Multiple Dog Households
I now have have five dogs at my house, one neutered male, one in-tact male puppy, one spayed female and two in-tact females. It is a mix of sizes from 12-28 pounds and personalities. My dogs have a definite pecking order and as I have written before, it is quite interesting to observe, fun actually.
In my “before Mini Aussie life”, I owned a spayed female German Shepherd and at the same time, a spayed standard Aussie. Both were beloved pets and lived long lives, past 14 years for my Shepherd and past 16 for my Aussie. However, 12 of those years, those two dogs could not be in the backyard together, much less the same room or we would have an instant dog fight to the death of most likely the smaller dog. They started out as good friends, with my Aussie raised from a puppy and the Shepherd added two years later also as a puppy. All was well until the Shepherd reached maturity and one morning when I was letting the dogs back into the house from their potty time, a voracious fight ensued at my back door. Luckily, I had pepper spray on my counter and let them both have it because I was otherwise defenseless and knew my Aussie was going to die. My Aussie girl did not have the personality to cry “uncle” and my Shepherd out weighed her by 25 pounds.
I have to admit that perhaps I triggered the scuffle, but body language is so subtle, I don’t know for sure what I did because it was like every other morning as I was leaving for work. I was in a rush and had the day on my mind. A few months later, the second fight occurred with totally different circumstances. This time, I was not in sight but heard their “noise” in the back yard and quickly dumped a bucket of water on them to break up the argument.
From that date on, our house became one of two separate dog apartments. Both got people time and training. Both were loved for the next 12 years. But there was no way I was going to let them together in my presence because it was so traumatic for me that I knew they would sense my insecurity and both were large dogs with the ability to do damage, even to me, if their aggression to each other might be redirected.
I’ve had dogs all my adult life and once again I’m managing a multiple dog household, but it is totally different. Now, my dogs are small enough that scuffles are easily handled. Second, I know much more about dog psychology and pack behavior so hopefully, I can forgo the extreme situation from before by better understanding what exacerbates a playful wrestling match into a real fight. I might add that although I dearly loved my German Shepherd and she was better than ADT for keeping intruders away from our home, I would be hesitant to own another female of that breed because of their tendency to be argumentative with other dogs. She was very people friendly, but never saw another dog she didn’t hate.
I personally think that one dog can be lonely, two dogs each have a pal for comfort and exercise and three make for lots of interaction. Those of us that have more than three need to understand dog language and behavior to keep the peace. I found an excellent source of suggestions for multiple dog management at
Because I do not have contact information for Ms. Chong to ask her permission to post her text, but you can copy the link into your browser to read. The article is simple and makes perfect sense.
One of my adult females is with another breeder today, my two young ones are at doggy day camp so only two of my five are at home with me. I miss part of my pack and will be glad to have them all back home again. Yes, it can be loud when they are all bebopping around, but we have a lot of fun!
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