How to Raise Two Dogs

Even identical dogs from the same litter can have very different personalities.
i George Doyle & Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Raising two dogs can be a wonderful and rewarding experience. Before adopting a second dog to join your current canine companion or bringing home two dogs together, keep a couple factors in mind to make sure the process goes smoothly. You’ll be a happy two-dog household in no time.

Different Personalities

Dogs are like people in the sense that they each have their own unique and distinct personalities. Just because your current golden retriever is gentle and docile doesn’t mean the next golden retriever you bring into your home will be that way, too. Don’t expect your dogs to have identical attitudes, even if they’re the same breed or from the same litter. When one of your dogs is a star pupil and the other refuses to house train and chews up your couch cushions, it’s easy to assume there’s something wrong with your more active dog. That dog just has a different personality, and if you expect those differences going into the situation, you’ll be better prepared to handle those differences should they arise.


Age can be a big factor when raising two dogs together. If you’re introducing a new dog into your home, don’t be surprised if your older dog isn’t immediately thrilled with the arrival of a new puppy. Older dogs don’t always have the energy or socialization required for dealing with younger, rambunctious puppies. Conflicts can arise. According to the American Humane Society, puppies under 4 months old can’t recognize dog body language and may not be aware when an older dog is signaling that he’s had enough. Therefore, don't leave your puppy alone with an adult until your puppy can understand these cues. This isn’t to say that dogs with a substantial age difference can’t be best friends. Some dogs get along right from the beginning and others take some time to get used to each other.

Adjustment Period

When raising two dogs, either by bringing home two at once or introducing a new dog into your home, there is going to be an adjustment period. The dogs will be getting used to each other and their new surroundings. Since dogs are pack animals, one of your dogs will probably establish itself as pack leader. Expect some aggressive behavior, but don’t let it get out of hand. During this adjustment period, you can take steps to minimize potential conflicts between your dogs by using separate food dishes, offering separate toys and taking your dogs outside individually.

Individual Time

Many people choose to get a second dog or adopt two in order to ensure their dog has a constant companion. However, just because your dogs have each other doesn’t mean they don’t still need you. It’s important to make an effort to spend time with your dogs individually. Obedience training is great way to bond with your dogs, and that’s an activity that needs to be done one on one. You can also do something as is simple as taking them for separate walks.

Lifelong Commitment

You dramatically increase your odds of successfully raising two dogs if you have the time and commitment required to handle both responsibly. Research your dogs before you get them -- some dogs from rescues aren’t suitable to be paired with other dogs. Supervise your dogs during and after the introductions. However, don't stop there. Whether you own one, two or five dogs, responsible pet ownership is a lifelong commitment. Raising two dogs means you’ll have two vet bills, two licensing fees, more food costs and an increase in other costs associated with pet ownership.

While raising two dogs definitely requires extra effort, the reward for responsible pet ownership will definitely pay off in the end in the form of two loving canine companions for your household.

the nest