Ask The Trainer: What breed of dog does not do well living in a multi-dog home?

August 24, 2020

Photo by Nancy Guth from Pexels

Thank you for your question.  I honestly do not like listing dog breeds  that do well, or don’t do well, in a multi-dog home.  The reason is because everyone has their own opinion.  I have read articles that list the Golden Retriever and Maltese as dogs who do better living alone.  While other articles list these same breeds as dogs who enjoy multi-dog homes. I have witnessed both breeds happily living together with other dogs.

So many articles indicate pit bulls should not live with other dogs, yet I know many who get along fantastically.  My pit loved my boxer-great dane mix.   He tolerated the pit.  Likewise, I have read that livestock guardian dogs tend to dominate other dogs and are not a good fit for families with children.  Once again, I have seen breeds that fall within this group live a happy life with both children and other dogs.  In my opinion, it depends on the individual dog more than the breed.  That said,  you can visit to check out specific breeds that interest you.   According to the American Kennel Club, breeds that fall under the terrier group have little tolerance for other animals, including dogs.  

Rather than focusing solely on a specific breed of dog, I believe we should look at dogs’ personality traits too — beginning with your current dog. Here are things to consider, and steps to take, before considering another dog:

  1.  Does your current dog enjoy being with dogs?  Are they playful and polite when playing with other dogs and hate leaving them, or do they tend to hang with people or go off on their own?  
  2. Is your current dog well-behaved and does he/she follow commands?  
  3. Does he/she like to share or protective over food, toys, humans and/or living space?
  4. Is your dog a confident, pushy dog or a shy, chill dog?  You need to consider which personality would fit best with your dog’s personality to avoid possible dog fights or one dog dominating the other dog. I can promise you will not enjoy your current dog being bullied by a new dog.
  5. Just because your dog got along well with another canine family member in the past, doesn’t mean they will like just any dog who joins the family. Just like people, you cannot pick your dog’s best friend. 
  6. If your dog is a senior, will they appreciate a puppy or younger dog bothering them with rough play?

Most times we don’t have much information on rescue dogs, so their tolerance level and past life are unknown — and therefore, likely based on the short amount of time spent at the shelter.  Therefore it is important that you and your dog spend time with dogs that interest you before adding a particular dog to your family.  Fostering a dog for a while will really give you a good idea.  Remember, it takes weeks for a dog to settle into a home.  Fostering should last more than a few days or a week. Hopefully, in the end you will become a foster failure and adopt the dog.  If it doesn’t work out between the dogs, your input will help a rescue find the perfect family for that dog. 

Should you decide to welcome a puppy into your family, know that most “resident” dogs do not welcome a puppy willingly.  It may take time to help your current dog to adjust.  You will likely need assistance from a dog trainer to help the transition.

Finally, make sure you have the time to work through any problems that may arise from adding another dog to your family pack.  It takes patience and guidance to help create a happy multi-dog home. Remember, every day will not be a great day.  Like human siblings, dogs will fight.   

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