Adding More Dogs To Your House
Let’s talk multi dog households
Multi-dog households are definitely becoming a more popular thing and it’s not uncommon for us trainers to hear about issues families are having in their homes with 2+ dogs.
As someone who has an always-changing number of dogs in my house, I know exactly how stressful having more than one dog can be.
So let’s say you want to bring home your second dog.
When you decide to bring home another dog, remember that introducing them should take days, sometimes maybe even weeks.
How you introduce your new dog to your current dog is going to play a huge role in their relationship. I never introduce new dogs on day one at home.
The first day both dogs are kept separate so they can get used to each other’s smells and sounds at a safe and comfortable distance without stressing each other out.
I may crate them in the same room but I’m rotating who gets to be out of the crate. After the first day I might take both dogs for a walk with another person holding the leash of one of them. On that walk I’m keeping the dogs about 6-10ft apart but still walking side by side.
This is another good way to slowly introduce dogs without adding stress and confrontation of a nose to nose on leash greeting. NEVER introduce dogs face to face on leash.
As you see both dogs body language stay relaxed you can start walking a little bit closer until the dogs are able to check each other out still moving forward together.
I usually will do this over the course of a few days, still crate rotating the dogs in home. Once it’s been a few days to a few weeks and the dogs appear to be comfortable with no concerning behaviors, you can try letting them into a room together with no toys, food, or treats around to prevent the possibility of resource guarding that leads to a fight. These “free play” interactions should be kept short and sweet and should always be well monitored to make sure none of the dogs are taking it too far or getting uncomfortable.
Puppies & adult dogs in home:
Let’s say you have an already adult dog in the home and you just got a new puppy and you’ve done proper introductions and interactions with both your dogs.
Part 1: puppies & adult dogs in home.
Now they’re best friends or at least can be around each other. They do everything together, walks, bathroom breaks, sleep, eat, etc.
You might think this is the perfect outcome but you could be creating some very unhealthy dependency. My general rule of thumb is for everything your dogs do TOGETHER, they need to do two times the things alone.
So for example let’s say you took your puppy & adult dog or your new & current dog on a walk together.
After that walk, you should do some 1 on 1 training sessions with each dog with the other dog(s) in their crates away from the dog that’s free.
Dogs can very quickly become dependent on each other, ESPECIALLY puppies.
It is VERY important that your puppy has a lot of one on one time working on exposure, training, potty, and enrichment alone so that they can be more confident and independent adult dogs.
Part 2: “ever since I brought home our newest dog, none of them seem to listen when they’re together”
This is common. This stems back to part 1 where I talk about dependency.
Dogs feed off of each other so if you are not maintaining structure and control, your dogs are going to look at each other for that structure and guidance.
The first thing I encourage people to practice with multiple dogs is place. Control in the home is very important. There’s a time to let your dogs be goofy and play together but I should be able to turn that off with a simple “place” command.
I have a few different place cots or beds spread around my house that I often will send dogs too if I have multiple out.
When I have dogs on place is where I give them things like puzzle toys, chews, kongs, and other fun activities where they can stay busy and do individual activities and still be out around the other dogs.
Part 3: feeding & being left unsupervised.
although your dogs might be perfect together and you’ve never had an issue, dogs are still animals and they can always fight at the flip of a switch.
With a multidog household, I try to make sure that resources aren’t out when multiple dogs are out. Feedings should be done separately and preferably in their crates.
This way you know your dogs are safe from others taking their food and you can monitor their eating habits. Although I hear many owners say their goal is to be able to leave their dogs out when they leave, this is never something I encourage or recommend.
There’s always something that can go wrong, or they can get into or fight about so it’s always best to crate your dogs when you aren’t home.
You can crate your dogs next to each other but it’s not a good idea to ever crate them together either.
Part 4: ask for help
PLEASE reach out to a professional dog trainer in the event that you’re looking for a new dog or you’re going to introduce your new dog to your current dog(s).
We want to see you and your dog succeed and by including a trainer in the introduction and selection process, this can be your best chance at adding that perfect fit!
Not only will us trainers train your current dogs, but a lot of us also are more than happy to help you find a dog best suited for you from an animal shelter or reputable breeder we’re here to point you in the right direction.
Final part: cliff notes
- Take interdictions extremely slow.
- Practice time together and time separate daily.
- Practice training with and away from each other.
- Feed and crate separately
- High-value items should always be monitored when given to multiple dogs to minimize the chances of fights.
- Don’t hesitate to reach out to a trainer for help selecting or introducing a new dog.