How Many Dogs Are Too Many?

Just the other day one of my neighbors was discussing getting another dog with her family…one of the kids got it in her head that she needed another dog.

Personally I think it is a bad idea.

But this brings up a good point–just how many dogs (or pets) are too many?

There are a lot of opinions on this topic but from a behavioral perspective there are a few considerations to ponder.

First, there are laws on the books concerning how many dogs you can legally have per parcel or residence.

In this area it is three–and my neighbor already has reached this limit so adding an additional pet would be a violation of the local ordinance.

Next, you have to consider how much attention you can give to each pet. The more animals you have the less attention they individually receive from you.

There are also dynamics between the animals that come into play. The average pet owner incorrectly interferes with this.

Many times the hierarchical structure between the animals isn’t recognized correctly by the pet owner and so can escalate issues between dogs.

For instance, a new puppy gets lots of attention but when owners incorrectly interfere with the older dogs who are reprimanding, or warning, the puppy when she gets out of hand or too rough it creates stress in all the dogs.

There are a variety of other answers to this question but I need to mention that I see more serious behavior issues when there are more than three dogs.

You can see it building.

For instance, one of my past clients began rescuing dogs and when she got up to five she hit the boiling point. I warned her that she was dancing on the edge of disaster.

She ignored me (free will and all) and then began experiencing serious dog fights. This could have been prevented by limiting the animals within the household.

Many professionals can maintain large groups of animals–but they are not the average pet owners and many also have trouble at one time or another.

Most also have staff or volunteers to help manage the critters!

Animals need quality attention, ample exercise, good health care, and more to be healthy and happy critters. Collecting too many animals can make meeting all those needs impossible.

When you have more than one or two animals the work load increases.

Personally, I think it is more humane to maintain less animals in your home and fill the need to nurture by getting involved in volunteering for animal rescue groups or shelters.

So my answer?

Less is more enjoyable and healthier when it comes to the mental and physical health of animals within one household.

Ultimately you must decide how many critters you can manage. It will often depend on your personal household situation, amount of free time, financial constraints, and a lot more.

When all else fails, take a look at the local laws of how many critters you can have and stay below the limit.

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