Feeling Outnumbered? How to manage and enjoy your multi-dog household

London McConnell_outnumberedPUBLISHING YEAR: 2001

SUMMARY: Step-by-step guide to dealing with common behaviour problems in multi-dog households

AUDIENCE: Ideal for owners who are considering a multi-dog household and want to well-researched tips on problem prevention. Too generic to add much value for the professional behaviourist.


In the behaviourist’s caseload, multi-dog households often come hand in hand with fiendishly complex behaviour dynamics. I bought the book hoping for a miracle toolkit, but that hope was hopelessly naive. How could anyone cram the behaviourist’s Holy Grail in fifty pages? Instead of addressing complex behaviour problems, the book focuses on simpler, but relevant, training and self-control issues.

Drs. London and McConnell’s book centers around three basic principles in the authors’ characteristic professional, concise, clear and friendly style:

  1. Train each dog one by one, then gradually ‘proof’ the skill with more dogs present;
  2. Focus on self-control, manners and prevention; and
  3. Manage/restraint if you cannot supervise.

The book describes the industry’s best practices to deal with front door rowdiness, meal time, the ‘leave it’, introducing the new guy, pulling on the leash, etc. with a group of dogs. With a couple of rare (and mild) exceptions, the authors exhort the reader to adopt an exclusively positive approach to dog training.

Added plus point: the authors show intellectual integrity around the controversial pack theory – they tread lightly and avoid speculation.

A couple of chapters give insiders’ tips even a single-dog owner could use (e.g. body blocks instead of yelling, what to do in a dog fight, etc.) .

For the pros, the authors use particularly compelling turns of phrase to sell the usual ‘hard-to-swallow’ advice like the importance of management and of starting slow. I am going to try the formulation on my clients, to see if it helps overcome the usual resistance.

On a couple of occasions, the advice appears to stem from a desire for revenge, rather than a didactic motivation (e.g. ignore your dog for up to 1/2 day after a fight). But I am really knit-picking here.

All in all, I am glad I have read it. It confirms I haven’t been missing some secret multi-dog formula all these years: dog training continues to be all about intelligence, empathy, and timing. It reads smoothly, it is well-researched, it is short: so why not give it a go?

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Author: London Karen B, McConnell Patricia B
Genre: owner manual
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