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You know what’s better for a dog lover than a dog? Two dogs! Before I had Janice and Leroy, I had never had more than one dog at a time. But I knew, from pet sitting as a teenager, that having multiple dogs to play with, is my idea of heaven on earth. But if you want to have a second dog, there are some things you need to consider first.
Last update on 2018-11-18 at 11:15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
I’ve seen plenty of families that have two dogs that are best friends. Janice and Leroy, for example, probably wouldn’t know what to do without each other. But I also know families that have two dogs that barely tolerate each other. Maybe they adopted a small puppy that annoyed their older dog. Maybe they adopted a dog that isn’t a fan of other dogs, and their first dog was turned down when they tried to be friends. Whatever the case may be, this is not a fun scenario for anyone. Dogs that don’t get along can make everyone’s life a drag. So if you are thinking about adopting a second dog, here are seven things to consider.
Before you just see a cute dog and decide to bring them home, I would really think about why you want a second dog. Are you interested in having a playmate for your first dog? You should know that studies have proven that having another dog around, even when they get along, does not cure separation anxiety. And playing with another dog will not mean that your dog will need less play time with you.
In general, there aren’t many convincing reasons to get a second dog for your first dog. Your first dog is happy with you, and while they may also be happy with another dog around, it’s not something that has any scientifically proven benefits for them.
I got two dogs because I decided after having Gloria that I wanted to breed Boxers. I wanted to do it responsibly, and ensure that I knew without any doubt that both parents were healthy and well-cared for. This meant that I would need to own both the male and the female that I intended to breed. However, had I just wanted another Boxer after Gloria, the only reason I would have gotten two would have been for me – because I wanted double the friendly companionship.
Something you should know about having two dogs is that you will need to have plenty of time in your schedule.You may be thinking that having a second dog will distract your first dog, and that as they play together, you will get a break from exercising your dog. This is not the case.
Two dogs require two dogs’ worth of time and attention. Sure, you may be able to combine their walks and exercise to save time, but you won’t be able to cut back on giving your first dog attention, and your second dog will need attention as well. Be ready for your time commitment to increase, not decrease.
Even if you have very healthy dogs, consider that you’ll now need to buy more of everything. You’ll need a second dog bed, a second kennel, more dog toys, and more treats. If your dogs are at the same stage of life and neither as special dietary needs, you’ll need to buy more of the dog food you already buy. If one is much younger or has dietary needs, you may need to buy twice the dog food every month.
You’ll also need to cover vet care, grooming, boarding, and any other bills for two dogs now. Be sure you are able to cover vet emergencies for two dogs before you adopt a second dog. One way that you may be able to save money is by having pet insurance – many pet insurance companies offer discounts for multiple pets.
We’ll talk about specific compatibility later, but be sure that in general, your first dog is the type of dog that likes other dogs. Some dogs, like Scottish Deerhounds, prefer to be the only dog in the house. Other dogs, like Labradors, are great with other dogs. Consider how your dog acts at the dog park, or with the neighbor’s dogs. Do they just stand there and bark at other dogs? Or do they seem like they’d want to play? Even if you want another dog very badly, it isn’t fair to the dog you already have to bring in a second pet if they just aren’t willing to share their home.
If you want to adopt a second dog, be sure that your first dog won’t be passing on any negative things, such as illness or bad behaviors. If your dog is currently ill with anything at all, not only do you need to worry about them giving your new dog an illness, you also have to worry about the fact that your sick dog is already stressed. They aren’t likely to want to meet a new dog when they aren’t feeling their best.
Being well-trained is a must because a new dog will look to your first dog to learn how to act in your home. If your first dog is still struggling with bathroom breaks, or with not being destructive, or with severe separation anxiety, be prepared for that behavior to be transferred to your new dog. Get yourself a clicker training tool or some treats and double check your dog’s ability to respond to commands.
