Whole Dog Journal's Blog July 12, 2017

How Many Dogs is the "Right" Number for You?

Posted at 02:15PM - Comments: (66)

Woody, Otto and Cole

My son’s dog – my granddog – just stayed with me for three weeks, while my athlete son was traveling for his sport. Cole, an all-black Black and Tan Coonhound, is about four years old now. I personally selected him for my son from my local shelter when he was only about four or five months old, and he’s stayed with me many, many times. He has *perfect* manners, gets along well with both my dogs (goofy adolescent Woody and serious senior Otto) and my cats (both the super-shy one and the one who swats the dogs daily). I absolutely adore this dog – and yet, I was glad when my son returned from his travels and Cole went home. As much as I love dogs in general and Cole in particular, for me, three dogs is just a bit much.

Two dogs is just the right number for me. Three (or more) get a bit chaotic; it seems like one of the three has always just vomited or had a runny poo, or is coughing or something. With three or more, it feels like I can never get the house clean; as fast as I vacuum all the hair, muddy footprints appear somewhere behind me. The water bowl is always empty (or full of slobbery backwash), with drips on the floor in a 10-foot radius around the bowl.

Two is just right!

My sister has four little dogs, each of whom, individually, is a nice little dog. Collectively, though, it feels like a circus to me – especially since none of them are trained in any way. Bark, bark, bark, bark! Yikes!

In contrast, having only one dog is a bit intense. It feels almost too intimate, like being on a date, as opposed to going out with the whole family. Does that even make sense?

I guess this is why I like short-term fostering only; I try to avoid fostering any dog that might need months and months of training and behavioral rehabilitation because after a few weeks, it feels more like a burden and less like fun.

What about you? What’s the right number of dogs for you?

Comments (66)

So many multiple-dog homes! Yay for all of you and your pups!

Me? I'm one of those one-dog people. So far, I've found the biggest problem with that is when your beloved canine partner passes on, you're totally bereft until you get your next puppy and start all over again.

As a fairly intense person, most of my relationships with any species tend toward depth, and I would not be happy without the same intimacy and depth of connection and communication with my dog partner. My Dutch Shepherd and I are together 24/7; she is my service dog as well as my constant companion and competition partner.

And, when I say I'm intense, I mean it. When I raise a puppy, I typically spend about 5 hours a day between training, playing, and exercising. I train my own service dog (it helps a lot to be a trainer), who fortunately enjoys training as much as I do, so we've also been able to enjoy competing in nosework, as well as training obedience, rally, and agility (don't compete in those sports these days, just nosework).

One problem for me is that I have a hard time imagining being able to provide this same depth of training and interaction with more than one dog at a time, because that's how I'm built; I'd HAVE to give the second dog the same upbringing and ongoing relationship, and energy becomes a big factor. I couldn't do this with more than one dog at a time. A related issue is that I like very difficult, challenging dogs. They are a PITA as puppies and I have plenty of scars to prove it.

I also do a lot of camping and traveling, which to my way of thinking, is much easier with one dog.

OTOH, with one dog, you are making a major commitment to provide everything that dog needs in terms of companionship, mental stimulation, exercise, and general fun and good living. I've found myself at times feeling envious of those who do have multiple dogs; they do a lot to entertain and exercise each other, and it takes a lot off of your own shoulders in that regard.

Another factor for me is financial. I have two cats and my one dog...and my dog has allergy issues that are expensive to deal with. I simply couldn't afford a second dog, even if I wanted one (and trust me, I've looked at my spousal unit with cow eyes as I read about another dog that needs a home that seems like a dog I could really love...).

But, even tho there are times I feel a desire for another, still I know I am basically a one-dog girl.

As I am always telling my clients, there are many ways to own a dog or dogs, and no one way is the only way. The great news is that they exist, and that all of us can find what fits best for our own way of sharing life with dogs.

Posted by: leih | October 23, 2017 7:30 PM    Report this comment

I have a Weimaraner service dog, acquired after hearing loss resulting from Cryptococcal Meningitis. This opportunistic infection attacked my compromised immune system. Medical expenses required me to apply for social security disability.
I am hoping some benevolent stranger will assist me with a subscription to Whole Dog Journal. I don't know what I would do if something happened to my guarding angel, Maddie!
Donovan Taylor
qd.taylor@ charter.net

Posted by: Donovan Taylor | September 12, 2017 2:09 AM    Report this comment

I have 5 small dogs and if my husband would allow it I might go for one more small senior rescue dog. We have a almost 15 year old Lhasa, and 4 other small dogs in the 10/11 year range. Adult children all gone and a big back yard. The only dogs I would adopt in future are small senior dogs. Love them all to bits.

Posted by: Sgmaps | July 29, 2017 5:06 PM    Report this comment

i have had 3 dogs for a period in our lives and i would not purposely have three dogs at a time again. i think that it is hard on everyone. in the case where we had three doges we brought in a foster (supposedly temporarily) and it turned out to be a failed foster. He stayed. But in the fact that he stayed my puppy at the time got the short end of the stick. it was a very long-term relationship (he died at 13-1/2) but it felt like managing a ball team alot of the time. now we have 2 and i feel like 2 is a really good number. our older girl is 14-1/2 now and i want to give her the best for as long as she has before we add to our pack. it might mean ending up with one dog for a time or it might end up with having 3 near the end of her life. that's the challenge. but for me 2 is a perfect number.

Posted by: schesney | July 27, 2017 6:28 AM    Report this comment

Two is my number, for loving, attention needs and keeping up with.
Agree with the comment about 2 hands.
A couple of months ago a friend needed help. I took her 18 month old dog for
a week. It was fun. Learned something about each of my dogs and the visitor.
Glad she came. Happy she went home.
My son just got a puppy. While she is adorable and learning quickly, glad when it is just us. For walks I leave one of mine at their house, because 3 is too many. The fenced yard is great but one flying puppy and one older dog at a time.
One of mine is very opinionated and a 4 month old puppy is busy. The puppy also has the zoomies for part of the walk.

