You ask what’s better than having a dog? Having two (or more)! The more the dogs, the more the happiness quotient of the house. But with more dogs, also come more nuances of pet-parenting. Just like siblings, dogs of a house get along with each other very well and love playing together but at the same time, they are two different individuals and thus require different approaches to parenting. Not only do the approaches vary with the breeds, but also with age and the medical requirements of each.
Here are the top five things to keep in mind when you have multiple dogs:
It is always good to have more toys than you have dogs. It is possible for dogs to get possessive over toys and to avoid this we always suggest buying similar toys for them, having one for each pooch and one extra. This is till you figure out the toy of preference for each dog, and yes, every dog has one.
When working with treats, the most important thing is for the dog to have the patience and trust that s/he will get his/her share too. Here, commands such as “no”, “stay” or “wait”, become absolutely essential and must be followed to the ‘T’ in order to avoid any kind of feud over food. Also, when working on obedience with treats, it is ideal to work with the dogs individually rather than together.
Like we said in the beginning, dogs love playing with each other and we love watching them play together. In this scenario, it may become very easy for the dogs to entirely forget about the owner. This is where the need arises for a command to stop play immediately and turn to the human. It also helps handle off-leash walks and free-runs better along with cutting off any kind of rough play instantly.
Between two dogs, there will always be a pack order. The younger dog does learn a lot from his seniors in the house. The older one knows his way around and the younger one quickly follows and there emerge a leader and a follower and that’s how the pack order gets set. Observing the trigger points such as possessiveness with food, resource guarding, etc. is unquestionably necessary along with supervision during such situations while respecting the hierarchy between the two.
While a great inter-canine bond gets cemented in the house, the bond between each dog and the human must also be super strong. If a dog feels that the human is paying more attention to the other, be it for any reason — medical, training or any other requirements — s/he may get jealous or feel left out. To build assurance of the bond, each dog requires their own time, play and activities with the human and must feel comfortable in their own space. We recommend giving both dogs equal amounts of time and creating a space where even if the pet-parent is with one dog, the other still feels comfortable.
All in all, handling more than one dog comes down to three basic things – security, obedience and bond. If you have these three in place, there is no reason why you can’t have a playful house full of wagging tails and furry cuddles.
Shalaka Mundada is the owner of PetSitters, a premium pet boarding facility in Pune, India.
Founded in 2008, PetSitters largely works in the field of Dog Kenneling, Pre-Pet Consultations, Pet events & Dog Behavior Modification Programs. Shalaka is a certified Trainer, Behaviourist & Dog Aggression specialist from John Rogerson’s Northern Centre for Canine Behaviour, UK. She has also completed her Kennel Management Course from Shirin Merchant Canine Can Care, Mumbai.