5 Tips for Living With Multiple Dogs (Temporarily or Permanently)

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olive & tulipWith the holidays approaching, many of you are preparing to pack up your pets. It’s possible you’re planning on adding your dog to a house that has a resident dog or that your sister, pet parent of two, will be there with her fur kids and your dog will spend the holiday with his “cousins”.

Or maybe you just added a second dog to your own household.

In either scenario, my tips should help. Really, I’m just sharing some tricks of the trade. Or how I manage upwards of six visiting dogs on any given night with my one resident dog, Chauncey.

#1. Be a calm and confident leader; project compassionate authority.
Leadership is management and a house full of dogs requires management. This means that you control the resources that could spark unwanted behaviors between dogs. “Resources” are food, toys, attention, or access to priority areas in the house.

This means rewarding your dog for politeness and patience. It means that games and interactions do have rules. And that toys aren’t always accessible. You want to reinforce behavior that you want to see repeated and ignore what you don’t (i.e. barking for walks or nudges for attention).

#2. Dogs need rest. So wherever you are, set up a space for that.
Dogs need to get their 17-20 hours of requisite rest and they should know that time alone is a good thing to be enjoyed. This area of the house should be free of kids and new people, with a limited visual access to sudden changes in their environment (so away from the big picture windows).

There are a lot of other ways you can make this space that much more enticing for your dog and the concept is similar to a child playing in their own bedroom. Make it a “comfort zone”. Add calming music or a white noise machine. Give them a bed to rest in, a bowl of fresh water, and a few good toys.

#3. Use the “comfort zone” in the following ways:ducky, jake, homer

  • If you know someone will be coming to the door
  • Five minutes before your visitors leave
  • During parties, especially dinner parties, or other social gatherings
  • When you need a break from your dog
  • Or when your dog needs to settle down

It’s important to note, however, that this isn’t a punishment space. Only positive reinforcement happens in the comfort zone.

#4. Physical and mental stimulation makes a happy household!
It’s all about providing balance guys, be it life with one dog or seven. If there is rest, than set up an activity to follow, so on and so forth. I’ve written on the importance of both of these necessities here and here. Remember to keep toys and games you play with your dog novel.

#5. Feed the dogs separately. And always supervise dogs while they eat.
Schedule this time. When you have a dogs living together, don’t allow grazing. Prepare everyone’s food first before you begin serving – dogs get really worked up during mealtimes. Always feed the youngest, oldest, least healthy, or your problem dog in a crate or closed-off room.

Every single dog requires predictability, choice, and control to thrive and to be successful in life. In the next few weeks, as Thanksgivukkah and Christmas fall upon us, keep these three words in mind. It will make not only your dog happier and healthier but will allow every person, also sharing space with that pup, to enjoy their holiday as well. Which is actually more important.

Let’s hear from you! Leave a comment, a question, or a concern! We really love hearing from you.

  • What are your best practices in blending dogs from different households?
  • What challenges have you experienced?

everyone1

Next week I’ll review a seminar I recent attended. Sarah Kalnajs presented on people’s “Five Faux Paws” and their relation to dog aggression. Stay tuned!

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Comments (13)

Blake

My recently adopted dog is food obsessed. My biggest challenge when other dogs are visiting my home or when I take Franklin with me to homes with other dogs is his protection of his most important resource: food (whether it's crackers and cheese high up on a human table or a bowl of cat food). Lately I've seen an aggression in him I've never seen before and it happens when he's near a kitchen or place where there's food. He will prevent other dogs from entering or nearing the kitchen or room with food by guarding it and growling when another dog comes near. When I move him to another room in the house away from the food he'll guard the entrance closest to the food. I had no idea he was so food obsessed, and I'm concerned that it's negatively affecting the way he interacts with other dogs. Any suggestions? Thanks J! Still learning all kinds of things about Franklin. xo.

Rosie

Great post! We added a third doggy to our house recently and I now feel I live in a pack!

Christie Halmick | Jewels Branch

Our dog is a dog lover. She just wants to get to the other dogs so she can play and give them kisses and run around. Which can be quite annoy to the other dogs if they aren't wired that way. Great tips on how to deal with her dog loving ways when we're visiting others!

Jenny

Love this! Thanks so much for sharing all these tips as I have a few events coming up.

Cathy

Great suggestions! We don't usually have a lot of 4 legged visitors but on occasion we will get one or two. I've never considered needing a game plan for when our resident dog is forced to share her domicile, but it makes sense. She usually gets a long well with the other dogs, but I think we will employ some of these tactics over the holidays. Thank you!

Marie Overfors

Great post... timely, too! What's worked for me so far: Taking those precious poochies to play in the park or otherwise burn off energy. Happy holidays to you... and to people's pets everywhere!

Eight Humans, Three Dogs, and a Baby | Rover-Time

[…] going to review this post on introducing my dog to visitors and then read this one on managing multiple […]

Kayla

We have 4 dogs. 3 of them are puppies, one is 8 months the other two are months. I can't get them to listen to me, at all. In the beginning they listened well, but now..not so much. They dont come when called, always have to chase after them, they get out under the fence, they are potty trained but still pee on my area rugs or in the kennel.. even when they were just out and yes long enough. When I try to get them to sit and shake they push each other and then none of them shake because it's always a race. I need multiple tips please! Its causing a family issue between my husband and I

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