So you’ve now got more than one dog and you’re well on your way to fulfilling your childhood dream of becoming a Professional Dog Enthusiast. Congratulations!
You’ve probably got a lot of questions about how having two (or more) dogs differs significantly from having just one.
One of the most common questions vets get from multiple dog owners is whether more than one dog needs more than one crate.
Aren’t dogs used to sleeping together in a den? you might ask.
Isn’t that where the term “puppy pile” came from?
Here’s the scoop.
Do Multiple Dogs Need Multiple Crates?
The short answer to this question is yes, it’s generally better for each dog in a household to have his own crate. There are, as always, exceptions to this rule. Littermates tend to be more receptive to sharing a crate, for example, as are small dogs.
It’s almost never advisable for more than two dogs to share a single crate.
Let’s talk about why dogs need crates in the first place. Crates are a “safe place” for dogs. That’s why you should never punish your dog by making him go to his crate. The crate is your dog’s nest, his happy spot, his retreat from the world.
Having another dog in your crate with you can feel intrusive if you’re a dog. This is particularly true if the two dogs occasionally have personality clashes, or if one dog tends to be more aggressive than the other.
Separate Crates vs. Shared Crates for Dogs
If you plan on crating your dog(s) while you’re out of the house, such as while you’re at work during the day, you’re best off with individual crates for each dog. This allows each dog to go about his day the way he wants, sleeping, playing, and otherwise hanging out on his own schedule.
Even if dogs are crated separately, it’s a good idea to place their crates in the same room so they can keep each other company.
When two dogs share a crate while their owner is away, they’re trapped. If one dog becomes unexpectedly aggressive, for example, the other dog can’t retreat. Multiple dogs in one crate can create an unsafe situation if not monitored properly.
Again, there are exceptions to this rule. Very young puppies tend to do fine when crated together, but they also shouldn’t be left alone in their crates for extended periods of time. (A good rule of thumb is one hour for every month of a dog’s age.)
Another exception is nighttime crating. Some multi-dog households can get away with two dogs in a singular crate at night because behavior during that period is pretty predictable. Some dogs find snuggling up to sleep against another dog quite cozy! It’s best to let your dogs guide this process…if they whine to be near one another in the crate at night, try things out with the crate door unlatched so they can get out if necessary.
At the end of the day, you want your dogs’ crates to be their favorite spots in the house. If they like to share a crate and they’re both on the same page, having a singular crate can be magical. If there’s even the slightest resistance from one dog, though, it’s best to split them up.