Becoming a multi-dog household

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-17-2003
Becoming a multi-dog household
Fri, 03-28-2003 - 11:03am
I'm new to the board -- please forgive me if this question has gotten a lot of discussion in the past :-)

We've had our dog for almost 4 years now. Maggie is 1/2 golden, 1/2 dachshund as far as we know -- we adopted her from a shelter. She looks like a mini-golden with very short legs and more pointed nose. She seems to have what I think of as the golden personality; very friendly towards everyone. But, I've seen her be intimidated by a Maltese who barked at her!

I'd love to adopt another dog, and I really want to pick the right kind of dog to add to our household. Maggie is a very submissive dog, and I want to improve her life, not make it difficult! Also, my husband and I both work, so I'm thinking of another adult dog -- but I keep thinking that a puppy might adapt better (maybe I'm wrong here, though)

I'm wondering what it's like to go to a multi-dog household, what other people's experiences have been. Should I look for another very submissive dog? A small dog, or just a very laid-back dog?

Thanks in advance for any advice!

-- Stephanie

Edited 3/28/2003 12:05:13 PM ET by ivillsteph

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
Fri, 03-28-2003 - 11:24am
Welcome to the Dogs Board Stephanie...and bless you for adopting your furkid from a shelter...and thinking about adopting "another" deserving furkid.

There are "many" members here that have multi-dog/multi-pet households, so you should get lots of feedback. I have two dogs: a very lively Ylab, Valentine - 4YO and my dal, Samantha - 7YO. I got both of them as puppies: when I got Samantha I had my beloved Maxwell - a retriever/mix. I had lost my beloved Jebu about 2 years previously and wanted another dog. Maxwell was used to being "top dog" and tolerated Samantha. Max was "not" submissive and he showed Samantha who was boss right away. When we got Valentine "she" became the Alpha dog also. Samantha is not actually "submissive" and is not laid back at all, but Valentine has a strong least with dogs...LOL...

I don't think you should necessarily get another submissive dog, nor do you need to get a puppy. If you do get a shelter/rescue dog (which I hope you do) you will need to bring Maggie to meet any potential adoptee and make sure they get on OK.

My DH and I both worked full time when we got our girls and thought that a puppy would adapt quicker; that's not always the case. An adult dog can also adapt quickly and many of them have already had obedience training and are housebroken.

You may also want to visit over on Pets in the House for some advice:

I'm so glad that you've decided to join us on this fun and informative Board. Good luck and please be sure to let us know what you decide.



iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Sat, 03-29-2003 - 10:27am
Hi Stephanie,

I currently have two dogs, Calvin an 8 year old Cairn Terrier, and Roosevelt, a two year old Chihuahua (we're not sure if he's a mix). They both are neutered. Before we got Roosevelt, we had another dog, Bud, a Beagle, who's since died. Calvin was the dominate dog when we had Bud. When we got the puppy, after Bud's death and everything changed! Calvin became the more submissive dog, much to our surprise! Actually, I think he's happier not being the dominate dog anymore. I think being "in charge" was stressful for him.

Dogs will work it out between themselves who will be the "top dog". With your dog's submissive personality, she may naturally be the submissive dog, or she may surprise you and become the dominate dog. Does it really matter which way it goes? Dogs don't have egos or expectations, they don't mind if they are the submissive dog of the pack. Conflicts arise between dogs in the household, when there is instability in the hierarchy. So it's actually good to have one dog who is content to be submissive!

Between my dogs (past and present) they've never once had a fight. I don't know if it's because I've only owned neutered males, or just lucky.

I've got friends (two different families) each owning two spayed female dogs. Both families have had horrible fights between their dogs, very often I might add. It would appear that females get along better with males, and males get on fine with each other, it's two females together that you've got to watch out for. Spaying a female dog will not make her less aggressive, as it can when you neuter a male dog.

I'm sure there are many two female dog households without fighting, I'm only telling you my personal experiences.

I can tell you that dogs love another dog's company, having two dogs is a great, your dog will have a playmate even when you're too busy to play. Take care and introduce Maggie to a new puppy, and supervise any rough play. Of course, you may want to adopt an adult dog! Either way, it's great having two dogs!

Your dogs, not you, will decide who is dominant. Once your dogs establish who is the dominate one, always pay attention to the "top dog" first. He (or she) should get the first greeting, the first grooming and (especially) the first food and treats. This sort of "favoritism" can seem unfair by human standards, but stick with it or your dogs may feel forced to fight to sort it out!

Remember the under-dog should never be neglected or ignored - he is just asked to wait for his turn, and happy to do so.

Let us know how it goes!


