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As an offshoot from a recent thread about adding dogs, I thought I'd pose a question that has been on my mind for a while. I have a foster right now that I'm really falling for and DH might be as well and it's made me really wonder about the realities of 3 dogs longterm. My current two are a great match and play really well with each other, but in the future I do want to add a 3rd (whether that's now or later remains to be seen).

 

What changes have you guys seen going to 3, 5, 7, etc. that you didn't see at 2, 4, 6, etc. - good? bad?

 

How do dogs play when you have an odd number? Do they alternate playing, do they all play together? Is someone routinely left out?

 

I know adding a third will add in more costs for care and training as well as additional time (the current foster is a 4.5mo pup so he adds a TON more work), so what I'm really asking is specifics related to how the animals "fit" as a group since that's my biggest unknown. I've only had this foster and one other with both girls (lots of fosters when I just had Maggie); the last foster stayed about 5 weeks and this little boy has been here only since Thursday night.

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Hey Erin,

I don't think it's numbers so much as personalities when it comes to interactions among dogs, like playing. If I have just two out in the yard and they're two who would normally play together, they will play. If I put a third dog out who also willingly plays with either of the other two, all three will play, with the heaviest bouts of one-on-one playing seeming to alternate. If I put a playful dog out with two non-playful dogs, the playful dog might actually get one of the nonplayful dogs to play, but might not. I was shocked the day we had our "big snow" to see Twist, who generally doesn't play much with the other dogs, except at the end of our walks when she'll play a bit with Lark and especially Pip, playing up a storm with Swift (not a household member but here for a couple of months), especially since Twist is most likely to play with a male vs. a female.

 

Some dogs just have a knack of getting others to play/interact with them. Some play too rough for some of their packmates, but not for others. I don't really think you have to worry so much about the "odd man out" thing because usually pack interactions are very fluid, and so while you may see two playing one time and "excluding" the other, it's just as likely that a different two will play at another time.

 

If your two current dogs get along well with your current foster, then I think the rest will work itself out just fine.

 

J.

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I agree with Julie. It's the personality and how everyone gets along.

 

I had told myself, if we got a 3rd dog, it was going to be a red & white, split face, rough coat male. Then chance stepped up and Josie came into our lives. (Well, at least we got the rough coat part.) We had a couple of r&w's come over but JJ & Jake were instantly put off and didn't like them. When Josie first walked into the house, the boys instantly liked her. In fact, Jake is so in love with Josie, he would get mad at JJ if he tried to play with her. They've worked things out and now all 3 can play together. Josie is usually the center of attention which is good. Jake has more energy than JJ but when he gets tired of playing with Josie, JJ can 'take over'.

 

Don't think about the odd number. They'll work it out. What counts is how he fits in.

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More than 2 is hard in some public places. Now when I go into a pet store I generally only take 1 dog with me and the rest stay home or in the car.

 

Vacation is also harder with more than 2. Some relatives are not so eager to see you coming with an entire pack :rolleyes: Hotels are harder to find that take more than 1 or 2 medium sized dogs. Activities are harder as well. Some cities are very dog friendly and allow dogs in shops, but three is pushing it. Some camp grounds also have a cap on the number of dogs, generally 2 is the limit.

 

I don't think it's harder to have more than 2 in the house, unless noisy, physical play bugs you. The more dogs you have the more likely it is that 2 will be playing with each other. On that note, I don't think 3 creates an odd man out as long as 2 are not ganging up on the third all the time.

 

Living with 2 vs more than 2 is harder in an apartment. Remember, you only have 2 hands so walking dogs plus cleaning up after them becomes a challenge.

 

The most I have had at one time is 9 (2 adults, 7 pups). The most adults I have had is 5 (4 of my own and 1 foster). I do not regret having as many dogs as I do but it is a very different lifestyle. I always have to think about the dogs, plan for their care, budget for their expenses, etc. It's like having kids. Before, when I just had 2 dogs, I was a "normal" person with pets. Now I am a crazy dog lady :D

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I personally found it easier going from 2 to 3, than I when we went from 1 to 2. I didn't know it going in, but Alex turned out to be a perfect fit with Lilly and Jack, personality wise. From the beginning they most always play together. If someone is left out, it's because of their own wishes, like they'd rather chew a bone or bring a ball to me to throw. It's a lot of fun watching the three of them together!

