Dear Sarah,

We’ve just brought a second dog into our home. We’ve never had 2 dogs before. Is there anything that we should do differently now that we’ve added to our furry family?

Nick B

Hi Nick,

Firstly, congratulations on your new addition! You are now what’s known as a “multi-dog household”, and yes – there are some things that are worth mentioning.

Now that you have more than one dog, it is tempting for the dogs to do everything together. After all – you got them to be company for each other, right? It’s actually really important for them to still have some one-on-one time with you – that way they develop their primary bond with you, rather than with each other. This also means that if one of them has to spend the night in at the vets, or you have to separate them for some reason, they aren’t going to stress about not being together. Take one of them for a drive while the other stays home with a juicy bone. Or on a walk, have a family member take one dog one way while you go the other and then meet up somewhere and walk together.

It’s a great idea when you have more than one dog that they know their own individual names, and also a collective sound that means “I’m talking to all of you”. It’s also important that you teach both the dogs not to push in on each other and to wait their turn. This is just polite manners, but can also be useful if you have to administer eye or ear drops without having the other one trying to join in the fun.

I strongly recommend that you feed your dogs in separate areas. Many humans like the idea of feeding their dogs side-by-side (or even from the same bowl or food dispensing toy) – after all, for humans eating together is a part of our social nature. However, not all dogs eat at the same rate (or may be on different diets). Eating side-by-side often encourages competition over food or speed eating, which is not good for digestion. Avoid any potential issues by allowing dogs time to eat their food at their own pace by feeding them in separate areas.

Finally, remember that different dogs of different ages and different breeds will have different needs. If you have a young dog and an old dog, they will have differing needs for exercise, mental stimulation and social contact. One may require more rest than the other. One may be able to run for hours, while the other may only require a short walk around the block. Ensuring that you get to know each dog as an individual to be able to provide for those needs will help to make your transition from a single-dog to a multi-dog household a smooth one!