Tips for Keeping Multiple Dogs

You just can’t get enough of dogs and have already asked yourself whether a second dog wouldn’t be nice? But before he moves in with you, you should consider a few things. Keeping multiple dogs places demands on you and, above all, does not solve any existing dog problems. Read here how to make a good decision and how to properly prepare for keeping at least two four-legged friends!

Important requirements for keeping multiple dogs

As tempting as keeping multiple dogs maybe for dog lovers, having more than one four-legged friend not only increases the fun with the dogs. So before you happily bring a second roommate home, you should first clarify the financial, spatial, and temporal requirements.

Requirement with a second dog:

  • Costs for food, vet, accessories, dog tax, and liability insurance
  • Time spent on grooming and dog training such as separate dog training
  • knowledge required for leadership of a pack
  • Space requirement in the apartment and in the car
  • Restrictions on holiday planning, expensive third-party care

You should also consider the following points:

  • First, clear up the most common misunderstanding of keeping multiple dogs:  Dogs in a pack do not deal with each other alone! A man remains her most important point of reference.
  • Consider whether you can share the tasks of keeping multiple dogs with someone, or whether you will soon have to carry everything yourself. Do you have enough strength and time resources for this?
  • Make the decision for or against a second dog as unemotionally as possible and also consider what is best for your first dog. Is your dog a loner who is strongly attached to you? Then the second dog could become a problem for him.

Keeping multiple dogs: which dogs go well together?

Not all dogs are made for each other, even if dogs are basically packed animals and very sociable. Whether you choose a male or a female, an older or a youngster should be tailored to your first dog.

Here is some food for thought:

The gender of the dogs plays a big role in how they live together – and yours too, of course. A male and a female can usually settle in faster. If both are not neutered, they must be separated from each other during the heat of the bitch, unless you want offspring. This can be quite stressful in everyday life. A bitch’s heat or pseudopregnancy does not always make it easy to keep her. Two bitches can create great rivalries. A walk with a male and a female in heat should be well trained to prevent aggressive behavior towards other conspecifics. This also applies if you lead two dogs in heat.

A young dog can give a senior a joie de vivre, but it can also overwhelm them enormously and constantly be under-challenged themselves. Just as a disabled dog could orient itself wonderfully to a healthy one, the fit second dog can permanently stress both older and disabled dogs.

Good to know: Dog experts assume an optimal age difference of no more than approx. three years, so that the dogs do not hinder or negatively influence each other in their development phases. However, it must be remembered that small dogs grow up faster but age more slowly than very large dogs. The actual age is therefore only an approximate guide. The individual nature is certainly more determining for the fit between two dogs.

Extreme differences in size and breed can ultimately lead to the larger dog not accepting the smaller one as its own or even (unintentionally) injuring it. A jovial character will not get along well with a boisterous dog, while a dominant and fearful dog can make good partners.

Rules for a pack of dogs

Training becomes even more important when keeping multiple dogs. Adding a new dog to your existing only dog ​​shouldn’t be a rush job. It is best to take a vacation for this because, in order to bring the dogs together, you need time for the necessary purchases and inner peace to deal intensively with your grown pack.

Rule #1: Love goes through the nose and ends at the food

Dogs decide who is a friend and who is a foe – and that is done by smell. So bring a blanket or toy from the other dog into your home beforehand and give the other dog something to sniff. This way, both dogs can familiarize themselves with each other’s scent beforehand. Provide separate sleeping places and spaced food and water bowls.

Rule #2: Get to know each other on neutral ground

The first meeting of the two dogs should be on neutral ground. A low-distraction, fenced-off location is ideal. For the reconciliation, you need a helper to lead the new dog. Well-socialized and obedient dogs can engage in off-leash contact. If in doubt, use two lines for both so you can retrieve them if necessary. Take them for walks until their excitement has completely subsided.

Before the new dog enters the apartment, you should clear away all leftover food and toys so that there are no scuffles over possessions on the first visit. When entering the apartment, you go ahead with the new four-legged friend while your helper waits with the first dog. Let the newcomer thoroughly explore the home, and then invite the helper to join you with your dog.

Be patient: it can take more than two weeks for the dogs to settle in and be left unsupervised.

Rule #3: Clarify the ranking

Distance yourself from the traditional attitude that “the dogs take care of themselves” because it is not the dominant dog that is in charge, but you as the “lead animal” of the pack.

Observe exactly how the hierarchical relationships develop in multi-dog ownership. Accept a dog’s dominant position only if the pack doesn’t suffer as a result. Make it clear to your dogs what you won’t tolerate and provide relaxation by setting clear rules that apply to everyone and favor no one. Small corrections are usually enough, for example when a dog who is fixated on games terrorizes someone who is looking for peace and quiet. Then simply take on the role of a playmate for a while or make sure that the active canine part leaves the other one happy. Separate sleeping places – if necessary also in different rooms – have a preventive effect, because you can send the dogs to their place.

Rule #4: Prevent Jealousy

In order to prevent jealousy in multi-dog ownership, you must deal thoroughly with both dogs – individually and together. Find a time and calm to reassure the first dog that you are still reliably there for him. What do your four-legged friends like? One likes to play Frisbee, the other has an excellent nose? Then you take it in turns. And: Find something that both dogs enjoy enormously. That brings the pack together!

When the pack grows

If you want to keep more than two dogs, repeat these steps. But then it is a matter of your existing pack accepting the newcomer, which can be more difficult under certain circumstances but does not have to be. If you are unsure, an experienced dog trainer knows how to assess the situation and provide support.

Keeping multiple dogs: Read more

Feel free to get more information, it’s not defamatory. There are seminars and books on keeping multiple dogs. And if you still get stuck, get professional support! The fewer negative behaviors that become established, the easier it is to get rid of them.

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