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But all my friends are doing it!

Owners of two or more dogs will tell you that dogs are just as guilty of peer pressure as any group of teenagers.

Herd mentality, mob rule, collective behavior, flocking, swarm intelligence, or team players – whatever the terminology, dogs (and people) in packs act differently than they do on their own.

Chance and Joey are two male Havanese, age three. They are from the same litter and have been together all of their lives. They are rarely, if ever, separated. When they are, much whining and anxiety ensues. Once they are reunited, they greet each other as if they had been imprisoned and finally released into the arms of a loved one.

In their home, if the doorbell rings, they race side-by-side down the hallway, yapping and sliding on the tile floor into the foyer. Their owners have to grab their collars and haul them away to get the door open.

Joey barks at the TV set, the refrigerator icemaker, and the vacuum cleaner. Chance figures that Joey must be onto something, so he barks at those things, too.

When Chance has a puppy fit and careens around the living room, he leaps onto each piece of furniture. Joey, not to be outdone, follows him across the armchair, the sofa, and the coffee table. Even when it is being used for, say, coffee.

In the backyard, Joey has been diligently digging a hole at the bottom of the fence. Joey has escaped the yard once before and of course, Chance will make a break for it, too.

When it is time for a walk, the dogs are so excited that they run in circles while their owner tries to subdue them long enough to put their leashes on. If one dog settles enough to sit for his leash, the other is still dancing and twirling.

I can just hear the arguments and explanations these dogs are giving to their owners:

  • HE started it!

  • He MADE me do it!

  • He’s doing it. Why can’t I?

Okay, let’s establish that you have rules in your house for your dogs.

ALL dogs must comply with the rules.

The best way to teach the rules: one dog at a time.

Separate your dogs, wrenching as that may be for the dogs. Work with each dog individually. Then, remind the dogs that the rules still hold even if they are together.

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