How to Train Your Dog to Live With Other Dogs

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Sometimes one just isn't enough. Having one dog is great, but having more than one is fantastic! Full of doubled rewards and triple the challenges, a multi-dog home can have you pulling your hair out over the simplest of things. Many dog owners find that having more than one dog in the home makes their life complete and certainly interesting. Whether you are adding more dogs to your single dog household or starting off with multiple dogs, you'll need to train your dogs how to live together. It's not too difficult, but you'll need to have some patience and stay consistent with all dogs.

  • 01 of 08

    Arrange the Meet and Greet

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    If you are adding an additional dog to your single dog, you'll need to do a meet and greet. That first meeting between your established dog and the newcomer could set the tone for their entire relationship, good or bad. If at all possible, try to have them meet in a neutral setting, away from home. If you are adopting from a shelter, see if you can bring your dog in to meet the potential new dog before signing for the adoption to see if they will accept each other. Be patient and give the dogs time to get to know each other.

  • 02 of 08

    Pay Special Attention to Puppies

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    If you're ready for the challenge of bringing home two (or more) puppies, you're going to have to take a few special steps to make the transition smooth.

    • Crate train. Crate them together when you aren't available, but the crate is invaluable for getting one-on-one training time with each puppy. Crate one while you work with the other.
    • Buy two of everything! Two toys, two leashes, and especially two beds/blankets. They may be amenable to sharing now, but that could change as they grow older and bigger.
    • Use different colors for everything, even if the dogs are different in looks and there's no mistaking them for each other. It's not for them; it's for you.
  • 03 of 08

    Plan One-on-One Time

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    Every dog in your home needs to feel special, every day. Make the time to spend some one-on-one time with each of your dogs. They need the individual training sessions in order for it to take hold in their heads, and they need the attention from you (without competition) in order for you to establish yourself as the owner. Otherwise, your two (or more) dogs will come to rely upon on each other, and you might be relegated to mere background noise. If you have other adults (or older kids) in the house, have them take one dog out for a walk while you train or play with the other, and then switch. Take turns with training, so that your dogs learn to listen to all the humans in your home and not just the head of the family.

  • 04 of 08

    Prepare for Dog Fights

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    It's a fact: If you have more than one dog, you will have dogs fighting. Most of the fights between household dogs will not be serious fights and will end shortly after starting. The most common cause of these tussles is rank: The dogs will need to work out who comes first between them. Unless both dogs are uncommonly submissive, these types of dog fights are going to be inevitable. To keep the fights from becoming serious:

    • Neuter them. Rampaging hormones are a huge factor in dog aggressiveness, especially toward each other.
    • Do your part to reinforce pack order: You are first, then the other humans, then the dogs, in whichever order they have established.
    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Reinforce Pack Order

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    Even when they aren't fighting, you'll want to pay attention to rank. Once they've sorted themselves out, you'll need to know which dog came out on top. Even if your favorite isn't the leader, you'll still need to do your part by putting the other dog first (after you and the other people in your home). Feed your dogs in order of rank, by setting the top dog's bowl of food down first. Let that one out the door first and don't quibble if the pup seems to monopolize your affections.

  • 06 of 08

    Set Feeding Times

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    Feed both dogs at the same time of day, but still cater to the alpha dog of the two (or more), by putting its food down first. As long as both dogs eat the same food, and will finish their meal all at once, there shouldn't be any problems. Dogs should always have their own food dish, but a communal water bucket is usually fine. It may be necessary to feed the dogs in different areas of the home if:

    • One dog finishes first and tries to eat the other dog's food, as this can lead to an overweight pooch rather quickly
    • They fight over the food
    • They eat different foods (for example, if one eats an adult diet food, and the other gets a puppy food)
  • 07 of 08

    Manage Excitement

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    Anybody who has more than one dog knows that the most chaotic time is when you, the human, finally come home from wherever you have been. Bouncing, maybe barking, butt-wiggles, excited yipping noises, and maybe even excited puddles can occur. Don't reward the craziness. Walk in the door after an absence and ignore your dog until it has calmed down enough to sit properly and lavish praise upon the pup for doing so. If you can ignore the chaos when you come in, and refuse to acknowledge anything but a sitting dog, your dog will catch on very quickly.

  • 08 of 08

    Problems and Proofing Behavior

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    Whether you are introducing a new dog to your existing dog or bringing home multiple dogs, you can expect a few scuffles. If problems occur even after the pecking order has been sorted out, you may need some outside help. Another potential problem is if one dog is easily trained but the other proves quite difficult. A vet or pet behavior specialist can help. They will usually come to your home, see your dogs in action, and then work with you on a training plan.