Monday, March 14, 2016

Too Much of a Good Thing? - Thoughts On Multi-Dog Homes

Hey, everyone!

Today's post is something that's been on my mind on and off for the past month or two, and it involves multi-dog households. Recently several friends and acquaintances have gotten puppies (lucky bitches! The end of April will mark 2 years since Pike was a puppy, and my puppy fever is at dangerous levels), and it's made me insanely jealous ponder the best number of dogs to have, and if there's such a thing as "too many". Eyebrows start to raise when you have more than two dogs, and it's made me wonder why.

I will say that you have to be able to provide for however many dogs you have, regardless of if it's one or twelve. You have to provide decent food (and remember, what is decent for one dog isn't always decent for another), shelter, vet care, training, and interaction, not to mention basic cleanliness. I'm not talking about hoarding situations in this post. This post is questioning whether or not competent, responsible dog owners have - or should have - a cap on their dog number. Let's keep it friendly, alright? Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but don't be a dick.

In my opinion, I don't think there should be a limit on how many dogs a good owner has. The only person who can decide that number is the owner, and the other members of the household. Only they know their budget, limitations, expectations, and capabilities. No one else has the power to say otherwise (unless they're under pet limitations by city or home owner association ordinance). It's no one's place to criticize someone in real life or on the internet if the dogs in question are well cared for and happy. Just smile, nod, and move on. Unless you're paying food and vet bills, it really just... doesn't concern you.

Some people can't handle one dog, and some people are fine with ten. It depends on the owner and the dogs. You also have to take into account the type of dog when looking at a 3+ dog household - four Border Collies or Malinois are going to take a lot more effort than 6 Mastiffs or Chihuahuas. Even still, some people can handle a baker's dozen of high energy, intense dogs without breaking a sweat. More power to them!
The only time I pause at a large group is when it's of bully breeds, and the owner is dealing with a crating/rotating situation. Not because I think it's wrong, but because I've dealt with crating and rotating. It is, to be perfectly blunt, fucking miserable to me. Not necessarily for the dogs, but for the owner. The stress of it is too much for me, and I admire those that can handle it. I hope to god I never have to be in a crating/rotating situation again. I can't manage my anxiety when I have that much stress in my home.

Certain people will say that you shouldn't have more than one dog if you've rehomed, or you've bought from a breeder (yes, I've actually seen this). That's such a load of BS that I can't even wrap my mind around it.
Rehoming does not equal a bad owner. It just doesn't. While there are people who abuse it, the vast majority of people do it responsibly and for the right reasons. Just because it doesn't work out with a dog doesn't mean it won't be perfect this time around.
As for the breeder thing... I am so pro breeder, and whether or not your dogs are from one shouldn't factor in how many you have.

Personally, I would love to have a large group of dogs. Six, or up to eight for the right group. Especially with my future plans, it's quite feasible with my lifestyle. A mix of high energy and intensity and laid-back and lazy would do me just fine. I'd like to add one to the gang this summer or fall.

While all dogs do well with training and interactions, some need more than others, and so long as everyone's needs are being met, I see no problem with having a dog you work more than another. Pike, for example, I hardly train with at all. Even my gentle method of positive reinforcement training  can send him over threshold with the slightest mistake, and it stresses both of us out. As such, we play instead, and work minor training into our play time. Nola, on the other handle, is worked all day, everyday. Her mind needs to be kept busy, or she'll find ways to keep it busy.
Most dogs really aren't as demanding as people would like to make them out to be. Dogs that need you to really to constantly work and exercise them are the exception, not the norm.

Another point people bring up is what age gaps are in your group. People fret about the heartbreak of a group of seniors, while others think it unfair to have younger dogs around seniors. To me, you do what works for your own situations. I personally like having my dogs close in age. Seniors will break my heart whether I have one or four. I would rather have them close in age because it works best for us, and because that most of their lives will not be lived during old age, if that makes sense.

So what about you? Where do you stand with this? What's your ideal dog number?

