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Pack vs Den - an inquiry


Donald McCaig
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Dear Doggers,

 

We are sometimes asked to help when neighbors travel, feeding their livestock and pet dog. These dogs are much loved, solo, family pets who haven't seen much of the world. We have a pack of 4 Border Collies in the house plus an old guard dog who sleeps and is stepped over.

 

The neighbors will be gone for a week. I have been told that all dogs aren't the same but here's a generalized question. Is it better to commute to the neighbor's house, leaving the pet alone all day (dog door) though not at night or bring the pet into our pack. What matters most to a middleaged pet, its familiar den or pack drive?

 

 

 

Donald McCaig

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My oldest dog wouldn't like being uprooted from familiar to a new place with 4 new dogs. She would quite possibly try to go home. The middle dog is indifferent to other people and not so hot on new dogs so I'm sure he'd prefer to be left home, too. The youngster loves, loves, loves being with people and would very happily fit in with other dogs, so I'm sure she'd be happier with staying with someone even in a new place. So it kind of depends on the dog

 

But for a general rule of thumb for a middle aged family pet I'd say leave the dog in their familiar place.

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I'd say it depends- I have a middle-aged dog that would be very depressed with no people around but she has been out and about to work, trials, etc. her whole life. Another of my older dogs wouldn't mind being left alone at all. If the dog is very people-oriented and likes other dogs, then I'd say bring it to your home. But if it's content where it is and not anxious about being alone, I'd leave it where it is.

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I ask myself that question all the time.

Daughter has a 13 year old bc. He's got a bit of doggy dementia. She now has a job that takes her out of town. He does much better if she has a petsitter come in and stay at the house but that's not always possible. So she has taken him to others for dogsitting. What I noticed, was as long as he's with other dogs that are stable and get along with him he does really good in someone elses pack (it's all been bc's for now) it gives him direction, but if he goes somewhere without other dogs he has problems.

 

So...I don't think there's a good general answer. You could bring the dog home and see how it goes, if it doesn't then you can go back to 2x's per day care at the dogs own house.

I could leave 2 of my dogs (the younger ones) at home with the 2x's per day, but think it'd be really hard on the seniors. They need more than 2x's per day...or so it seems.

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I Guess I don't consider what matters most to the pet, I consider things like safety, convienence and the will of the owners.

 

I'm guessing you view your dogs as livestock, Debbie. Most of us on this forum aren't quite so matter-of-fact about the well being of our dogs.

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I'm guessing you view your dogs as livestock, Debbie. Most of us on this forum aren't quite so matter-of-fact about the well being of our dogs.

 

We are taking care of a neighbor's cat while she travels. She asked us to come in, feed the cat, play with the cat, and clean the litter.

 

I don't think that she would be thrilled if we brought Fluffy here. Yes, Fluffy likes having someone around. But we have a dog and a cat. And Fluff is an only pet.

 

I do not consider my pets or anyone else's as livestock. But I do think I should do what I agreed to do.

 

So ask the neighbors, first, what they would prefer. They know their dog best.

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Nancy,

A cat is most definitely a different situation from a dog. Even cats who like to cuddle with people are probably happier left alone at their homes than taken somewhere else. Dogs, not so much.

 

If I were in Donald's shoes, I would ask the owners what they preferred. The dog has a dog door, so apparently getting out during the day isn't an issue. If the owners think the dog would be happier where it is, then I'd leave it there.

 

Old dogs are an extra-special case, I think, and you have to weigh their *safety* right along with their *contentment.* For example, I might have to make an overnight or two-night trip in the near future. In the past, I would have opted to leave Boy (15 1/2) at home in familiar surroundings. But lately Boy is having trouble getting up, and in low light situations he tends to get stuck places. I notice if Boy hasn't moved around in the space of a few hours and I check on him regularly, but my housemate does not.I had a very recent scare with Boy when he couldn't get up, and once I got him up, he couldn't use one back leg so couldn't stand without help. My housemate might never have noticed that Boy was having trouble (couldn't get up), so when I go out of town, I will take Boy to stay at a friend's place. It will be unfamiliar to him (though a packmate or two will be there), but it will also be *safer* for him with someone who will pay close attention and promptly attend to his needs should he have trouble.

