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How Many Dogs Is Too Many? (In-Depth Guide)

It’s always tempting to adopt another canine companion. After all, what could be better than bringing another loving pup into the family!

How many dogs is too many for a household though? Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to this; it depends on the dogs, existing family members, and your time commitments.

Why There Is No “Ideal” Number of Dogs for Every Household

How Many Dogs Is Too Many? (In-Depth Guide)

The ideal number of dogs for a household depends on a variety of factors. Some busy families may struggle to care for one dog, while others have the time and commitment to care for two or three.

Here are some factors that can affect whether getting another dog is a good idea:

  • The new dog’s age (puppies need a lot of attention, senior dogs need a lot of care), energy levels, required training, and whether they get on with other dogs.
  • Your current dog’s age, care requirements, whether they enjoy spending time with other dogs, and how they’ll be affected.
  • Your available time and circumstances, as walking, training, and giving attention to another dog are big commitments. 

Even if these factors don’t seem to be a problem, we think more than three dogs is rarely a good idea for any household. We’ll see why in the next section.

11 Reasons Why Another Dog May NOT Be A Good Idea

As many factors affect whether adopting another dog is a sensible idea, it’s easier to consider which reasons not to get one might apply to your current situation.

The reasons below can apply to a second or third dog, but many can also be used to decide whether a single dog is a good idea.

1. You’re Getting Another Dog to Keep Your Current Pet Company

Many owners worry their dog is lonely without a canine friend, but this often isn’t true.

Unlike wolves, domesticated dogs are not true “pack animals.” Instead, they rely solely on humans to meet their emotional and physical needs, not other dogs.

This doesn’t mean dogs can’t bond or take comfort from each other, but another dog is never a substitute for a human.

It’s also important to understand that there’s no guarantee a new dog will bond with your existing pet. Some dogs fight or never feel fully comfortable with each other, so getting another dog always carries a risk.

Even if dogs do bond, this is a long process that can take several years. It’s also an active process that requires continuous management and an ongoing time commitment.

For these reasons, you should only get another dog if you (and the rest of your family) want one. Don’t get another to keep your pet company.

Ultimately, getting a new dog is a big responsibility. You must be willing to meet that responsibility for every dog in the household, without relying on the dogs to provide each other with company and entertainment.

2. You Work Full Time (Or Long Hours)

Dogs are social animals and depend on humans for emotional support, attention, and love. They shouldn’t be left alone for long periods during the day, which is likely to be the case if you work long hours.

There are potential solutions, such as hiring a daily dog walker or asking family members to visit your dogs during the day. Working from home is also an option for some people.

However, it’s important to consider whether it’s fair to adopt a dog into a household where it won’t receive human contact for large portions of the day. 

You should also think about whether your working situation is likely to change in the future.

For example, if you currently work at home, will that continue forever? Or is there a chance that you’ll need to go back into the office? Dogs are long-term commitments, so it’s vital to think about potential future problems.

3. Your Existing Dog Doesn’t Enjoy Spending Time With Other Dogs

Every dog has a unique personality. While some enjoy playing or cuddling with canine friends, others get stressed or defensive when other dogs are nearby. These feelings are often worse in enclosed spaces or the dog’s home.

If your pet doesn’t tend to get on with other dogs, then it’s unfair to bring a new dog into the household. Doing so could cause a lot of stress and anxiety, while also risking fighting between the two dogs.

There’s also a misconception that dogs will just “work it out” between themselves. This isn’t the case – and can lead to owners allowing aggression between the dogs in the hope that it’ll eventually stop.

Unfortunately, some dogs simply aren’t suitable for living with other dogs.

4. You’re Too Busy to Handle The Required Training

A new dog will always need a certain level of training. This can be time-consuming, as dogs need ongoing training using positive techniques to learn a desired behaviour.

If you’re often busy and can’t dedicate the time to training your new dog, while also continuing training with your existing pets, then getting another dog probably isn’t a good idea.

Puppies often require the biggest time investment. You’ll need to handle potty training, basic cues (such as sit), and how to walk on a leash. Puppies also need constant management to ensure they don’t get into trouble. Many people underestimate (or forget) just how time-consuming a young puppy can be!

Rescue dogs often aren’t as time-consuming to train as puppies, but they still need lots of time and attention. Some rescue dogs also aren’t toilet trained, which can take time to fix. 

Keep in mind that all dogs in a multi-dog household need very strong recall and other basic cues. It’s much more difficult to control multiple dogs on a walk, so you need to know that your dogs will respond when needed.

Note: Dogs need to be trained separately at first, so they don’t fight for treats or distract each other. They’ll also need separate walks during the training process!

5. You’re Too Busy to Give Another Dog The Required Love And Attention

Many people assume that a second dog will be easier than the first. There is a small amount of truth to this, as certain tasks can be performed simultaneously for all dogs in the household.

However, as a general rule, you should expect two dogs to be double the work of one. For example, grooming, training, vet trips, and many other tasks need to be performed separately for each dog.

Most importantly, each dog needs plenty of love and attention. It’s essential that getting a new dog doesn’t decrease the amount of quality time you spend with your existing pets. As we mentioned earlier, you can’t rely on the dogs to look after each.

6. New Dog Has Different Activity Requirements Compared With Your Current Pets

A common issue when adding a new dog to the household is differing energy and activity requirements.

