There are both risks and benefits to group housing, however, with appropriate Individual Animal Planning, these risks can be minimized. It is also important to remember and take into consideration the age and sex of the dogs, their behavioural assessment, and their health status. Compatibility is the key to success when housing multiple dogs together.
Group housing could include a mother with nursing/weaning puppies or a bonded pair (eg. came from the same family or bonded puppies from the same litter).
Note: Intact animals of breeding age should not be housed together, nor should unfamiliar/unrelated dogs that have not had a health and behavioural assessment completed.
Benefits of group housing include:
- Positive interaction with other animals
- Play and exercise
- Physical connection
- Enriched and varied environment
Risks of group housing include:
- Infectious disease exposure
- Injuries from fighting
- Potential of stress, fear, and anxiety in some members of the group
- Makes monitoring of individual animals more difficult
- Incidences of bullying
When housing multiple dogs together it is essential to include the following:
- Appropriate distribution of resources (food, water, bedding, toys) to prevent competition or guarding and allow access by all being housed together
- Adequate space for urination and defecation
- Adequate space for each individual dog. In comparison to the minimum required space of 18sq ft/cat, there is no minimum space required for dogs. The space must, however, be large enough for each individual dog to express normal behaviours and maintain social distances from one another
- Trained staff to identify early and subtle signs of stress, as well as prevent negative interactions from occurring and/or escalating
Find more information at Canadian Standards of Care in Animal Shelters: Supporting ASV Guidelines, section on Group Housing