 

One added benefit for me, is that with three dogs, if I'm only taking one with me, the other two are home together. Even if they're just sleeping on the bed together, at least they've got company.

 

Soooo, who's the foster? :rolleyes:

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Thanks for all the input already guys - it's REALLY helpful and has given me a lot more confidence no matter what I end up doing now or down the line. The more info the better I figure.

 

Given the input so far, my biggest concerns right now are that 1. he's SUCH a puppy that the girls are having to tell him off a TON (he's not "getting" it as quickly as we'd all like) and 2. timing as far as my plans (figured I'd wait *at least* another year before adding another dog; Z just turned 2 and is still training for SAR and next addition is going to need to have SAR potential as well, but our team only allows one uncertified dog per handler in trainings).

 

One blessing is that it's only been 3 days and he is settling in better than the last foster did with the girls (took about a week or two to get where we are now with this boy). Don't even know at this point what DH is truly thinking on an addition, but it's worth thinking about the inherent issues regardless.

 

Paula, the foster is this little guy, Laddy:

IMG_5079.jpg

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Yikes! He reminds me of a little Skittles :rolleyes:

 

OK, what is the little guys name??

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He's a sharp looking little guy!

 

A slightly different perspective here. If you're looking for another potential SAR dog, do you have the time to train him and prep him on your own until you get Ziva certified?

 

For me, I've alwys felt like the best thing for me to do was focus on certifying one dog before moving on to the next. I am new at this, my dog is new at this and we both have alot to learn. I feel like I want to work through the process (and the mistakes) and learn all I can before starting again from scratch. In the overall picture I think that I have a much better working relationship with Kipp because I have the opportunity to really focus on him, his training needs and issues that arise, and not spliting my time between him and another trainee.

 

Good luck with your decision!

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Personally, I find 3 to be the perfect number. Don't get me wrong - I don't want to lose any of my 4 dogs in the near future - but when I only have 3 of them around for some reason, things just seem a heck of a lot easier!

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Eriin,

He's a cutie! I'd sure have a hard time resisting him. As an offshoot of Maralynn's comments,how long generally does it take to train SAR work to certification? He's such a little guy I can't imagine you'd be doing sAR training with him anytime soon anyway, but Maralynn's right, you would want to consider whether you'd have the time to put into Z if you had him too. Of course, you can always try to talk hubby into making the little tyke his and put both of *them* in SAR training! :rolleyes:

 

J.

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Yea Maralynn that thought had crossed my mind too - it's the main reason that I wasn't planning on getting another dog for a year or so. Currently I think it'll be about another year before Z can be certified so that would mean he'd be just about 16 mo before we could start training with the team. If I just did some puppy runaways and worked on toy drive, leave it, and other basic skills at home, he'd probably be just fine; I wouldn't even want to start runaways for at least a couple months I would think. Thoughts?

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I have 4 and find that my dogs do stuff in 3's meaning that if it's yard quarding Maddie is left out but, if it's play time Genie's not interested. Otherwise it think it's probably harder to add a second.

 

My parents now have 7 between them. The oldest is 8 and the youngest is 2 and they all seem to have quirky personalities. They get along most days but, we get periods of time where their will be instability in pack order and they will squabble.

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Yea Maralynn that thought had crossed my mind too - it's the main reason that I wasn't planning on getting another dog for a year or so. Currently I think it'll be about another year before Z can be certified so that would mean he'd be just about 16 mo before we could start training with the team. If I just did some puppy runaways and worked on toy drive, leave it, and other basic skills at home, he'd probably be just fine; I wouldn't even want to start runaways for at least a couple months I would think. Thoughts?

 

I think your senario could work, and you could end up with a dog that you just need to plug search skills into when you're ready to start training.

 

But here is my 2 cents-

 

I've already decided that my next SAR dog will either be a puppy of known breeding or a young adult dog where I know what type of adult behavior I'll be getting (though I'd probably take a bouncing off the wall pup if the temperment seemed solid). So are you pretty confident that this pup will have the temperment/drive needed for SAR as an adult? If he mellows a bit with age, will that change his working potential? How would this affect your situation down the road? And if he has plenty of drive for the job, how are you going to channel that drive while you're waiting to start training with your team?

