While most of the dogs kept as pets within the UK are the only dog in the household, the ownership figures for keeping two, or even more, dogs together are only slightly lower, and there are a great many benefits to keeping two dogs together for both the dogs and the owner.
Whether you are looking at keeping a pair of siblings from the same litter or two unrelated dogs that you hope will get on and bond closely, managing the dynamic of two dogs together and their place with each other and within the household is rather different than it is with one dog alone. Even if the dogs are closely related and have never been apart, it is important to pay attention to their development and training as individuals, and allow them time and space to grow into themselves and get to grips with the concept of their individuality, rather than as simply being part of a pair.
In this article, we will look at how to go about keeping and raising two dogs together instead of one.
While the ideal is of course that your two dogs will bond closely, share their things and gain companionship and entertainment from each other, it is important to treat each dog as their own “person,” and not as if they are two sides of the same coin or one dual unit.
Ensure that each dog has their own things, including crates, leads, food and drink bowls, toys, and beds. They may of course choose to share and this is fine as long as both dogs are happy with that, but make sure that the two dogs don’t blur into one in terms of who owns what and who gains the larger share of your resources.
It is vitally important that both of the dogs get to spend time alone without the other dog present, for a whole range of reasons. First of all, it is important that both dogs can be happy without their pal, as at some point in their lives, they will need to be apart, and of course as they get older, one dog will likely succumb to old age before the other.
Each dog should also be able to rely upon getting enough one to one attention from you, and not feeling as is they are always in competition for your affection on any level. If possible, walk each dog separately at least once a day too, as well as taking them on walks together.
Finally, if the two dogs are rather different in age, breeding or personality, the chances are that their needs and core traits will vary considerably, and so it is important to make sure that you meet the individual needs of each dog, as opposed to compromising into a situation that is not a perfect fit for either dog.
When it comes to training your dogs, this is one of the most important areas where should tackle each dog separately. Different dogs learn at different rates and will have different skills and levels of understanding, and it is not possible to concentrate on two dogs at once, even if both are responsive and well behaved. Training two dogs together will take more than twice as long as training each on their own!
If you wish to take your dogs to training classes, take them to separate classes, preferably on different days. At home, when you wish to work with one dog, keep the other dog out of the way, so as to avoid distractions. Once both dogs have reached an acceptable level of training and responsiveness individually, you can begin to start working with them as a pair unit.
If your pair of dogs constitutes two siblings, the chances are that they will have more similarities than differences in terms of their age, breeding and core traits. However, even with canine siblings, there is likely to be a reasonable amount of variation in the interests, personality and reactions of each dog, and you must allow each dog to grow into their respective role and allow for the differences between them.
This is even more important when dealing with unrelated dogs, and breed, age and activity level differences between them may mean that the two dogs have very little in common in terms of their exercise requirements, responses, and core traits.
Make sure that you research properly the needs, personalities and intelligence levels of your respective dogs, and cater to each of their needs. Find things that each dog likes to do and allow them equal consideration in having their needs met, and do not force either dog to partake in activities with the other dog that they are clearly not enjoying.