Posted by: Fay Schafernak | July 18, 2017 2:23 PM    Report this comment

We have three. The oldest is 10, the middle dog is 6 and the youngest is 1. We staggered the ages because we couldn't imagine having one dog left behind when the oldest passed. I think it was a good way to plan. When Buddy died at 15, the girls had each other. It helped us too that we still had a "pack" to come home to.

Posted by: BuddyMom15 | July 16, 2017 4:46 PM    Report this comment

I have had as many as 14, but I am now down to 9. I have 2 young ones (2&4) and the rest are between12 and 15. I know I will be losing some soon and that breaks my heart!
I am looking for another Standard Poodle puppy, and with that, I will be done for a long while. I have never regretted having that many dogs, but, as I approach the 60 yr. mark, I need to slow down a bit.

Posted by: Donna17 | July 15, 2017 3:24 PM    Report this comment

I wasn't able to have a dog until I was 34 years old because up to that time I was either working full time and going to school full time Or I was in medical residency and fellowship and working 80-120 hours per week. I trained in pediatrics and child psychiatry with the goal of working with very disabled kids.

I found a dog a couple of months sooner than I planned and he had attachment disorder. Then I adopted what I was told was a 3 month old puppy at the pound but my veterinarian immediately told me the puppy was only 4 weeks old. The sign had said, "Cocker Mix." "You mean she's not a Cocker Spaniel?" I asked my vet.

The vet had a huge belly laugh at that and said, "Lady! She's going to be a BIG dog" And Sadie was--80 Lb of pure running muscle. There were issues with the unattached dog and the taken from her mother too young puppy, but with the help of my educational background, Karen Pryor's 'Don't Shoot the Dog' and lots of exercise, we were able to become a happy family. Then I visited my sister and she had just rescued a very sick Chow with open sores on about 25% of her body. Missy the Chow was hiding under a shed and wouldn't come out. My vegan sister and her vegan family let me cook some chicken on the stove and after 2 days of tossing chicken bits under the shed, Missy came out. We finally figured out that she had Pemphigus. It took months but finally Missy was healthy and so sweet and smart. Fish Oil, which I first read about in Whole Dog Journal, plus evening primrose oil in a 3:1 ratio was magic and Missy never again had to take Prednisone or antibiotics for Pemphigus. The veterinarian told me that if I rehomed Missy, she's probably break out. He said, "This Dog is Your Dog." Since she got along well with Jake and Sadie, she stayed.

But I kept finding dogs with medical problems. I got about 1 out of 3 adopted, but I finally ended up with 9 big dogs and one medium dog. I sold all my Depression Glass and 1940's pottery because it needed dusting so often and would probably get broken anyway. My dogs were alive; that was more important to me that objects or having a new car.

Anyway, I got up to 10 dogs, despite adopting out many dogs, and amazingly everyone got along well. What really helped was reading an article in Whole Dog Journal about the "Nothing is Free" method. I am pretty sure Pat Miller wrote that article.

Despite working hard to find homes for the dogs I found, the most dogs I've lived with was 10--they weighed over 600 Lbs altogether and I purchased dog food 200 LB at a time. A great local pet store chain, Next to Nature which runs their own cat rescue, gave me a good size discount for buying so much at once despite the fact that I was not a formal rescue operation. And 10 dogs worked much better than I would have ever expected. It was a lot of fun.

I no longer have the physical or financial ability to maintain several dogs. It is serendipitous that the local rescue had a special needs Cocker Spaniel who needed an "only dog" home. So, I started 27 years ago, with a stray German Short Hair Pointer and a falsely-advertised "cocker mix" pound puppy who grew to 80 LB. I really enjoyed having a big pack. Now I do have the Cocker Spaniel that I thought I was getting at Washington County Animal control in 1990. I really enjoy just having her and my rescued chicken. I also have 2 rescued alpacas. I feel very blessed and have learned so much from all the nonhuman persons I've been privileged to know.

Posted by: SadieSue | July 15, 2017 5:44 AM    Report this comment

For most of the past 20 years I have had 5 dogs. It all started out innocently enough with finding a stray dog with a broken leg. She lived to be 16 years old and opened up an absolute passion for animals and their welfare. I started adding a second and a third. When the fourth came along my family was worried I was turning into an animal hoarder but I loved it! The fifth came along because she was a senior who wandered up to an ex on a job site. I tried everything to find her "owners". I think she was just dumped. I tried a no kill shelter but they said she would probably just be in a kennel for the last year of her life. So at about 13 years old she came home with me for the retirement year:) Since then I have adopted all big dogs of different breeds and several more seniors. I love the seniors! Since that first senior I have adopted a 9 and 12 year old. All my dogs have been different ages when they found me. The youngest was 9 months, the oldest 13, with a couple 3, 4, and 5 year olds in there. I never went above 5 dogs and I won't. I read somewhere a long time ago that after 5, dogs split into another pack. I only want one pack, thank you! But it has been an absolute joy for the most part. The end is always, always difficult but at least I was with them and I know they (and I) had a great life together. Wouldn't take back anything. I spend a good chunk of my income on them. Living in a city, I exercise them by walking 2 by 2 by 1. The senior one gets their own "senior stroll." They all live indoors with beds, toys, treats, and lots of love. It is very time consuming but I love having them all in my life. I always tell them my love for them is forever.

Posted by: WatchdogAmy | July 14, 2017 9:44 PM    Report this comment

Nancy, I always love your articles and learn from them. I love the photos of your dogs as well. Is there any way for those commenting to include photos? After reading today's comments, I was curious to see these dog families.

Posted by: BustersMom | July 14, 2017 3:30 PM    Report this comment

I have one now, used to have two, but one left when a relationship broke up and then she died shortly thereafter. Since it was just me after that, I thought it more manageable to stick with one dog and my two cats. But I do miss having two dogs and am longing to get another yellow lab. How I manage the absence is that we spend a lot of time with friends who have a chocolate lab, so Shelby (my remaining pup) gets some together time with a buddy. And I am constantly looking to add walking buddies to her life. Recently added two Golden retriever girls who live up the street. We try to walk together around once per week, and also with another friend who has a dachshund/jack russell mix, and a pomeranian mix.

