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According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, almost 40% of U.S. households have a dog. Of the households, about 30% own more than one dog. Crate training is also becoming more popular, especially now that more people are aware of the benefits of crate training their dogs.
Due to the often high cost of a crate and the space that they take up, many owners may be wondering if they can crate their pups together.
But can dogs share a crate?
Dogs can share a crate, but it is not usually recommended unless it is for the benefit of both dogs. If you opt to crate your dogs together, you must ensure that the crate is large enough and that both dogs enjoy being crated together. Certain dogs may benefit from being crated with another dog.
In the article below, we’ll dive into the pros and cons of crate sharing, and when it is OK to do (and not OK to do). We’ll also discuss whether it’s possible to crate train two dogs in the same crate, and why that might not be the best idea.
Multiple dogs can share the same crate; however, it is not usually advised unless it is for the benefit of the two dogs. In most cases, each dog should have their own personal crate.
For dogs who share crates, the crate should still be large enough that each dog has plenty of space to get up, turn around, and fully stretch out. Multiple puppies can generally share a crate together, but for adult dogs there should usually be no more than two dogs per crate unless they are only crated for very short periods of time or in emergency situations and another crate is not available.
The dogs who are crated with each other should be very familiar with one another, and there should be no history of aggression or threatening behavior between the two.
Unfamiliar dogs should NEVER be crated together, and dogs who are injured or ill should be kept in a separate crate even if they are normally OK with being crated with another dog in the household.
Pros & Cons Of Crate Sharing
There are some pros and cons of crate sharing, and the most important thing to keep in mind is that whether two dogs can share a crate is very dependent on the individual dog and situation.
For anxious or fearful dogs, having a “roommate” in their crate might help ease their anxieties. Sharing the crate with another dog might give them a sense of safety and security, especially if the second dog is more confident and comfortable.
I have seen this with my own group of dogs. My eldest German Shepherd has always struggled with separation anxiety and was a known escape artist from all kinds of crates. As he continues to age, he has developed additional anxious behaviors due to a normal decline in cognitive processes. This has led to more generalized anxiety about being alone, especially at night or when I have to leave the house for an extended period of time.
I discovered that crating him with one of his sisters (whom he shares a very close bond with and who frequently acts as a source of comfort for him) helped eliminate his anxiety and escape attempts completely. The two share a crate at night and when I am gone, and there have been no attempts at escape and both dogs appear much more relaxed when they are crated together versus separately.
I did ensure that the crate is large and spacious enough that both dogs can have separate areas if they want, but most of the time they are very happy to lay directly up against one another!
Con: Resource Guarding May Develop
One of the biggest cons to crate sharing is that certain dogs might develop resource guarding issues over the crate or items within the crate. They may be fine with their sibling dog outside of the crate but become bullies once they are both within the crate.
They can guard certain corners and spaces of the crate, any blankets or toys within the crate, or even try to prevent the other dog from entering the crate in the first place. This resource guarding can happen even if the two dogs were previously fine with each other and can pop up at any time.
If nipped in the bud quickly enough, it can usually be resolved but for safety reasons, you may need to begin crating each dog separately.
In the video below, you’ll see the dog resource guarding her crate. While in this video the resource guarding is aimed at a person, the same behaviors can be seen when dogs are resource guarding a crate or space against another dog.
Pro: Space Saving
Crates can be quite big and bulky, and they can definitely take up quite a bit of space (especially if you live in an apartment or you have larger dogs). By crating two dogs in the same crate, you do not need to have as much space set aside in your home.
This is also helpful if you use a crate to transport your dogs in your vehicle. Being able to place them both in the same crate in your car means you can get away with a smaller vehicle rather than a larger SUV, and the crate won’t take up as much space.
Con: Can Create Separation Anxiety
While crating two dogs together can help with separation anxiety from their owners, it also has the potential to create separation anxiety with each other.
If both dogs are constantly together at all hours of the day, they are likely to bond very closely together. This is a good thing, but it’s also likely that neither dog has developed their individual self-confidence and they may be overly reliant upon the other dog.
If one of the dogs must be gone for a while (such as a trip to the vet or groomer’s), then there is a high likelihood that the dog who was left behind becomes overly stressed and anxious. Upon the return of the other dog, aggression between the two can occur.
This can be expressed as howling and barking in the crate, panting heavily, chewing, or the display of other destructive behaviors. If you crate your dogs together, it is wise to teach them that it is OK if they are apart sometimes.
You can do this by training each dog separately, or by walking or playing with each dog separately while providing the one left behind with a tasty treat or toy to show that good things still happen even when their sibling isn’t around.
Pro: Good For Dogs With Special Needs
If one or more of your pups has special needs, such as blindness, deafness, or a physical limitation, crating them with another dog might provide them with additional comfort and safety.
