Multi-Dog Challenges

Going from one up to two dogs or two up to three dogs can present its own set of challenges. Think of it as living by yourself and then taking on a roommate or two or three. The more people and personalities you add, the more complex the dynamic can become.
The first rule of thumb is to not introduce your dogs directly for at least a week. Use baby gates and walk separately, including potty visits. There is always a period of decompression where the new dog or puppy has to acclimate to humans, pets, and their new surroundings. The more you throw at them at one time, the more overwhelming that can be, which can be the recipe for not-so-great introductions.
Once we begin training, you will need to take the time to train the dogs individually. If you are teaching something new, you want to make it as easy as possible for the dog to succeed, and trying to get two dogs to do new things at one time is certainly challenging even for dog trainers.
Training sessions don’t have to be very long. Five to fifteen minutes is sufficient to keep their attention, and training them individually first helps when you start teaching them together.

There is a popular myth regarding the “pack” mentality with dogs, and many professionals have debunked it.

Two dogs looking up at trainer
"Dogs communicate much better with each other than we do, so I don't support people trying to insist that one dog is 'alpha' or 'dominant' over another. It's just not the way it works. Dogs decide their behaviors, and we can either reinforce them or 'punish' them by taking something away.

For example, you have a super excitable young dog or puppy who LOVES to play with an older dog. Your older dog is very tolerant and allows the dog to push many limits, but you're concerned that the young dog will go too far. You can reinforce polite play by continuing to allow the play (reinforcing the good behavior) or pull the dog out for 1 min time out until they settle, which punishes the over-arousal or bullying play behaviors by taking the 'play' away.

I have many dogs in my household at any given time, so I know the difficulties, but I also know how great it can be to have a group that all gets along!"
Beth Bowers
President, Power To The PawZ