Choosing a Dog for a Multi-Pet Household

Multiple dogs can double the pleasure as well as double the fun, but sharing your life with more than one dog is not without its unique considerations and challenges including: Training time is doubled. Dogs learn better when worked with individually. Multiple dogs just can’t perform well together until they master a behavior by themselves first.

Preventing co-dependence. It’s possible to create too much of a good thing. Dogs that spend all day-everyday together can become so bonded that they experience extreme stress in the absence of their friends. Sometimes a vet or groomer visit can become a very stressful experience for either of the dogs. Imagine how they will feel when one passes away. Multiple dog households should help their dogs against this type of stress by doing the following:

  • Make sure each dog uses his own crate.
  • Walk your dogs at different times or take them on separate dog-friendly errand-running adventures. Leave a chew toy or bone for the dog at home.
  • Integrate “individual time” into your dogs’ routine every day. Consider putting one dog outside and leaving one in while you are at work sometimes.
Puppy With Shoe

Let’s Play! It is a great thing to have multiple dogs, they have built in play pals! They can help keep each other occupied throughout the day, however, similar-aged dogs who spend hours on end engaged in rambunctious play are at risk for developing an overly rough and tumble play style that *could* have bully-ish tendencies when out with other dogs. Dogs with regular access to rough play with other dogs are also at a greater risk for developing leash aggression. Because they spend so much time engaged in play, they begin to think they should have equal access to every dog they see and get frustrated when leashed out in public, unable to run and greet fellow canines. Barking and lunging out of frustration is the result, and in extreme cases, that frustration turns into aggression. (Think doggie road rage!)

When managing dog-to-dog play, if one dog is always pinning the other to the ground or always the one doing the chasing and never letting himself be chased, their energy and focus should be redirected.

Fraternity, Sorority or Co-Ed Canines? There are some generalizations to consider when deciding which gender dog to add to your family at any given time. Dogs of the same sex, age and the same breed are more likely to have a power struggle as they grow up. Sometimes the best pairings are dogs of the opposite sex, but all dogs are individuals so it is important to consider the personality of the dog you have, not just the gender, when considering a new companion. Training and management go a long way toward making a friendly household regardless of age, breed or sex.

Respect Your Elders! Special consideration should be taken when integrating a puppy into a household with an elderly or ailing dog. Puppies 14-weeks and younger hold a “puppy license” that often allows them to get away with things that won’t fly in the eyes of older dogs as they approach 16-weeks, so be mindful of a potential change in dynamics as the puppy ages.

Children with Dogs

Posted with permission from the APDT site:

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