further, and will threaten and possibly attack any dog who comes into her face. My current guest, however, is a 5 year old female pit who lived in a small crate for nearly her entire life, starving and with skeletal malformations. Far more than just an early socialization window. Her interest level and disposition are very different from the other dog, so my approach is different. After six days of careful monitoring together with a dog trained for rehab, she is now comfortable enough with receiving corrections that they have just started to play for short periods. She is now much more comfortable with meeting other dogs, though it will take some time to see how far she progresses. The six days were needed because she was mildly people aggressive, and that had to be handled first. The same approach is applied in play groups, using "greeter" dogs. Many dogs have come in scared and awkward, only to start relaxing and begin to play after a half-dozen sessions. Given that, there are some dogs that will remain only in a low-energy group, and that's who they are. Yes, those groups have many pits in them.
So, I believe that I can certainly identify specific dogs who very closely match what you've said here. But, many show these issues in a far milder manner. Black-and-white never really applies, but only many shades of gray.