Multi dog households

Unless you have a perfect match, adding a second, third, or more dogs to your pack can change the dynamic of your home. Not all dogs get along, and even if they do, fights can break out over things you couldn’t imagine. Here are some tips for navigating more than one dog in your home space!

  • Maintain control of your household. It may feel like its easy to just let the dog fit in without a lot of work on your part, but if a dog is jumping on furniture, nudging your hand for a pet, running ahead of you through doors – then the dog is taking control you should have. Don’t move around a dog – ask the dog to move. If the dog has control, it will exercise control on other dogs, too, and that’s when things start.
  • Never feed dogs next to each other and loose. It can cause stress about scarce resources, and even a dog checking out another’s bowl can put them on the defensive. Having a space for each to go away from the other – a crate, a different spot in the house, etc. is key.
  • Control treats. Don’t just throw them out and let the dogs make a grab for them. Make them behave and perform a trick for them. Work on teaching them patience for their turn.
  • Don’t force tight spaces. We all have personal space – don’t expect your dog to happily stay in a confined space like a small room or car and share a seat. Dogs often look for their own separate corner and will defend it from other dogs. They need space, too.
  • They have to ask for things. It’s so easy to have a dog just pick up a toy when it’s one, but it’s much better for you to control their access to toys and chew toys. Keep them out of reach and only available when they ask politely (aka, come up and sit) OR you decide. If a dog brings you something to play with it, take it. Remind them who is boss and that it is yours. Then they can’t get jealous about it.
  • Don’t leave them together unattended. A lot of times dogs will get into serious trouble with you not around. If you’re not there. Crate them. Once they have one big fight, they can lose trust forever.
  • In fact, if you’re not interacting with them, crate them. This may be pretty harsh sounding but dogs like chilling in safe spaces. They don’t have to sleep on your bed (you’re in charge, not them), and they don’t have to aimlessly run around in your yard. Generally they won’t. You go out and run with them. They don’t run themselves.
  • Look for neutral minds. Problems happen when they get overly excited, whether sad or happy. Reinforce mellow, neutral minds at all times so they don’t hype eachother up.