- Dachshund Mommy


  1. This was fun. Its a topic I've gone over and over with myself for the past few months. We have discussed adding a female collie to our mix to eventually be a mate for Tucker. But at the same time the thoughts of adding a third active dog make my head spin. Right now 2 is my magic number and I'm really happy with this number. And its taking a lot of convincing on my part to add another. As for other people ... as long as the dogs are well cared for then more power to the person. I just know I couldn't do it and that's fine. Just because I can't doesn't' mean its wrong for others. Thanks for posting this ... like I said its a fun topic and one that does stir a lot of criticism from others.

  2. Two dogs is my limit but that's a personal choice. As long as they are taken care of, and they are not violating laws and city codes, I think others can make their own decisions about how many dogs. Chester and Gretel are 7 years apart and I'm glad I'll still have Gretel, and the living reminder of them together, when he is gone.

  3. Two dogs is my limit but that's a personal choice. As long as they are taken care of, and they are not violating laws and city codes, I think others can make their own decisions about how many dogs. Chester and Gretel are 7 years apart and I'm glad I'll still have Gretel, and the living reminder of them together, when he is gone.

  4. Mommy said she wants to have 87 French Bulldogs. I would be queen of lots of dogs. But we live in a place where 2 is sufficient. There is a lady that walks 8 dogs on a leash with no problem. Multiple doggy households could be fun
    Lily & Edward

  5. I had to comment on this as I have five dogs and four cats and I work and I live in the city. That gets people guards up. I think that with devoted owners and owners that research and no one whats right for the multi dog homes are totally great. I go for breeds I know work with my life style, I want cuddlier lazier breeds that do well with other dogs, thats why Ive settled on pugs and toy poodles as perfect for me and my husband. We have had large age gaps and no problems with it. I always heck city codes

  6. You are a very competent dog trainer so I'm sure you could handle another dog with your current pack. The problems arise when a person takes on more than they can cope with and then everything goes to hell.
    I think I had my hands full with 3 dogs, I doubt I would be okay with more than that.
    Lynne x

  7. I've never been a huge fan of telling others what they can and can't do. Clearly there are a few people who have crossed the line and can't understand the damage they are doing to themselves and their pets. However, most people clearly understand the limitations of their households and make pet choices accordingly.

    I also agree several of your points. First your point about rehoming. Rehoming is not an evil concept, it is a responsible for dogs who aren't doing well in a home and have the chance for a home where they will be loved and welcomed. I love our dogs and am thankful every day that they were surrendered and they didn't stay where the fit wasn't a good one. The reasons why those things happened are varied. The important thing is when it happens that people take the appropriate steps to find the dog a safe home, they don't dump it in a place it is likely to die.

    As for breeders, I have no issue with people using responsible breeders. Encouraging people to adopt is wonderful, however, it is equally important to encourage people to seek out responsible breeders if that is their choice. Shaming accomplishes little.

    Unlike you, we fed our puppy fever when we adopted Bailey, otherwise I'd consider a breeder since it is taking so long to find another Sheltie through rescue and we'd like to find a good friend for Katy before we lose Bailey. We are looking for a Sheltie past puppy years

  8. I currently have one and it will stay that way due to finance but in the future I would definitely like to have more. I probably won't stray into a group as large as 8 but 4 dogs would be nice. I was wondering how Rule is doing as we haven't seen her in a while?

  9. My personal opinion is that as long as each dog gets the time and individual attention they need then it's fine. As long as everyone is healthy, happy and clean then it's fine. I'm not the biggest fan of people trading their dogs in for new ones but it's not my business.

    I personally think four dogs is a good number, even though I only have two. I think it would be awesome to be able to take one dog away and the others still have their friends, or I could take two dogs away and there are still two left to keep each other company. I also think it's really important that the previous dogs have some training on them before the next dog comes home. That way the household is easier to manage. I'm hoping I can start looking for my next dog in the next two years. We really need to get our own place first instead of renting.

