If you’ve already got one dog and you plan on bringing another dog into your home, there are a few things you should know.
First, you should probably familiarize yourself with the dog pack hierarchy.
That way, you will have a better understanding of your dogs’ behaviors and the way they interact with one another.
After that, there are a few things that you can do to ease the process of introducing your dogs to one another, while at the same time fostering your love for each one of them individually.
Following are some quick tips for raising happy dogs in a multiple dog household.
Each Dog Should Have Its Own…
- Sleeping Area
Whether that be a dog pillow, a crate, or a separate room, each dog should have their personal and private place where they can retreat and be alone when necessary.
BONUS TIP: We crate-trained each of our dogs until they were housebroken, at which point each dog graduated to its own dog pillow. Each night, when we tell our dogs to ‘go to bed’, each dog rushes to his respective pillow. (Okay, one dog has since given up the pillow for the cool linoleum floor in the adjoining bathroom. And the other — the largest — has completely monopolized our bed. But you get the idea… Fortunately, the little puppy still enjoys his pillow at night! The other two dogs use their pillows more in the daytime.)
Dogs need to have their own “space,” which is why I am a proponent of crates: especially for multi-dog households. Even if you are planning on allowing the dogs to sleep outside of their crates or have the run of the home when you are away, crates are useful when dogs need a little “alone time.” It’s a good idea to start to condition your current dog to being alone in the crate with Kongs or other “food toys” so they start to get the idea that things can be good when they are alone. If you are really dead set against using crates, set aside rooms or areas blocked off with baby gates or exercise pens. Source
The day you bring the new dog into your home, you should also bring home a couple of brand new (never before played with by other dogs) toys as well. Give these to the older dog to sniff and approve first, but in a short time he will “allow” the new dog to play with them on his own. Especially since these were never his toys to begin with. Chances are, the older dog won’t even be interested in the new toys because age-appropriate puppy toys will likely bore an older dog. Watch for resource guarding behaviors by the older dog.
BONUS TIP: With ‘treat toys’ (like Kongs) which combine play with eating, always have a separate toy of this type for each dog in the home. Otherwise, you could face some food aggression during play which will likely get worse in time.
Be proactive by teaching your dog to “drop it” and “take it.” This teaches a dog to give things to you and not claim them for his own. Source
- Food & Water Bowls
To prevent food aggression from happening, dogs should have their food area, and their own food bowls. Sometimes, it may be necessary to place one dog’s bowls in one room (like a bathroom), and the other dog’s bowls in a different room (another bathroom, bonus room, etc). Other times, it will be perfectly okay to keep them in the same room, just on opposite walls or something. All dogs are different. Ours had to be completely separated while eating and their food stations were in different rooms.
BONUS TIP: From the first day a dog enters your home, you should show him who’s boss when it comes to his food. Pass your hands through the food pellets in his bowl while he’s eating to show him it’s okay for others to be in his food. Start doing this when your dog is a puppy and continue this practice every few months throughout the life of your dog.
Separate them for all feeding, including treats and highly desirable toys. Dogs who would otherwise get along great can go into a survival mode over food. Don’t put them in this position. Source