4 things to consider before getting a second dog
Written by Louise Glazebrook
Second dog

You might have been thinking about this for quite some time or the idea may have just popped into your head. Either way, within this piece, we will look at whether it really is right for you and your dog that you already live with.

How hard is a second dog?

Well, that depends on how much effort, time and thought you put into choosing the right dog to join you. If you simply choose any dog, then you will make your life very hard. If you choose a dog that is suited temperament wise to your first dog, then you have a good chance at succeeding. You cannot just put another dog into the equation and believe it will be ok – a new dog needs to be matched well by looking at the breed, the personality, what it needs and whether your existing dog will fit well with it.

I recently worked with a family who took on 4 dogs, thinking it would be great because they would play together and rest together – when in fact, the exact opposite happened. None of the dogs were happy together, they all started learning things from one of the dogs which created issues for them all living together. So thinking about this is really key. Hence why you are here.

Are dogs happier with a second dog?

Not every dog is. Many, many dogs are more than happy being the ‘sole’ dog of the house and would happily keep it that way. 

Some dogs really like playing with other dogs in the park but it doesn’t mean that they want to live with another dog.

Other dogs thrive on being with another of their species, as in they gain a great deal of confidence from that dog already in the home. You often see this on some rescue websites, where they specify that a dog within the rescue centre can only go to a home where there is an existing confident dog to learn from. In honesty, many of those dogs are often from puppy farms or street dogs – who have only ever known a life with dogs and humans have not featured positively in their lives. So that will come with it’s own challenges. 

Then of course there are dogs who just enjoy other dogs company and readily welcome a new addition to play with, interact with, share their life with but you need to be sure that this is your dog. I’d also stipulate, that you should be sure that you feel your dog isn’t ‘obsessed’ by other dogs as this could only exacerbate it and make it worse by providing a 24/7 playmate. For any dog that is already in the home, we want to be honest and make sure that you genuinely feel that this dog is well trained, would set a good example to a new dog and that there aren’t areas you still need to address or work on – as that will only get much harder when you bring in a second dog. E.g. if you are struggling to walk your dog on a lead, they are resource guarding or lunging at other dogs whilst on a lead, really and truly you need to spend some time seeking tailored help to work with your dog before you introduce another dog.

What is the best age to add a second dog?

My rule of thumb tends to be when your existing dog is around 4-5yrs old. As by then, you should be feeling confident in your dog’s capabilities, know their habits, feel like you have got them to a great place in terms of focus, being able to listen, responding to you and being bonded to you by the time you consider bringing in another dog. 

I would never, ever advise bringing home litter mates.

Are 2 dogs easier than 1?

No. They are double the work. As if you bring home a puppy you are going to need to do separate walks for each dog for at least a year. You are going to need to to allocate double the time for everything – to play, to walk, to train and so forth. 

Your existing dog and the new dog may get on well but you will still need to make sure you are treating them like the different dogs they are. Making sure their individual requirements are met and not just lumping them together because they are dogs. 

If you choose to bring home a rescue dog as your second dog, you will be needing to make sure you are able to provide what they need, their settling period, not rushing things and giving them the space and time to figure out their new life – this could include baby gates, lots of separate spaces, separate walks etc. It really does depend on the dog you choose to bring into your home, which is why your selection is so important to making sure it goes well or badly.

What are cons of getting a second dog?

  • You will need to allocate double the amount of time as you now have 2 dogs
  • To make sure you can afford to feed, pay for vet bills, dog walker for 2 dogs
  • You need to consider who will look after 2 dogs when you go away on holiday?
  • Do you have the time to do double the amount of walks than you are doing now?
  • Will it definitely ‘add’ to your existing dog’s life or take away from it?

Is it better to have 2 dogs of the same gender?

There is no hard and fast rule for this, as it depends on the two dogs that we are looking at. It depends on whether the dogs are entire, spayed, have tricky relationships with certain gender dogs? I tend to find, a male and female living together can work really well but it depends on the individuals involved. 

How do I know if my dog wants another dog?

Well, your dog can’t tell you either way! So you need to think about making sure that if you were to bring in a second dog, that your dog would benefit. Many people want to get a second dog to make any transition of losing their existing dog, a little easier. Or they just really like living in a home with multi dogs or they know that their home and set up is perfect for more than one dog so would like another dog to benefit. 

We have to think about whether getting the second dog is for you or your dog. And getting a second dog because you want to, is absolutely fine and we can still make it work for your first dog – so long as we choose very carefully and with a great deal of consideration.

For example, a chilled, calm dog who is older and likes to potter about would find a working cocker spaniel puppy too much – with their energy, their desire to be doing something all the time, their need for huge amounts of exercise and stimulation – so we do need to think about the best fit for the whole household. And this is what I spend a great deal of time doing, helping families, households and people to work out – how to make the best choice after discussing their lifestyle, set up, desires and current dogs. We can do this as an online session or in person if you are London based.

Is my dog lonely should I get another dog?

This is a common question, first off, no dog should be left alone for more than 4hrs. So if you are doing this and thinking about bringing in another dog to keep yours company then I cannot say this is a good idea. Instead you should be spending your money on making your dog’s life more full and less lonely by being stuck at home alone – invest in a dog walker and get your dog out and about. 

No dog has a desire to spend 6-8hrs alone at home with no interactions, no play, no walking, no company – so you should not be adding in a second dog to make up for your absence. I cannot stress this enough, you need to sort out your first dog and make their life happier and less lonely before you bring in a second dog.

L

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