While I had two dogs, we would often take care of the chocolate lab when my friends travelled and having three dogs (two of them labs) was definitely a handful. I loved having our friends' dog visit, love him to death, but was always also happy when it was back to just two doggies.

I am all admiration for those in the comments who have 4 or more dogs. More power to you!!

Posted by: Shelbysmom | July 14, 2017 3:15 PM    Report this comment

Two dogs is my limit too, especially since they were/are diabetic. I had mother and son. Now I just have the son, as mama has passed on. Expenses are unreal with diabetics. Special diet, insulin shots, the possible bout with pancreatitis, the glucose curves, I can go on. After having my last dog die of cancer, I decided to get pet insurance for both my new dogs with a cancer rider for each. It started out costing about $35 per dog per month, only going up as the dogs aged. The insurance was a godsend when my mama dog got diabetes and then cancer. It also helped pay the bills when my other dog got pancreatitis. I had to pay out of pocket first, and then got reimbursement from the insurance by sending them the invoice. Care Credit has also saved me. Allowing to charge for the expenses and then giving up to a year to pay off before any interest is charged. As long as you pay it off within the year, you pay no interest.

Posted by: Jane Evans | July 14, 2017 12:43 PM    Report this comment

I also love having 2 dogs, one younger to be taught by the older one, which means we always have wonderful dogs! A few years ago, on losing our oldest, we stayed with 1 dog, which seemed like plenty (and yes, intensely true love!). Now, she is gone. As retirement approaches, I am actually considering NO dog, because I fear the vet costs will exceed my budget. How do you all deal with this inevitable expense?? Is there some secret I don't know about?? Please help me become a dog mama again!!!

Posted by: vwvw | July 14, 2017 11:45 AM    Report this comment

As a true dog/animal lover I am involved in dog rescue. I volunteer for a 501 c3 rescue as well as the local County pound. I started out with one Boxer and it grew to a second Boxer mix. The original Boxer is what got me involved in the rescue community. That was in 2006.
Since then I have fostered and these dogs go on to new homes. Most of the dogs I take in are special needs of some type. Once I take a foster in I do not return them to the County pound, I work to find a home for them. Going back to the place that may have caused their issues in the first place, or exacerbated it, isn't right in my mind.
It can take time to find the perfect family for some with a special need. I keep them until I find the right placement. When necessary I adopt the dog - as the pound doesn't want long/permanent fosters unless it is hospice.
I currently have 17 dogs. They are only kenneled to eat or if I have to go out for an hour or more. Including my fosters, 3 deaf, 2 blind and a couple that I am working to socialize with other people and dogs. It IS work taking care of them..... and can get expensive with Vet bills. The County doesn't provide for their dogs medical. The rescue does for their dogs. I get so much in return from the dogs. Seeing my former fosters in their new homes is a joy. I even vacation dog sit them on occasion.

Posted by: boxers.az@gmail.com | July 14, 2017 10:34 AM    Report this comment

Try 6 of varying ages with 4 seven-week-old puppies. I will keep one puppy, so that will round it out to 7 which even for me is a bit much, but my eldest boy is 15 and a half and the age limit for my dogs (Bedlington Terriers) seems to be 4 to 8 months over 16 years and this boy is doing great so far. I'm lucky that Bedlingtons don't shed so hair isn't an issue. They're easy to live with and only one male can be a bit touchy with the others (he knows I'm watching him!!). One of my guys is a 6-year-old Sheltie who doesn't shed much if I keep him brushed. He gets along great with everyone. I do agility mainly with them, but not exclusively. After this pup I'm going to slow down with the number of dogs, I'm not getting any younger!

Posted by: SandyM | July 14, 2017 9:02 AM    Report this comment

Our home is only large enough for two dogs - and with the energy level of our two Australian Shepherds, my husband says that counts for three and a half! I'm a competitive Obedience and Rally handler, instructor, and Judge for three registries, so each of my dogs is always in training at different levels. My breeder originally recommended not getting another dog, until the first one was thoroughly consistent on the Drop On Recall, at a distance of over 100 yards outdoors - with livestock in between the dog and me (did I also mention my dogs work Stock, and show in Conformation, in addition to all their Obedience and Rally stuff?). In practical terms, this creates an age interval of about 5 years between dogs. Extremely useful for training, as my teammates are competitive with each other....and if one chooses not to pay attention or cooperate, I can make the goofball watch, while the other one works ... and gets all the rewards and attention! (Oooh, they hate it when someone ELSE is the one getting to work! How DARE you choose to partner with my housemate!!!! Pick ME! I can do it - just watch!").

When I lost my superb teammate to hemangiosarcoma at nearly 12, his packmate became an Only Dog. For awhile, she claimed all the attention - and then realized she could goof off, since she no longer had any packmates competing for that attention. Enter "the invisible dog who never makes mistakes!". Nothing made her grumpier, than me suddenly starting to heel with, talk to, praise, and reward that mythical Other Dog, instead of her! How DARE this intruder claim my person's attention and praise! The Invisible Dog worked almost as well as a living teammate.

It took several years for me to find my next Aussie. My original breeder, from whom my first two were purchased, never seemed to produce litters with outstanding Obedience potential, that also didn't look so similar to the teammate I'd lost (just seeing a black tricolor Aussie face in heel position, made me cry for over a year). I looked to the breeder whose dog first inspired me to try Obedience; it took three years before a grandpuppy of that original inspiration, joined our family, and he's now a 14 month old Red Menace who has been training in Obedience since he was 8 weeks old. His housemate just finished her 38th title, and earned her Utility title , Versatility title, and Rally Trial Championship on the same weekend, so the youngster will be following in the pawprints of TWO amazing predecessors.

Finding the right balance in a household, depends on many factors. With working Aussies, ours need a LOT of intense exercise (2 hours of running, for my characters, is just a warm up!) before I can get down to training work. Lower energy dogs could mean we could have more of them; but ours is an active family, and those two wiggle butts go every place we go, and there's also the "room in the vehicle" vehicle factor. Our Honda Odyssey can hold 2 crates, 3 adults, and everyone's vacation gear. If we had larger dogs - or MORE dogs - we'd need a much larger vehicle. Families with more than one offspring, run into similar quandaries....what's the right vehicle to transport all of us, to our destination?

