multiple dogsDogs instinctively operate within a pack dynamic. Without understanding pack structure, owning multiple dogs can be overwhelming. Problems arise when (a) multiple dogs haven’t established rank among themselves and (b) the human family hasn’t established its pack leadership.

  • A dog needs to have a clear place in his pack structure.
  • A dog that knows his place in his canine pack is a happy dog.
  • A dog that knows his place in his human pack is a happy dog.
  • A constantly confused dog is an unhappy dog.
  • An unhappy dog will exhibit unwanted behaviors.

Pack leadership: As a multiple dog owner, your first priority is to establish yourself (and your human family) as pack leaders. All members must work as a team and stay on the same page when it comes to interacting with family dogs.

House rules must be consistently enforced: If the head of the household (pack leader) doesn’t allow dogs on the couch, other family members must stick by that rule or they’ll undermine the owner’s pack leadership and confuse the dogs. Dogs can sense a breakdown in leadership and may challenge the rules, and even challenge you.

  • Don’t play favorites.
  • Don’t bend the rules.
  • Don’t allow family members to play favorites or bend the rules.

two dogs one home
Supervision: Dogs should never be left unsupervised with children or anyone else who cannot maintain pack leadership and control. Reduce risks and consider all worst-case scenarios before bad things happen.

Safe space: It’s important to have enough physical space when you own multiple dogs. It’s equally important that each dog has a safe place to be alone and undisturbed, but can’t escape. Having separate kennels, crates, or other secure physical divisions is a good place to start. Each dog should be able to eat alone and in peace. Don’t ever put your dogs in situations where they have to fight for food.

Indoor space: There should be enough indoor space where your dogs can spend supervised time together and socialize on a regular basis, especially when it’s raining or cold. Remember, each dog must also have a secure separate space, especially at mealtime and while they’re unsupervised.

Plan ahead to have:

  1. Physical space where your dogs can socialize and hang out together, and also be separated.
  2. Sturdy, safe toys like Kongs to keep them occupied.
  3. Means to apply correction if they quarrel.
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Living With Multiple Dogs was last modified: May 10th, 2018 by Cali K9®