Sharing your home with three or more four-legged friends qualifies you as a being a multi-dog family. I love living with many dogs but it may not be for everyone.
Consider the pros and cons (from my perspective) to see if it’s for you.
Primarily, they swaddle you in unconditional love. A dog’s feelings and thought processes are pure; they love you, that’s it and that’s all. They don’t know revenge, bitterness or harbor grudges.
Dogs in a pack amuse each other and aren’t lonely which lessens my burden of guilt when I leave without them. I still get the look, however, toys strewn about and happy tails tell the truth when I return. Have you ever known a dog to ignore a good butt check?
My dogs are a source of never-ending entertainment. Just watching them interact is much better than anything NBC, CBS or ABC could dream up. Speaking of entertainment, dogs look great dressed for holidays, if they let you do that!
Now, the downside.
Hair, fur, hair and fur all over the house. Do you like to vacuum and wipe muddy feet? Better get used to it if you want multiple dogs and a clean home. In addition to hair serving as both fashion accessories and condiments, the other obvious cons are costs: veterinarian, food and grooming.
Taking all for a walk may try your patience. Unless you are a master at leash handling, you are bound to struggle a bit. In my case, I credit my dogs with my weight loss. Rather than doing the leash dance (you start out fine, all dogs in a nice line and then one decides to cross those leashes to smell or pee on that bush and the leash dance begins) I walk mine in two shifts. You have to figure out the right personality combo to make that work but have you ever known a dog to pass up a walk or car ride?
Training? Forget working one-on-one unless you separate one from the rest of the pack. Then you have to deal with whining and scratching at the door because they don’t want to miss the treats and attention.
Barking? Gotta love the sounds of dogs barking. Whenever I start a Best Buddies Dog Training workshop, the two issues everyone wants to address are barking and jumping.
Tip: To handle barking in my house I thank them first (in the sweetest voice possible) for alerting me to the perils outside my door (be it the mailman or a kid riding a bike. God forbid the cause be another dog on their turf) and then ask them for a nice ‘sit’ and calmly, softly ask for a nice quiet. (This is my method as opposed to my husband’s, which is scream at them from another room. J)
Have you seen how your dogs band together (Dude! I got your back!) when another dog shows more than mild interest?
They may not be overly loving with each other at home but boy will they jump to another’s defense at a moment’s notice!
Having multiple dog personalities and hierarchies under one roof can be a challenge but the rewards are immeasurable. Once a new dog establishes his/her presence and role in the pack things usually go smoothly. Attempts by a new dog to sidestep a current pack member and move up in rank may need human intervention.
Please be mindful of body language, tone and facial expressions not only yours but theirs too.
Remember dogs take their cues from us so if you are calm they will pick that up. Stressed out? Angry? Sad? Look at your dog. Dogs have an uncanny ability to feel/read our moods and act appropriately.
I love how well dogs adapt. I didn’t adopt all 6 of mine at the same time, in fact, the last dog wasn’t even adopted, she was inherited from my older brother when he passed. Bringing her home and integrating her into the pack was a challenge because she mourned for months, not eating for days at a time. I let my dogs figure things out and make things work. Seldom have I had to intervene.
My advice? If you can handle hair and dirty paws and don’t mind dog fur as a condiment, become a multi-dog home! You will drown in unconditional love!
A native of Massachusetts and a resident of Georgia where I have lived since 2008 with six rescue dogs, commonly referred to as my merry band of misfits, and one husband. I am proud owner of Best Buddies Dog Training in Hoschton, GA. When not in the training studio, you’ll find me in a nursing home, hospital or special needs class with my certified pet therapy dog or recruiting for my pet therapy organization, Happy Tails. I also spend a great deal of time researching the latest information on dog food, health and training techniques and volunteering with local rescues.
I have written stories to contribute to Titan’s Tales and Other Dog Adoption Love Stories and In Dogs We Trust.