I’ve gotten a few emails asking about how to add a third dog to a two-dog house, so I wanted to put together a post about my experience. But I realized that I need to start out with one qualifier…
Adding a third dog? Piece of cake.
Adding a third dog who’s a puppy? Not as easy.
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Some of you might remember, Cooper started out as our foster. Then we failed, and we adopted him. The big boys were a little put off when they realized he wasn’t going to leave, but it didn’t take them long – a few weeks or so – to welcome him into our family. But it hasn’t been seamless. There have been two fights, one between Lucas and Cooper (Cooper went after a toy that was VERY valuable to Lucas) and one between Emmett and Cooper (Cooper pushed his buttons too many times for too long).
In hindsight, the biggest challenge we faced wasn’t adding a third dog to our family – they sort of work that out among themselves – but adding a puppy! A high-energy puppy who’s a chewer! Most of our extra time and energy was spent on puppy stuff like redirecting to appropriate toys, house training, and so on. And I would say that our biggest mistake was that we didn’t build in time for Cooper to have quiet time in his crate while we doted on Emmett and Lucas. We tried to spend time with each of them every day, but I think there would have been less jealousy in the beginning if we had done a better job with that. If you have older dogs in your house and you’re thinking about adding a third dog, I would suggest considering a dog who is past the puppy stages because it’s just one less thing to manage during the transition.
In the end, having three isn’t much harder than having two. It’s an extra scoop of kibble to pour and another dose of heartworm medicine to buy, but it’s also another playmate for your existing dogs and another life you saved.
5 ways you can make the transition easy:
- Maintain routines. If you’ve taken your first two dogs on a walk every single day at 6 AM, take them for a walk every single day at 6 AM even if it means your new pup gets crate time. Over time you can integrate the new pup into that routine or slowly tweak the routine to what you want for three dogs. But in the beginning, it’s important to maintain your routines.
- Spend one-on-one time with all three. Set aside a few minutes – 5 will do it – to play with or scratch each dog individually. You’ll reassure your existing dogs and bond with your new dog. Then spend time playing with all three together so that everyone knows that you will share equal time, attention, and love.
- Supervise EVERYTHING. I can’t emphasize this point enough. When you’re adding a new dog, you must watch play, feeding, naps, and so on. They will work out who’s who among themselves – but it may not be a seamless process. Until you’re sure they’re comfortable with each other (which can take many months), supervise everything. Hot zones to watch closely: food and water dishes, toys, and dog beds.
- Budget for an increase in pet care costs. Monthly meds, food, toys, grooming supplies, veterinary care including routine checkups… Plan on spending around 30% more each month than you spent on two dogs. Know that going in, and it won’t be as big of a shock. One NOTE on the toys: Not even joking, buy three of the same puzzle toys for when you need to keep everyone buys and happy. We love these KONGS or these Squirrel Dudes, which you can stuff with peanut butter and freeze, then dole out–in separate spaces to be extra safe–to keep the herd happy.
- Have fun! Having three dogs definitely turns you into an even crazier dog person. 🙂 Enjoy it! It’s like having a miniature dog park in my living room. When they snuggle in bed with me, I have nearly 200 pounds of dog keeping me warm.
Those of you with three (or more!) dogs, anything to add? Is anyone thinking about adding a third – or fourth or fifth – dog to your house?