What’s the perfect number of dogs?
For us, it’s four. Same number as hands available to hold leashes. Two per person – one to cuddle on each side. Staggered in age so puppies have a chance to be puppies. Oldsters can avoid the chaos and mayhem if they choose. And, theoretically, our hearts won’t be broken too close together. It didn’t go quite as planned in the past, so we have two dogs at eight years old, one is five, and one is three.
If you have a dog and you’re thinking of getting another – fantastic! It’s much easier to teach a second dog (or puppy) the “rules of the road” if there’s another dog to show him the ropes. Housebreaking is much easier with an older dog around. Adult dogs are usually fairly tolerant of puppies. They may not be best friends right away, but they’ll probably be okay. When Hope got Teddy, Dax (her adult female Frenchie) wanted absolutely no part of him. Puppy Teddy would grab Dax’s face and hang on, as she stared off into the distance. Her obvious philosophy was that if she ignored him, he would go away. Teddy was persistent and eventually won her over – they were playing together within six months. However, that being said, your adult dog should be able to get away from the puppy when it wants to – everyone needs a break!
Generally speaking, experts advise if you have a dog to get one of the opposite sex. Two dogs or two bitches are thought to be more likely to fight. It depends on the circumstances, the dogs, the personalities involved.
If you decide to get an adult or rescue dog rather than a puppy, be prepared to keep some separation between them until they can get used to each other and establish their own relationship. Especially with a rescue, you don’t know what the dog’s triggers or “buttons” may be – you probably know little of its history. All interactions should be supervised.
We meet a lot of people when they first adopt their new dogs from a shelter or rescue. The vast majority tell us how wonderful, well-behaved, and quiet the new dog is. We help them get established with the gear they need for the new acquisition and congratulate them on their new family member. A few months later, after the dog is comfortable in its new home, he or she will abandon “company manners” and show his/her true personality.
The real dog that emerges will probably be more fun, happier, more loving, and more trouble than the polite little “guest” you adopted. He/she will also be more challenging than you imagined. When the dog figures out it’s really not going anywhere else, it may challenge the resident dog’s place in the family. This may be the time to find a trainer to work with your family.
We know lots of people with multiple dogs. And we know lots of people with only one. Only you know the “right” number of dogs for your family. For ours: one is not enough. Two is good. Three is better. Four is ideal. Five is crazy. Trust us, we’ve tried it!