 

If I was raising a SAR pup, I'd be doing no pressure, fun nose games (like runaways) a few times a week. I'd want that pup to know that finding the person was the best game in the world. Sure it can be done with an adult (and pretty easily with the right dog), but I'd want to shape the idea as much as possible that using the nose to find people is highly rewarded and tons of fun. IMO, a 5 m/o is plenty old enough to start some basic scent work with along with you other training basics.

 

I seriously thought about getting another dog last summer, then again this winter. I didn't, and it allowed me to spend more time with Kipp and working on some issues he had. If I had another dog to work, my time would have been divided and I might have considered washing him from training since I had a plan B. But since all I had to work with was Kipp, I worked through some issues I had with him. I've learned alot through it and have been very satisfied when I see the progress Kipp has made.

 

If you're not 100% sure that this is the perfect dog for you and your goals, just foster him. Enjoy your training journey with Z and your learning process. You are in a great position to find a sutible dog when the time is right.

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Interesting comments about multiple dogs. It seems the 3 girls we have go places together nicely. The boy stays home most of the time. If we add another dog it would be another girl. We do plan to add a pup in the next few months. Then in about a year or so maybe a Border Collie from a friend of ours. We currently have Aussies and they are my favorites so far. I've had dogs all my life but mostly cross bred dogs who are just for companionship. The stock work is fun but very challenging for me. Hope to not ruin my dogs with my inept commands and training. N

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I think 3 is a great number. We had three for several years before adding #4. Who was younger, and then somehow led to #5.

 

We have done a lot of fostering, and have had as many as 8 adult dogs at once. Plus puppies, because we're crazy. The pack does change, but it's pretty fluid anyway. Right now, my littlest girl does a lot of posturing, partly to try to assert herself, and partly to annoy the others, I'm sure. (She'll deliberately stand over one of the the other lower ranking ones, who usually doesn't really care, but asserts herself when necessary.)

 

Anyway, 3 is a great number. All 5 of mine will play sometimes, but it's usually in pairs or 3s. 'Cause grumpy-butt doesn't play much.

 

Of course, at this point, what's another? And since I've got 5, perhaps I'm not the best to be giving advice here. (Mine are mostly spaced out, but paired, ie ages 12, 6, 5, 2 and 1.)

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I'm thinking of adding another pup and was wondering the same thing with the 3 factor. I once had 6. Everything was peachy until the youngest dog decided she wanted to move up the pecking order. Then I had fights between 2 of the 6.

Both bitches, of course.

 

Bliss is my drop out foster dog. I kept her because my Mom likes her. I like her, too. But she isn't my type of dog. She's just not quirky enough for me. She plays a little bit with Usher, but not much. Doesn't fetch. Just the most laid back Border Collie I've seen.

 

So, I've seen them get along in all numbers. It just depends on their personalities. Good luck with Laddy if you decide to keep him.

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I agree with a lot of what's been said. Honestly, my guys are rarely on leash, and even that's usually just a single dog - Pith if there are strangers around, going in and out of the vet, etc. But if you are having to leash them all, it can be a hassle. That's really at any number over 2 though. Is that a reason not to add a third or fourth? Not unless the dogs are going to constantly be on leash all at the same time. Even then, you can get into a routine with three leashed dogs pretty easily for walks. Reece, Pith, and Kodah all know their "spot" (left to right, Kodah, Pith, Reece) for leashed walks, but they walk in front of me on semi-taunt leashes or else I'd probably end up tangled in a leash and break a leg.

 

With playing together and odd-man-outs, Reece is the oldest and he really doesn't play with any of the other dogs. You'll see random bouts of interest, but they don't last long and they're restricted to the two oldest dogs behind him, Pith & Kodah. He played a lot with Pith when he was younger and played with toys all the time. That seemed to stop around the time that the original #3, Parker, came along, but that was also about when Reece hit a year old. I do wonder sometimes if he would have held onto those behaviors if it was only him and Pith or if this is just the personality he was destined to have. Reece didn't love Parker, so having a third dog that he was more into might have helped.