  10. Personally having done 4 I will never do so again, it was too much work, too much food, too much poop. Lots of training, and overall exhausting to meet the needs of each individual dog. I like to do both individual and group training times and I was about done in with 4 dogs (keep in mind they were two of mine and two fosters - two untrained dogs is such a mess of work!)
    Personally we decided that 3 is our max, I can easily balance the training time of 3 dogs. But someday I just want one dog, one dog to dedicate all of my time and energy to. One dog to train and have as perfectly trained as possible.
    Having two dogs we had to work on Ziva being ok by herself, sometimes I like to take just one dog, it's more relaxing and less work if I just want a leisurely adventure but I end up feeling bad about leaving one behind. Having just one dog with no separation anxiety sounds wonderful.

  11. My personal limit is two dogs, because I feel like I just wouldn't be able to give enough personal time and attention to more dogs than that. Which doesn't mean someone else can't. I know a number of people with 10+ dogs who do just fine. For myself, I'll stick to 1-2.

    As far as ages go, it isn't them all dying close together that worries me about having two dogs super close in age. Since I do flyball competitively, and have a personal limit of 2 dogs, I don't want to have two elderly dogs who are unable to compete but are still plenty healthy and be sitting out of the sport for years (even if I am enjoying the company of my seniors). I'd rather have one dog fully trained and within a few years of retirement, and a young dog just getting started in training, so that by the time the older dog retires, I will have a fully trained younger dog to play with. And as long as you have the right pair of dogs, and the right supervision, having a young puppy and an older dog shouldn't be a problem, though for some people I guess it could be.

  12. Sounds like you have puppy fever... The right is something we each have to come up with ourselves. I'm happy with one dog. Although we have six cats...

  13. Isn't it astonishing how many people feel entitled to an opinion about other people's business?

    I'm with you. The decision is different for every person.

    I've wanted to have at least two dogs so I'm never left alone when one passes. But I have to admit, I'm thankful we're only dealing with one dog on the boat. Although I occasionally think of adding a cat to the family.

    With your plans for a farm of your own, I could see you having dogs that do different jobs. A guardian dog or herding dog could bring a lot of richness to your life while being very different from your current family of pups.

    I guess when you have enough, you'll know. Because you won't be asking yourself whether to adopt more. :)

  14. Great thought provoking article. I'd love to have another dog, but I know that's probably not a good idea with Laika. (who has some pretty bad resource guarding) I wouldn't feel comfortable leaving them together so I'd end up having to do the crate/rotate thing and well.. Like you say I couldn't imagine that's much fun at all.

    I'm not sure why some people are so adamant about knowing what's "best" for others. Everyone has their own set up, and if someone can properly care for more dogs than me that's awesome.

  15. I just wrote out a big long comment and then firefox crashed :(

    I don't have time to write it again, except to say that 2-3 is our limit. I tend to throw all my energy into my dogs, and I couldn't spend enough time with each one with more than 2-3.

    I've seen what I thought were ill-advised decisions by acquaintances where I knew that they didn't have the finances to care for the number of dogs they were accumulating. Also, they didn't have the time to work with (train, play, pay attention to) each one - which I think every dog deserves. None were "hoarding" - they just weren't thinking about what was best for each of their individual dogs.

  16. Excellent post. I don't believe in telling others what they can or cannot do. As long as all dogs are loved, well-cared for, and their environment is clean, then I see no reason for anyone to have a max number of dogs. If it weren't for Bruce, I would probably have more dogs. But, like you, I could not stand to do a crate and rotate life.

  17. I agree with you; there isn't a set number - it's more about the human and what they can manage.

    We have four dogs and sometimes I wonder if I can bring in a 5th and, to be honest, I don't think I can. I'm able to divvy out my affection, attention, training, and care to four dogs perfectly. I know that if a 5th dog joined our home, we'd all adapt, but for now, I like our status quo.

    I also have to keep in mind that my life can change and I need to be able to afford to care for my dogs; if I bring home too many, then they could suffer for my miscalculation.

    I do believe that someone who rehomes shouldn't be allowed to have a dog, but that's not people who rehome, because it's not a good fit. I'm thinking of my friends in rescue who have to deal with people who rehome a dog, because they can't be bothered with training or having a dog wasn't as fun as they thought it would be. Sadly, many times a few months later (or shorter) they're posting about their new puppy on Facebook.

    Great post!


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