Living with more than one dog provides companionship for your pets and can be enjoyable as an owner. Though, as a general rule, opposite sex pairings typically get along better than same sex groupings, a completely harmonious household with multiple animals can't be absolutely guaranteed (just like a multi-person household!). However, there are steps you can take to ensure the least amount of friction between your furry friends.
How to Take Care of Multiple Dogs
Create Separate Feeding Areas
No matter how great your dogs get along, they need separate spots to eat. Competition over food can lead to fights. If you typically set food out and let your dog snack throughout the day, you may want to switch to a more formal feeding time when adding additional dogs. Set the food out, then after 30 minutes pick the bowls up. Your pups will quickly learn to eat what they want when it is offered.
Provide Individual Attention to Each Dog
It is tempting to dote over the new addition, but your older dog is not used to the competition, and if he feels ignored, he can quickly become jealous of the new dog(s). Provide one on one attention to each dog, and playtime with the dogs as a group, to enhance bonding.
Be Diligent with Grooming and Training
Owning more than one dog does increase your time commitment, and it is important that you don't skimp on grooming and training. Regular grooming saves time by preventing mats from developing and dog hair from overtaking your house. It also gives you a chance to carefully examine your dog for early warning signs of health issues, such as bald spots, excessive hair loss or irritated skin. It is easy to let training time slip, particularly if your dog is generally well mannered, but regular tune-ups are necessary to keep your dog listening to you and paying attention. Five to 10 minutes, several times a week, is enough to remind your dog how to behave.
Plan Ahead for Medical Expenses
More than one dog means higher veterinary expenses, but this is an area in which you cannot afford to skimp. Puppies need a full set of vaccinations, and adult dogs require boosters and parasite preventatives. Some veterinarians provide multiple pet discounts, and others will write you a prescription so you can order preventatives online. Talk with your vet about ways to save money on healthcare.
by Stephanie Dube Dwilson
About the Author
With features published by media such as Business Week and Fox News, Stephanie Dube Dwilson is an accomplished writer with a law degree and a master's in science and technology journalism. She has written for law firms, public relations and marketing agencies, science and technology websites, and business magazines.