Many, many factors to consider, when figuring out pack size. It's not just what works in one location - particularly if travel is part of the equation! Best of luck, figuring out what works for everyone in the family.

Posted by: mamafirebird | July 14, 2017 8:40 AM    Report this comment

Think of the dogs and their needs. Three is the best number--as long as you are alpha and everyone gets along. Someday, one of the dogs will cross the rainbow bridge. If you only have two dogs, the dog who is left is despondent over losing a life-long friend. Making matters worse is the remaining dog has never been an "only" dog. When you start with three dogs, the two remaining dogs are sad, but they have each other to help ease the pain.

Posted by: Barb B. | July 14, 2017 6:40 AM    Report this comment

So, your complaint is that dogs make messes? No, "Dogs are a gift that make me happy?" "They bring love and companionship?" BYW; If they are throwing up, whose fault is that? Not the dog's fault.
My parent's bred Australian Sheppards and you haven't lived, my friend, until you have given the morning feeding to 5 adult dogs and 9 puppies.
I say, the More, the Merrier!

Posted by: Teri | July 14, 2017 6:26 AM    Report this comment

Great question, and I enjoyed reading the comments.
Minimum five (small - cocker spaniels.) Any less isn't as much fun, or enough of a challenge. We lost three dogs to cancer in a very without the aforementioned chaos that we've grown fond of. However, I might feel differently if we had larger dogs, as we have a smaller house and we don't have children (and so perhaps more time to devote to managing the pack.) I will say that traveling with them on vacation can be tricky. Not everyone wants to rent a house to people with five dogs, but it is possible. Renting a hotel room isn't so easy (why we now have a camper/rv.)

Posted by: djkalm | July 14, 2017 6:25 AM    Report this comment

For me the magic number is TWO. My GSD mix Nacho was abandoned and we took him in. We had a 9 year old Lab/Golden Retriever (Saffy, the official BEST DOG EVER) at the time. Then a neighbor was going to give his Black Lab to the shelter so we took him. Sweet dog but he was a runner and an escape artist. He finally was hit by a car after his 5th escape. After Saffy passed at age 14 we got Layla, another Yellow Lab/Golden Retriever (as a puppy!!), as a companion for Nacho. They are inseparable

Posted by: chicken lady | July 13, 2017 10:32 PM    Report this comment

I started with one pit bull 4 years ago. Murray had a rough start in life so I thought a companion for him would be nice. Then I adopted Woody a 10 month old pit bull. Murray and Woody are best friends. I should mention I have 10 cats. Eight months ago I adopted a third pit bull Owen who is 4 years old. Three dogs can be difficult to walk. It took some time but it works fine now. This is definitely my limit. Luckily my husband loves the dogs and cats as much as I do.

Posted by: mommypuss | July 13, 2017 6:35 PM    Report this comment

I love the 2 dogs I have now (I had 4 once 😱). My favorite time was when I had one dog on my own and I got my second dog fix by fostering. This was great and I'd take a small break between fosters so my dog & I could reconnect. Loved it!

Posted by: llf | July 13, 2017 6:35 PM    Report this comment

I would swear that you've been spying on my household.....with it's 3 rescued dogs ranging in age from 5 to 12...one of whom is named Woody!

Posted by: PositiveOnly | July 13, 2017 6:08 PM    Report this comment

I have nine ranging in in from 4 years to 14 years.
I wouldn't change it in any way
They are my life

Posted by: Kcdachs | July 13, 2017 5:55 PM    Report this comment

I've had six dogs at a time. TOO many -- on the other hand the 'extra" dogs were 'rescues' so not brought up with the others. Four I found was a good number.
But as I age I find smaller numbers more manageable. My current three are all of an age -- not ideal. I prefer an old dog, a middle aged dog and a young dog to make up my canine family :-) Life was better when The Grott was alive -- we lost him last year :-(

Posted by: Jenny H | July 13, 2017 5:39 PM    Report this comment

In 1988, we adopted our doxie, Schnapps and a few months later, a little girl doxie, Baby. They were very much bonded to one another. When Schapps was about 12, we began to be concerned about his health and the effect it would have on Baby if he died. So, we got a third doxie, Walker. Schnapps & Baby quite literally took on the role of parenting Walker and it was wonderful to watch them teach and correct him. They all slept in our bed and we would joke about sleeping with the band, Three Dog Night! Schnapps died at age 17 and Baby at age 16. Sadly, Walker died unexpectedly at age 10. They were all sweet, friendly, loving dogs. Each had their own little quirks and things they liked to do. We waited a year and then adopted Captain Morgan, another doxie, of course. He is now the only one and very, very spoiled. The thing I notice the most about having an "only dog" is that Morgan doesn't like to share his "stuff" and he is also very possessive of us. He's 5 now and I kind of wish we had gotten another doxie about 4 years ago because I really don't think it would work now. I think 2 dogs are perfect and sometimes 3 works well, too, if they are the right dogs.

Posted by: MorgansMom | July 13, 2017 5:21 PM    Report this comment

"In contrast, having only one dog is a bit intense. It feels almost too intimate, like being on a date, as opposed to going out with the whole family. Does that even make sense?"

That makes SO much sense as all I have is my one little Yorkie, my first dog. She is the absolute love of my life, my heart and soul. AND she is totally attached to me and I to her. I think that maybe this isn't such a good thing, but it is what it is and I will live it and enjoy it till she passes.

I know that my next dog, and I will have a next dog, I will do things differently. But I still can't think of having more than one doggie in my life!!!

