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A Multi Dog Home | How Adding a Dog Changed the Dynamics of our Family

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We live in a multi dog home.  We have three gorgeous dogs and I adore them.  They’re my babies.  I love that we rescued all three of them.  Rodrigo and Sydney’s mom was rescued from a property where the owners had over 100 dogs.  I won’t go into details, but I’m sure you can imagine the life she led.  Her puppies haven’t had a moment of unhappiness if you don’t count “time out” or their parents leaving for work in the morning.  Blue was a stray that was turned into a shelter and found his way into our happy home (thanks to Riley holding open the door for him).

Three Black Dogs, Rodrigo, Sydney and Blue

Adopting 2 puppies at the same time…

When we were considering (when I say we, I mean me) adopting two puppies at the same time, many people said it was a bad idea, because they would bond to each other and not us, they would be difficult to train, and they would fight and hurt each other.  We didn’t experience any of this, but we were also prepared (thanks to all the warnings).

Adopting a third dog…

When I was considering adding a third dog, a coworker told me one thing that made me slow down – “Sydney will never forgive you.”  I’m happy to say that Sydney has forgiven me, but the addition of a third dog does change the dynamic of our home.

I’m “mommy.”  I’m the person who cuddles them when they need attention, they they’re scared, or when they’re hurt.  They love my boyfriend too, but I’m the one who they follow around the house.  It’s sweet and it’s a burden; especially when a puppy is howling outside the bathroom door.  Jeez!

Three Black Dogs, Rodrigo, Sydney and Blue

Three Black Dogs, Rodrigo, Sydney and Blue

How adopting a third dog changed the dynamics of our family

We expected changes, but we didn’t expect what we got…

  • More cleaning, more laundry.  That’s a no brainer, right?  But what we didn’t expect was that Blue would be a water dog and dives into all bodies of water, including our Koi pond (the fish LOVE him).  So we have to clean more, because he’s always wet and muddy.
  • More food.  Blue’s a puppy so he sometimes eats more than the other dogs and we had to find the balance of feeding two 70 pound dogs and feeding one 50 pound dog.  On the suggested feeding charts, our dogs fall into two categories.
  • More accidents.  Rodrigo weighs 70 pounds, when Blue joined our family, he weighed about 10 pounds and was determined to play with Rodrigo.  There was a lot of supervised play, but accidents happen and for the first time we considered pet insurance and invested in Trupanion.
  • More competition.  Our dogs have never been food possessive, but they are very much Mommy possessive.  There are days when I walk into a room and Rodrigo is getting worked up to bark at me, Sydney is growling at Blue and Rodrigo, and Blue immediately jumps into my space demanding love.  There’s one of me and three of them and I’ve had to set rules on who gets attention and when; this is new in our home.  It’s easy to divide attention between two dogs, but three (when one is a puppy) is a complicated dance.
  • More energy.  With a puppy in the house, we’ve been trying to remember when Rodrigo and Sydney settled down.  Regardless of that magic date, I somehow think Blue will be different.  What’s interesting is the Blue’s seemingly bottomless pit of energy is spurring on the other two.  Rodrigo wakes up, kisses Mommy, then goes after Blue for a rumble/tumble play session.  Even Sydney has jumped in with loud barking and growling.  This starts at 4:45 in the morning.  Yayyyy.
  • More money.  I told myself that we’re just adding a dog; we already have to buy the toys and food.  Sounds a little like a kid promising to walk the dog every single day no matter what – please can I have a puppy?  Although I’ve become adept at finding an affordable budget for our pets, I’ve had to get creative and found that saving money on pet accessories is easy through our Petco Pet Pals membership, coupons, and trying to find pet vouchers on Amazon.


Do you live in a multi dog home?  What changes did you experience that you didn’t anticipate?


Disclosure: The company My Voucher Codes sponsored this  article.  My Voucher Codes offers pet owners a way to save money on pet supplies and the more money we save, the better quality we can provide for our fur kids.  This article was written from my perspective of a dog parent to share dog care tips with this audience.  Although My Voucher Codes sponsored this article, I and Keep the Tail Wagging are not endorsing their company or website.


  1. Hi Kimberly; Always enjoy reading your posts. We used to have two dogs and that was great! They loved to play wrestle and sounded like they were killing each other sometimes, but, it was all in good fun. My house is like a little doggie commune, because I take care of other people’s dogs. Sometimes we have 5 or 6 and that’s definitely a lot of work. More than most people realize. It’s cool the way they follow me around like I’m the Pied Piper, but yes, a little annoying when they want to come in to the bathroom. :-) Have a good weekend.

    • I wish you were in my town; I would so love to be able to give our dogs a vacation (and us a vacation) and your house sounds really nice. We have lots of pet sitters, but not many are experienced; pet sitting and dog walking became really big during the economy down turn and a lot of people were opening kennels and doggy day cares in their homes without learning what it takes to care for other people’s pets in a mixed environment. So, when are you moving to Marysville?


