Getting a dog changes your life in so many ways. Sure, there’s the extra responsibilities and a new line on your budget to consider… but you also get loyalty, companionship, entertainment, and sheer joy.
The benefits of dog ownership are so incredible that you may quickly find yourself wanting another pup to keep the good vibes going.
Two dogs keep each other company and keep your spirits high as they play and cuddle with one another. But they also show you just how compelling and diverse dogs can be — and they make you want to experience an even wider variety of puppy love.
So two becomes three, then three becomes four… before long, you’re looking into getting a bigger home so you can continue building your canine family.
But at some point, you’ll need to make a tough decision: do you give in to temptation and get another dog, or do you concede that you have enough already?
We’re here to help you decide how many dogs are too many. There’s no universal answer, but by the time we’re through, you’ll be able to figure out the perfect number for you.
Finding the Right Number of Dogs for You
Your goal is simple: getting as much dog love as you can without crossing the line into hoarding territory.
Multi-dog households are quite common: in the US, each household has an average of 1.6 dogs. So you’re not alone in your desires, but you don’t want to overdo it, either.
After all, you want your dogs to have the best lives possible, with plenty of attention and quality care. Having too many could impact the amount of time you’re able to spend with each dog — and your ability to provide for them financially.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the many factors you should consider when deciding how many dogs you should own.
Your Dogs’ Personalities: Sociable or Solitary?
Many dog owners initially adopt a second dog to keep their first dog company. When everyone’s away at work or school, and the only dog can get bored, lonely and anxious being stuck inside alone all day.
But while dogs are generally social creatures, some have personalities that just don’t mesh with other dogs.
Maybe your dog has a history of neglect or abuse and is simply too reactive to get along with other dogs. Perhaps he’s an older dog who was never socialized with others of his kind and now prefers to be alone.
Whatever the reason, the needs of your existing dog(s) must come before anything else. If you don’t think your dog would enjoy the company of another dog, don’t get one, no matter how much you want one.
And if you do decide to get another dog, be prepared for the possibility that they may not like each other! Even if your dog is usually friendly to dogs he meets on his walks, it’s a whole different story when one enters his personal territory.
The more dogs you have, the more you’ll need to consider before getting another dog. Remember: everyone in the house needs to be on board with the new addition, including each of your other pets.
If these considerations are too tough for you, or if you have doubts about how your current dog(s) will react to a newcomer, that’s a good sign that you have enough dogs already.
The Space to Roam: Territories and Coexistence
Personalities aren’t the only things that influence your ideal number of dogs. You also need to consider the space you live in and whether or not multiple dogs will be happy in it.
Let’s say you live in a one-bedroom apartment with one small dog. You take him on daily walks, and he gets to run around the dog park a few times a week, and since he’s got the apartment all to himself, he’s content with that.
But add another dog to the mix and things change a lot. Now each dog will need to find his own tiny territory within your apartment, and when you’re not home, there aren’t many ways for them to get some time away from each other.
Additionally, many apartments in the US have a maximum limit of two dogs per unit. If yours is one of them, then you’ve got a hard cap on the number of dogs you can own.
Space becomes less of a concern if you have a larger house with a yard that the dogs have access to. With more room and the ability to get away from it all outdoors, multiple dogs can certainly share a home peacefully.
Your Own Limitations: Time and Money
Owning one dog is a lot of work. Every day, you need to set aside time to walk, feed and play with your dog — and if you get another dog, that amount of time can sometimes double.
With every dog you get, the amount of time you’ll spend on dog care increases. It’s not something you can skimp on, either — if you don’t pay equal attention to every dog, jealousy and loneliness can rear their ugly heads, resulting in fighting and general misery for all.
And, of course, you’ll need to think about money. Double the dogs mean double the food, double the boarding fees, and double the vet visits.
If you already feel that your schedule and your wallet are stretched thin, getting another dog is not a good idea. You want the best for your pets, so your priority should be ensuring that the best is within your means.
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The Magic Number: Three’s Company
The third bed that Goldilocks tried was the perfect one. And dog experts suggest that three dogs are the ideal number for most people, provided they have space, time and money to care for them.
Any more than three and problems begin to arise: you run out of time to spend with each dog, and their own hierarchies start causing conflicts within the household.
But three dogs can keep each other company while still enjoying their territories in a home of a suitable size. It’s especially ideal if the dogs are of different ages, as their varied temperaments can provide a balance to the pack.
That’s not to say that happy, healthy households can’t have more or less than three dogs, but if you’re in doubt, it’s a good number to aim for.
As dog lovers, it’s hard for us to say that it’s possible for there to be too many dogs. But we’re confident in saying that three is the sweet spot for many owners: it’s the optimal number for household harmony!
"If you think dogs can’t count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then give him only two."
-- Phil Pastoret