Is Sasha, our client’s cute-as-a-button Chihuahua, waiting for her raw bone? She looks very hopeful, doesn’t she? From our post on dry food and dog’s teeth we received the following comment and request for suggestions from one of our blog readers:
“I am interested in the information re the raw bones. But, I am very cautious about having raw bones in the home. Basically – I don’t. So, how can I give these to my four dogs as I do not want to incur any aggressive behavior either. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.”
We thought Dr. Frank’s response may be of interest to many of you with multiple-dog households, so his reply became our post today.
Dr. Frank: Bones are great for cleaning your pet’s teeth and they can be a good outlet for dogs that need to chew. I personally do not believe feeding raw bones leads to aggressive behaviors, nor have I seen any examples of that in my practice. But, aggressive tendencies may seem to appear out of the blue, particularly in multiple dog homes, because dogs LOVE bones.
The most important thing, especially in households with multiple dogs, is to know your dogs and each of their idiosyncrasies. If one or more of your pets has possessive tendencies around food or toys, then work with them when introducing raw bones just as you would to prevent possessiveness around their food bowl or favorite toy.
If the bone becomes a “prized possession” or you are unsure as to whether or not your dog will be overly possessive with raw bones, then be sure to introduce raw bones when you are not distracted with other things and have time to monitor your dog(s).
In a multiple-dog home, I would advise giving each dog his or her bone in a separate area under supervision, or in their crates. And do not leave the bones laying around when the dogs are done chewing on them. Pick them up and put them in the refrigerator if there is still any meat left on them, or if there is no meat on the bones, store them in a safe place like where you keep your dog food.
If you prefer, you can give the dogs their bones outside, but make sure to follow the same “rules” –– each dog gets his bone in a separate area or crate, and put all the bones away when time is up or one (or more) of the dogs is done.
If you have any concerns about supervising your dogs during this process, don’t hesitate to call a professional positive or clicker-style dog trainer for help.
Two other tips whether your dog is possessive or not:
- If your dog is a major chewer and devours the bone in minutes, then limit the amount of time he is allowed to chew on the bone.
- If you give your dog her bone outside, be aware that many dogs instinctively bury bones. If you don’t want your dog to do that, you’ll need to be aware of when she is finished for the day and put the bone away.
I hope you’ll feel the little extra time and training it may take to accustom your dog to raw bones is well worth it when you see his clean teeth and healthy gums that result.