Keeping the Peace by Nicole Wilde


If you have dogs who don’t get along well, or worse, dogs who fight, this book may help.  In severe cases, dogs who are fighting to cause harm, you should seek the help of a veterinarian skilled in treating behavior problems ASAP.  That could be a board certified veterinary behaviorist or a veterinarian like myself who is a general practitioner with strong skills in treating behavior problems.  Do NOT seek a trainer first- your dogs do not have a training problem, they have a behavior problem!

That being said, in cases of mild inter-dog aggression, this book can help.  Of course prevention is the best way to keep the peace.  And prevention does involve training.   I recommend Essential Skills for a Brilliant Family Dog series by Beverly Courtney or Training Your Dog Positively by Victoria Stilwell.

Ideally, you would add a second dog once the first is very well trained.  Two main reasons why we recommend this: Dogs are a constant source of distraction for each other, making training that much more difficult.  You will need 5x more time to train 2 dogs at the same time- individual training for each dog, and then training them together.   You’d need a place to put one dog while training the other to reduce distractions, which may not be practical.   If you have a well-trained dog already, you can focus training on the new addition.  Plus, the new dog can learn from the well-trained dog, making your job that much easier.  All you have to do is train the new dog, then train the dogs together.   So much easier!

Keeping the Peace offers positive preventative training for circumstances where inter-dog aggression is likely to occur.  Doorways, resource guarding, and jealousy are all addressed in a positive way. You will learn management techniques to prevent problems in these critical points and more.  You will learn to identify early signs of emotional discomfort which can lead to aggression in your dog.   You will also learn safe ways to intervene, preferably before a fight happens, but also should the worst happen and you need to break up a fight.

Other aspects of this book are not so great, such as the alternative therapies.  I’m not one to advocate using unproven methods such as T-Touch or Reiki in helping dogs learn to relax and keep the peace.  Especially in severe cases of aggression, seek veterinary help FIRST.  Your vet can help you help your dogs with safe proven methods for their behavioral disorder.

My hope is that nobody ever needs this book but that’s not realistic.  I’ve adopted dogs that I thought would get along well, only to find I was very very wrong.  Using techniques in this book has helped prevent both canine and human injury.  Some dogs will never get along for whatever reason, just like some people just don’t get along.  That’s where management becomes even more important.  For example, because of severe orthopedic injuries before I adopted him, Sergei had a VERY large personal space bubble and absolutely zero tolerance for bouncing puppies for fear of being injured.  Annika, a newly adopted, younger, and much larger husky has no concept of personal space.  Keeping Sergei on a pet bed in one area of the living room, and Annika on a pet bed behind my chair in the living room, meant both dogs can be close to their people, but also kept Sergei safe from possible injury and Annika safe from possibly getting bitten by him.

If you are having minor dog skirmishes in your home, Keeping the Peace is a good resource for you.  Otherwise it’s not a great overall training book, and for serious cases, you’ll most likely need professional veterinary help.

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