Eureka! Dog Blog

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How Many Dogs are Too Many?

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Dogs Just Wanna Have Fun

Dogs Just Wanna Have Fun

We’ve seen a lot of problems and questions over the last couple of months around bringing extra dogs into the household. Everyone who loves dogs wants to save more of them from living rough, being abused, or being euthanized. The reality is, no one can save them all. You have to remember the effects on your household, and on your own dogs.  Don’t misunderstand me, I’d love you to adopt as many dogs as you can take proper care of – but please make sure that you have considered the impact realistically first!

Based on personal experience, there is a maximum number of dogs that each dog wants to see in the pack.  For some dogs, that number is one!  Most dogs are happy with a pack size between two and four dogs.  Once you pass that point, you are inviting trouble.  Of course, many people have had large numbers of dogs in their homes and it has been successful – but today, most people find it difficult to find the time to give one or two dogs the attention, care and exercise that they need.  Cesar Millan has a pack with many dogs in it – but he also spends hours every day giving them exercise.

So, let’s talk about a few recent conversations with clients, family, and friends.

“My older dog is getting on in years, and I’m thinking of bringing in a new younger dog to make the transition easier.”  This one sounds so sensible, but isn’t.  The older dog will be less than thrilled to have the new youngster throwing his weight about, being liveley and energetic, and trying to take control or make him play.  The middle dog will still have to adjust to a new dog coming into the household and the old one dying – that’s still two major adjustments, the same as if the new dog arrived after the old one had died.  The people in the household will be trying to teach a new dog the house rules (and making sure that the dog bonds first with the people, and then with the other dogs) while still taking good care of two other dogs, one now senior.  Don’t do it – give your old dog a peaceful retirement, grieve for him when he goes, and then consider a new dog.

“I have two puppies that I am still trying to get trained and under control, but two homeless dogs have followed me home.  They seem like nice dogs – what should I do?”  It’s great that you have a big heart.  But you have two puppies that still need a lot of training, and that are going to be at risk if these dogs have diseases (which homeless dogs often do, alas).  Find a no-kill shelter that will take them, if you can.  They will check to see if these dogs are sick, and will try to find a home for them.  If after mature consideration, you decide you can afford and have time for an additional dog, then go and adopt one.  But when these dogs placed their future in your hands, they were looking for you to do the right thing for them.  The right thing may very well be finding them another home, but it does not have to be yours.  I knew someone who took home a stray dog, and then found it might have parvo – if he had had a puppy in the house, that could have been a death sentence for the pup.

“I adopted a cute puppy from someone who couldn’t keep her, but now she and my dog are fighting – I have been hurt separating them, and I have a child in the house.”  I believe it was Clint Eastwood who said “A man’s gotta recognize his limitations”.  Yes, these were both nice dogs, and with work, they could probably have worked through their differences.  But it’s tough to keep everyone safe when there are children in the mix.  If the dogs will fight over the attention of the child, that is a dangerous situation.  In this case, kudos to Suzanne for finding a new home for the pup.  She didn’t just drop the dog off at a shelter, she took the responsibility and found a good home for her, and has followed up to make sure the pup is doing OK.

Written by eurekapaws

April 6, 2009 at 2:55 pm

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