What is fair when it comes to living with more than one dog?
It’s increasingly common for people to live in households with more than one dog. And I often hear my clients raise concerns about being fair to both or all dogs.
They are worried that it’s not FAIR that one dog is having 1:1 training walks for example, or another gets to ride in the car because he’s not yet able to stay home without distress. It’s easy to think we somehow need to compensate the dog who doesn’t get 1:1 walks, or the one who is left at home for short periods.
But what is actually the case is that it’s not EQUAL.
It’s really important not to mix up the concepts of 'fair' and 'equal' when living in a multi-dog household, not least for your peace of mind as the owner.
To use an extreme example, if I were to give a Great Dane & a Chihuahua an ‘equal’ amount of food – it certainly wouldn’t be ‘fair’. I’d end up with either a very hungry Great Dane or a very fat Chihuahua. To be ‘fair’ in this example would be to ensure that each dog gets the amount of food that they need to meet their own requirements.
And I can of course extend this to consider exercise, training, play, social contact, rest and so on.
If I gave Pip, my 13-year-old arthritic, blind dog an equal amount of exercise to 3 year old Loki, he’d be lame for days. What's fair is to give them each the amount of exercise to suit their own needs.
So that’s the crux of it really. If you own more than one dog and are worried about being ‘fair’ – It’s far more important to consider what each dog needs as an individual to have the best possible quality of life in that moment.
So stop beating yourself up, and go play with your dogs!
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