      • Haha! You could always move to Canada. 😉 I know what you mean about these so-called pet sitters who have no clue and it really angers me! They think it’s just an easy way to make some money and give the rest of us a bad name. :-( Unless you are completely dedicated and in it with your whole heart, you won ‘t last long. It’s a 24/7 job and you have to love it, because it takes over your life completely. Your dogs are so adorable! Wish I could take care of them for you. Have a good weekend.

  2. Good post and timely as I have been semi-considering adding a third dog to our family. We’ve been multi-dog for a really long time – since 1997 when we rescued Tino, so having only one dog seems odd and lonely. Adding Tino didn’t seem like much added effort. He was sick with distemper when we first got him, but once we got through that he turned out to be a very independent dog (due to his surviving on the streets I’m sure). He would leave the house each morning and go to ‘work’ outside in the backyard and return at dinner. I col go all day without seeing him. But that was years ago. Having Jack & Maggie as a our two dogs is different. They are both followers like your guys and easy to trip over if you’re not careful.

    • OMG – you definitely understand our house. You should see when two humans and three dogs are in the kitchen. We have a big kitchen, but lately my boyfriend has been making suggestions of an expansion – no, we just need to herd the dogs out. I think three is our limit right now. I think about what it would be like to have a fourth dog, but I don’t think we’d be able to manage it unless one of us was working from home (me me me).

      Good luck with your decision; I bet you can imagine what I think you should do :)

      • Yes, I can imagine your recommendation 😉 We need to work on Jack’s socialization skills for a bit before I could seriously do it – although he’s fine with Maggie. My goal is to retire and turn our house into a Doggie Foster Care Center…wishful thinking for now, but you have to have goals in this life.

  3. My family has been a “three dog pack” since 1997….At its best it’s a beautifully choreographed dynamic between people and dogs; there’s almost always a juggling act for which dog needs what when.

    It’s work, costs more than having “just one,” and is a lot of fun. And, most of my dog-savvy friends and dog lovers manage their own juggling acts of between 3 or 4 dogs. Interestingly enough, the common denominator among us is that we all were active in dog rescue and/or active participants in dog sports. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that all of us have ended up with our various canine packs.

    • That’s a great point, Kathy – everyone I know in dog rescue has mutiple dogs – some have 4-5 dogs and I’m always amazed that they can manage a family of that size. I love our pack and hope to add at least 1 more dog in the next few years.

  4. My husband and I have gone around and around on this for so long now! We’ve made lists, crunched the numbers, brainstormed, and talked to friends and read websites about growing our fur family. The jury’s still out on going from four paws to more ;), but these are all great food for thought items on the list!

    • I hope you do end up adopting. We started with 2 so I think anyone can do 2; there are two of you so you’ll be fine. Three was a balancing act and really takes a great set of personalities (both human, canine and the 2 felines upstairs). I don’t know about four. But I would love to consider it when I’m blogging full time.

  5. Mom thought going from 1 to 2 dogs would be no big deal but that was almost 11 yrs ago and she was so wrong, it was a huge change but now after having 2 dogs for so long, having one feels like she is missing something. Now we are thinking of adding a 3rd but we are taking it slowly as it is a big decision and one that is permanent, there are the costs, the how we all get along issue, spreading mom’s love over another dog…lots to consider. It may be a while and we may just stay with two but it is something we aren’t taking lightly.

    • Your mom is right! We’ve managed to handle our three dogs, but we’re lucky, because Blue was such a great addition to the family and he blended in like he’s always been here. I know that not all dogs have personalities that click. I’m glad that she’s taking her time and she has your help!

  6. We never realized how important a second dog was until we got a second dog. The second dog brought new life to our first dog

    • That’s how I feel about our third dog. We see Sydney being silly now and Rodrigo has a playmate. I don’t like going to the dog park and with Blue in our family, we have switched dog parks with play dates with friends.

  7. I have a three dog household. When I got my first chi, Dane, I was still living with my parents. Dane grew up having other dogs around. When him and I moved in with my grandmother I could tell he was lonely. I knew the best thing for Dane was another small dog. I found a 7 year old male chihuahua to adopt and they hit it off right away. Frankie definitely brought new life into the house. While Dane tends to be reserved, we nicknamed him Royalty, as he watches Frankie’s crazy antics from the back of the couch, Frankie is a goofball. He has a tail wag and kiss for everyone.

    I was quite content with my two dog household. I toyed with the idea of a third but wasn’t really looking to make that kind of commitment. Along came Milo, a 3 year old, energetic Boston in need of a home. I took him in, at the least to foster him, and with the idea of perhaps keeping him if all three dogs clicked.

    It’s taken some work, and Milo and Dane still have some issues over guarding resources. Now Frankie has an actual playmate since Dane has never been one to play. Dane has a walking buddy since Milo loves to walk as much and as long as Dane does. It definitely brought changes to our greetings now. Milo is a jumper and so energetic. I used to greet both chis at once but now its greet Milo, then greet the chis so they don’t get knocked around. All in all, it’s been a process but so worth it, for all of us.