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Sat, 03-29-2003 - 9:47pm
Golden's are usually very accepting of new dogs in the family. I recently brought home a new golden puppy to my 2 resident goldens. At first I was concerned because they didn't seem to like her, but they've warmed up to her since then. Try to introduce them in a neutral spot such as a park or someone else's house. Good luck.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-19-2003
Mon, 03-31-2003 - 9:58pm
Hi, Steph, and *WELCOME* to the Dogs board!!! I'm so glad that you've chosen to join us!

I have 3 dogs, all adults ~ 2 dachshunds and 1 big ol' loveable mutt. Mandy, my dachshund, is a favorite playmate of (loveable mutt), Bob, and they're really close. I think a lot depends on the dog's personality and ~ in the case of an adult dog ~ what kind of life they had before you acquired them. Dachshunds are very affectionate, intelligent, eager to please, gets along well with other dogs, cats, and most other species, and can be stubborn. Keep in mind, too, that a dog is never too old to learn.

I sure wish I could see a picture of your furbaby! I know it's not impossible, but a large and small dog mix took some determination! 8^) Btw, I like Goldens, too!

Thank you for posting and I hope that we'll see you here often!

Hugs, *C*, Mr. Higgins, Mandy, and Bob

For the Love of Dogs Homepage and Welcome Center ~

My Furkids ~

(Websites are down right now due to tech problems, but please keep trying! TIA!)



iVillage Member
Registered: 03-31-2003
Thu, 04-03-2003 - 10:08am

I have two girls - Cayman, a retriever/lab mix and Minx, a purebred mutt, although we think she has some terrier/shepherd in her. Another poster mentioned that female dogs will often not get along - I've heard that too, but fortunately, it's not the case w/ my girls. They did have to work out alpha status, and now Minx (the second arrival and younger dog) seems to know her place. She reminds us of the younger sibling when they're playing. Cayman will be peacefully lying there and Minx will approach her and flop right in front of her nose, rear end in the air and tail wagging until Cayman plays w/her. Too cute.

Anyway, my point here is, a two dog household is great! Our two have *very* different personalities, but they've worked out a system that works for them (and us). Plus, they always have each other to play w/ and for companionship. Be warned though, it can be unnerving when they're working out their status. At times, I couldn't tell if they were really fighting or just playing. You learn the difference though.

Also, my Cayman sounds a bit like your Maggie, loves everyone and is very gentle. In fact, she was extremely shy when we got her (not so anymore). That said, Cayman had no problem showing Minx who was boss. And still doesn't. We got Minx at about 5 months old when Cayman was a little over 1 year.

Good luck!

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 04-03-2003 - 5:28pm
I have always had two dogs - I really like having two for all of the reasons mentioned previously.

One thing I will add. I do like the idea of another adult dog. Especially a rescue from a reputable organization. Most of the time these dogs are in a family situation and have been temperment tested already. Often they are living in a home with other dogs as well. Often, too, they have been in homes with children as well. So, you really have a good fix on the dogs temprement.

Additionally, a good rescue will allow you to bring your other dog for a meeting. They will probably let you do it a number of times until you are comfortable with the match. Keep in mind though, the reputable rescues have adoption policies that you will have to pass. There is often a home check involved also. All of this is really to your benefit as you will know that the rescue knows their dogs and that the match you make will probably work out to suit everyone. Another good thing about rescue is that they will always take the dog back (in fact most of them insist you return the dog to them) if there is a problem down the road.

Sorry it took me so long to respond. It's been a little crazy around my house.

Love and laughter,


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Mon, 04-07-2003 - 2:43pm
i'm also considering becoming a multi-dog family, and leaning toward getting a puppy. the reason is this: when i was young we had a female dog that was spade, and when she was about 6 years old, we got a puppy (also female). it was great for our older dog -- she treated the puppy as if it were her own.

if i were in your situation, i'd probably get another golden or golden-mix or a dog with a similar personality, although not necessarily stictly "submissive." a friend of mine had a dog -- i'd call her "non-aggressive" -- and when she got a second dog a few years later, even though the second dog was quite rambunctious, the older dog sort of put the new dog in her place. dogs have a natural pecking order. it's good that you're being considerate of your dog's feelings, but i wouldn't let it worry you.

if you're going to get your new dog from a shelter (or the pound), you might consider taking your current dog with you. sometimes the shelter will give you the opportunity to let you and your potential adoptee mingle and you may get some idea of how well your old dog and potential new dog will get along.

(i haven't read the other posts yet, so please forgive me if i've been repetitive.)

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-27-2000
Thu, 04-10-2003 - 10:36pm
Go for it!! The experience in our household is they're happier with another furbaby in the house, EVEN IF they don't become best friends. They will naturally determine between them who's top dog, and I don't think the one at the bottom of the totem pole resents the alpha dog, either, they just go with it. But it's just nice to think that whenever you leave the house they aren't alone anymore, ditto for going into a kennel if you board them in the same kennel.