How Do You Make a Multi-Dog Household Work?

April 1, 2011  

Can’t we all just get along? Sometimes it’s not so easy for people or dogs.
We asked our Facebook fans, “Do you have more than one pit bull? Opposite or same sex? Share your best tips for helping them get along!”

With so many multi-dog households, our fans say supervised meal times, consistent leadership, exercise, and space management with crates or baby gates can all help make for a peaceful household.
Thanks everyone for sharing!

Photo courtesy of Melissa Lipani

We have three females and two males. Our oldest male is VERY submissive and gets along with every other dog. Our youngest male just turned 1, so he is a bit of a handful still. We don’t let the females play together, as one is very reactive, but they get along fine together in the house so long as we are around to monitor and make sure they stay calm. Three are crated at night, and they are NEVER left alone together. All are CGC certified, the submissive male is a therapy dog and I’m going to work on one of our females and see if I can’t get her therapy dog certified this summer.
You have to KNOW your dogs.

~ Maria Schiefer

I have three; one female and two males. I can leave the female and the older male together, but the younger male is kept separate when we’re not home. They all get along very, very well. Introduce them on neutral ground, keep a watchful eye on them, spay/neuter and know your dogs. Be a responsible, educated pit bull owner and love and respect the breed. Awesome dogs!

~ Sandy Marby-Davis

We have two pit bulls (one female, one male), one male GSD, one male mutt, and two female mutts. Walks as a pack, use baby gates and crates when needed and feed separately.

~ Anne Riesbeck

I have a male and a female. From day one, they have been the best of friends. Both were found on the streets of the Bronx in NYC three years apart. Now he’s 14 and she’s 10. I guess the best advice I can give is even though they get along, they are still two dogs; hence, two bowls to eat from, two beds, and they have their own special place to eat a special treat like a Jumbo. They have very different personalities and are treated differently when it’s either positive or negative reinforcement.

~ Chris Ojar

We have two female pit bulls, as well as two non-pit bulls.
I can’t say that we’ve done anything special to facilitate happy, amicable relationships. The only thing I aimed for was matching their personalities. My adult female pit bull is the alpha, but she isn’t ‘bossy’. She likes things her way, but she also really loves to wrestle and play, which she can’t do with our two smaller senior mixes. I adopted a female pup with a spunky attitude, lots of energy, but a submissive attitude when with other dogs.
Really, the only quibbles we’ve had are between my female pit bull and our senior male beagle mix, mainly because he’s a toy/food hoarder and gets testy when other dogs are in his space.

~ Tenzin Landi

We have five dogs total as we have foster failed several times: two Pomeranians (1 male, 1 female), a Dobie (male), an APBT (female), and an APBT/SharPei puppy (female). We have never had any issues with our APBT as she was born with the patience of a saint. Our biggest hurdle was getting our Dobie and our male Pom to get along. They had aggression towards each other from the second our Doberman walked through the door. I corrected this by keeping them both on a leash while they were in the same room together and giving them treats and praise for being near each other. If they started growling or acting hostile they were separated and taken out of the room. This took a month or two, but now everyone can be in the same room together for most periods of time. We separate for toy times, feedings and when we leave the house. As long as everyone is being watched, everyone gets along really well now.

~ Jaz End-Bsl Gray

I have one male Rottweiler, one male American pit bull terrier, and we foster one to two female pit bulls at a time. The key to living in harmony is to never leave them together unsupervised. We can prevent problems before they arise.

~ Dawn Marshall


Photo courtesy of Dawn Marshall

We have a female red-nose pit bull that we rescued about two years ago (she is 5 years old). We had two other dogs in the home before we took her in. They are a 13-year-old German shepherd and a 5-year-old black lab, both males. She has never shown aggression towards the other two, but you can still tell that she is definitely the boss. It is funny how the two males let her eat and drink and they move for her. They all get along great and are left together in the house alone almost every day. She is such a baby and is such an asset to our family. The boys sleep with her and when we are home she is right at our side. I never crate any of them and never tie them out. I believe that if you want your dogs to get along with each other, they need to be together as much as possible… play with them, take them for walks, rides and spoil them.

~ Patricia Bassett

We have two, both males. They get along 99% of the time and, when they don’t, usually the older one goes in his crate to be alone. (Self-imposed time out!)

~ Meredith Christman

I have two males. Neutering definitely helped. We got our puppy neutered when he was 3 months old. And our other male was already neutered. They both know that we are in charge, but we let them work out between themselves as to which was more dominant and more submissive. It took a while, but they are the best of friends.

~ Laura Staver
Feed them in their crates. ~ Rob Kimmer

We have six dogs in total right now (three are fosters) and three of them are pit bulls. We use crate and rotate a lot but two of our pit bulls do get the chance to be together outside in the backyard with our supervision. All of the dogs at my house are female except one male Border collie mix puppy and ALL of them are spayed/neutered.

