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Multiple dogs watched at one time?

asked 2014-12-31 10:01:19 -0500

Hi , just wanted to know how many sitters watch more than a few dogs at a time and have they had any problems with dogs getting along with each other. such as food aggression. The reason I ask is during meet and greets, most owners say my dog is fine with any dog no problems

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No owner should ever say that!! Because they do not know the other dog(s). With my dog its a dog by dog basis, every meeting takes place on neutral territory preferrably outdoors where there won't be any personal space for either to protect. They like and dislike one another, same as humans

Susan C.'s profile imageSusan C. ( 2016-11-02 19:08:00 -0500 )edit

I have a dog myself so I usually only watch one dog at a time. The only time I will take multiple dogs is when I have sat the dogs before and am confident they'll get along. Like Susan, I have the dogs meet outside and take a walk together. This works extremely well and simulates a pack mentality

Amanda W.'s profile imageAmanda W. ( 2018-01-09 09:54:14 -0500 )edit

16 Answers

7
answered 2015-01-02 12:33:14 -0500

Was excited to see this thread as it's something I wrestle with. I've been sitting for 10+ years, but only recently began to broaden my client base. With it came more requests for overlapping bookings. I have done several double bookings recently but each time I do it, I'm reminded why I don't particularly care for it.

Most of the dogs I board are very people oriented, and they tend to get very attached to me. Even if the dogs get along with each other, there are times I need to separate them, and then our house is filled with complaints (i.e. barking, whining, howling) from the other. This is the greatest negative for me.

I haven't found food aggression to be a problem, but I don't really give it room to happen. The food goes down at mealtimes and they eat until it's gone OR until time is up. After that, the food goes away. I'm more concerned that the dogs eat their own food and not each other's, than I am about food aggression. Toys and bones a bit more difficult to manage, so while I hate for them to loose the stimulation, I generally put those items away when the dogs are together.

Walks are also hugely impacted by double booking. Walks are extremely important to me, but it can be a pain walking multiple dogs. Several weeks ago, I had a 65+lb Black Mouth Cur, a 80lb Golden Retriever, and a 100+lb Anatolian. While their leash manners were generally good enough that I could have walked them all together, I wasn't comfortable walking 250lbs of dog past squirrels and other dogs, so I had to take two separate walks each day. Even dogs that are generally good on leash can get jumpy when you add a dog.

The long and short? Double booking is a bit like musical chairs and generally pretty chaotic. Those who do it more often probably find it easier, though. Unfortunately, double booking is the only thing that will really drive your revenue up...

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4
answered 2015-01-04 13:09:24 -0500

I only take small dogs, so I have had up to five dogs (including mine) at a time with no problems. I do introductions very slowly with high supervision and direction, encouraging them to play nicely, and it usually works out great. Only once did it not work out, but then I just used baby gates to keep two groups separated from each other and managed that carefully. We have a separate fenced front yard and back yard, so we have a pretty good set up for separating dogs if we need to. I never leave dogs alone together, period. If I have to shower or leave the house for any time, I crate everybody. Also, since they are small, I can walk them all at once, or in two groups if they aren't friendly. It really depends on the situation. I actually don't introduce my dog to the visitors at the meet and greet, because I know that she will act badly at first, but she always comes around and accepts the dogs with a bit of time. When a new Rover guest comes to the house, I crate my dog and all other visitors for at least the first hour, then slowly start trying introductions. If it doesn't work at first, I try again in a few hours, or even the next day. It seems to always work out if I am careful and patient, and give the dogs direction, praise, and treats for being nice to each other. I do have to be right there though, no walking away to do other things, a fight can break out very quickly if you stop paying attention to their body language, so it's more work with more dogs (of course). Be right there if you start hearing any snarling, give everybody a break, try again later. Anyway, that's what works for me, and it's been great so far.

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4
answered 2015-03-15 23:29:05 -0500

I double book all the time. I have to if I'm going to pay the bills:) I find that I have these easiest time doing this when I have watched the same dogs multiple times. Now when I get requests if I have watched the dog before I know their temperment and how they get along with other dogs thus I know if its ok to book another dog. That being said I always do a meet and greet with new dogs so they can meet my dog and any guests I have. If they are fine with my dog, then most likely they will be with other dogs too. I rely on the owner to be honest and up front about any issues their dog may have and for the most part in the 30+ dogs I have watched I have only had two that did not get along with the other dog or just get along with my dog only so I only book them if I don't have other dogs booked. For example: I have 5 dogs this weekend, two of which I have watched several times and they love being around other dogs and the 1st time sits are smaller dogs and they all did well at the meet and greet. I think what you have to gauge when you meet and greet a new dog is their behavior. Are they calm, or do they seem anxious and bark a lot? Do they growl or seem afraid of your dog? You know it will be a good match if the dog is calm, reacts to any other dogs you have there by sniffing behinds and letting the other dogs sniff it's behind which shows they are comfortable with the other dogs and. If they are calm and friendly with your dog(s) they most likely will be fine with other dogs that are staying at the same time as their sit too. Dogs are very social and love being around their kind. I think we humans tend to worry too much and the dogs sense that and that is when problems occur. If you have a dog that gets into a very excited state, remove them from the pack until they calm down. I'm telling you it works. I have had up to 7 dogs all together in my yard and they all just hang out and enjoy each others company. And, many day care centers will have up to 20 or 25 dogs together. It depends on how comfortable you are with the number of dogs you have. If having more than one or two makes you a little nervous and uncomfortable, then don't do it until you gain some experience watching more and more dogs, and eventually you will start to get a feel for them and be ok having more:

However, even though the dogs get along, I would ALWAYS separate them when feeding just to be safe... (more)

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1
answered 2015-11-30 00:29:31 -0500

If I had to "occasionally" head to the vet, I would have to rethink sitting. I just find that comment very scary, and the "no dog has ever gotten REALLY hurt" . 5 dogs may be a bit to much to handle. I'm sorry, but i'm just thinking about the wounded animals in those situations.