 

I tend to farm most of my dogs out if I have to travel, even though my housemate could take care of them. For me it's the *standard* of care that is most important and not so much where it takes place. Of course standard of care and contentment are interrelated. The folks I ask to keep my dogs for me are people my dogs know and like, so even if not in familiar surroundings, they are likely to have a greater level of contentment than, say, if they were at a boarding kennel.

 

J.

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It really depends on the dog.

 

I have one, super happy social butterfly dog who would probably love to go visiting and have laps to sit on all day and have a great time, and 2 that would probably be miserable in an unfamiliar place without us.

 

If I had your choice, I would probably err on the side of caution and leave them at home but check on them very regularly and maybe bring my newspaper or a book over and hang out with them a bit at their place.

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Like Debbie, I consider things like safety, convenience and the will of the owners first. I would think that a dog would be less likely to get worried about where the owner was and run off if he was in his own home. (And if he did run off it would likely be to go to the place he expects to find his owners.) After all, he undoubtedly spends some time alone at home. The average dog spends a great deal of time sleeping, especially older dogs. He would probably be more comfortable sleeping in his own bed and waking in familiar surroundings. Some good interactive time with the dog at his own home would probably insure that he slept peacefully in the down time and kept his spirits up and ate his dinner otherwise.

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I'm sorry, Debbie--I misread your post!

 

 

No problem ..don't you find it interesting that Donald placed this subject in the "Politics and Culture" section of the boards... :rolleyes:

 

 

 

Kinda curious about dog doors, does anyone know if a dog would leave a house that is unattended and let's say a fire broke out or if there was carbon monixide issue, they say horses will run into a burning barn. I personally always feel better if my dogs are outside in the kennels where there is less chance of something going wrong then in the house if they can't go with me.

 

The other day I had a fleeting thought about the safety of my dogs in crates here in the house when we went to pick up some new crates 30 minutes south of here. We've had two instances of fuses blowing in the past week, I can only remember 1 or two times this has happened since we moved here and never twice in a week. Our two top working dogs were here in the air conditioned house in crates and I know that there is no way that they would be rescued way out here in the boondocks if a fire were to break out. I had not thought about the fuses or such when I crated them up. Turned out to be a non-issue, but...

 

Anyway, I had to push an ugly thought out of my head 1/2 way to our destination as my mind pondered the possible outcome if we had another overload but this time without the fuse doing it's job....I'm sorta a worry wart when away from home since I'm here typically 24/7 and would be side by side with them if an emergency happened.

 

I've also had two occasions where dogs that normally mind there own business and are not known to countersurf accidently turned on the gas stove. One time I was in the leather shop working and heard the igniter clicking, the second we were in town getting groceries and I walked in to the smell of gas. Two different dogs, the first time I counted as a fluke, the second told me I was lucky and no more loose dogs in the house when not in the house with them. Crates or kennels.

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No problem ..don't you find it interesting that Donald placed this subject in the "Politics and Culture" section of the boards... :rolleyes:

Kinda curious about dog doors, does anyone know if a dog would leave a house that is unattended and let's say a fire broke out or if there was carbon monixide issue, they say horses will run into a burning barn. I personally always feel better if my dogs are outside in the kennels where there is less chance of something going wrong then in the house if they can't go with me.

 

The other day I had a fleeting thought about the safety of my dogs in crates here in the house when we went to pick up some new crates 30 minutes south of here. We've had two instances of fuses blowing in the past week, I can only remember 1 or two times this has happened since we moved here and never twice in a week. Our two top working dogs were here in the air conditioned house in crates and I know that there is no way that they would be rescued way out here in the boondocks if a fire were to break out. I had not thought about the fuses or such when I crated them up. Turned out to be a non-issue, but...

 

Anyway, I had to push an ugly thought out of my head 1/2 way to our destination as my mind pondered the possible outcome if we had another overload but this time without the fuse doing it's job....I'm sorta a worry wart when away from home since I'm here typically 24/7 and would be side by side with them if an emergency happened.