Posted by: Sportschick | July 13, 2017 5:17 PM    Report this comment

For several years we had 4 Westies (3 female, 1 male), 1 male yellow Lab, and 1 cat. The cat ruled the 5 dogs and the female Westies ruled the Lab. The oldest Westie, a female, would tell me who needed to go outside to go potty, when the water or food bowls needed freshening, when one of the younger Westies had a potty accident in the house. She would also tell us we should go clean up the dishes before sitting down to watch TV after dinner. All of this communication was done by low to medium throat sounds and head movement toward the problem or issue she wanted us to know about. A couple of times a year all four Westies would go into our Oak forest in the Califonia foothills after breakfast and spend the day digging up the labyrinth tunnel system of a gopher or mole. The place they would dig was visible from my kitchen window so I always knew where they were. The Lab would also go to work daily when a neighbor in our hills would build a deck or home addition. He would "help" the carpenter by retrieving pieces of lumber and bringing them to him to throw. All the dogs would come home from their places of work before dinner and darkness. They are all gone now and I miss them terribly. Our lone Welsh Terrier seems happy as our only dog and doing work with me weekly as a therapy dog but I feel bad that the population increase of Coyotes in our forest keeps him from the joys of safely running, playing, catching vermin, and "working" the forest like our previous dogs could.

Posted by: Welshie Llewellyn's Mom | July 13, 2017 4:29 PM    Report this comment

I have found three to be a good number of dogs. Two bond together so closely that, when one eventually dies, the remaining dog is absolutely devastated at the loss of his partner. With 3, at least there is still a remaining companion, and this seems to help significantly for adjusting to this sad part of life. When one passes, when the time seems right, I adopt another shelter dog to come be a part of our family.

Posted by: BJG | July 13, 2017 4:01 PM    Report this comment

This made me laugh so hard!

I had two dogs, Reagan and Angel for about 5 years and loved every minute. Angel sadly passed away. They were best buds and tolerated and complimented each other beautifully.

Reagan would have been fine being an only dog in hindsight.

I have had lots of visiting dogs and never had issues...some long term. Hardest part was walking them in unison. Never thought much about it as a full time multiple dog household. Well... In come local rescues.

We have rescued three other dogs over the last couple of years. Not one of them under 50 lbs. Two are over 100 (though they shouldn't be).

Buddy and Khaya came first. Both long term shelter dogs the owners would not come get. Warning number one I did not head. Never met a challenge I was not ready to take on.
Buddy is very scared of people. Being GSD and Akita...he is the scary one! Khaya has been my biggest challenge. She is very dog aggressive but loves her people! Three trainers have not fixed her, but we are surviving. Oddly, even though we got them months apart, they were at the same shelter at the same time at one point and knew each other!

Last addition was Oliver. A Wings of Rescue dog flown up from high kill shelter to our no kill shelter. Adopted and returned (heartworm and severely shut down) so they sent him to rescue group/fosters. We finally said "yes". Did the dreaded hartworm treatment when we realized how advanced it was. I carried him to potty and eat/drink for 2 months. Then started dealing with his other issues. Took 6 months the see him play, longer to hear him bark. Almost a year to get a tail wag and kiss. Patience. Happy to say he is heartworm free and although shy...coming out of his shell!

Yes, it is crazy! Not just regular chaos and cleaning. Each of the three came with their own issues. Then you mix all that together. Reagan thankfully is the perfect dog and made most adjustments without a blink. Reagan and Buddy have moments of not liking each other. I have learned every trigger! HIS BED, HIS DOG HOUSE and he gets to be closest to Mom at all times! Not the best at sharing those...he will share food and toys gladly!

Reagan recently tore his ACL (healed wonderfully due to hydrotherapy) then had hip surgery...tore out all stitches and had to sit at vet for 2 weeks to heal. Yes, I visited him daily!!!

Never a dull moment. Not one unloved dog...and we have one brave 16 year old cat who rules the lot of them!!! Do I recommend? Nope. You have to know what you are getting into and be ready for it...every dang day!!!!

Posted by: Dog Mom Traci | July 13, 2017 3:38 PM    Report this comment

I currently have 4 in the home because of a couple of foster schnauzers that decided to stay forever. Life was easier when I only had 2 dogs. I could find a motel to stay at easier and there weren't any personality problems between the dogs. I have found it fairly easy to handle 4 dogs though. We regularly travel 200 miles to see family and have been camping a couple of times. We have also made day trips to Santa Barbara and gone to several events with friends.

Posted by: bielecoi | July 13, 2017 2:42 PM    Report this comment

We are the proud parents of 4 long coat chihuahuas... Ryah Noelle 3.5 lbs, Knox Reed 5.14 lbs, Taos Blue 6.2 lbs, & Asha Cree 2.13 lbs and.... 1 pit bull, Qynnic, 93 lbs! Our chi's came from the same breeders & are brothers/sisters from consecutive litters. Our pit we hit w our car at 13 months & took him in intending to get him healthy & find him a home...that was 3 years ago! Lol! This is the most we've ever had at 1 time but I wouldn't trade any part of our crazy, hectic, WONDERFUL life! ❤️

Posted by: ChiMama | July 13, 2017 2:40 PM    Report this comment

Absolutely Agree!!! I had 2 children because I only have 2 hands,patience, time,money and time to educate 2. And to me 2 dogs also works best,as I can give them each attention,training time and we can be a stable family,go places together and really enjoy each other.Currently I only have 1 because she's a new adoptee and needs individual time to get used to the family and us have time to get to know her and her needs.But I'm really looking forward to the time when she's comfortable and settled in and we can get her another companion!!! 🐶I also know people with a lot of dogs and there is constant barking and they are untrained it's uncomfortable to be there with them for any length of time.

Posted by: Anna N. | July 13, 2017 1:40 PM    Report this comment

I have three dogs presently. I have had up to four. I like having two dogs but it really depends on the dog, his or hers personality and temperament. They have to get along. I have two male Chessies and a female Blue Nose Pitbull. All my dogs are off-leash trained, stop, go, stay, come etc. and I live in the suburbs. With that being said, keeping track of more than two especially when they start doing their business can get kaotic. More than two on leashes can be tricky too but I love them all.

Posted by: greggmthomas | July 13, 2017 1:33 PM    Report this comment

very thoughtful....especially good to see the article with the comments...

