Living In A Multi-dog Household

Today’s show is about the ins & outs of living in a multi-dog household. Laura & Kim have suggestions which will make your life easier as well as reasons why not to do certain things.

If you already have a dog and are bringing another dog home it’s important to remember that your current dog most likely wasn’t part of the decision-making process and may not look as kindly on the new member of the family as you do. So, don’t just walk the new dog into the house, giving them free reign over your resident dog’s things. Don’t force them to interact/play together immediately; give them time to get to know each other gradually. Much of this will depend on the personality of the individual dogs, but having the new dog on a leash, or at least dragging a leash around so you can grab it, is a good way to keep things from getting out of hand.

If either of the dogs gets too “in the face” of the other dog, and the dog being targeted gets growly or snappy that’s perfectly fine. It’s okay to tell a stranger when they are in your personal space bubble and need to back off, so don’t immediately reprimand the dog who did the telling off. Look at the entire picture and see if it was justified. If it was, then just leave it alone, unless the dog that was told off decides to be pushier. In that case, you must step in and nicely call the offender off.

In the case of getting 2 puppies at the same time (something we never recommend to the novice dog owner), it is 3 times the amount of work. The reason for this is because not only do you need to train each dog separately but then you need to train them together as well so you can be sure they will listen to you in the presence of their good buddy. When you have multiple dogs, you want to be the most influential person/being in their lives. But if they spend 24 hours a day together you will run a second place, and it probably won’t even be a close 2nd place at that!

You can easily work with them in the same room with one of the dogs in a crate, tethered or behind a baby gate and chewing on a bully stick or playing with a new toy, while you work with the other puppy. You’ll want to have the puppy you’re playing with on a leash to prevent him from running over to his pal. In this scenario, you need to be more enticing than the other puppy behind the gate so be sure to use your best treats!  

When raising 2 puppies together it’s important to take them places and spend time with them away from home as individuals. This accomplishes 2 things. First, it helps the dog at home realize that it’s all right to be home alone and not have to be with someone or another dog at all times. Coping skills need to be built, and leaving one dog behind with a yummy stuffed Kong toy, bully stick or horn is a great way to build them. The second thing it accomplishes is that the dog going with you learns to listen to you outside of the house and familiar areas without the other puppy. Some dogs are great outside their home, while others are not very confident, so working with them outside the home is a wonderful way to build that confidence. It’s a shame when people have 2 dogs that can’t function without each other because it means if one dog must go to the vet then both dogs must go. That may be okay for regular vet visits but what if one needs to be hospitalized? The dog left at home may not be able to function.

Each dog needs to develop as an individual to be the best dog they can be. It’s lovely when 2 dogs get along really well, but it can also be detrimental to their health.