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Hello everyone!


In the next couple years, I know I'm going to adopt a third dog. I've done a lot of thinking and research on the most obvious things to consider when bringing home another dog - the most important ones being, do I have enough time, money, and space to provide for a third dog? Another obvious and important one for me is, will a third dog get along with the two I already have? One of my dogs gets along well with every dog he meets. My other dog is a little more picky, so I plan to let her choose the dog that she feels most comfortable with and connected to, no matter how long it takes to find that perfect companion.


What I want to ask is, besides the obvious and important details, what other considerations can you tell me about that I haven't thought of? Some examples that I keep turning over in my head are: difficulty in walking three large dogs (I plan to make sure my two walk perfectly before I bring the third home, but squirrels and rabbits still pose a problem when I would have three dogs that together weigh more than I do pulling me to chase animals) and visits to the dog park with three dogs. It's already difficult trying to keep an eye on two dogs at the dog park, so I'm considering just taking one dog at a time when I have three and alternating who I take.


I welcome any advice! Please tell me what you've observed changes in your home when a third, fourth, fifth dog gets added to the mix. I want to be as prepared as possible!

THANKS IN ADVANCE! And sorry for writing you a novel. ;)
 

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It's good that you're trying to think of the full impact of getting a third dog instead of just jumping into it and then having regrets.

You mentioned walking 3 dogs. Good luck with that. I mean that in all sincerity. I have one dog and sometimes walk her with a foster dog and if one of them decides to pull, it's a nightmare. They need to behave like little angels or it's a workout.

-Going to a dog park with 3 dogs would be risky. You would know the temperament of your own dogs, but not others at the park and it would be hard to keep an eye on all three. Random dog fights/attacks can happen and you need to be close by.

-If you don't have much space and if you don't have a yard then look to get a smaller dog.

-I think THE most important thing in getting a dog is knowing the breed and needs of the dog, or, if it's a unknown breed then at least knowing the personality traits that the dog has and making sure those traits work with your situation. Some dogs really do require a yard. Some dogs are more mellow and are fine indoors. Some howl a lot, etc.... Make sure their traits and needs mesh with your lifestyle.

-You mentioned vet bills and vet care. So important! My dog somehow ended up getting an infection in her lung a few weeks ago. It was suspected that it was from a "migrating foreign body", like a foxtail, but they're not sure. She is 11 months old and had to have part of her lung removed. It was horrible. The bill was around $8,000. Thankfully I got pet insurance when I first got her so 90% of the bill was covered. I also didn't have to pick and choose her treatment. I was able to let them do whatever she needed. So, if possible look into getting pet insurance for all of your dogs that way if something big does happen then you won't have to worry. Having that insurance is one of the best decisions I've ever made.

-Make a check list of what you're looking for and what's most important for you. And when you're ready check around at shelters and different rescues. If you get a rescue dog that's a bit older you'll be doing a good thing by rescuing a dog that needs a forever family, and you'll be able to find a dog that better matches what you're looking for. It can be scary for a dog when their circumstances change and they don't know what's going on. Expect that both of you will need time to adjust to your new situation.

If you can provide for their needs and know that they get along well with your other dogs and you're ready for that extra chaos,then I think it should work out just fine.
 

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For me getting a third dog was a no brainer, I have an old one and a young one and the young one was bored, plus she's a terror on the leash (reactivity), so she didn't get walked as much as I would like, and I wanted her to get another dog to play with.


But I don't walk the old dog either, and I walk the other two separately (squirrels are a huge problem here too). I don't go to the dog park either, but I take dog 3 to dog play sessions (I'd take dog 2 as well if it wasn't such a big struggle for her to be leashed around other dogs).



The third dog I got was a 1yo - so I already knew his temperament, and I didn't have to deal with training a puppy (I mean, he passed the canine good citizenship test with NO work on our part at all).


So far we've been lucky with vet bills, but just yearly check ups add up, heartworm preventive, and don't get me started about the food bill (my third dog is a newfoundland, so yeah). I don't do health insurance, honestly, it's just a big gamble and so far I would have been out $10,000 or more if I actually had it... I'm talking $60-100 a month per dog and you still have a deductible and they only cover 90% of the costs if you're lucky... The most I had to spend was $800 on x-rays, plus some tests or medications that still wouldn't cover the monthly cost... But yes, you still have to have enough money aside for emergencies... and obviously with 3 dogs it's more likely to happen.