Posted by: dinosaurdogmom | July 13, 2017 1:07 PM    Report this comment

As the responses here indicate, there are virtues and flaws in just about any number of dogs (or other pets!) My wife and I have generally gravitated to around six, mostly due to rescue adoptions. (Indeed, if there were fewer irresponsible people in the world, there'd be far fewer loveable dogs in need of a home!) For twelve years I had a one-on-one relationship with a purebred dobie, whom we "rescued" from a pet store. It was perhaps the most intense and rewarding relationship I've ever had. Three years after saying goodbye to her I still miss Skylar every single day. On the other hand I've inherited primary care of our two "wolfie" hybrids (technically Native American Indian Dogs). They're smart, idiosyncratic, sometimes difficult, but always rewarding. My wife, who has always favored small dogs, has adopted a pair of Jack Russells. Typical of the breed, they're also smart, energetic, aggressive - and barky! But I l love them dearly, especially after a hard day, when they jump up in the chair, where I'm reading and resting, and snuggle up next to me.
To paraphrase Will Rogers, I've never met a dog I didn't like. Millenia ago these animals evolved almost purposefully it seems to become useful and ingratiating human companions and they've been spectacularly successful in that role. Is it possible to have too many of them? Some people may find this to be true; but I say, with an open mind, you can find something to love in all of them.

Posted by: Alvin Hill | July 13, 2017 12:45 PM    Report this comment

We adopted three retired racing greyhounds, one at a time over the course of a couple of years and loved each one of them immensely AND they were all girls! The dynamics was fantastic but you just can't go wrong with couch potato greyhounds! We now have a 9 month old Fox Red English Lab and I am wanting to adopt an older lab for her but my husband isn't on board with that. Our only saving grace is that I am retiring next August so I will be with her daily! I do go home every day at noon to let her out of her kennel and we have fun. She is our first puppy and it was very overwhelming at first!! But watching her grow and learn in training has been the best!
Like everyone else I just love your writings Nancy!!

Posted by: SlyBrandy | July 13, 2017 12:36 PM    Report this comment

As you can see from my username - also the license plate on my Subaru Outback (a dog vehicle!) - 3 is my number. I was not allowed to have pets when I was growing up, so when I was able to I started rescuing dogs. I had 1 for quite a while, 2, even 4. When I got down to 3 again, it just felt right. Right now I have a 13-year-old female terrier mix, a 3-year-old male schnauzer mix, and a 2-year-old male border collie - all rescues. Holly is fine on her own, and the boys love to play together. It's funny watching them because the little schnauzer is the alpha dog, and my big border collie follows him around everywhere. He won't even go in the car unless Alfie is going also.
The barking IS loud when all 3 get started, other than that I don't have any real issues.

Posted by: 3DOGMUM | July 13, 2017 12:35 PM    Report this comment

Two, because I only have two hands for petting and holding leashes while going for our walks. I have 3 right now, so whoever is not being petted is whacking me with their paw, and 3 leashes get easily tangled ;)

Posted by: Debbiedogmom | July 13, 2017 12:10 PM    Report this comment

Two dogs has been perfect to me. One older and one younger. The older always teaches the puppy. For so many reasons I do this. My dogs retrieve my newspaper everyday. I did not teach this to them. Several dogs ago I taught one and now they pass it on.
A tip I want to pass on to everyone is what to do when one passes on. Usually happens at a Vet. I go home and bring the younger dog to see her buddy that passed on. This gives her closure and she never looks for the departed.

Ray Piwowarczyk

Posted by: Ray | July 13, 2017 11:40 AM    Report this comment

I am a volunteer for the Southeast German Shorthair Rescue and fostered long term for a couple of years. I live on 7 acres fenced for my horses and the dogs. I have had as many as 8 dogs - 2 fosters and my 6. Yes it was busy, busy, but each dog had their own feeding station and fosters were crated at night. My 6 were usually gracious hosts and good examples of house manners. There were a couple of scuffles that needed a couple of stiches and they were no fun. All the fosters found good homes including 2 who were our foster failures. I am down to 4 adopted dogs and this is a good number for us. I could never have less than 2, so they could keep each other company. Love my GSPs.

Posted by: German Shorthair Mom | July 13, 2017 11:35 AM    Report this comment

Four dogs total. Two for me, two for my spouse, each the breed of our choice.

We've had as many as seven dogs (more when we had a litter, but that was temporary). Now that we are older two each works well.

Posted by: Hollis | July 13, 2017 11:30 AM    Report this comment

We have three and have had four, all rescues; don't know what we would do without them.

Posted by: ROBERT | July 13, 2017 11:20 AM    Report this comment

I feel like it depends on each individual dog. I had just one dog for 9 years, a maltipoo. I loved that intimacy, he was everything to me in fact many times I miss the intimacy we once had. But at the same time 2 years ago I feel in love with a German Shepherd mix puppy, and since getting her I 100% believe she made my maltipoo's life better. I learned so many things with her that I didn't even think of with him and I definitely think the two are always teaching each-other things that they learned during training sessions. I seriously thought I was going to have to re-home the German Shepherd mix as my 9y/o would refuse to be in the same room or even look at this new puppy, but now them two are the best together. Having just the 2 were perfect, it seemed my life was in balance as were theirs. But then an emergency situation came up where I needed to bring in a 3rd and she never left. Since having the new one I notice more issues. It doesn't help that this little girl needs a lot of help with fear, anxiety and trust. My 9 y/o never had attachment issues with me, but am noticing that plus other things that we are working on. Also like it was mentioned 3 is a lot, I feel like in my household I am forever going to the vets or at least contacting them about something...but then again I have a multi species household 3 dogs, 2 cats and 1 large parrot.

Posted by: Ozzie's Mom | July 13, 2017 11:13 AM    Report this comment

We've had 2 rescue min-pins for 17 years. Originally 2 sisters, then one of the sisters and another min-pin rescue; the 2nd sister died, down to one, another rescue who lasted a year until he was T-Boned by a much bigger dog. I adopted a 13 yr old female min-pin rescue, she just spent 2 nights in the hospital getting an IV with both kidney and liver problems. Just short of 16, I think her time is almost up, but my 14 yr old (with seizures) keeps going along. Being short of 73 myself, & still working, I can't handle a puppy, but I'll take another senior dog.

