Multiple-Dog Households

There are many multi-dog households in Saint Lucie County. Dog owners with more than one canine buddy definitely enjoy some special perks. More dogs means more fun, more play, more cuddles, and more wagging tails. Your furry buddy may also benefit from having canine “siblings.” Having other dogs around may keep your pooch from getting lonely when you are gone, and Fido can burn off some extra energy playing with his four-legged pal. For tips on managing relationships between different pets, see the article ‘Helping Your Cat and Dog Get Along‘.

If you do decide to get another dog, you’ll need to choose your second or third dog carefully. Dogs think in terms of packs, even when interacting with humans. You’ve established yourself as the pack leader by teaching your pup that you’re the boss, but you can’t dictate which roles each dog will take on in your pack. Whenever there are multiple dogs present, our canine friends will instinctively form “pecking orders” amongst themselves. If your furry buddy is an alpha male, then getting another alpha male personality could be inviting trouble.

First impressions are going to be crucial. You’ll want to arrange for your resident pooch or pooches to meet the newcomer before finalizing the adoption. Make sure your potential new pal is current on all vaccinations before he meets your pup. Sometimes dogs become fast friends and playmates within a few moments of meeting one another. Other times, however, things don’t go as smoothly. If the canines growl or lunge at one another, it could be a mismatch. Adult dogs may be a better choice than puppies, as their personality is already developed, whereas puppies may change dramatically as they grow.

Dogs may ‘play-fight’ one another as they are figuring out who goes where on the totem pole. Play- fighting is normal, to an extent, but it can escalate to true aggression. This tends to happen more often when one dog is reaching maturity, or with dogs of the same sex.

Even if your new canine gets along wonderfully with your resident dog or dogs, you’ll still want to take some precautions. Keep your dogs separated when they are home alone, especially for the first several months. You’ll want to work with each pup individually as far as training, and divide your attention evenly as well. Prepare to get lots of doggie toys, so your furry buddies don’t end up fighting over them. For a comprehensive assessment of your dog’s health and behavior, consider our ‘Veterinary Diagnostics’ services.

If you do decide to add a second or third dog, you’ll also want to keep a camera on hand, because doggie friendships make great photos.

Please visit our website frequently for more articles from your Saint Lucie County vet on dog care and behavior.

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