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Canine Behavior/Kennel sharing


Hi Jill,

I have 2 dogs - Gilbert, a male, 10-year-old Rotty x Golden Retriever that I've had since he was a puppy, and Rosie a female, 4-year-old Great Dane x Boxer that I adopted from a shelter approximately a year and a half ago.

The dogs get along well and there are no problems with aggression, feeding or sharing.  Rosie shows consistent submissive behaviour (licking his face and rolling over on her back) and does not challenge Gil.  Gil in return seems happy to have her around and ignores her a fair amount of the time.

The issue we're having at the moment is that Rosie, who is considerably smaller than Gil, is using his kennel at night, and he is unable to fit in hers in exchange.  Originally there was only one kennel, Gil's, which Rosie used and Gil wasn't interested in during the warmer months (we're in Australia, so it's just heading into winter at the moment).  However, as it's getting colder now, we purchased another kennel for Rosie which she fits in comfortably and seems to be very fond of, however Gil can't fit in it.

At night, I put both dogs into their separate kennels and they seem happy to curl up in them, however in the morning I have come out and found that Rosie has moved into Gil's kennel and he is out in the cold.

I have a couple of questions - 1. as Gil is the dominant dog, would he be likely to 'kick Rosie out' if he really wanted to be in his kennel himself? And 2. do you have some suggestions as to how we could encourage Rosie to stick to her own kennel?  So far we've tried calling her out whenever she is in Gil's kennel, and praising her a lot when she is in her own.

As a temporary measure we've had Gil sleeping indoors in a confined area, and Rosie sleeping out the in the kennel/s, but I don't want to continue this as it seems unfair to Rosie and I think that Gil would be much cosier in his own kennel.

A couple of other points that might be relevant, both kennels are situated next to each other, by the back steps of the house, in an undercover area.  The larger kennel is big enough for both dogs to fit in, however I've only ever seen them in there together once and they don't generally sleep right next to each other when they're in the house/during the day.

I'd appreciate any suggestions or opinions you can offer.

Thanks in advance,

NO NO NO!!!!!! NEITHER DOG should, or deserves to, sleep outdoors.  Not now, not ever!

You're making an issue out of a non-issue and, in doing so, you may be creating a real issue.

The bitch is doing what the dog is allowing her to do: moving into his territory.  He is acquiescing as a "gentleman" (to anthropomorphize, if you will allow it!)  Most males will acquiesce to most bitches.

Since the use of crates/kennels seems important to you (for reasons you do not report), and since both dogs seem to love their crates/kennels, purchase two that are large enough for the largest dog (or replace one that is not with one that is).

Gil is not "dominant", he is the male; Rosie is making a social statement to Gil and he understands it.  Were he to NOT ALLOW FREELY her access to his kennel, there would be hell to pay (and plenty of blood on the floor).  

They belong together, indoors (or wherever "inside" means up until this non-problem).  The most you can do is, as I said, make the crates equal in size (both large enough for Gil) and then LEAVE IT TO THE DOGS.  You might STILL find Gil "out in the cold" but it is his choice, this is their social contract, their culture with one another, and it's perfectly acceptable.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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