It has become fairly common for people or families to have more than one dog. As one takes on more dogs they also take on more responsibility. Each dog will require time for feeding, relieving himself, exercise, training, playing, and bonding with his family each day. Multiply all those time requirements by the number of dogs you have and it is easy to see why having more than one dog can become stressful. Other than time commitment one needs to consider the space available in their home. Is there enough space for all the dogs to be roaming around freely at one time? What about puppies? What if one dog is dog aggressive? Managing multiple dogs can be tricky, but it can be done. Doing so will require time management skills, structure, consistency, and even some training (for both dog and owner).
Create a daily schedule for your dogs. This will include feeding times, scheduled bathroom breaks, exercise, and even playtime. Allot time for each activity and be sure to factor in your work schedule and any special events that you may have planned for each week or month. Know ahead of time that “life happens” and you may have to deviate from this schedule slightly, but remaining as consistent as possible will go a long way.
Having multiple dogs means having reduced amounts of space. Giving your dogs structure will help out here. Use a crate for each dog. Crates should be viewed as bedrooms, not jail cells. Use the crates whenever you have to leave the dogs home alone, at night, and whenever you cannot give your dogs your undivided attention. If you know where your dogs are and what they are doing it is impossible for them to get into trouble or be destructive. Team this with your dog’s schedule. Schedule each dog to have time out with you by himself. Also, you may want to schedule time for the dogs to interact with each other, provided they all get along. Always supervise your dogs when they are playing together. Even the friendliest of dogs can get into a scuffle from time-to-time.
Puppies should be spending a lot of time in their crates until they are house trained, and can be trusted in the house. However, you will want to socialize them to your house, family, and other dogs. Again, they should be supervised 100% of the time when interacting with your other dogs (or anytime they are out of their crate). Your puppy will also have a much more demanding schedule. He will have to relieve himself more often, and may eat an additional meal each day. He will need scheduled socialization time, and (limited) playtimes each day.
Dog Aggressive Dogs
If there is a dog aggressive dog in your family pack then you will have to take extra precautions to ensure that everyone remains safe each day. The aggressive dog will still need playtime, exercise, and time with his family. Owners with these special needs dogs will have to break their pack into two groups and schedule enough time for all of the same activities.
Dog aggressive dogs should also go through daily training and socialization sessions each day. If this is the case you may need to consult a trainer on how to properly do this. Having at least one other person to help out with training may be beneficial as well.
All dogs, regardless of temperament and personality, can benefit from training. The stress from owning multiple dogs can be greatly relieved by having each dog trained. A house full of well behaved, well mannered dogs will make life easier for everyone. Some commands that all dogs should know are:
- Leave It
Use these commands each day as you navigate through your schedule. If possible schedule a minimum of one training session with each dog per day. Use the commands properly, and set rules for your dogs to follow. When scheduling time for your dogs to be out of their crates trying using the place command. Each dog can have their own place mat and toys to occupy themselves. This command is great for eating, cooking, and relaxing while all of your dogs join you. It is key that all dogs understand this command first and that it is enforced at all times.
Living with multiple dogs can be tough, but it is not impossible. Provide your dogs with structure, keep a schedule, and set house rules. Remain consistent with all of your dogs and they will soon become a well behaved pack that will respect not only each other, but you as well.