During a recent discussion about wanting to get a second dog as a companion for our puppy, acquired from the humane society after losing an elderly dog over a year ago, someone commented that one was enough. Other people who own multiple dogs countered that comment.
One person said she has always had at least two dogs since about the age of four and wouldn’t know how to handle life with just one dog. Another said she owns three golden retrievers and is an “addict” of owning multiple dogs.
In addition to the canine companionship we enjoy with our favorite furry family members, what is the value of this companionship for other dogs in the home, and what is the best way to manage multiple dog homes?
Managing Multiple Dog Homes
While one dog can be enough in certain cases, such as when the dog doesn’t get along well with other dogs due to aggression or a territorial nature, most times, multiple dogs in one household create a positive and supportive environment for one another.
You are the key, however, in facilitating and maintaining peace in the multiple dog management in your home. Even as you set rules for your children, your dogs need to know there are house rules and consequences for breaking rules. Understand each dog’s dynamic, and ensure there is good chemistry between the different dogs and dog breeds you own. Give each of your dogs individual yet equal attention and praise.
One of the positive aspects that creates value in multiple dog homes is the canine companionship dogs provide for one another. Just as human siblings keep each other company and serve as playmates for one another, so canine siblings or companions keep each other entertained or simply occupied and out of trouble.
Dog trainer Kathy Diamond Davis offers these additional advantages to canine companionship of multiple dogs:
- Companion dogs provide exercise for one another.
- Companion dogs provide social interaction for one another.
- Companion dogs bond with and protect one another AND you as their owner!
Similarly, Maggie Schaefer of the Humane Society of Boulder Valley suggests these advantages for companion dogs in multiple dog homes:
- Companion dogs share affection with one another.
- Companion dogs enrich and complement their daily lives and interactions.
Considerations for Multiple Dog Homes
Even in the best cases, dogs who usually get along fine can become rambunctious, aggressive, or possessive. Be aware that dogs operate by a principle called resource guarding in which they want to keep food, toys, and even our attention to and for themselves!
Here are some considerations and warning signs from the American Kennel Club, so you can facilitate effective multiple dog management in your home, avoid canine rivalry, and avert problems before they get out of hand.
- Feed dogs in separate rooms, crates, or behind baby gates.
- Avoid throwing down high value treats (such as pig ears or filled Kong toys) and walking away; instead, feed dogs separately, as in the first point, and supervise until treats are gone.
- Pay attention to your dogs’ behavior, particularly any body posture indicating aggression. Make a loud noise and speak in a firm voice to stop the behavior; then praise the dog(s) for obeying, or “click and treat” everyone.
- Don’t show favoritism -treat all dogs fairly with equal attention.
- Reward good behavior consistently and equally.