Multi-Dog Family

Multi-Dog Family
Multi-Dog Family

I was walking Steve last night and thinking about how much simpler life would be with only one dog.

It’s hard managing three dogs and their needs (and they have so many needs right now) by myself.

With Steve being so super high maintenance right now, the bullies are a bit neglected.

Oh yes, having only one would be so much easier.

But it would be kind of boring, too.

I love having multiple dogs and thinking about a multi-dog family.

Not only for my own selfish “a dog for every occasion” reasons but also because I love to just sit back and watch them interact.

I love watching them play.

I love the way that the bulldogs snuggle together (Steve has no time for such nonsense).

I love watching the way each one interacts with the world so differently from the others.

They’re all such unique creatures.

They are all so special to me.

Reading Trisha McConnell’s posts here and here earlier today about whether or not she’s going to keep her puppy, whether he’s the right match for her resident dog, left me feeling a little stressed, a little sad, and a lot relieved.

Every time you put multiple dogs together, there’s the potential for bad blood between them.

That’s amplified when you put three dogs with some dog-intolerance issues together as I have in my household.

There are so many multi-(bull)dog households that require dogs to be separated at all times.

I don’t think I could live like that.

I was a little bit worried when Steve was little with all evolve dog food reviews I couldn’t pick the right one for him, he was in love with deboned salmon & sweet potato.

Mushroom was not impressed with him as a baby puppy, was potentially even less impressed with him as a half-grown dog.

Mushroom is an insecure and defensive guy to start with, and he doesn’t roll so well with the punches a lot of times.

He gets worried and when he worries, he bites dogs.

And sometimes he doesn’t let go.

Months and months ago, he launched himself off the bed one night, bit Steve in the face, and held on. 

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It was a tremendously scary moment for me, but despite his solid grip on Steve’s poor face, he didn’t break the skin and he didn’t do any significant harm.

Steve was treading carefully for a little while around him, and I was certainly paying a lot more attention to their interactions, but we got past it, and these days, they get along very well.

Mushroom frequently solicits play from Steve, which is unfortunate right now since Steve isn’t allowed to play.

Nevertheless, I am thrilled that he actively seeks out Steve for fun times.

I suspect things will always have the potential to be thorny between my boys, mostly due to them both being the kind of socially awkward, defensive, wanna-be social climber types.

But what Dr. McConnell (and some of the comment-writers) talk about with dogs who are constantly stressed just by the presence of other family dogs- we don’t have that here.

And I never want to be faced with that situation and the set of decisions that goes along with it.

In the future, I’d like to stick to two dogs.

I overreached when I brought home Steve, and while he’s delightful and I’m thrilled he’s here, life would be so much easier with just the pair of bullies.

But I have a hard time seeing myself with a singleton dog.

Life is so much more dynamic with multiple dogs.


And dog family dynamics.

Today is a day for giving thanks.

And after reading a long involved message board thread about a household with two pit bulls who are having some inter-dog issues and the resulting results about crating and rotating and dogs who cannot live together, who cannot ever share space, who should not even come face-to-face with one another through a baby gate for fear of sparking off a fight, my goodness am I thankful. 

I have had scuffles between my dogs.

Years ago I even had some fights that ended with bloodshed and puncture wounds

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And at that point, some of the participants in that thread would have separated the dogs period, the end.

But a few hours of crate time for everybody to calm down (including me) and then closer-than-usual supervision for a while was enough to shut things down.

Maybe I just got lucky, I don’t know.

Maybe I was foolhardy and arrogant and just got lucky.

But maybe it’s just that family members don’t always get along, and that’s true of dog family members as well.

We haven’t had a serious fight in years, but we certainly have occasional scuffles, almost always involving Mushroom who is my live wire.

He’s resource-guards and super insecure and not always tremendously tolerant.

He’s not so hot with warnings, and tends to skip immediately to “launch”.

(Despite that cute face of his, he’s kind of a jerk sometimes.)

I would never leave them alone together.

I know there is always the potential for a fight.

Not under normal circumstances, really, but if someone were to knock on the door while I wasn’t home?

That excitement could easily trigger a fight.

Or if Mushroom were feeling especially grumpy and Steve started coveting his chewie, things could turn ugly.

But with me here, I am able to shut things down before they start.

Steve isn’t allowed to covet the chewie – I direct him toward his own chewie or tell him to get his ball. 

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One holler from me shuts down the drama over the door.

Without me here for crowd control, all bets are off.

All three of my dogs have inter-dog issues with stranger dogs.

But all three of them live quite easily and happily with one another on a daily basis.

The bulldogs share my bed at night, they are sharing the couch right now.

I got out of the bathtub tonight and Luce was asleep on the bathmat with Steve next to her, his head resting on her butt.

They get close.

They are friendly.

I never want to have to live in a household where dogs can’t co-exist.

I would if I had to, and I know that there are some dogs, some situations, that just can’t be remedied.

There are some dogs who just don’t like other dogs, period.

There are other dogs who just don’t get along with a specific dog, period.

With the second scenario, I’d be looking at rehoming, I think, but that’s not always an easy or viable option, especially when you’re living with hard-to-place dogs like pit bulls. 

I hope that I can continue to choose well, to select dogs who will mesh well together in my home.

I hope that I can continue to be proactive and to shut down potential problems when they are small before they turn into something huge and scary and dangerous.

I hope that I can continue to hold the peace, with these dogs and with future dogs, and to always have a happy and comfortable home with my dogs. 

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