People who have lots of dogs have embraced a “the more, the merrier” approach to life. But what happens when the “merrier” part doesn’t quite pan out? Managing multiple dogs can be harder than it seems, especially if the dogs are large -- or just have large personalities.
Some of the usual advice given for single-dog households applies to multi-dog households as well. For example, “a tired dog is a good dog” still holds true. Your consistent leadership is still critical. Positive reinforcement is still more effective than punishment after the fact.
But some challenges are unique to life with multiple dogs. Here are some tips for keeping the peace when you have more dogs than hands.
Ensure your first dog is well trained before bringing home a canine sibling.It’s tempting to think that a second dog will keep your dog busy and therefore out of trouble, but don’t use a second dog as a substitute for training. The only thing worse than trying to walk one lunging, out-of-control dog is trying to walk two! Before other dogs join the family, make sure your dog will be a great role model.
Feed your dogs separately.At minimum, you should have a food bowl for each dog. You can even feed them at separate times, or in separate rooms or crates, to make sure that each dog gets an appropriate dinner and there is no fighting over food.
Treat each dog as an individual, and don’t play favorites.Treat each of your dogs as fairly as possible to prevent jealousy and fighting over status. If you are going to give your dogs a special treat, have one for everybody. Keep an eye out for any possessive behavior toward food, toys, or prime turf (like the couch), and intervene when necessary to prevent a brewing fight from escalating. Remember that your attention is also a valued resource to your dogs.
Give each dog their own sleeping area.Dogs like having their own quiet zone to sleep or just chill out. They also sometimes like to bunk up, so make sure their beds are strong enough to handle it. Even Kuranda’s small dog beds can withstand a lot of weight, so puppy piles are no problem at all!
Have you found that dogs are like cookies – you can’t have only one? We’d love to hear your tips for keeping your multi-dog household running smoothly!