German Shepherds Forum banner

1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi Everyone,

New to the forum here and I appreciate your input.

We currently have 2 dogs, one of which is a young GSD (they get along great), and are considering a third, also a GSD probably a pup.

I have 3 kids that are beginning to get really involved with 4H with our dogs and I am concerned about managing 3 dogs at once. I have heard horror stories supposedly of multiple dog ownership; kids bitten, mauled, etc. I even saw one story of a child being mauled and killed and mom sent to prison!

For those with multiple dogs, how do you reduce this risk? Do you keep them seperated, crated, or in seperate fenced areas outside? Can they run, as a pack, together for extended time periods?

I currently have a schedule in place for feeding, exercise, and indivdual time with family. We also have and use kennels, crates, and a large fenced area for play, etc. However, they may spend extended periods together in the fenced yard together. Should I be concerned about them bonding with one another, considering two of GSDs will be young like less than a year.

Can it be dangerous to own multiple dogs, especially for kids?

Thanks!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
31,836 Posts
Yes, but many of us do have multiple dogs without issues.

I think that sometimes dogs that are close in age will fight and if the person who is home with them is not able to get them apart and gets in the middle, there is a possibility of injury. I think that dogs that actually maul their owners and family members to death are extremely rare, but highly publicised. I would be more worried about one of the kids being bitten during a dog fight.

Dog fighting happens much more frequently in canines of the same sex, bitches being in my opinion worse than dogs in this respect. I think fighting happens more frequently in dogs that have reached sexual maturity intact, so spay/neuter of the dogs while under a 12 months may make sense in your situation. Dogs fighting will occur more frequently if their is not solid leadership and training. I would start training as soon as you bring your pup home, and continue taking the dog to classes for several months, really beyond the basics. And if the canines are close in age, then the liklihood of them fighting will increase, especially if intact.

Each dog should have its own crate and if it makes sense their own kennel. So that when you are unable to supervise the dogs are securely and separately kenneled.

Two's company, three's a crowd. Lots of people have two dogs and leave them together regularly without problem, but when they bring in a third, trouble begins. For one thing, with three, at two at least will be the same sex. Two dogs will sometimes gang up on a third.

Training, leadership, socialization, and supervision should make having more than one dog not a problem. If a problem does begin, being able to keep them apart makes things a little easier and safer, while working through it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27,206 Posts
I believe that females have more problems in a pack situation than 2 male & 1 female.
If I were to have 3 dogs again, I would only have one female. My two girls get along ok, because one will submit, but if she ever truely challenged the other, it wouldn't be pretty. I keep a vigilant eye on their behaviors and keep the dominant one on NILIF constantly.
As long as all three get the full amount of attention, exercise and love it should work fine. The dynamic of the pack can change when maturity hits(even the teenage hormonal stage can be a challenge), so that is something to think about when you have two about the same age. I would try to have them at least 2 years in age apart for that reason.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
18,371 Posts
I have 3 and I do notice a difference in the number of scuffles with 3. But it is rare still and I have only had what I would call one serious fight and there was no blood shed.

I think as long as clear ground rules are established for the dogs AND the humans you will be okay. Your kids need to know that they NEVER step between scuffling dogs EVER! You need to know how to separate dogs involved.

I do not like walking more than 2 because I am only a 120 pounds and I can't hold more than 2 if we end up in a scuffle on the street with loose dogs. I alos never take more than 2 to a dog show as I go by myself.

If there is more than one adult to help handle dogs and the kids understand the rules and abide by them you should be fine.

Welcome to you too!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
367 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,378 Posts
I have 8 small dogs a 50 pound shar pei being the biggest and a 4 pound CHI is the smallest (anything under 70 pounds is small to me) and they all get along very well ocassinal squables but NEVER any blood.All but the shar pei are Fixed They all have free run of the house when where home and when where gone the 4 youngest go in to kennels. The shar pei has his own and the brother and sister rat terrier Xs go in there own and our papillon has his own. And the 3 lazy reliable lazy older dogs sleep on the couch till we get home. Its all time and management and not letting them run you. All my dogs have EXELANT recall I can call them off rabbits and ANYTHING else they try and chase. As soon as I hear there imma get it bark I call them back. A pack has to have a boss and the dogs must see you that way. My dogs are well loved and vetted. It is very possable to have a pack of dogs live in a home and all get along. PS all our dogs sleep free in our room at night. Good luck a pack is SO WORTH the work.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
31,836 Posts
Other than a pack of previously owned aggressive dogs living in harmony, a line of his own pet products, a national television show, a best selling autobiography, and a bazillion loyal followers, Ceasar has nothing on me. LOL!

I have nine bitches and a dog. six of them are between 3.5 years and 4.5 years old. Three others are under two. They are intact -- except for my nine year old.

The last really bad fight was about 2.5 years ago when Arwen and Rush got into it and my hand ended up in the middle of it. But I do not let them run in a big bunch. I did let them run together when there were eight of them, when Heidi, Whit and Tori reached about 8-9 months old, I gave that up.

