Crate and Rotate
Perhaps you acquired same-sex pit bulls that, upon maturation, no longer tolerate each other. Maybe you have a multi-dog household, and two or more of your dogs have recently been fighting. Or you recently added a pit bull to your home, and it just isn’t working out with the other dogs. Whatever the reason, by employing the use of ‘Crate and Rotate’ in your home you will be able to safely manage your pets and maintain them in your home. A pet is a lifetime commitment; re-homing should be a last resort. Dog aggression is common among Pit Bulls and other bully breed dogs, and it is important to recognize this behavior for what it really is, and accept the reality that this breed has selectively been bred to be aggressive towards other dogs.
How to Use Crate and Rotate
Many dog owners crate and rotate their dogs in multiple dog homes, and this is especially common in fostering situations. If your dog is not currently crate trained, now is the time to get started – this can be done at any age and size, but the sooner, the better. When using crating, it is important that you get your dog accustomed to the crate and never use the crate for punishment. Crating is an excellent way for you to protect your dog’s health and keep him/her safe, and it should never be used as a form of punishment for your dog. You should always view crating as part of positive, responsible ownership.
If you are crating, make sure you invest in durable crates, as well as tough toys and chew items that your dog can enjoy while he/she is being crated. Remember, you want the dog to view the crate as a positive place, and you also want the dog to easily follow your cue to be crated. Dogs should not be crated for an overly lengthy period of time; 4-8 hours is generally recommended as a maximum for crating. Some owners who crate and rotate also find that it is beneficial to feed the dogs in their crates; feeding in crates not only helps the dogs to associate the crate with something positive (meal time), but it also helps reduce the possibility of a fight occurring over resources. “Trigger” items such as bones, stuffed Kongs, rawhides, etc. should be given only in the crates. Many dogs consider these to be high-value items and worth fighting for.
Depending on your household schedule and routine, you will need to come up with a system that fits your family’s needs. It is important to make everyone in your household aware of this new crate and rotate schedule and get them to be involved as much as possible. Expect weeks or months to pass before finding a routine that works well with everyone. Once you establish that routine, be sure to stick to it. Dogs like routine, and will learn the new system faster if you are consistent. Developing a consistent routine can include: identifying which crates you will use for which dogs, identifying where the crates are, determining which rooms they have access to, having scheduled times when they are out, having scheduled feeding times, etc.
If you have more than two dogs, it will be helpful to determine if any of them can be grouped together appropriately. Knowing which dogs can be rotated with each other will also be an important part of the crate and rotate routine. You may find that your dogs need to be rotated separately for all activities including feeding, exercise, and time with you, or you might find that if you have multiple dogs that get along well together for feeding, exercise and spending time with the family.
It is important for all dogs part of a crate and rotate program to receive both obedience training and adequate exercise. Dogs who are trained in basic obedience will be easier to manage within the home, and exercise helps keep your dogs fit both mentally and physically. Canine exercise also burns off excess energy which can help reduce anxiety and tension, making their time in the crate more relaxed and pleasant for everyone involved.
Not all Pit Bulls are dog aggressive. There are many successful multiple bully and pit bull homes out there (I live in one), but a responsible owner should always watch out for signs of aggression and separate their dogs if the need arises.