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answered 2015-01-01 20:02:02 -0500

I have 2 of my own and will take up to three guests at a time. i feed them alone until I get to know them. It is not worth the aggravation of feeding them all together. You will get to know the problems. Try to keep the dogs from packing up in narrow halls. They get bunched up and one is bound to get nervous. It is impossible to dog sit without an occasional trip to the vet, but the meet and greet is so important. I have had a few minor nips and small fights, but no dog has ever gotten really hurt.

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Is it really "It is impossible to dog sit without an occasional trip to the vet", I can't imagine how hard that must be for you! Is this because your guests fight and hurt each other?

Tony B.'s profile imageTony B. ( 2015-03-11 21:00:39 -0500 )edit
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answered 2014-12-31 11:49:15 -0500

Hi David -

I take in two guest dogs at a time and have two of my own, so I'll have up to a group of four here. Currently the two dogs I'm watching are from different households. I'm actually watching them all wrestle in the next room and I couldn't have hoped for a more compatible group. Group dynamics get weird when you start increasing the number of dogs, and there's always the possibility of the group targeting one dog. In my case, I'll require all the dogs to meet before agreeing to sit them at the same time. First I'll introduce my own dogs to the guests, then allow them to mingle as a group. Most minor problems will sort themselves out quickly, with a little direction from the humans around, such as enforcing a rest period when someone gets a little bratty or overwhelmed. Even with the best socialized dogs, there are always going to be some individuals that just don't get along well, so I'd be hesitant to house multiple dogs without having them meet first (the exception being if I knew one or both dogs well enough to predict their reactions).

Instead of just asking a blanket "is your dog good with other dogs?" you may get better results asking more specific questions, like "what is your dog's favorite/least favorite way to play?" and "what kind of behaviors does your dog find annoying from other dogs?" People are less willing to say anything negative about their dog's habits, but they'll be happy to point out what other dogs do that is less than ideal, and if the dogs you're going to house can't all meet beforehand, this will give you a better idea which ones will enjoy each other's company.

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answered 2015-01-02 00:01:30 -0500

I will take in two dogs, in addition to my own, but have accepted a third for short periods of overlapping time. I do have to know all the dogs before I will accept a third in order to make an assessment about their ability to all get along. I've only had one instance in which one dog didn't get along with the other two and I had to keep them separated, which is fairly easy as I can divide up the space with baby gates. Most of the time I will separate all the food bowls into different rooms and will monitor the situation, especially when I know a dog is the type to go for another's food. In that latter situation, I will never leave food out for grazing purposes.

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answered 2015-02-02 08:12:28 -0500

I prefer to keep only 2 dogs (or households) at a time, purely for my own sanity and the pets safety. I have had up to three families stay at once, 5 dogs including mine, and I've never really had any aggression between dogs. As a rule, all dogs are introduced through a baby gate, if that goes well, we move to the back yard and do an on leash intro, this system works welk fir me and always works...at least for me. Everyone is fed seperately (in crates or playpens if needed) personal toys are never allowed out with the group, as mine doesn't share well. I have a ton of community toys and have only had to pick them up once due to toy aggression. Overall I have been lucky and have not had to keep guests sesperate unless not being directly supervised, then I just close the baby gates/crates/playpens. As your client base grows and you have repeat bookings you will get to know the dogs personalities, like "booboo hates having his butt sniffed" etc and most problems can be nipped in the bud before they become a big deal. Its mainly just staying calm and learning to read the dogs body language, most issues can be spotted before any accidents happen.

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answered 2015-04-30 00:17:46 -0500

I have two dogs and accept up to five others. I only take dogs 40lbs or less and prefer really 20 lbs or less if I have a full house. The new dog is brought into my yard first and leash removed. The owner and I chat while the new dog sniffs all the smells. After about 10 mins I introduce the first dog. I always choose the one with highest energy first. This tends to help get the first nervousness and energy lowered. After the first two seem calmer, I bring the next one out, etc. Playtime is always outside. In the house, they usually just get up on couches and chairs to rest. I keep two play pens in my main room so I can separate pups without isolating them. Calmer pups outside pens, more active, high energy dogs inside pens. (Like a time out) lol. Feeding is always done with them separated and then EVERYONE outside immediately after because they will poo within 30 mins of eating. If one doesn't poo, I put leash on them and walk them in a circle. This sends a message to their brain to poo. Sleeping arrangements are done according to personalities. Again using my pens to separate the high energy dogs. Hope this helped!

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answered 2015-08-29 00:26:01 -0500

You have to assess what you are comfortable with for your own situation. We have a very small ranch house on a slab with no basement, no upstairs, no laundry room to separate with. For that reason & my stress levels, we only watch 2 dogs at a time from the same household. I might consider 3 from the same household if they are small if the opportunity presents itself. Right now, most of my business is sitting at client's homes, so limiting the dogs in my home isn't an issue.

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