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Adopting More Than One Dog

Black and Brown Dogs by Laurie Raymond

At the shelter, cats are almost always housed individually, while dogs are routinely doubled up in the kennel runs. We pair them up to help them overcome stress and depression while awaiting new homes. Dogs need social companionship every bit as much as they need food, shelter and medical care. Because it is so difficult to meet this need in households where everyone is away from home 8 – 10 hours a day, it is an important consideration when bringing a dog into your life.

Would adopting two at once be better for all concerned? It’s not a bad idea, but it isn’t quite as simple as it sounds. First, of course, you have to be sure you really want two dogs, and are prepared for all the extra work and expense involved.

Next, consider how you might select 2 dogs to adopt.

Bonded pair arriving together at the shelter. If the dogs have a positive relationship with each other and both appeal to the adopter, this can work out very well. Dogs do suffer when separated from close companions, and this ready-made canine family could adjust to your household relatively easily. An adopter considering taking both must be prepared to cope with long-established patterns in the dogs’ relationship, whether he intends to change those patterns or accept them as they are. And the dynamics may not be apparent in the kennel environment.

Two littermates who were each other’s sole companion, may have developed habits that do not include looking to humans for leadership. This is why we strongly discourage adoption of puppies from the same litter. Ideally, they should be separated at 7 to 9 weeks, so that the developmental window for bonding with people can be used to best advantage. You don’t want dogs who regard you as nothing but a meal ticket!

Two dogs from separate sources, kenneled together and getting along well, might seem ideal. It is possible though that in your home their relationship will evolve in ways that are hard to predict and may complicate their adjustment. Especially in a household where people are at work and school all day, behavior will be difficult to sort out – even knowing which dog is doing what. Someone who works at home and has time and attention to devote to training and working with the dogs could successfully take this on. Supervision is always key to success.

For most households, the ideal way to have multiple dogs is to get them one at a time, training and establishing relationships and routines with the first, then adding another once habits are comfortably established, and repeating the process.

Having more than one dog can be more than double the fun! Let us help you determine the way that will work best for you.