Posted by: kingstonso | July 13, 2017 11:10 AM    Report this comment

my brother and his wife have seven dogs..........2 greyhounds, the rest smaller dogs. they are great dogs, but it is a bit much ......they do settle down after you have been there a while, but start up again if you get up to walk around. they love them all dearly, but have commented in the past that they would like to get down to about four again some day.....but i really don't see that happening............i myself have always had either one or two at a time, along with 3 cats...........that is perfect for me, although very expensive as all have medical issues......and even this many is a real hassle if i want to go anywhere....so my traveling has taken a real hit

Posted by: sugarbooger7 | July 13, 2017 11:04 AM    Report this comment

Yes, two is good! Growing up, 50ish years ago, we always had a dog, but just one. Back then, most people did not have multiple pets. Now, my husband I share our lives and home with our two Goldens. He had one Golden when I met him, and once we married, I shortly convinced him we needed a second. Since then, we've been a two dog family, through the losses of 3 beloved girls and the work and training required for each new puppy to again make ours a perfect family of four. And yes, I agree with Bear's Mom. I, too, love your thoughtful and engaging writing.

Posted by: Bella and Breeze's Mom | July 13, 2017 11:03 AM    Report this comment

I have 7 dogs. Very chaotic taking care of them but the most important thing with having many dogs is plenty of space in an enclosed environment for them to play in and an organized clean and dry kernel system. If you do not have that, not more than 2 dogs is ideal.

Posted by: chrisdame | July 13, 2017 10:58 AM    Report this comment

Seems I have most of you outnumbered! I have 6 dogs and live alone (well, not really!). They range in age from 12 to 3, and all are still competing in agility and other sports. We travel a lot on weekends in the RV to trials. It is ALWAYS a circus here, and they have occasional spats, but I wouldn't have it any other way!

Posted by: pvojtas | July 13, 2017 10:56 AM    Report this comment

Two dogs seem perfect to me too! However, I rarely have fewer than 5 dogs in my home, my 4 and at least 1 foster. How did I get to 4 dogs? I love having puppy in the house. I am addicted to that feeling of falling in love (puppylove!) - the energy and enthusiasm of a young dog. But I know I can only afford the vet bills of 4 dogs so that holds me back from having even more puppies. I can stand having the fosters cause, like you, I know they will be heading back out the door within weeks or months - plus the rescue pays the vet bills. Some day, as I age, I expect to get back to just 2 dogs and the prospect fills me with hope - and sadness.

Posted by: pkinpa | July 13, 2017 10:31 AM    Report this comment

Two dogs is just right for us. We thought about getting a third, but the dynamic that our dogs have with each other and with us is, in my opinion, perfect. And I feel like adding a third dog would mess up that balance. I may change my opinion later on, and depending on the dogs I have later in life, but right now, 2 is the perfect number.

Posted by: bcsutherland | July 13, 2017 10:19 AM    Report this comment

I've always had two dogs and with a boyfriend that had a dog it made three. As long as they are all trained and well behaved three isn't much more than two. I can relate to the intensity you speak of when there is only one. Even at a young age I was constantly worrying about the day I wouldn't have her, which is why I ended up with two - they kept each other company and competed with each other in sports - it was great. I never thought I'd love anything more than my first dog until I got my second.

Posted by: Zips Mom | July 13, 2017 10:17 AM    Report this comment

This was a wonderful article. My dog, Bear, a GSD mix, was the sole 'owner' of the house for 8 years, then we had to dogsit a Bulldog named Snookie. She's a lovely-tempered dog, but their play styles are completely different. Nevertheless, I think it's great for my Bear to have a companion for when I'm at work (which is all day, Monday through Friday right now). Before my girls both left the nest, Bear always had someone with him every two to three hours or all day long. Now the stretches of loneliness worry me. Once Snookie goes home, I don't know what I'm going to do! I loved this article and the comments, too!

Posted by: Bear's Mom Too | July 13, 2017 9:53 AM    Report this comment

I am a dog trainer, animal rescue and retired vet tech. Agreed. I enjoyed my one on one time with my Terrier cross. We bonded strongly. I was hired to train a boxer, Andes up adopting him. He is such an amazing joy. Then a stray wondered up to our home, a Shepard Border collie x....i love them all to pieces but it is quite overwhelming and stressful at times....even for ME!

Posted by: CreativeCanineConsulting | July 13, 2017 9:46 AM    Report this comment

I had poodles for a number of years. It was great -all got along. I was able to go on day trips in order to do obedience and rally shows without having the two stay at home dogs getting lonesome; then last September I lost my 15 1/2 year old super poodle. It was bad for me and the two remaining dogs. By January, 2017 my dogs and I were couch potatoes for the first time in my life. I couldn't handle it. I didn't want my 2 dogs getting old before their time so I got another poodle pup. Yes, it is a LOT of extra work, but I'm happy again (albeit tired). My dogs have more life in them again, too. All three get along great. Once I manage to get pup potty trained, all of us will be thankful. Pup is so smart, very alpha (I needed an alpha to clear up my 11 yr. old girl poodle's attitude - it worked: it's great!). Pup is exceptional except for potty training. Never had potty training issues with any of my previous dogs so I am a bit worried. Still I enjoy having 3 dogs immensely and they enjoy each others company.

Posted by: Dog lady | July 13, 2017 9:44 AM    Report this comment

I have 4 10lb 20lb and two 80lb, it is always a circus at my house and constant chaos. Each of them a lone are great, but when they are all together there is defiantly a pack mentality. They keep me off balance, which is a good thing, after a stressful day at the office.

But I know I will never have 4 again.

Posted by: quinnsammi | July 13, 2017 9:44 AM    Report this comment

Had 2 Maltese/Great combo. Was asked to foster 2 more 6 week old very sick pups.
After 3 weeks intensive care and months of home care they're thriving. Now cannot think od parting with them. Choatic Oh Yeah!. But very warm on a cold winter night with my 4 lambs next to me. But true much more difficult life style. Just try to get a stool sample for their wellness check. Who did what!!

Fortunately I'm a retired anesthesiologist and have the time for them. If I was still practicing would be a different story.

