If things are already going well with your female Labrador, you might be keen to add another to the mix. While prospecting potential puppies from reputable breeders, chances are that another female Labrador pup may catch your eye. Now what? Is it a good idea to have two female Labradors live together or should you avoid it?
Can two female Labradors live together? Yes, two female Labradors can live together, however, a female-male combination will probably work better for you. Regardless of breed, female dogs tend to be more territorial and jealous, but this doesn’t mean that it is the same for all female dogs.
Because of a Labrador’s nature, it is highly possible to socialize two females to get along and live in a harmonious multi-pet home. When it comes to the battle of the sexes in dogs, two females are more likely to fight than two males.
On the other hand, living in a 2-female Labrador household can be quite rewarding, as well as happy and harmonious. It often depends on the temperament and personality of the existing pet and of course, how you go about socializing and interacting with both dogs.
So, if you want to learn how to live peacefully with two female dogs, this quick guide provides some tips for pairing two female Labradors in the same home successfully.
Best-Case Scenarios When Pairing Female Labradors
Most warnings about female dogs living together revolve around competition for resources (food and toys), for attention (from the owner or another male dog), and for territory (bed and social areas). This is not true of all female dogs.
In the best-case scenario, pairing females works best when both puppies are purchased together and brought up together. Another best-case scenario is when your female Labrador has puppies and you keep one of the female pups for the family.
Related: For an in-depth, week-by-week guide on how to care for your pregnant Lab, you’ll want to check out our article, How to Care for a Pregnant Labrador: A Week by Week Guide.
Of course, even in the case of these ideal scenarios, there’s no telling how the dogs are going to get along. Let’s now take a closer look at how to make a female-female dog household work.
A Misconception About Pairing Females
Most people believe that it is the sex of the two dogs that causes them to fight, but this is not necessarily true. In two spayed females, hormones don’t contribute to their fighting. Often, it is a dog’s unique tendency toward dominance that causes fighting. If one female has a more dominant personality than the other, a pecking order will naturally form and each dog will know her place. If you end up getting two alpha females, you may experience more fighting between them.
There are a few other factors that can cause two female Labradors to fight that have nothing to do with gender. If you put a male and a female Labrador together and the following factors exist, fighting can still occur. These factors include:
- Insecurity (one dog doesn’t feel safe)
- Timid nature
- Competition for food, toys, attention, or affection.
By creating the ideal living environment for your dogs, fighting can be avoided, even with paired females.
6 Tips for Peacefully Living with Two Female Labs
Below are a few things you can do today to help ensure that your two female Labradors get along:
1. Instill a “No Fighting” Policy
Even the best of friends sometimes have squabbles, so it’s not safe to assume that every fight is a bad sign. If there is a squabble, it is best to get involved and intervene. Make sure that both dogs are aware that fighting is not allowed — both in the home as well as outside.
2. Actively Defuse the Situation
This point goes hand-in-hand with point #1. Most people worry when they see a squabble between their dogs and immediately separate them. It’s important not to make separation a regular thing because the dogs won’t learn to get along. You need to ensure that both females are involved in activities and get equal amounts of attention and affection.
By showing both dogs that there is no need for jealousy and that there is enough to go around you can defuse the situation and reduce any feelings of competition they might have between each other. This involves actively avoiding scenarios where competition is encouraged. Choose games and activities that are safe rather than competitive.
3. Train Both Pets Equally
If you want to train both female Labradors to get along and behave together, you can do so by counter-conditioning bad behavior. One method is by rewarding and praising both dogs when they are behaving properly and then separating and ignoring them when they behave badly.
It is important that any bad behavior is immediately corrected and that this is done consistently. One pet should never be allowed to get away with behaving incorrectly towards the other. The more praise they get for good behavior, the more they will want to behave in that way.
Related: If you’re interested in learning how to train your Lab puppy but don’t know where to start, you’ll want to check out our super-helpful article, How to Train Your Labrador Puppy.
4. Get Both Female Labradors Spayed
If you also have a male dog at home, you might find that your current female Labrador feels competitive, when the new female enters the family. To eliminate possible aggression resulting from female competition, ensure that both females are spayed. Spayed female Labradors are less hormonally driven to be territorial and in many instances, fighting can be eliminated by simply doing that.
5. Don’t Pair an Older Female Labrador with a New Pup
If you already have an older Labrador female and introduce a new playful female puppy, there might be a struggle to position themselves in a pecking order. Because your older female has held that title for so long and because your new pup will be eager to establish herself in the family; it could be a recipe for conflict. This, of course, will depend on the individual personality and temperament of your existing pet.
6. Establish Yourself as the Pack Leader
If you are going to have a multi-pet household, you need to establish yourself as a pack leader. In fact, even if you only have one dog at home, you need to be the leader. This is not a harsh or overbearing position, but a position of respect. It teaches your dogs that you are the leader and that bad behavior won’t be tolerated. Good behavior, however, will be praised. And that’s the key.
Dogs look up to their pack leader and want to please them. If you establish yourself as the leader and communicate that only tolerant and friendly behavior between both dogs is pleasing to you, you can overcome potential and competition and aggression.
Most dogs (not just Labradors) are more prone to fighting when there is an unstable pack order. If one dog is trying to dominate another, it needs to be stopped immediately. Below are a few tips for establishing yourself as a pack leader:
- Your dogs should earn most, if not all, treats. When you ask “sit”, “stay”, “paw” and your dog responds, reward them with treats. When they ignore your requests, don’t reward them with a treat.
- Avoid giving your dog attention “on demand.”. You should decide when attention is given. Pawing at you, pushing you, whining at you – these are all poor behaviors and imply that the dog thinks she calls the shots. Discourage this behavior by ignoring your pet when she is being demanding. Encourage calm, docile behavior that acknowledges you as the pack leader and is not demanding.
- Establish yourself as the primary leader of playtime. Dogs love their toys and both of your female Labradors are going to want to have toys to play with. Avoid lavishing your dogs with lots of toys each day. Give them each a few and make sure that they see you packing them up each evening. You should reward good behavior with toys and playtime, but don’t allow them to be too freely available.
- Control doorways. This may sound a bit strange but if you are walking around your dogs and waiting for them instead of the other way around, you are not the pack leader. Train your dogs to give you respect by putting baby gates around the home. When approaching a gate, ask your dog to sit and wait. Once you have gone through the doorway your dog can follow. This will start to get them thinking, “pack leader goes first”.
- Do first introductions in a neutral area. Ambushing your existing female Labrador with a new female dog is bound to put her off. The best idea would be to choose a neutral spot for a calm and supervised introduction. A dog park is a good idea. Allow both dogs to approach slowly and let them interact. Correct bad behavior immediately and reward gentle, calm interaction. Allowing the two female Labradors to become friends off-site is a great way to establish a rapport between them before they have to live together.
Dog owners are most often advised that mixed gender dog pairing is easier to control. The reality of the situation is that, if both dogs are spayed, it is the environment and how you behave as the pack leader that will most influence how well they get along. Dog aggression is not always about gender. If you do want to have a same-sex Labrador household, there’s good evidence to believe that it can work.