    • Ahhhh, thanks for sharing that story, Kelly! I love it and I’m grinning from ear to ear. Reading about walks made me look at the dogs, I wonder if I should wake them for a walk or let them sleep longer. Ahhh, the decisions of a multi dog mom :) hee hee

  8. I am considering adding a 3rd dog to my family however none of them are puppies. Most information I’ve read is regarding adding a new puppy to the mix. I currently have a 10 yr old male Rott/Shepherd and a 2 yr old male Aust Shepherd/Collie. Both are altered and get along great. I’m considering adding a 5 yr old male Shepherd/Lab. Are there any additional things I should be considering given that they are all out of the puppy years?

    • I don’t have a suggestion for older dogs beyond scheduling a meet and greet in a calm area. I see some people do it at an adoption event and there’s just so much going on that it makes the introduction too stressful. If we were to adopt a 4th dog, I’d ask the rescue group to bring the dog by our house for a few hours to allow them to play with our dogs and see how it goes. Not all relationships are perfect, but dogs do grow on each other and they adopt to each other more easily than humans do.

  9. I recently adopted two dogs. It was the best decision I ever made.

    • I hear ya!

  10. I’ve had 2-3 dogs for the last 15 years and I’ve never found it to be a problem or dramatically more work than having just one dog. I’ve also never taken them to obedience classes. I read a lot of books about dogs, behavior, and training about 20 years ago. I create simple rules and enforce them consistently. I did hire a private training 2-3 hours to help an abused rescue get over her nipping problem – that was *very* helpful.

    The most important things I’ve learned over the years are:
    You need to spend 15 minutes/day per dog interacting with your dogs: if you can’t do that, you shouldn’t get a dog. Dogs like routine, consistent hours and feeding patterns. Feeding dogs bones, IMO, is important because it keeps their teeth clean, relaxes them down and promotes longevity. (My last dog lived to be 18, and I have a 15 year old cocker spaniel cross right now.) Raw bones are better but large irradiated beef bones are ok too (from grocery or pet food store) and so are larger bones from your food, but watch the dogs VERY carefully with them. I realize this is controversial, but I’ve always had good luck and white teeth from this. High/top quality food is also important. I never just feed dog food, even premium. But all of this is personal philosophy and I digress…

    In terms of having multiple dogs, I think it helps my dogs are in the 20lb range. I think I’d “feel” them more if they were 80lbs. Two dogs is no more work than one. Three dogs is more work.

    Multiple dogs (new additions) also learn the rules of the house from the dog who is already in the house. You need to be very careful they don’t teach each other to bark more, or other undesirable habits.

    I’ve certainly had problems with new additions initially – eg I just adopted two 11 year old Eskie littermates (their 3rd home) and they have separation anxiety when I go to work. But I find this stuff always gets sorted out in time with consistent behavior, strategies to lower anxiety, and clear (but not excessive) rules. I don’t believe in overtraining dogs to the point of them being without personality, but they need to obey the rules that are important to you. Eg for me, it is no barking in the house, on the furniture by invitation only, on the bed never, etc. But every house is different.

    My eleven year old littermates are very well adjusted with each other EXCEPT the omega (non alpha) seems to be afraid to eat with his brother around. I’m working on this, feeding separately etc.

    They are very bonded to me after only a month, but they do not like to be separated. I’m used to this because my non-littermates dogs were the same way. If dogs are together all day long, they don’t like being separated. That shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone or seen as unnatural. It can be inconvenient (eg vet trips). But over the last 15 years it was rarely a problem and they got used to it even if it made them uneasy. Again, this type of issue is easier with smaller dogs because you can bring them to more places together.

    I do think multiple dogs are easier if you are an “experienced dog owner.” I wouldn’t necessarily recommend getting two dogs out-of-the-gate for somebody who had never trained a dog before simply because the dogs learn from each other and reinforce each other’s bad habits if you aren’t “on it” with them (nipping bad behavior in the bud – no pun intended). And dogs learn extremely quickly from microscopic non-verbal queues.

    I don’t have that much experience with littermates yet, but in terms of rehoming *any* pair of dogs you don’t want broken apart would be hard to rehome. The first owner of my new Eskies gave them up when her daughter developed allergies. (She asked a friend to rehome them.) The friend spent 6 months advertising for a home that would take both before I came along. She didn’t want any money for them. In contrast, a 7? or 9? yr old Eskie I spotted on Craig’s List with a $400 rehoming free went in six days!

    Rehoming senior littermates is tough I think.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience. Today we have 4 dogs, 2 sets of littermates, and bringing home our 2nd set of littermates had it’s challenges (mostly lack of sleep for months), but it was easier, because we had 2 adult dogs to help.

      I’m there with you on the “experienced dog owner” part. There’s no way we could do this on our own. When I hear about first time dog owners bringing home 3 dogs, I makes me cringe.


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