Now, I crate them to eat and sleep, and I bring them up to spend time with me singly. The rest of the time they are kenneled.

I also walk and train them singly. I don't have any of those cool skates Ceasar uses, but even if I did, I would not try to run them all together.

I think that the Bad fight at home scenario has one of the owners overseas. Which brings up a good point, when life gets a bit chaotic, it will reak havoc on the order at home. It can be something like my sister moving into Moms with her baby for a while -- tough on Cujo, or when one of the dogs die, the pack order is reestablished. If an adult in the family goes onto a second shift, it could upset the balance and cause issues. With a family with kids there is always something happening. It is wise to have a plan for this should it occur.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
31,836 Posts
you MUST be their pack leader. here read this.
http://leerburg.com/pdf/raisingtwopuppies.pdf

you can do it but you have to keep the two pups apart more than together. and in the crate by itself doesnt count. it has to be with it's handler more than with the other dog in order to be well behaved.

Wow, all my dogs as puppies spent WAY more time with other dogs than with me, and they are all well behaved. I have kenneled littermates together for eighteen months and they are not more bonded with each other than with me, it hasn't caused any problems. I think this may be true of some dogs, but it is certainly not true of all puppies/dogs. I have heard people say this over and over, but I have never experienced this.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
656 Posts
Wow, all my dogs as puppies spent WAY more time with other dogs than with me, and they are all well behaved. I have kenneled littermates together for eighteen months and they are not more bonded with each other than with me, it hasn't caused any problems. I think this may be true of some dogs, but it is certainly not true of all puppies/dogs. I have heard people say this over and over, but I have never experienced this.
I have, but it depends on the dogs.

I wouldn't say the dogs have to spend more time with the handler than other dogs. It is a lot easier to train and work with dogs singly at least until they have a good obedience foundation and a good relationship with the handler though.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,379 Posts
You stated your kids were going to begin 4/H with the dogs. Speak with your 4/H leaders, they can give you a lot of help. Getting a 3rd dog for your child to show might be a mistake if the child loses interest. You still have the dog for many, many years.

From personal experiance - one child will like showing dogs, one will like showing rabbits - one will like something else that exhibits it's animals (during the show) as far away from the 1st animal as possible .....:wild:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,991 Posts
I wouldn't say three dogs is "dangerous," but I will chime in to add to what some have already said, and it seems the number 2 doesn't behave quite like a "pack." At least, the times in my life when I've had two, that's how it has been.

Everytime I added the third, the dynamics shifted significantly and while I agree that in order to prevent problems one needs to be a pack leader, as a pack leader you have to recognize that there will be dogs near the top of the pack and dogs near the bottom. The pack leader doesn't mean they are number one and ALL dogs are number 2 equally. To the leader, this is true. But within the pack structure, you have dogs that have to answer to other dogs. You can not be there 24/7, and unless the only time your dogs *ever* interact you are right there by their sides, you will have one that is the alpha over the other dogs.

I have always had better luck with multiple males (neutered) than multiple females (spayed).

I personally wouldn't get a third dog for the reasons you've listed. At least one of your kids will likely not be interested in the sport in the near future.
 

·
Moderator
Joined
·
2,967 Posts
I have 4 dogs right now. Alot depends on the personalities of the dogs that you have and the time you put into establishing leadership.

My 3 younger ones are about 1 year apart and all are intact. They all grew up together and they can all run together. But, they are more like a pack. 2 can and do gang up on one at times and I would never leave them out unattended together. Also when I brought Cade into our family, he spent the first 2 weeks with just us. Then I slowly introduced him to the other dogs one at a time on walks. I think he was probably almost 6 months old before I let him out with both of the other dogs at the same time. This ensured to me that he was comfortable with both dogs, he was appropriately bonded to me, had enough previously good experiences that if for some reason things went south he wouldn't be overly traumatized, and that he was physically big enough to be able to handle both of the big dogs at once and not be hurt.

We brought in another adult intact male a couple months ago. Ike does not really get along with the other boys. Him and my 3 year old want to challenge each other constantly, so they do not go out together. He does okay with the 11 month old on walks or otherwise supervised, but if the puppy gets sassy Ike has no problem putting him down. The puppy can also be a bit of a jerk and won't necessarily submit, which can escalate the squabble. Ike gets along famously with our bitch and small puppies. He will give her the toys and take all kinds of crap from her.

So I generally let my dogs out in pairs. Ike and Anka, and Cade and Argos go out together.

I don't really think it's dangerous to have multiple dogs as long as you're aware and alert to possible problems. I think the biggest danger is when you are dealing with dog fights. If you have to step in, you can get bit. You also sometimes have to deal with redirected aggression. I know that when the 2 older males get into a staredown, if I touch them or try to pull them back by the collar it can set them off and there is the possibiity that they will reflexively turn anf grab me. I'm much better off using my voice to break their concentration and alert them to my presence before I intervene physically.