If you are a renter, you may need to double check that your lease allows multiple dogs. Some landlords only allow one dog per household. Even if you live in a place where you can have two dogs now, do you know for sure that you’ll always be able to find a home where you can have both dogs? If your living satiation isn’t as stable as you would like it to be, it can be hard enough to find a rental for one dog. Keep this in mind as you choose to adopt a second dog.
Also consider if the atmosphere in your home is welcoming to a second dog. Does everyone who lives with you want a second dog? Are they all willing to put in the extra time and effort it takes to have two dogs?
Finally, it’s time to consider the specific dog you are consider adopting. Is this dog compatible with your current dog? Do their energy levels match? Do they both need about the same amount of exercise? Do they have similar personalities? These are all things to consider very carefully. Here are some tips for finding a second dog that is compatible with your first dog:
Consider how your first dog’s breed might treat the dog if the size or age difference is vast. For example, a tiny puppy may trigger a terrier or a sight hound’s prey instinct. Also consider if their breed is not fond of having other dogs around in general.
If your dogs will be very different in size or age, consider if one might annoy, or accidentally hurt the other. A large dog may accidentally harm a smaller dog trying to play. A puppy may annoy an older dog.
For the most part, behavioral experts agree that the best dog to introduce to your first dog is one that is younger than they are, and of the opposite sex. This will mean that your first dog is able to establish seniority, and that they don’t feel threatened by a “replacement”.
Now that you know the things you should consider about adopting a second dog, let’s talk about how to introduce your dogs very quickly. The first introduction should be done in a very specific way to set the tone for their relationship. Start by selecting a neutral meeting place, not the home – this will make your first dog feel more comfortable.
Have both dogs on a leash being held by two different people. Pay attention to their body language when they see each other. Are they wagging their tail, keeping their ears up, and keeping a relaxed posture? In that case, let them calm down for just a moment and then let them approach each other still on their leashes. Be aware that just this part alone could take a while.
You want the dogs to meet first by sniffing each other’s nose, and then by doing the classic rear sniff. This is a friendly type of greeting. If either of the dogs shows signs of aggression or dominance, don’t allow it. Tell the dog no, and separate them for a few minutes. Start the process again when they are calm again.
There are two ways to know if your first dog is pretty happy with the way things are going. First, they will start to play with the other dog. Second, they will come back towards you without worrying about whether the second dog is following or not. Only if you see these two actions should you let the dogs off-leash to meet.
After this initial meeting, you can take your dogs home. It’s a good idea to monitor them very closely for the first few days, or even keep them separated by a baby gate where they can see and smell each other, but not reach each other, while you are at work. Be sure that you have time set aside to be with both dogs one and one, as well as both together, until the situation becomes more normal.
It is a very good idea to keep your dogs separate at feeding time, and to keep a close eye on them whenever something of value is being played with, like a toy or a treat. Make sure they both have their own crates, beds, and plenty of toys for both.
Finally, keep in mind that the daily walk will become an extremely important bonding time for your new dogs. As you walk in a group, it mimics a dog’s natural pack instincts, and they will begin to think of themselves as a family. Be sure you are the one leading the pack to avoid any dominance behavior from either of the dogs. When both dogs are aware that you are the boss, then neither will be vying for the position above the other.
Last update on 2018-11-18 at 11:15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Now that I’ve had Janice and Leroy, I’m not sure if I’ll ever go back to being a one-dog kind of gal. It’s just too much fun watching them interact with each other. However, I can see that in many cases, a second dog just isn’t for everyone, no matter how much you may want one.
I would say that adopting a second dog takes even more consideration than adopting your first dog. You have to consider very carefully how it will change the dynamic between you and your dog, and so many other things besides. It will take about a month for two dogs to grow used to each other’s company, so be patient when or if you do bring home that second pet. And remember that it may just not work out at all – and it’s always good to have a backup plan for your second dog if you suspect it may be a struggle with your first dog.
Once you get through the adjusting period, have fun watching your dogs become the cutest partners in crime.