I suppose in most homes, the dogs have the same rules. But in our house, different dogs have different rules.
Ike, the service pup in training, has the most rules to follow. His life is relatively structured, as he's going to have an important job – helping a disabled veteran lead a full life.
The other three dogs in the house have pretty relaxed rules. They're pet dogs, they don't have the same expectations placed on them as Ike.
That must be confusing, right? Ike's rules are different — more strict even — than the rest of the dogs in the house.
Not really. Ike's rules have been in place since the day he crossed the threshold. And they've never varied. They're the same every day, no matter what.
What rules are different for Ike? It would probably be easier to list what isn't different!
- Ike is crated when we're not home. The other dogs are not.
- Ike eats all of his meals out of a food-stuffed toy. The other dogs eat out of a bowl.
- Ike eats in his crate. The other dogs eat in the kitchen.
- Ike has to wait for his release signal ("at ease") before going outside. The other dogs just have to wait for the door to be opened.
- Ike has to sit before I pet him. The other dogs get pets for free.
- Ike's not allowed on the furniture. The other dogs live on our furniture.
You get the picture: Ike's day-to-day life is different than his housemates. But this doesn't cause him any confusion. His rules never vary, they're the same every single day.
So don't be afraid to have different rules for different dogs — but only if you're consistent enough to remember the rules and apply them to the appropriate dog(s)!
P.S. Don't think that because Ike lives with a lot of rules, he's miserable. This guy loves his rules! (As I think most dogs do, if those rules are consistent.) His life is still pretty good: He still gets to rip it up in the backyard with his housemates. He still gets lots of love and attention from us humans. He gets just as many goodies (if not more) as his doggie housemates. Heck, he gets to go out in public with me on my errands!