Are dogs happier if you have two?
The Pros and Cons of Getting a Second Dog
When you adore your dog and have lots of fun together, it’s natural to start thinking about adding a second dog to your pack. Twice the canine equals twice the fun, right? Or perhaps you’re feeling worried that your dog gets lonely while you are at work all day, and wonder if they would be happier with a friend. Well, before you rush into bringing home that new four-legged family member, take a moment to think through the big picture—both the benefits, and challenges.
- Your family will have twice the love to enjoy. No more fighting over who gets to sleep with the pup at the foot of their bed.
- Your pet will have a playmate, if they want it. This can also keep your pet out of your hair when they’re bored and want to play.
- More dogs enforce the “pack” feeling, and help your dog feel secure.
- Some dogs do get lonely without a friend, and a second dog will alleviate this loneliness.
- If your dog has separation anxiety, having another dog there may help. Another dog can be a valuable companion so your dog doesn’t miss you as much while you’re gone.
On the other hand…
- Not all dogs will be comfortable with another dog in the house. Depending on their past experiences, their temperament, age, and health, adding another pup might be stressful—for both your dog, and for you.
- Training two dogs can be tricky. They should be trained according to their temperaments, and listening to you separately to ensure they’ll still follow your guidance effectively whenever they’re together. Otherwise, the more confident dog will teach the partner dog, and you may have even more behavioural problems to deal with.
- You’ll have to clean up after two dogs. This means twice the fur, twice the potty pickups, and twice the damage control if they are “chewers.”
- There will be additional costs to consider for veterinary care, boarding, food, bedding, and toys.
- Sibling rivalry can occur if the dogs feel there is competition between them over resources. This can include feeling competititve over food, toys, attention, and space, as well as the humans in their lives.
Getting a second dog takes a lot of consideration and can sometimes require more effort on your part. However, if it all works out, you get twice the love and a big, happy family!
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What to Consider Before Getting a Second Dog
The joy a dog brings to a household is unmistakable, which is why it’s often hard to resist the idea of welcoming another pooch into your home. But before you start trolling the adoption sites for cute canines, there are some things to consider prior to introducing a second dog into your family dynamic. These five tips should help keep the process of adopting a second pup fun — and drama free.
Make Sure Your Current Dog Is Properly Trained
If you already live with a dog who displays bad habits — like digging up the pansies and petunias in the backyard — chances are that your new pup will pick up the same undesirable tendencies. So if your current dog lunges at other dogs while out on walks, barks incessantly or noshes on shoes and furniture, sign him up for obedience and behavior training before you introduce him to a new, highly impressionable companion. Otherwise, you’ll have two naughty dogs on your hands.
Allocate the Time and Resources for Another Pup
According to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the current annual cost of caring for a canine ranges from $580 for a small dog to $875 for a larger one. Of course, that price tag reflects only the day-to-day basics, like kibble and vet care. You also have to keep in mind that you’ll need to invest extra for essential gear — collars, leashes and crates, to name a just a few items — as well as unexpected vet visits, potential boarding and possible pet sitters and dog walkers. There’s another equally important expenditure you need to be willing to make: time to properly groom, train and exercise your new companion.
Understand That a Second Pup Doesn’t Cure Separation Anxiety
If your dog has separation anxiety disorder, the presence of another animal in the household probably will not ease the distress he experiences during times of separation. If your current pup suffers from this condition, work with your veterinarian or a certified professional dog trainer to address the problem before you bring another canine into the equation. Additionally, you need to consider the fact that some dogs who were abandoned and ended up at shelters, or who have switched households, may be at higher risk of developing separation anxiety, so it’s important to discuss this potential issue with a shelter or rescue organization before you adopt.
Know That an Elderly Dog and a Rambunctious Puppy Often Don’t Mix
If you have a senior dog, prepare for him to be irritable and possibly aggressive toward a new puppy in an attempt to establish boundaries. Further complicating the situation is the fact that most puppies are hungry for attention, so they’ll ignore an older dog’s cues to back off and continue to pester, resulting in a very unhappy home life. If you’re seriously considering the idea of pairing an elderly dog with a puppy, choose a pup with a calm temperament and offer him plenty of opportunities to interact and play with other dogs outside the home. To help your older dog better acclimate to the new addition to the family, designate special areas where he can safely retreat when he needs a break from the puppy. And don’t forget that he still needs all the love and attention you can provide.
Pick a Pup Who’s Compatible
Although it may seem like a good idea to pair a small dog with another small dog, the opposite is actually true. To minimize the risk of fighting, opt for a dog of a different height, weight and age from the one you already have. Although huge gaps in age or size, such as a Great Dane with a Chihuahua, may not be the best match, a small variance can be helpful because dogs don’t feel as much need to compete if they’re not on common ground. For example, a 2-year-old dog and a 4-year-old dog, with similar activity levels and a slight difference in height and weight, could be a great fit.
And bear in mind that although female dogs often play well with one another, there’s an increased risk of intense fighting in homes with female pups. And if you’re smitten with the thought of adopting siblings, know that as adorable as this scenario seems, puppies from the same litter are likely to bond more with each other than with you.
One Dog or Two?
I have one dog and my family is often not home. For several hours a day, five days a week, my dog is left alone. Should I get a second dog, and why would it help?