 

Pith, Kodah, Duma, and Tweed, however, are play-whores. It doesn't seem to matter what dog it is...they wrestle. Right now, it's the constant change over between Pith, Tweed, Summit (foster), Misha (foster), Duma, and Kodah. It's like tag-team WWF. One gets tired, another one jumps in. Then there are the pile-ons where there are 3+ wrestling at the same time. Two weeks ago, you had two other foster girls in on the mix. Wrestle Mania never sounded so appropriate. Rarely do I see a dog, my own or a foster, sitting on the sidelines looking like they're being left out (unless they're not the type to play with other dogs).

 

Kodah started his actual "puppy class" for SAR at about 4.5-5 months old. That was pretty standard with that group, though there were dogs starting all the way up to 2 years. You'll learn a lot going through the process with Z, and most likely figure out things you want to do differently the next time. That's a reason to not start training two at the same time.

 

Another consideration: do you want your two working SAR dogs to be this close in age? Regardless of when you start little Laddy, age is often times the deciding factor on when to retire a dog or start cutting back on the length and types of searches they're doing. I think Z's a little older than I'm remembering (time flies...I still can't believe Kodah's 5), so maybe there's more of a difference between them. But having a wider gap in ages between your two working dogs can be nice. As one is getting close to retirement, the younger dog is still going strong.

 

That's all assuming that Laddy has the drive and temperament you want for SAR. I know if you decide to keep him, it won't matter if he excels at SAR or if it's not his thing. But if you really WANT #3 to do SAR work, that's a factor to keep in mind. There are always going to be fosters that you fall in love with and can see staying forever. You don't have to keep each one that falls into this category. You generally CAN'T keep every dog like that, unless you want a huge pack of dogs. :rolleyes:

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Yea I'm very much in the "wait and see" mode now that the initial "aww he's such a cute puppy" feelings are fading lol.

The thoughts and suggestions I've gotten thus far have been *gold* and have really reminded me of a few things I need to remember.

 

The constant management of him with my other two may well be the deciding factor as I'm still having a TON of trouble showing him that when one of the girls growls it means "back the heck off" - no one's been hurt or scared in any way, but my house is a lot noisier and he's just not getting it so Z especially has been on the run from him a lot (she's *finally* figured out if she runs to me I'll fend him off thankfully). We've started doing timeouts when he really pesters Z - at least he's starting to "get it" with Maggie unless he's totally wound up and doing zoomies.

 

From what I've seen so far, he has a lot of the qualities I want in my next dog: uber-confident (which has the above drawbacks lol), bold, high energy, toy crazy (esp tug and his wubba but also balls), comfortable on all sorts of surfaces, good bounce back (if he even reacts), etc. He's also teaching me that I for *sure* am not going to be getting a baby puppy as it's a ton of work to keep up with him and he's already 4-5 mo (I think he's on the low end of that myself); if I get a pup to do SAR with it'll be a dog at least his age from rescue that shows potential.

 

Courtney, Z just turned 2 the first week of March so they're close in age but not super close. Z's doing wilderness live search (haven't decide air scent or tracking yet) and I'm thinking that my next dog I may try to do cadaver (or disaster if we had the ability to train on it around herewith so they might not even be in the same searches. The overlap was one reason I was really thinking of waiting until Z was 3 to get another dog, though I'm not sure if a year makes that big of a difference in the long run, once the next closest dog is an adult. Z started SAR training at 17 mo and I know teammates who've started at 12 weeks, but I really do think I want him to mature a bit if I keep him before getting uber serious in training.

 

I was reflecting last night on this whole issue and it really hit home that one of the reasons I'm thinking about this *now* is that I know in about 6 years we're going to want to start a family and that will greatly curtail my dog activities. To have all our dogs as well trained adults when that family expansion occurs, I know we will be adding a 3rd sometime between now and 2012. Maggie's 9.5yo now so she's pretty much our family pet with a little therapy work and agility for fun, Z's my active sport and working dog (agility and SAR). I do miss having a "puppy" in the house now that Z's 2, but I also know that DH has said that 3 dogs and a cat is our pet limit so the next dog will be the only addition for a number of years unless somehow his mind changes on that. *sigh* so many things t think about - I'm soooo lucky to have you all to bounce ideas off of.

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