 

I've also had two occasions where dogs that normally mind there own business and are not known to countersurf accidently turned on the gas stove. One time I was in the leather shop working and heard the igniter clicking, the second we were in town getting groceries and I walked in to the smell of gas. Two different dogs, the first time I counted as a fluke, the second told me I was lucky and no more loose dogs in the house when not in the house with them. Crates or kennels.

 

Ack! You reminded me of the time I ran to the corner store leaving the two (unlit) front burners of my gas stove covered with big pots. The cat evidently decided to take a stroll across the front of the stove, using those handy burner-knobs for stepping stones. He turned on all four burners. They were the kind that needed to be lit with a match. So the kitchen reeked of gas. Good thing I was only gone for a few minutes!

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like the others said, it really depends. I have done both depending on the dogs in questions, one friends dogs always stays with me and my pack, she fits perfectly in my house, and is a joy to have around, my friends parents dogs OTOH NEVER stay at my place, they are so obnoxious that I want to shoot myself when I am around them for more then an hour at a time..and I think my dogs would kill them too, my dogs and their dogs grew up together...but my dogs HATE their's, I frankly I dont blame them! my old naighbors dogs did both, when they were just gone for the weekend they stayed home and I simply went over their, but on longer trips the dogs came to my place and stayed with me and my pack.

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Dear Doggers,

Thanks for your thoughtful remarks. Most of the time I'd figure that two dogs would be better left at home because familiar den and diminished pack would be better than new pack. But one dog?

 

I'm wondering how important dens - sans packs - are to dogs. If I leave without them but Anne stays, my 4 Border Collie, 3 guard dog (one in the house) pack seems to get distressed within 24 hours and after three days I expect a phone call, "Do you know what your #@&%# dogs have done?"

 

The guard dogs pack, in some way everybody understands better than I do, includes sheep but when Anne and I were in the west and a good friend slept every night in our house, they were apparently mildly distressed and desperately glad to see us (and the traveling Border Collies) again.

 

Dens can be important to dogs. I know a top sheepdog who refused to work for a handler who once dragged her out of her crate. And my dogs find dens in the house (usually a space where they're protected from one or more approaches), and in thunderstorms, the dogs understand the house itself as some sort of den and - more vaguely - have a sense of the farm itself as "their space".

 

Anyway, it got me thinking.

 

Donald McCaig

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I think how imported "den" is, depends on the dog. I work in a boarding kennel, and there are a lot of dogs in which the change of venue and "pack" is nothing to them, doesnt phase them in the least, they LOVE switching between the 2. others though get very very upset away from their "den" and have a whole host of issues as a result, depends on the personality of the dog. based on my experience working in a kennel, the herding and LGD breeds tend to have a harder time adjusting to change of space then the sporting and terrier types who generally could not care less about the change of "den" and pack.

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I think "pack hunting" dogs may do. Foxhounds and the like - although maybe only when they are involved in a chase. Anybody else know about this?

 

My experience (admittedly small) of sporting dogs and some scent hounds, like Beagles and Bassetts is that they tend to be more tolerant of close proximity to other dogs. Less posturing and sorting out what's what. I always supposed that they were bred to work together in packs and be housed together in groups without much fuss.

 

Any Whippers-in in the group?

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Do dogs "pack" up with dogs they don't know?

 

My pup (1yr) Sita packs up with every dog she meets. It is actually what makes her so valuable while fostering dogs for the rescue. She literally treats them all within hours as long lost family members. She cleans their ears and snuggles with them so fast it is almost mind boggling. Every dog and every person loves her. That said, IMHO she is more of the exception than the rule.

 

The dogs that come into my house seem pretty comfortable with where they stand pretty quickly. They usually find their place in about a week to two weeks. Depending on how long someone is watching a dog or how often they interact with the watcher's dogs the dog may actually "pack up" quickly.

 

I suppose it would also depend on how accepting the watcher's pack is to additions. My three are quite acustomed to new dogs coming in and going out. Maybe that gives me some sort of advantage to fast intergration.