For example, looking after an energetic young dog when you already have a senior dog can often be difficult.

The younger dog will need longer walks and more physical exercise, which may mean you need to do separate walks. This can be very time-consuming. The more energetic dog may also want to play with the older dog more than they are willing to tolerate, leading to frustration and even fights.

Keep in mind that it’s not the responsibility of an adult dog to “teach” a puppy how to behave or play. Most dogs don’t enjoy playing with an energetic puppy, so being forced to do so can cause tension.

Related Article: How To Tell The Difference Between Fighting And Playing

7. You Enjoy a Relaxed, Clean And Quiet Household

Adding another dog to a single-dog household often doesn’t just double the number of issues – it can multiply the chaos!

For example, you might find that whenever one dog barks, it sets off the other. Two dogs may wind each other up, leading to continuous noise and boisterous play. There’s also the chance that they fight when left alone.

Aside from behvaioural issues, adding another dog to the household increases the amount of mud and hair you need to clean. There’s also a higher chance of fleas, ticks, and other parasites, as they can spread between the dogs.

Note: Do you have any other pets, such as cats or house rabbits? Just because your current dogs get along with these pets doesn’t mean a new dog will.

8. Your Current Dog(s) Has Behavioural Issues

If you’re trying to address behavioural issues in a current pet, such as chronic anxiety, excessive barking, or reactivity, then it’s probably not a good idea to add another dog to the mix. 

Behavioural issues need continuous training and patience to solve. It can be very difficult to dedicate enough time to these issues if you’re trying to help a new dog settle in.

Adding a new dog to the household can also cause stress to your current dog, which can make their behavioural issues worse.

Note: You shouldn’t try to “fix” separation anxiety by getting another dog. This rarely works and can make the situation worse.

9. Your Finances Are Tight

Adopting a second canine companion doubles most costs associated with owning a dog. These include:

  • Food
  • Vet bills
  • Grooming
  • Dog toys and chews
  • Food bowls, leashes, harnesses, and other essential items
  • Pet insurance

It’s important to be realistic about whether you can afford the extra expense. Dogs are a long-term commitment, so you should be confident that you can financially support them for their entire lifetime.

For more information, you may want to read our guide to the true cost of owning a dog.

Tip: The cost of a dog varies depending on the size and breed. If you want to keep the cost minimal, a small breed with short hair is often a good choice.

10. You Have a Small House

A small house doesn’t make it impossible to adopt a second dog, but it certainly makes things more difficult.

Smaller living spaces can feel cramped with more than one dog. This is more of an issue with bigger breeds, but smaller dogs often have a habit of getting under your feet when you least expect it.

A smaller area for your dogs also increases the risk of frustration and stress, which may lead to fights and make it harder for dogs to bond.

You also need to think about the practicalities of adopting another dog. Some questions to ask include:

  • Do you have enough space for each dog to have their own bed?
  • Can you feed the dog in separate rooms? (this is particularly important for dogs with resource guarding issues, or if one dog finishes their meal faster than the other)
  • Can you physically separate the dogs with a baby gate if required?
  • Do you have enough space for separate dog crates?
  • Do you have enough yard or garden space for another dog?

11. You Go On Regular Vacations

It’s often more difficult to find care for multiple dogs when going on vacation or a business trip.

Many dog sitters are only able to take one dog at a time. It’s also often not possible for friends and family members to look after multiple dogs, especially if you’re away on a regular basis.

Even if you can find a sitter that will care for all of your pets, an extra dog will increase the cost.

So, How Many Dogs Are Too Many?

Two dogs outdoors

We’ve already explained there’s no easy answer to “how many dogs are too many”. But for most people, the time, money, and mental energy required to look after just one dog is more than enough (although we think the love provided in return is worth it!)

If you have lots of free time and are willing to dedicate it to your pets, then a second dog can also work. But any more than two can make it hard to give your dogs the care and attention needed for the best quality of life, which should be the main focus.

Of course, there are people with enough time and dedication to provide excellent care for two or even three dogs. Whether this is a good idea or not is an individual decision, but the issues mentioned earlier can help you to decide.

What about four (or more) dogs?

In our opinion, trying to look after four dogs is almost never a good idea. Even professionals would struggle to keep up with the training, care, costs, and time commitment of having this many dogs.


It can be hard to decide how many dogs are too many, as there are lots of things to consider.

The key is focus on your pet’s wellbeing and whether you can meet all of their needs. Ask questions like:

  • Can you provide the new dog with the care, attention, and love they deserve?
  • Will you have enough time to train your new and current pets?
  • Will getting another dog reduce the amount of quality time you can spend with your current pets? 
  • Is getting another dog fair on your current dog?
  • Do you have enough space for another dog?
  • Can you afford another dog?
  • Have you given yourself enough time to consider all the potential issues, or are you getting another dog on an impulse?

We hope this article has helped you decide how many dogs is too many for your household. If you have any questions, please let us know in the comments section below.


Richard Cross

Richard is a journalist who specialises in dog behavior. He's written hundreds of articles and books related to dogs, including for the Continental Kennel Club, Dog Fest (the UK's biggest dog festival) and various veterinary surgeries. When he's not spending time with Jess and Rudy (his beloved Labrador and Golden Retrievers), he enjoys reading, hiking and watching sports.
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