Posted by: sandman357 | July 13, 2017 9:37 AM    Report this comment

Our situation is similar to Nancy's, but with a few more minor differences. Our son had graduated from high school and was living on his own (right around the corner-lol). He rescued Brutus, a Newf/Lab mix. He was the bestest, smartest dog ever and everyone loved him. Except, my son had just graduated. . . and was living on his own. . . :( He didn't give a thought to the puppy when he went out on Friday nights and didn't come home until Saturday mornings. We never let Brutus stay there by himself. We always went down and got him as soon as I seen my son leave. So he was with us a lot.
A year or so later, we rescued a Newf that was believed to have been a puppy mill bitch. Bella was so timid that she would only come out of her cage to go outside to the potty. After a couple of weeks, my son and my husband pick her up, cage and all, and sat her in the middle of the living room, which she had not seen before. It was like a whole new world opened up for her, and Brutus helped her to assimilate. They were best buds. Then my son moved to another city. Bye-bye Brutus.
We rescued another dog, Bear, so Bella would have a companion. 2 was the right number for us because they entertained each other. That went well for a year and then my son joined the military. Hello Brutus! Now we had 3. They were all very, very good dogs. But Bella weighed 150 lbs, Brutus weighed 100 lbs and Bear weighed in around 80 lbs. It felt like a herd of buffalo was always under foot. And the fur balls rolled everywhere! Ugh.
Once my son got stationed and found a home he came for Brutus. Good-bye again Brutus! For the next several years Brutus was with my son and his wife. Then the big "D". They tried to care for him but life and apartment rules on big dogs just got in the way. So back he came. We adore him and he is like our own. But we were back to 3 dogs. That too only lasted for a year or so. By this time Bella was around 12 yrs old and she just couldn't go anymore. We had to send her over the rainbow bridge. I still cry when I think of her and she is my wallpaper on my phone and iPads.
So now we are back to two. Brutus is also 12 and I dread the day he joins Bella. But we love like heck outta non-stop while we still have them. The joys outweigh the heartaches. I often think I will never have anymore when these 2 join Bella. But there are so many that need us, so despite the heartache, I am sure we will do it again. I have learned to love the extra nutrition from all the dog hair in my diet. I am sure I will not fare well without it, so I will probably have another big, hairy, drool-dangling dog . . . or two.

Posted by: Bella'sMama | July 13, 2017 9:37 AM    Report this comment

We've been in the same situation with "grand dogs"! We have two labs of our own and each of our daughters have dogs - a pitbull mix and a shepherd mix. All four large dogs! When they come home for a visit it is pure chaos - but we love it anyway! Always something funny or crazy going on. At one point we kept the pitbull, Luna, for about 8 months - and having 3 all the time did get a little tedious - but again, love them all - the more the merrier.....most of the time!!

Posted by: blacklab | July 13, 2017 9:29 AM    Report this comment

For me, and given that I travel for trials, 3 is perfect. Currently I have 5. They are all performance dogs and you get to the point where you have retired ones (3 now) and you have to get young dogs going or quit the sport. So, I now need a 6th. Lots of hair and some chaos, but working out okay. I have the space for them. Leaving town with my husband, however, is challenging. Have a good house sitter but still a challenge to schedule anything together and not to worry the whole time I am gone.

Posted by: checknodie | July 13, 2017 9:28 AM    Report this comment

I have almost consistently had two Golden Retrievers over the past 41 years. During those unfortunate time periods when I had only one dog, I felt less safe in my home as I live alone at age 74. My dogs seem to be better balanced emotionally with a canine companion. A second dog gives each dog a playmate which I believe is essential. My observation that each breed speaks its own language and to that end it is essential to match breeds with another of a similar language. Having two dogs, whether a pair of females or males, seems to me to offer the owner a sense of security, takes home responsibilites from a single dog to a shared sense of responsibility divided according to the canines' choices. One dog may serve as the guard and greeter, the other may bring the daily newspaper. The dogs create the division of labor as well as choosing their style of play.

Posted by: Asadoorian | July 13, 2017 9:18 AM    Report this comment

I have three purpose bred German Shepherd Dogs which is almost perfect. Yes, there is too much hair and way too much dirt in the rainy season (nine months) but not much more that when there were two. They pair up to play, with the nine year old and the six year old taking turns running and wrestling with the two year old male. All are very well trained so there are no behavioral issues inside or out. The nine year old is retired from competition (obedience, rally, Nose Work) so I have only the two in training (currently tracking and Nose Work) and that's plenty. If two doesn't seem like enough, or you want to do a sport that your other dogs don't enjoy, go ahead and get number three. He may not want to do that sport either but you may discover a new one that he excels at. I am seventy years old and I love having three dogs.

Posted by: BarbaraJ | July 13, 2017 9:11 AM    Report this comment

Two is just right for us as well! We had only one for a long time (adopted her in 2008, adopted our second dog in 2015 when we moved into our house). And I did love the "intimacy" of it. She was our heart, but I knew that someday we'd lose her and coming home to NO dogs was something I couldn't fathom, so a second dog it was! I admit, though, that I still look at dogs at the rescue we adopted our second dog from and think "Well, maybe..." But the truth is for financial reasons (I do agility, which is not cheap!) and space reasons (our house and yard are fine, but we don't have room in the car for more than two medium sized dogs), two really is the perfect number.

Posted by: Crysania | July 13, 2017 9:09 AM    Report this comment

I agree, 2 dogs (or two cats). I think animals need friends. We have only had 6 animal children in over 40 years, including two sets of siblings. Only the first, a cat, was a solo pet.

Posted by: westielover | July 13, 2017 9:06 AM    Report this comment

One dog is very intense. You know every hair that is gone, every time he blinks. Got a second dog and life is beautiful. They take care of each other and i can love them both equally.

Posted by: Sammys Mom | July 13, 2017 9:03 AM    Report this comment

I only have one dog, but what you say about the "intensity" of "dating" resonates with me. I never wanted more than one dog, but I feel like a companion might really help my Bear to feel less alone when his humans all go out. He is very anxious about being alone, and I believe he never really relaxes while I'm gone. Your beautifully written and meaningful article is making me reconsider having a compadre for Bear. Thank you for your engaging writing; I am always curious to hear about your personal experiences, thoughts & rationales, and the escapades of Woody!

Posted by: Bear's Mom | July 13, 2017 8:49 AM    Report this comment

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