Fortunately, with careful management I've only had to deal with that once or twice. But it's something to be aware of. It can be done with good planning and time invested in training.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Thanks for all of your input, this has been very helpful.

Along with 4H my daughters both are interested in advanced obedience and agility. I've owned dogs all my life, though never more than two at a time. This seems to be evolving into a family activity for my kids and I which give an opportunity to spend quality time together.

I am fascinated by the pack dynamic, and am very interested in the relationships between the dogs and humans, I just don't want to mess it up for either group.

Thanks again
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14,344 Posts
Lots of people can have multiple dogs. I think you just have to find ones with similar energy. If you have a calm, relaxed dog then look for another dog that has the same personality. Dont show favoritism.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
31,836 Posts
Remember to get the dog for the people, not for the dogs. So if you require a laid back dog, get a laid back dog. Two high energy dogs and three kids and another dog might be a recipe for insanity.

Is there some reason that the kids cannot use the same dog for 4H? One can work with the dog in agility, the other in rally, one can do jr showmanship in conformation, the other can try herding? I think the dog can manage the different styles of the kids a lot better than we can give them credit for. I mean, lots of people switch collars for obedience and conformation and it works good.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,005 Posts
Since I own 2 GS, a spayed female 9, and unneutered male 2, and my daughter who lives with me has a 4 yr old intact male and a 7 yr old shihtzu, I feel I can offer some suggestions. I keep crates open in the house each picks a crate for sleeping or a bed anywhere in the house, all switch there seems no clear favorite. when I go out then and only then do I crate 1 boy, either one. I also put a baby gate on the bedroom door and have it high enough the shihtzu can go under if she wishes. When I am here all are loose, I go outside with them and always monitor, unless I leave 1 boy and the older girl out for a play session. No one fights her but the 2 boys could get into it and I can control them.

If your kids are into advanced obedience and agility now then I would check out rescues for an adult dog they can start right away and I would find one of the opposite sex of the GS you currently have. Or they can get a smaller breed which may be easier for them to handle and keep up with. GS in agility run fast and you have to try to yell commands fast enough. Rescues can also tell you a lot about the new dog and do a meet and greet with your current dogs, then immediately sign BOTH dogs to a class and have a child with each and practice daily. This will create a bond with one child stronger than the other but that is Ok. Good luck, lots of great dogs in rescues or with breeders who have had a dog returned.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
203 Posts
I just added a third, an unaltered 5 year old male GSD, giving me a 4 year old spayed female and a 1 year old soon-to-be-altered male. I was a little nervous, but it went awesome.

I went slowly, and first worked the new dog to have him responding to me. Then I worked my female. Then I passed the female to my husband, and we worked both her and the new male together. Correcting any lip curl or throat growl and chilling out excessive excitement to focus on the work. My girl is, well, a bitch.

After we had them working together after working independently, we let them loose in the yard and it went fabulous.

Repeated it with my other male, and that went well too. Then all 3 together.

My boys are both super sweet and respectful, they seem to have said to each other "I won't bother you if you don't bother me, so let's play tug, see who's stronger, and leave it at that".

It's now day 3 of the new pack, and I can see the bond forming. I'm doing double duty on one on one time with each dog to keep myself up top, but they've settled into their order really nicely and are doing activities together both with me and on their own.

Minimal looks towards each other, and it's the female to the new male. She herds him about the house, blocks the hallway and won't let him pass, and I step in and push her aside and let her know she's alright in her place but I get final say so and she has to "be easy".

I feed in order of age, new male first, then the girl, and then the youngest male. Humans eating first of course.

No one is allowed on the couch, no one on the bed, one male crated when I leave, usually it's the youngest who goes right into upon entering the dog room so I let him have it.

All 3 fit into the bathroom when I go in there. I didn't think there'd be room but there is. LOL

It can be done, but you have to know the body language of the pack so you know when to step in before some drama happens.

Dominant females of about the same age will bicker. I've had that issue before and it was pretty serious. I ended up rehoming one of them. The males are different but still need to be watched. Females more than a year apart in age can be done. But still with supervision.

If you stay out of the pack, or if you don't complete one on one training, or if you "let them sort it out" totally on their own, there is a strong possibility of issues. There are dogs who just will not get along, but for the most part they all settle into a nice pack relatively quickly.

I've done 3 females, 3 males, 4 in two and two, and now 2 males and one crazy female. She doesn't know what to do with herself, since she's a flirt. So she splits her time between the males and the males are playing a game every now and then and sleeping next to each other. Minimal posturing that I keep an eye on, but it hasn't gone past stiff tails between them.

There's been no need to segregate dogs at all, I only had to do that when I tried equally crazy dominant females of the same age with each other. If one had been slightly less dominant it would have gone well. But each one felt just as entitled as the other and I had to be after them at all times and separate them when I couldn't be there to keep it sorted out.
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
Top