Dogs are pack animals, meaning they have an instinct to live among a group. It is not natural for a dog to be alone and it can sometimes be hard for them to accept it. They look at the world differently than humans. To them, there must be an order in their group, a leader, a boss of the household. In their minds, everyone must have a place, from the leader on down to the lowest member of their group. In order for humans and dogs to coexist happily, humans must understand the dog’s instinct to have an order and understand how to show the dog where his order in the family is. When dogs live with humans, the humans become their pack. Dogs must be shown they are last in the pack order. What does this mean, «last in the order»? It means the dog looks at all the other humans in the family as the bosses, his leaders. He will happily follow their commands and accept that they are his bosses. Believe it or not, dogs are very happy to be last in the pack order. A dog becomes unhappy and stressed when the order is not clear to him and he feels he needs to test the order.
When a dog is separated from his pack he may become worried, stressed and unhappy, sometimes leading to Separation Anxiety. A lot of destructive behaviors stem from dogs who just cannot deal with being separated from their packs. A lot of unwanted dogs in pounds are there because of behaviors which stemmed from the stress of being left alone without their packs.
It is very common for a dog to be perfectly behaved while you are home, yet destructive and untrustworthy while you are away. There are many things one can do to curb or cure this behavior, like crating the dog while you are gone. However, while crating the dog stops your furniture from being chewed, it does not cure the dog from being unhappy and miserable.
We humans have busy lives, and while we are focused on our tasks for the day in order to keep the household running (i.e., earning a paycheck, and the kids going off to school), the dog sees his pack all leaving him behind, with no understanding of why everyone is leaving and not bringing him along.
So, what can we do to help our dogs cope with living among a busy human household that must leave him behind on a regular basis?
The first thing you want to do is start exercising your dog with a long walk right before you leave for your busy day. This will put the dog in a rest mode while you are gone. Whether you have one dog or a whole pack of dogs, a long, daily walk is paramount. Not just tossing a ball or running around the yard, but a real walk, jog or hike. When a dog is lacking in exercise, his energy bottles up inside him. Just as birds have an instinct to fly, dogs have in instinct to migrate. Running around your backyard does not curb this migration instinct. This can cause a bunch of behavior issues.
Have you ever thought of getting a second dog? Busy households that must leave their dog home alone for long periods of time may wish to consider it. This may not cure a dog from chewing your trash while you are gone, as half his pack is still leaving him, and heck, there’s something tasty in there after all! However, your dog will be happier. I have heard of countless stories of old dogs becoming active again, playing with the younger dog, and a skittish dog coming out of its shell when introduced to a second dog. Sometimes dogs are just happier living with another fellow K-9.
For those of you who have never owned two dogs, it is instinctual for the dogs to compete to see who is first in the pack order. Humans should be so clearly the leader that the issue of boss never arises in the dog’s mind. This can be accomplished with no yelling or hitting involved, just some simple behaviors on the humans’ part. Challenges between two dogs should be stopped by the human, making it clear it is not acceptable.
For the average dog owner, a general good rule for adding a new dog is, when you take in new dog you make sure the new dog has the same or lower energy level than the current dogs and is middle of the road or a submissive type. That is ideal for a good combo that does not require an expert dog owner to make it work and keep peace. When an additional dog moves in that is higher energy or more alpha than the current dog the adjustments in the relationship are difficult as the pack has to totally re-do the order and all the dogs have to work it out. An owner who does not know how to guide it into happening peacefully can find themselves with all types of issues.
Consult a professional if you do not know how to do this. Read about Natural Dog Behavior
Second Dog Success Stories
Mojo, a 7-week-old German Shepherd Dog puppy, with Fluffy, a 4-month-old mixed Fox Terrier. «I got Fluffy first, and he was very shy and fearful during the first few days. He would hide and show shyness when approached. Then I got this l’il cute Mojo. She was very inquisitive and very playful right from the first day. At first I feared that Fluffy would bite and snap at her, but they became friends and they still play a lot together. It seems that Mojo is the dominant one now though she is only 7 weeks old. :P»
«I adopted a 7-month-old Great Pyrenees to work on our farm. He was an outside dog, obviously, he cannot protect the herd inside the house, and therefore was not part of the human pack. He was meant to bond with the goats and live among them. He was extremely skittish, and I knew this when I adopted him. He was so upset and afraid of everything that he drooled most of the time and hid in his dog house.»
«He was supposed to be a working dog, living with the goats and keeping the foxes, raccoons and opossums from eating the chickens. Months went by, and he remained skittish, afraid of his own food bowl and extremely skittish around humans he was unfamiliar with, including my own children.»
«I went out and bought him a female Great Pyrenees puppy to work with and the results were amazing!»
«The first day I brought the puppy home, my skittish Py forgot he was afraid of my kids, came out of his doghouse, jumping around like the happy Py I knew he could be.»
«From that day on, he did a complete turnaround. He became less and less afraid of things. Today both dogs are very good flock guards.”
They are both very happy dogs
Mary-Sue, Sweet-Pea, Tacoma, and Tundra
«We adopted Jedi, a Jack Russell from a friend when she was 1 year old. Jedi bonded with my girls, and our 2-year-old Shepherd/Collie mix, Bailey, immediately.»
«In January 2006, we adopted a rescued Shepadoodle puppy to keep Jedi company while we were away at work. Just recently, after months of sitting together looking out the window and barking at the squirrels, Jedi was finally able to teach Koda the puppy how to howl.»
Written by Sharon Maguire and Dawn Littlefield © Dog Breed Info Center ® All Rights Reserved
- Understanding Dog Behavior
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