~ Sue Endbsl Elizabeth

I have two males, 6 years old and 3 years old, they were both neutered when we introduced them and I think that’s a big deal. We also introduced them on neutral ground. From the very beginning I started walking them together which helps not only with health and behavior but makes them do a task together as a pack. But I think the biggest thing is knowing your dogs and being a responsible owner. Knowing what makes them nervous or uncomfortable. Like for example, the only time mine have ever been aggressive toward each other is in high excitement situations. They start off playing and might get too excited and thing could get out of hand. I know my dogs and can stop it before anything happens. They have now lived together for two and a half years and get along great!

~ Tara Lowe-Clark

I had issues with aggression when I brought my second female home. She was 4 months and weighed 20 lbs. and thought she was going to boss my 4-year-old, 80 lb. male around. I have an amazing trainer who was able to help me resolve this issue right away.

~ Michelle D Flood


We have 1-year-old pit and 9-month-old pit/shepherd mix. We got them both as 8-week-old puppies. They just got along from the time we introduced them. We did crate them when we weren’t around but will now leave them together for short periods of time. We send them both to doggie daycare two afternoons a week just so they stay socialized. They are the most wonderful dogs. Everyone in the neighborhood knows them and will always come over to say hi.

~ Nanci Young-Allan

Three pits, two females and one male, and all get along great. Over the years we have had fosters rotate in and out with very little drama– we are clear and consistent pack leaders and do not allow rough play inside the house–only supervised outside rough and tumble time. My two pit siblings (brother and sister) are 9 years old and have had everything from a Maltese to GSD in the house– they get along with everyone. The other female is 10 months old and not spayed due to kidney failure and she gets along great as well– my favorite piece of advice–make socialization a constant and consistent process and don’t put up with any bossy behavior or body language.

~ Summer Voth

Kaos is a 2-year-old male and GoGo is a 6-month-old female. I think having a male and female makes a difference, as well as one being mature and one a pup. GoGo takes her cues from Kaos most of the time.

~ John Dinn

Currently, I have two female pit bulls and one male, ages 11.5, 6.5 and 3 respectively. All of them came straight off to the streets and into my home. They have three very different personalities; awareness of their individual traits and quirks has been a major factor in maintaining a harmonious household. Other keys to our success were careful introductions, crate training, strong leadership, never leaving them alone together and lots of individual attention.

~ Wren End Bsl Kellogg

We have a 3-year-old male pit mix (I think) and a male APBT who is about 2 years old. We did a pack walk on neutral territory at initial introduction and supervised their interactions for the first seven months they were together. We also believe in a lot of structure and the dogs LOVE it. In my time volunteering with rescue pits and all dogs for that matter, it is more about matching the right energies than choosing a dog based on gender.

~ Jesica Clemens

My male is a boxer/pit bull mix and my girl is a pit bull. He’s 6 and she is 3! They play great together. They’ve gotten along since day one! She can be a little jealous sometimes and he’s a little submissive. Feeding time is always separate because both of them are food aggressive towards each other – toys are no problem! I separate them when I leave the house, but my husband is lax in that department. He’ll do it occasionally, but he’s a bit hard-headed!

~ Tracey Thompson


I have one full pit and one half husky/half pit. The full pit is a boy. The other is a girl. Baby gates are the BEST thing in my house! I’ve had Iggy for two years. I got Frankie when my dad passed away recently. Frankie does not like dogs, Iggy loves to play! It’s not the best situation in the world, but we make do with a lot of love and a few well-placed baby gates.

~ Lisa DiStefano Hannigan

I have two spayed female pit/pointer mixes, one will be 9 this year and the other will be 6. They’ve been together for six years and I couldn’t stop them from cuddling together if I tried. I adopted my first when she was 4.5 months old (she was thrown out of a moving vehicle) and after fostering different dogs for about two years, I found one to fail on and adopted her when she was 6 months and my first was 3 years. They are both crate-trained but only the 6-year-old is crated when I leave the house or give them bully sticks or something similar. They are fed together at the same time, their bowls only two feet apart. They use each other as pillows, and that didn’t come from me. My 6-year-old is reactive to other dogs and needs a slow introduction, but other than that there are no real issues between them. I can’t take any credit for this. They just love each other ridiculously. It was meant to be and I lucked out big time.

~ Diane Clark

I believe that if the introduction is done correctly that most will learn to deal with each other whether they are male or female. I always impress to my pack that I am the leader and my rules are to be obeyed. Working them together, feeding together and playing together and also sleeping as one is good for them to learn to get along. Also introducing them in a neutral zone is a must!

