Managing the Mob

Quit stepping on my toes!

Dealing with interpersonal relationships among humans is hard enough, just ask Michael Corleone. But when it comes to dealing with animals that don’t possess the same language skills we do, it can be maddening.

The maladies brought on by enduring the same company over time are something I imagine all social animals share. As we age we tend to become grumpier (okay so some of us had a good head start.) The peccadilloes of our roomies tend to annoy exponentially rather than logarithmically. This is certainly true of my dogs.

Once you break the two dog threshold, you learn to become a manager of personalities. You learn the delicate balance of what you can and can’t do based on the group dynamic you have. Any additions or subtractions to the group, either human or animal, can greatly change the prevailing wind.

Aging is another factor that plays into our little circus troupe. As dogs get older they tend to put up with less and less effrontery. Arthritis, irritable tummies, and just plain sleepiness can unleash the inner snarkiness in any dog. As ring leader it’s our job to recognize the signs and adjust our management practices accordingly.

For instance my Aussie, Gavin, the oldest of my dogs, has had hip problems since he was a puppy. We make sure to keep him on the thinner side of his weight range, and supplements like Synovi G3 really seem to provide him with some relief. However, he is starting to change his mind about the shenanigans he will put up with.

Gavin and Annie have been together the longest. Gavin has always put up with the fearful behaviors that Annie displays. Particularly, Annie will use anyone or anything in her way as a stepping stone when she feels she needs to be beside a human; a practice that Gavin is no longer willing to put up with.

I am usually a fan of allowing dogs to work out their own issues provided they keep it on the discussion only level. However in this case I feel that I need to step in and manage the situation. Gavin is correctly asserting his right to not be stepped on and Annie cannot control herself at this point. So I need to be more aware of situations where Annie is being especially fearful and prevent the chance for this type of encounter from happening in the first place.

Whenever you see changes in your group, make sure to take note of them and manage your mob accordingly. Changes in behavior like this may also be a sign that it’s time for a visit to the vet to see what all the grumpiness is about. After all, nobody wants to end up like Fredo!

We’d love to hear about how you’ve had to change your mob management over time!



2 thoughts on “Managing the Mob

  1. Hi Kevin, my mob management has changed similarly with Dylan’s aging and the addition of young puppies 2 years ago. This required more drastic changes during her recent illness. While sick with AIHA, I actually had to bring my short x-pen in the house and manage space for Dylan. Prednisone made her aggressive for food and along with being weak, a bad combination. I started putting my 2 young dogs in their kennels before I started preparing their hand made meals instead of just to eat (prior mob management), to prevent conflict over dropping food. Dylan has always protected her space from the puppies and done so in an acceptable manner. For the most part I do not have to intervene, but on occasion the youngsters may get too excited and I have to step in to ensure her safety, even if it is just from young heavy dogs crashing into her. Even her old pal Stevie Ray became an issue for Dylan during her treatment, which is when the additional X-pen came out, as I could not kennel Dylan when I had to be able to help her medically. In her week state there was no way she could defend herself if my healthy dogs decided they did not like her aggressive attempts for food (prednisone induced). A change in management was the only solution. Richard

  2. I’m having quite the party with Jersey & Dexter, our new puppy. He wants to play rough & she wants nothing to do with him. So I watch that little Mr. Dexter does not aggravate Jersey too much. If he starts harrassing her, I distract him with a toy and all is better!

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