Dogs often rely on the body language and vocalizations of another dog to determine what is happening. For dogs who cannot see or hear, they may feel very vulnerable, and having another dog that they can look to (or listen to) for guidance can help ease that uncertainty.
Con: Can Cause A Lack Of Sleep
This con is very dependent on the ages and energy levels of the dogs being crated, the size of the crate, and where the crate is located. If the two dogs being crated are of different ages or energy levels, then there is a risk that the younger dog or the dog with higher energy keeps the other dog awake when they are wanting to rest instead.
This can create frustration and irritation for both dogs, and may result in some scuffles within the crate. Similarly, if the crate is too small or if it is located in a very busy area of the house, both dogs may struggle to get adequate rest and may take their grumpiness out on each other.
Two Dogs In One Crate: When It’s OK To Do
It is probably OK to crate two dogs in a single crate in the following situations, but keep in mind that each dog is an individual and there may even be times when you should crate them separately even if they are normally used to being crated together.
The Crate Is Large Enough
This is one of the most important things to think about before crating two dogs together. Unless it is an emergency situation or the dogs will only be crated for a very short period of time, the crate should always be big enough for both dogs to have their own areas within the crate.
They should be able to easily stand up, turn around, and fully stretch out. If they are unable to and “overlap” with each other when they are obviously trying to create space, then the crate is too small.
Some dogs do enjoy being on top of each during sleep, but they should still have the option to spread out if they choose to. Not having enough space in the crate for each dog can cause aggression and anxiety.
Both Dogs Are Of A Similar Age And Energy Level
It is best not to crate dogs who are too far apart in age or energy level. A senior dog will probably not take kindly to a young puppy being crated with them! Crating dogs with similar energy levels and those who are of a similar age means they will probably not drive each other nuts while in the crate.
They will likely be able to play with each other when they want to and then rest when they are both tired out, rather than just one being tired and the other still asking for playtime.
Both Dogs Have Completed Crate Training
It is best to crate both dogs only when they have each fully completed the crate training process.
In some cases, it may be OK to crate two dogs who are new to the training process together as it can help ease their anxieties, but there is also a risk of both dogs feeding off of each other’s emotions and preventing any learning from occurring.
It is also not a good idea to crate a seasoned crate goer with a dog who has never been in a crate as this can also cause irritation and potentially cause a negative association with the crate.
Puppies who are still going through the crate training process might find comfort with an older dog, but for safety reasons it might be best to crate the puppy separately to avoid any accidental injuries to the puppy. Once the puppy is older and bigger, you can start training them to share the crate with the older dog (provided the older dog is OK with that).
Neither Dog Has Any Behavioral Or Health Issues
While dogs with special needs can be crated with another dog, a lot of training must occur beforehand to make sure each dog is comfortable and safe.
In most cases, only dogs who are healthy in mind and body should be crated together. Dogs who have a history of resource guarding, aggression, or who suffer from orthopedic issues or an injury should not be crated with another dog for safety reasons.
Two Dogs In One Crate: When It’s Not OK To Do
Dogs should not be crated together if they have not known each other for a long period of time, if either dog has a history of aggression or resource guarding, or if there is any known tension between the two dogs.
Owners should also be aware of any stress signals either (or both) dogs may be giving off that indicate they are uncomfortable being crated together. Even if the two dogs are normally crated together, if one of them sustains an injury or they become ill it is usually safest to crate them separately until they have recovered.
Also, extremely large dogs and extremely small dogs (such as Great Danes and Chihuahuas) should not be crated together for safety reasons, even if they get along normally.
Can You Crate Train Two Dogs Together In The Same Crate?
You can technically crate train two dogs together in the same crate, but it is likely going to be more trouble than it’s worth. There’s also a risk that one or both of the dogs develop a negative association with the crate, and depending on the individual dog learning may not occur at all.
It is best if both dogs receive crate training separately (which can also help create individual self-confidence in each dog), and then additional training can occur to help them become comfortable sharing a crate together.
It is also important that owners monitor their dogs when they are sharing a crate (especially in the first few months and as the dogs age) to make sure the relationship between the two has not changed at all, and that each dog is happy and comfortable while sharing the crate with their sibling.
While dogs can share a crate, in most cases it’s best that they be crated separately. If you must crate your dogs together, it is not suggested that more than two dogs share a single crate unless they are a litter of puppies, or they will only be crated for a very short period of time.
For dogs who are OK with being crated with another dog, the crate should be large enough for each dog to have their own separate “area” within the crate. Neither dog should have any behavioral issues or health conditions.
In certain cases, it might be beneficial for two dogs to share the same crate and in other instances, it is probably in each dog’s best interest that they be crated separately.