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GloPro's avatar

Can you teach 2 dogs different behaviors?

Asked by GloPro (8248 points ) March 9th, 2014 from iPhone

I’m getting an 8-week old puppy in April. I already spend quite a lot of time with my neighbor’s chihuahua. She’s around 3, and is a very sweet dog, but she has some terrible manners. She is allowed on the bed and furniture due to her size. She begs for food by pawing at your hand or sitting practically on top of your plate, she licks non-stop, and will poop in the house. Her owner thinks it’s funny when she chases people and nips at their heels on our beach. Again, sweet dog, but no attempt to train her by her owner.

My pup will end up being 140 pounds, so I need to set his boundaries right away. He will not be allowed on furniture or in bed. I will not tolerate begging, licking, or pawing. I intend to train him in Search and Rescue, so obedience and manners will be important.

Can you train two dogs different behaviors? Will it affect him as far as being an alpha male if this tiny chihuahua doesn’t have as many rules as he does?

Not tending to my neighbor’s dog is not an option. She’s in her late 60s and has a hard time getting the dog outside for exercise and doesn’t really care about the things I mentioned above. Some of them aren’t offensive in a 10-pound dog, but most certainly would be in a 140-pound search dog. Plus, it isn’t my business how she trains her dog.

Thoughts? Ideas?

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12 Answers

whitenoise's avatar

Yes you can. Like you can raise your child different from the neighbor’s brat.

If you don’t train your dog differently and the chihuahua really becomes annoying, your dog may eat it.

That would solve the issue too.

longgone's avatar

Definitely. No trouble at all. You might have a problem if you intended to give more privileges to a new, young dog. Less privileges, OTOH, are perfectly understandable for the newbie. May even help the dogs to build a good relationship, as the older one won’t feel (as) threatened.

Cruiser's avatar

Yes. As long as you assert yourself as you being the Alpha owner to your Alpha dog, he will obey your commands at all times. The upside is he being the Alpha dog will teach the little yapper what good behavior is all about. Lots of treats and you will have a blast with both!

tedibear's avatar

Until your pup is appropriately trained, you might want to keep her away from the brat. However, I am not a dog trainer, not especially experienced with dogs, so I could be wrong about this. Dog people, please feel free to correct my answer!

cazzie's avatar

Yes, it shouldn’t be a problem training your dog. Breeds are different as well. As long as the small dog isn’t around 100% of the time and you are spending enough time training your big dog and being consistent, your big dog will learn that there are two different rules in the house. He may look cockeyed at it at times, but just be consistent and don’t back down. Just think of the small dog as a cat, and you’ll be fine.

Also, you’re not ‘teaching’ the small dog. You are just letting it be, and reinforcing what it has already learned by allowing it.

RocketGuy's avatar

I would hold the same standards for both. That would be Alpha dog behavior. That way both dogs know what you expect.

The little dog can goof off when he is with the other person. He will figure out what he needs to do.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I am a dog trainer by profession and, in my experience, as long as you are consistent with your own dog and raise him with very clear boundaries then you shouldn’t have a problem. If you are spending so much time with the chihuahua, why don’t you start teaching him certain boundaries too? He may get away with anything in his own home but dogs can be quite context specific so you can quite often teach them to act differently depending on where they are. For example, we have plenty of dogs that come to the training centre I work at and will be as good as gold. The owners will say “why does he act so well mannered here but is a nightmare at home”. The answer is always lack of consistency ie: no clear boundaries.

longgone's avatar

To further clarify… Forget about anyone being top dog. Pack hierarchies are non-linear. Meaning: There is no single alpha dog playing god. Rather, each two individuals figure out their boundaries, depending on what’s important to them. The new puppy needs to learn that following your rules is beneficial. Once you’ve managed that, things will be fine!

OpryLeigh's avatar

@longgone I love you!! I spend my whole life telling people that their dogs are not little wolves and that dominance/pack theory is outdated when it comes to domestic dog training and, in fact, can be damaging to the owner-dog bond. I can’t wait for the day that this is more common knowledge and the Cesar Milan types reduce in numbers.

GloPro's avatar

So I don’t need for them to see me as ‘Top Dog’?

OpryLeigh's avatar

No. You need clear boundaries so they know where they stand but that has nothing to do with being top dog. For example, going through the door before your dog is preferable because 1) it is good manners and 2) it prevents your arm being yanked out of your socket if they are pullers on the lead (as a lot of dogs can be at the beginning of a walk) but it will not establish you as top dog in your dog’s eyes. This article explains why the dominance theory is not relevant in domestic dog training.

longgone's avatar

@Leanne1986 Thanks. I hear you, the myth is alive and well :]

@GloPro Exactly. Read something by Patricia B McConnell, please. She’s great, and fun to read.
Also: Don’t read anything by Cesar Milan.

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