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Managing Your Multi-Dog Household

From Rachel Jones. Email her at rjones[AT]borderstan.com. She is  she is the owner of K-9 Divine and a professional dog trainer,

"Dog"

Plenty of room for everyone. (Rachel Jones)

Living with multiple dogs can be both rewarding and challenging. Here are some suggestions to make your multi-dog household run as smoothly as possible.

When making a decision to get a second dog, make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. If your first dog has a behavior problem, the addition of a second dog will not make it go away. In other words, get a second dog because you want one, not because you think your dog wants a friend. Try to work on your first dog’s issues before the arrival of the second dog.

It is also very important to choose the right second dog for your household. Generally, it is best to get a dog of the opposite sex and one that is not the same age as your first dog.

Dogs that have too much in common tend to fight more, as they see each other as competition. If you are getting a dog from a rescue group or shelter, bring your first dog along to make sure they like each other before you bring the new dog home.

Once you have all the dogs at home, set them up for success to minimize fighting. All dogs need some space from each other, even if they are best friends. Make sure you separate the dogs at some point during the day so they can have a break. That might be a good time to spend quality time with each dog by cuddling, grooming or training while the other one is elsewhere.

Feed the dogs separately or at least on opposite sides of the room and supervise them during meals. Even if they are not fighting over the food, one might be eating the other’s share. You don’t want either dog to feel anxious about mealtimes, or to go hungry while the other one gets fat.

Lastly, the dogs have their own social system in the house. It is normal to have some squabbles and some attempts to establish dominance. Let them work it out unless they are making each other bleed. If they are fighting to a degree where one or both dogs are getting injured, keep them separated until you can work with a trainer to resolve the issues.

Dogs enjoy the companionship of other canine friends in the house. Careful planning and management can ensure a peaceful and happy group at home.

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- who has written 19 posts on Borderstan.

A Borderstan resident for more than five years, Jones is the owner and head trainer of K-9 Divine. She began training professionally in April of 2003 after attending an internship program at the Animal Behavior Center of New York. Jones is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer with the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, a Canine Good Citizen Evaluator with the American Kennel Club and a Community Training Partner with Best Friends Animal Society. She has been in DC since 1994 when she came to study Spanish at Georgetown University, and then spent six years as a Spanish-to-English translator. Email her at rjones[AT]borderstan.com.

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