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Controlled Chaos: How to Manage a Multi-Dog Household

Updated: Sep 12, 2020

I definitely fall into this category! We own four dogs, three of whom are around 50lbs and our little mascot Seiko. Besides them we can have up to four client dogs on site at a time. Needless to say, we LOVE dogs (and are probably a bit nuts). Luckily for us, it works. I'll explain here the reasons why it works and what to do if it doesn't.

The #1 reason our multi-dog household works? Careful consideration of new pack members. It's not about randomly adding dogs and crossing our fingers. This can lead to disasters and fast. As animal lovers we let our hearts lead us, we can't help it. We see a little furry face and something calls to us. If you are thinking of adding to your home, whether you have dogs at home already or not, you must use your head! My oldest dog is Bailey. She is my almost 10 year old German Shorthair (The brown and white one in our photos) and I've owned her her whole life. When we got her I had an elderly malamute/German shepherd mix (He was around 11 at the time). I knew he wasn't going to want to play with a high drive hunting puppy. The other thing he couldn't do anymore was keep up on longer hikes with us. So we took him, by himself, on nice long walks around the neighborhood to give him a break from his crazy little sister. And she got hikes with us where he got to hang at home with his favorite, a nice meaty bone. What we did not do is expect him to just accept her. This is what most often happens; we get a new dog and expect the other dog to just accept it because we brought it home. Imagine if we did that as people?! You just bring another random person you don't even know home to your family and expect everyone to just be friends and get along. This might work, but boy it may backfire! You should know your dog and what other dogs they like vs don't like. Which also means your current dog should be socialized enough for you to know. Going back to Bailey, especially as she has aged, she isn't fond of dogs as fast as her. She is still fast and has a lot of energy, but if a dog has more than her (more about our GSP puppy in the next section) she is not a fan. Thankfully when we got Stella Luna as a puppy she was much smaller than Bailey, so she learned over time to accept her and Stella learned Bailey as well. We also gave them time apart to Stella wasn't constantly pestering Bailey. Seiko our pom, being almost 10 him self, is our resident grumpy old man. He likes to just perch on top of the couch or be in our bedroom, and lets the girls know if he wants left alone and they respect that. Cue bringing in Jagger the 10 month old.

So what if you bring a dog home and your current dog is REALLY not fond of them? We recently brought Jagger into our pack, a 10 month old GSP. Stella and him play and carry on and LOVE each other. Bailey wants nothing to do with the young whipper snapper and neither does Seiko. Our house is small, less than 1000sf. So how the heck do we do it? Rotations. Some times the two seniors get to hang out and chill in our bedroom while the two young kids get the run of the house or yard. Then once they've tired themselves out Jagger goes back to his nice warm, monitored room with his beds and toys while the seniors and Stella hang in the house. This happens multiple times a day, every day. Is it exhausting? Sure! Is it permanent? No, we will be looking for our next house with our four dogs in mind. The point though is management and space. If your dogs don't get along, or even if they do but maybe they play TOO much (yes that's a thing) they need places to get a break from each other. This could be in different rooms of the house, rotations from the garage, a separate kennel building; there's tons of options. Just like people, sometimes dogs just need some space. Living right on top of each other can get exhausting and annoying. You also must dedicate some alone time with you and each one of your dogs. This ensures your relationship with each dog stays strong and you continue to know them as individuals not just as a group. If you need help introducing or deciding on a new addition let us know! Good luck!!

For the Dogs,

Christina, DTFC

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