A Houseful of Dogs

A houseful of dogs is a bit of heaven for some people and a huge pain for others.

Maybe one dog just isn’t enough for you. Having one dog is great, but having more than one can be marvelous! However, the challenges are numerous and a multi-dog home can have you pulling your hair out over the smallest incident. Many owners of multiple dogs find that having more than one dog in the home makes their life complete, and more interesting.

Meeting your new dog
The first meeting between your current pet dog and a new one could set the nature of their relationship. You want the dogs to get along well together; to play with one another and not quarrel over who’s “top dog”. If it’s possible, try to have the dog’s first meeting take place in a neutral setting, away from your home. If you decide to adopt from a shelter, ask if you can bring your dog in to meet any potential new dog before going forward with the adoption. It’s important to see if there are any strong feelings of hostility between the animals.

Bringing home two puppies
This can be a huge challenge – training, house-breaking, and all the other myriad chores and duties that go along with raising a new puppy; in this case it would be like raising twins.

If you do decide to adopt two puppies at the same time, it’s a good idea to crate them together when you’re not around. Crating them is also a good idea when you need to do one-on-one training with each puppy. You can leave one crated while working with the other.
It’s a very smart idea to buy two of everything the puppies will need; two collars, two leashes, and especially two beds and blankets. They may be agreeable to sharing a bed and blanket, and even toys at this point in their lives, but that will probably change as they grow older and larger.

One-on-One time
Every dog in your home needs to feel special. Find opportunities to spend some one-on-one time with each of your dogs. Whether they are puppies or adult dogs, they need individual training sessions in order for the training to reinforce itself in their brains. They also need attention from you without having to compete for that attention with another dog. Otherwise your dogs will become reliant upon on each other instead of you, and you could find yourself being relegated to just a person who feeds them and gives them the treats they love.

If you have two young adult dogs, take one dog out for a walk or playtime, then take the other one out separately too. Taking turns with training will allow your dogs to bond closer with you and see you as the master of the house and their lives.

Dog disputes
If you have more than one dog, it’s inevitable that at some point they will begin fighting with each other. Most of the fights that occur between dogs living in the same household are not serious fights, and generally are over very quickly. The most common cause of these little scraps is rank: the dogs need to work out who comes first between them. Unless both dogs are uncommonly submissive, these types of dog fights are going to be inevitable.

You can keep these little spats from becoming serious by neutering male dogs. Raging hormones are a huge factor in a dog’s aggressiveness toward other dogs. You must reinforce the pack order: you come first, then the other humans in your home, and then the houseful of dogs, in whichever order they have established between themselves.

Feeding Times
You should feed both dogs at the same time of day, but still cater to the alpha dog of the two by putting his food down first. As long as both dogs are fed the same food, and finish their meal about the same time, there shouldn’t be any problems. Each dog needs its own food dish, but will usually share a common water bowl. If one of the dogs finishes first and tries to eat the other dog’s food you’ll need to feed them separately, either in different rooms or at different times.

I once had a friend who was raising six dogs all at the same time. Talk about a houseful of dogs! Different breeds, different ages, and vastly different personalities. She had no time for anything else so it was a good thing that her children were all grown up and lived away from home.

I’m curious to hear from people who have raised two or three, or more dogs at the same time. What was it like and would you do it again?

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