~ Anita Elias

I thought I had a pit bull, but then I DNA tested her and turns out that she is a dachshund according to the DNA people. My sister’s dog who looks very similar to mine came back with bull dog and terrier. (BSL is such a dangerous thing and people need to know that even the DNA test can be wrong!) We introduced the two by meeting with both on a leash and walking them for about an hour before we stopped and let them greet each other. They have been the very best of friends right from the start even though my dog is extremely dog aggressive toward other dogs. She used to be friendly to other dogs and had a bad experience at a local dog park. Her trainer says that dog parks are terrible and we will work through her problem because she is a “work in progress.”

~ Cindy Newburg

I hired a trainer to help with my youngest dog’s reactivity and was so inspired that I became a trainer myself. I am currently working on getting my CPDT-KA and a PhD in humane education. I’m also an event coordinator for local rescues in addition to working full time. I’m tired a lot. LOL!

~ Diane Clark

I currently have only one, but have fostered before and my biggest tip is easily this: LEADERSHIP; Firm, but positive leadership. You can’t do much else if you don’t have that component.

~ Cassie-Leigh Stock


I have a male and female. The female is the one I have to watch for going over the line with her temper. She is just learning, but has lunged at both of my other dogs and both of my cats. It’s always about high value foods/treats. I see it as my job to keep all the animals safe so they’ll trust me and feel secure at home. So, I always make sure I notice what’s going on, especially when I open the dog food cabinet. I insist on structure during meals. The female has to sit quietly in a hula hoop when she’s waiting for her food. The other dogs also have to sit or lay quietly to wait for food. It’s also important to re-direct them if they start to play too rough.

~ Joan Widdifield

I work with mine one at time and walk one at a time and then two at a time and switch it up. I find feeding time together supervised makes getting along later much better.

~ Craig A Flood

I have three females and two males currently. I’ve had as many as five females at one time. I micro-manage them, never leave them alone un-supervised and obedience train them so they are more strongly bonded to me than anyone else! It helps to have lots of knowledge and experience with dogs and dog-dog interactions! And exercise, exercise, exercise!! Structured mental and physical stimulation of course! I’m also very consistent with their schedule and the order in which everyone gets everything. That way everyone always knows what to expect.

~ Jessi Sherick

I have one male pit, three females, a rat terrier mix, various foster dogs (all sizes and genders and breeds), and four cats. All get along beautifully (which I feel is due to time and patience and consistency, along with a no-nonsense leadership approach), but when they can’t be supervised (if I’m at work), they all have their own “bedroom” and/or crate space (I use really large crates, great dane size, so they can really feel at home). I’ve been fostering for nine years, ever since my male pit was a pup. Over 150 dogs have come through during that time, and I’ve never had any major issues (unless you want to talk about my rat terrier, now she’s a horse of a different color, LOL).

~ Tami DErrico

We have two females – yes it can be done! And one bull mastiff/boxer male, but he thinks he’s a pit bull and he loves his sisters! All three are rescues. It’s all about calm energy. Even though we have a clear alpha female, I’m the pack leader and everyone gets on just fine. Define boundaries early, reinforce often and equal love for all.

~ Kelly Citrin

I have two pets (10 year-old-male, 3 or 4 year-old female) and the occasional foster dog. I believe in and follow: a one-to-two week period of separation between foster and pets; long, slow introductory period with supervised interaction; obedience training from day one; constant awareness and immediate redirection if dog’s body language indicates a problem. I really like fostering as a way to see if a dog is going to work in my household–if things work out, we can adopt, but if there’s an issue, it’s only temporary and still a win-win situation for all. Through fostering, I’ve learned a lot about both my own and my pet dogs’ preferences and dislikes, and I’ve acquired valuable hands-on experience with dogs of various shapes, sizes, temperaments and medical conditions.

~ Jennifer Thomas

My house includes seven dogs: three fellas and four ladies. I’d like to say my parents picked dogs who fit in with our existing pack, but we all know the way dogs behave in a shelter (stressful!! unnatural!) is often very different than how they behave at home. So I guess we just figure it out as we go along, making sure everyone is safe, but also making sure everyone gets a chance to figure stuff out. We don’t go by “breed standards” to learn about dog behavior because the pug is the only one we know for sure. I guess that’s my #1 tip: If you know what breed your dog is (i.e., you have pedigree papers and you know his lineage), then you can use “breed traits” as one of MANY tools to get to know your dog. But if you’re like us, and your dogs come from shelters and don’t have papers, then you have no choice but to get to know each dog as an individual!

~ Sarge Wolf-Stringer

We have a male and a female (1 and 2-year-old) who get along very well. They have always eaten separately not only to rule out the possibility of a scuffle over resources, but also so they can relax and not inhale their food. Although we trust them together, they are crated when we’re not at home. You never know what unexpected stimuli might pop up while you’re out of the house and with no humans present to mediate an argument, things could quickly get out of hand. It’s like leaving your doors unlocked all the time just because you live in a safe neighborhood…why take the risk?