Honestly, for us the main issue has been fights... our second dog is a nervous dog, and she's started attacking our 14yo for no reason... which would be much easier to manage if the 85 lb dog didn't decide to join the fight. So we have to separate them constantly, but at least the two young ones love each other... but it was enough to make me reconsider getting a third dog when our old one passes away. But I know that down the line I'll find a dog that needs a home and it will be hard to say no...
 

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I have 2 dogs of my own, and often take in fosters. Prior to getting my second dog, I spent the better part of a year with 1 personal dog and foster dogs in and out of the house. Currently, my female Boston Terrier is a little over 3, and my male Lab will be 2 in January.

Personally, I never found the jump from 1 dog to 2 dogs to be much more difficult. Walks were a tiny bit more complicated, but I still felt like I could train both dogs at once, especially as my personal dog got older and better behaved (i.e., better trained). I actually prefer having 2 dogs to 1 dog, as I've always found that they can entertain themselves better with a playmate and I do personally believe that dogs are social creatures and that MOST appreciate the company of a conspecific.

Contrasted to that, I personally always find 2 dogs to 3 dogs to be quite the jump.

Refereeing play with 3 dogs is more difficult than with 2, especially if you have dogs that like to do a lot of full body contact playing. You're at a higher risk for having to break up disagreements, because its very easy for 2 to gang up on 1.

I also find that where 2 dogs has never felt uncomfortable to me, 3 dogs can easily start to feel like A LOT of dogs. This is coming from someone who likes dogs enough that she's made them her career (dog trainer), and who uses a service dog as part of a treatment plan. I LOVE dogs. I also don't constantly need to be bothered by them. At three dogs, I think a solid "place" command is absolutely imperative for instilling peace. I'm a strong believer in crate training as well, to be able to crate some or all of them and give yourself a break.

On to the actual questions you asked:
(1) WALKING
Suddenly you can't have enough hands on a walk, and even if 2 are very well trained, if 1 pulls too much, you're in for it. Even with 2 dogs trained well to walk next to each other, putting a third into the mix will require some retraining. That third is likely to need a lot of work on walking well on leash, and will need training without the other two there, likely. I would also keep in mind that not all dogs like to be super close to another dog when they walk. Be sure that your dogs, as well as whatever dog you adopt, are OK with being so close to another dog.

(2) DOG PARKS
I'll admit, I'm not a fan of dog parks. I see one of three things from clients taking their dogs to parks where I am: (1) they learn to play HARD and their owners have very little verbal control over them when playing because they never train it in a way they can pull the dog out of play if they ignore them. IMO, dogs should only be playing together with full body contact if you can reasonable get them to stop playing together by calling them away from each other. (2) they develop fear issues, sometimes from being attacked, but honestly more often from being put in situations where others are too rough and their discomfort isn't recognized until they are going after the other dogs. (3) Everything is usually fine, but their are occasional squabbles. Usually they aren't a big deal, but every time there is one, there's an increased risk of lasting issues. The dog in question doesn't even have to be directly involved or be the offender for there to be lasting issues from being around a fight/squabble.

Honestly, it's hard to handle 2 dogs safely in large groups of other dogs. 3 dogs is, IMO, only reasonable if you know that they don't have any issues with other dogs and the other dogs don't have any issues with other dogs. You can't expect that in a park where any dog may come in at any moment. If there were a fight, you're going to be in a tough spot with 3 dogs.
 

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Dogs form their own society with you and with each other. Status within the group changes as dogs mature and age. This “dominance hierarchy” establishes order and promotes cooperation among members, who soon learn their place in the canine order.
Here are actions you can take to help a newcomer transition smoothly into its new pack.

  • Introduce the dogs one at a time, so that the pack doesn’t gang up on the newcomer.
  • Introduce the dogs on neutral territory that’s unfamiliar to all members of the pack, like a neighbor’s yard. That way, the dogs will be less likely to view each other as territorial intruders.
  • Keep each dog on a leash with a separate handler during introductions. If a ruckus erupts, handlers can separate the dogs, let them cool off, and try again.
  • Use a calm, happy voice when introducing dogs for the first time. Let them briefly sniff each other, then issue an easy command like sit, and reward their attentive compliance with a treat. Do that often during the first visit, so the dogs begin associating the new pack member with pleasant things.
  • Beware of aggressive body posture. If one of the dogs bares teeth, growls or stares for long time, then bad things are likely to happen. Interrupt the negative energy immediately by distracting the dogs with commands followed by treats. Then, try again, but for a shorter time.
 
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