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One dog or 20, they will be fine at home. If the dog has seperation anxiety, it might be different, but IMO, the dog will be fine in it's own home. If there are no safety issues. We have a doggy door and have left our dogs for 4 days with someone coming once a day to check water and food. Do you know what they do while we are gone? They sleep! I know this because when I am home, I fill their water dish at least 5x's a day. When we are gone they barely touch it. When the person comes to check on them, the water is barely gone. So, until I get my nanny cam, I am going with them just sleeping. Dogs without sepperation problems are pretty non chalant(sp?) about it all. I would go with asking the owners. If it were me, I would want my dogs to stay at their own house. They already know the rules.

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Dear Doggers,

The dog has been at home most of the day and Anne sleeps there at night.I know her but haven't exchanged a word or gesture with her. In the evenings, she brings the dog to our house. I was watching the NewsHour when she arrived and she jumped into my lap and offered her belly. She didn't budge from lap while we watched a movie and then would only get back in the car when I called her. Whenever one of the collies came over to say hello she growled and they backed off.

 

It was funny. I guess her pack is humans.

 

Donald McCaig

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Re: pack integration, I don't think hounds are likely to integrate other hounds any more quickly than any other group of dogs. Hound packs have hierarchies like any other pack, and a new hound doesn't just "join up" without the usual "fitting in" issues.

 

That said, I have dogs come here (say, dogs coming in for training) that my dogs don't know, but integration doesn't seem to be an issue (although the non-pack dogs will be watched closely at first and crated at night). I also keep dogs for friends. In either case, I walk the dogs as a pack and they hang out in the house or yard as a pack with no real issues other than the usual squabbles (e.g., a youngster gettting in an oldster's face too much, and the like). Granted, these new dogs are almost always border collies, but I've never had any issues bringing dogs in temporarily and letting them be part of my pack from the start. The biggest issue I have is with dogs whose owners have allowed them to work other dogs--those dogs tend to piss my dogs off by trying to work my dogs as well. I just manage those situations.

 

J.

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Dear Doggers,

Julie made some interesting points about pack integration which mostly reflect my experience. After three days here new dogs of whatever breed have integrated with my pack - with one exception, a friend's Akita? Chow? Cross adopted at age six from a shelter. When friend and dog visit, her dog and mine don't fuss but they don't integrate either. When I visit her home with my dogs, same thing happens. They are certainly aware of one another but normal doggy interaction doesn't seem to happen.

 

Donald McCaig

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I have a few comments on both dens and new dogs added to the pack.

As far as adding dogs for a limited time, I only have the experience of

watching my parents dog, a bc/aussie mix, for a 3 day stint. They live

45 minutes away, so it was easier to bring her to our place. She fit in

just fine, even though I thought my female might have been the problem,

as she can be a bit snarky with other females, I guess since she knows

this particular dog it wasn't a problem. Our young male, who is very

submissive to our female, got to be "middle dog" in the pack, as he has

always been dominant over my parents dog. When she went back home,

he tried to act the part with our female, and needless to say, he's back on

bottom of rankings in our house again. When my parents dog went back

home, she seemed a bit depressed for a few days, being an only dog,

but it didn't take long before she was right back to being the center of

attention, not to mention, center of the couch, again. All is well.

 

As far as dens go, my old Springer Spaniel lived for her sky kennel, it was

definately her "safe haven". When we brought Maggie,our first BC, home,

our old Springer took one look at her, backed into her kennel and actually

pulled the door closed behind her with her paw, I almost died laughing. It

was like, "This is my spot, you are not welcome here." She never varied

from that thought pattern for 2 more years til she passed. The dogs got along

fine, just don't come near my kennel. Both of our BC's have their own crates

now, and use them everyday, but they don't hang out in them.

 

On a little different note to this topic, we went on vacation, years ago, when our

Springer was about 8 y.o. ,I had no option at the time but to board her at a kennel.

The place we used came highly recommended and was a great facility, but our

"middleaged" dog didn't do well at all in that situation. She was wreck when we picked

her up after a week. She calmed right back down,when we got her home, but I

never put her in that type of a situation again. Not saying that boarding kennels

are a bad thing, they're not, but I will try to find other options if we ever vacation

without the dogs in the future. That probably won't happen, because now the dogs

pretty much go where we do.

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