~ Heather McClain Howell


We have two pitties, both female, both adopted as adults. One is happy, but really chill, the brawn and the brains of the outfit. The other is dopey and floppity, always flopping and wagging her happy tail. They balance each other really well and snuggle cuddle all the time. Cutest thing ever. Visit the shelter several days to make sure you found the right one(s) and take them into the play yard for a while to make sure they interact well and mesh with each other and your family BEFORE you commit to bringing them home to their new forever family.

~ Cristina Falcon-Seymour

We have three girl pits and one boy( ages 1-6 years old). The boy gets along great with all the girls, but two of my girls don’t get along very well. We crate and rotate and give them all individual attention as much as possible. We also try to get some training in when possible as well. We send them out to potty and groups and always monitor them so that we can correct them as issues arise. Ours all seem to have different personalities and attitudes.

~ Belinda Diaz

My pit is a rescue who came to live with us when he was 2. He had no socialization and growled at my Boxer and my daughter’s pit when he first met them, but after about 45 minutes of putting myself between him and Pistol and telling him that growling and posturing was not acceptable he soon gave up and decided that playing was good. He had to learn to play as he had never played with another dog before. I lost my Boxer and a year later got a new one and he accepted her after we all slept in the same bed together the first night. They all have their own food bowls, but share a water bowl and both share toys.

~ Anita Elias

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Comments

8 Responses to “How Do You Make a Multi-Dog Household Work?”
  1. ScottLanz says:

    We have 4 dogs: 2 Pitties and 2 German Shepherds. The oldest male was taken on a Drug seizure in Phoenix and had won one fight his short life to that point. Flash Gordon (Red Nose/ apx 7 yo) is our Alpha and training him for everything was easy except for his penchant for running away. The Exec Officer is Zena, German Shepherd (2 yrs old), gives the softest kisses but has a mild territorial issue with Gunner, 16 MO German Shepherd. Gunner is comedian, protector and terrorist. Tail gunner for our canine crew is Emira (Arabic for Princess) at about 17 months old. Emira is a Pittie mix that is everyone’s cuddle bunny. All are rescues (I stopped breeding German Shepherds and Dobermans back in 1990). They each have their own designated eating areas in the main room, they easily munch out of each others dishes though Zena is particular about access to her food bowl. They share a water bucket and a small pool in the back yard. There is no squabbling over toys except over a flattened decrepit soccer ball that Zena retrieves, Gunner steals and Emira ‘treats like a baby’. Separation trauma ensues when you take Zena all by herself for a walk to get lottery tickets, she prefers the company of the boys. They are all taught their commands/ obedience work in in German, Arabic and English. When I get ready to go to work at night, they actually get depressed to a degree. They are okay until the see me donning my work uniform then Emira turns her back to me, Gunner and Emira dart to the living room and console themselves while Flash sits on the bed and supervises my getting dressed and getting my food and drink into my cooler. The only thing that I HATE that the crew does as a team is the excavations in my back yard.

  2. StubbyDog says:

    Sounds like you have a wonderful pack and have found the best way to have a harmonious household. Thanks for sharing.

  3. JMattHicks says:

    There is some INCREDIBLE advice in this piece.

    My wife is a HUGE dog/animal lover, and she’s all about multiple dogs in the house, so I’ve definitely got this one bookmarked for future reference. Thanks for compiling and sharing this!

  4. StubbyDog says:

    Thanks, so glad our fans could help! They do have fantastic advice for every situation that arises. StubbyDog fans, you rock!

  5. KarolinaKate84 says:

    This is an excellent post! I so enjoyed all the super adorable pitty pics :)

  6. StubbyDog says:

    Thanks for your comments, glad you enjoyed the post! @KarolinaKate84

  7. bblackman73 says:

    I LOVE ALL THE PICTURES AND THIS WAS VERY HELPFUL INFORMATION AS I HAVE ONE FEMALE PITTIE NOW, JUST TURNED 2, AND A CAT. I WANT TO ADOPT ANOTHER PITTIE, BUT WASN’T SURE THAT A FEMALE WOULD BE RIGHT IN MY HOME WITH MY FEMALE. I KNOW THAT IT CAN BE DONE BUT MY GIRL PREFERS MALES. WE HAVE A DOG MEET NEXT WEEK WITH A MALE PITTIE FROM PAWS (MY GIRL IS ALSO FROM PAWS IN PHILLY)…THANKS FOR THE TIPS!

  8. StubbyDog says:

    Glad you found the information helpful. Good luck with the meet and greet, let us know how it turns out. @bblackman73