Cats and Dogs
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How much harder is it to have 2 dogs?

Should You Adopt Two Puppies at Once?

You’ve decided to bring a fluffy new addition into your family, and now it’s just a matter of finding the right puppy to meet your needs. Though some puppies do better when they have a playmate to grow up with, there are more factors than cuteness and playtime to consider before adopting two puppies at once.

Is getting two puppies at the same time doable? Yes.

Is it for everyone? No.

Before you make the leap into multiple puppy ownership, take a look at the pros and cons of adopting more than one puppy at a time and decide if this is the best call for your family.

Benefits of Adopting Multiple Puppies

Raising two puppies together does come with its benefits, since two dogs will play with each other and burn off a lot of that puppy energy on their own. This takes some of the pressure off of you to play every day (or however you choose to burn off that energy) or be the only main source of entertainment for your puppy. Puppies require a lot of playtime to learn and grow, so having a partner to help expend that energy will make your life a little easier.

For pet owners who may need to spend hours out of the house while at work, having multiple dogs means they are not “home alone” when their humans are gone, as they have each other for companionship and cuddling. However, young dogs will need to be crated separately and shouldn’t be loose when home alone together for at least a year or more.

There is the chance that, over time, your two dogs may develop an intense relationship and be considered a “bonded pair,” meaning they have become emotionally close. This bond can help them avoid separation anxiety, as they have one another when their humans are away. Not every pair of animals will bond intensely, so dog owners need to make sure they know the dogs’ personalities and how well they get along before leaving them unattended together for long stretches.

Another benefit is that the cuteness factor doubles. You will have a ridiculous number of pictures and videos of your beautiful, loving dog family.

AKC Pet Insurance (underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company) also offers a multi-pet discount*, so all of your puppies can get the best pet insurance to fit their unique needs.

Challenges of Adopting Multiple Puppies

Training one puppy is difficult, but when you’re trying to train two puppies at the same time, you’ll have double the work. It is best to train the dogs separately. Each dog will need to learn the skills one-on-one with you before you can incorporate the distraction of having their best buddy around. You will already be in your training mindset and have dog treats or kibble ready, so swapping out puppies during a training session might work out just fine!

Raising two puppies, especially if they are from the same litter, can result in the complications of “littermate syndrome.” This occurs when the bond between two dogs has become so strong that they will not bond with their human family. This can lead to behavioral issues, and they may begin to fight with one another as adult dogs.

You can take steps to mitigate littermate syndrome and encourage your puppies to bond with you (and other family members) and not just with each other. You can accomplish this by taking the pups to separate dog training classes, taking them on separate walks, and performing separate training sessions in your home.

You need to ensure that each dog learns how to be apart from the other puppy, so they do not develop separation issues as a bonded pair. You’ll do this by occasionally leaving one puppy home alone when taking the other puppy out, and by crating the dogs in separate crates and rooms. The dogs need to learn that life is okay even when the other pup is not around.

Cost of Raising Multiple Puppies

Owning a dog is expensive. It is estimated that a new pet owner will spend anywhere from $600-3500 on their puppy in their first year of life. With multiple puppies you’ll need to at least double the expenses on these puppy essentials:

  • Puppy food
  • Dog toys
  • Pet Insurance
  • Food and water bowls
  • Leashes, collars, and harnesses
  • Kennels
  • Dog beds
  • Veterinary care
  • Vaccinations
  • Training treats
  • Dog chews

Before you buy all these supplies to bring your new puppies into your home, you’ll first need to pay the adoption or breeder fees for your new puppies. There is rarely a discount on adopting dogs, so be prepared to pay the fee for each pup. Work with a reputable breeder to get healthy pups and meet the parents whenever possible to get an idea of temperament.

Don’t forget to enroll both your puppies in pet insurance as soon as possible and prepare for unexpected vet bills. AKC Pet Insurance’s multi-pet discount* will even help you cut costs while protecting your pets’ health.

Socializing Multiple Puppies

Socializing a puppy is not the same thing as socializing on a night out. Rather, it refers to the practice of helping your new puppy become accustomed to the world outside your home. This means learning to be comfortable around other people and dogs, as well as the sights, sounds, and smells of the outside world. By introducing your puppy to new stimuli early and often, you’ll have a happier, more comfortable dog as they grow.

Like training multiple puppies at once, socializing your puppies should be done on an individual basis. You’ll want to allow each puppy to face the world’s challenges on their own so one does not become overly dependent upon the other. Additionally, it will allow each pup to become comfortable and independent as they grow into well-rounded adult dogs.

Adopting two puppies at once does not mean you can leave them to their own devices; it actually means you’ll need to put in double the work to raise them into happy, healthy dogs. While they will play with and learn from each other, they will need to be trained and socialized independently. Ultimately, the choice to adopt two dogs at once is up to the individual family, but it does take double the time and money.

*Not available in all states. New and current policyholders may receive a 5% multi-pet discount if they get coverage for more than one pet or add an additional pet to an existing policy.

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Jasey Day

About the Author
Jasey Day

Jasey Day holds the Certified Canine Fitness Trainer (CCFT) credential through the University of Tennessee. She is a member of the Bobbie Lyons K9FITteam — a team of compassionate canine fitness instructors who actively teach others and continually expand their own knowledge. Since 2004, Jasey has taught a variety of workshops and classes on the following: Puppy, Canine Good Citizen/Family Pet, Advanced Family Pet, Canine Fitness, Canine Swimming, Rally, and Agility. In addition, Jasey has earned over 60 titles in Dock Diving, Agility, Rally, CGC and Trick Dog. Jasey has worked full time for the American Kennel Club since 2007 and teaches at Care First Animal Hospital in Raleigh, NC. Jasey’s Labrador Retrievers spend their free time hiking, training, and snuggling with Jasey.

PetPartners, Inc. is located at 8051 Arco Corporate Drive, Suite 350, Raleigh, NC 27617.

Insurance is underwritten and issued by Independence American Insurance Company (rated A- «Excellent» by A.M. Best) with offices at 11333 N. Scottsdale Rd, Suite 160, Scottsdale, AZ 85254. Insurance plans are administered by PetPartners, Inc. (PPI), a licensed agency (CA agency #OF27261). “AKC Pet Insurance” is a marketing name used by PPI and is not an AKC business nor an insurer. AKC does not offer or sell insurance plans. “AKC” and its related trademarks are used by PPI under license; AKC may receive compensation from PPI. For complete details, refer to

© 2003-2023 PetPartners, Inc.

Should I get one or two dogs?

King Charles Spaniel

‘If one is good, two will be even better. If we get a second dog, they can be company for each other. They will be friends. That dog with separation anxiety will become calm. The elderly dog will adore a new puppy.’

So many owners think this way when bringing another dog home. They then get a nasty shock when the second dog is actually home, and the first dog isn’t falling in with their ideas. Imagine your partner coming home with another person and telling you that because it’s been so much fun living with you, they have brought home a friend for you, and you can have fun together — that’s how your dog feels.

For most dogs, another canine is not a little pal, but competition for everything they hold dear. Even the most sociable dog when out on walks can find another dog in the home really disquieting. A dog who accepts canine visitors cheerfully can also heave a silent sigh of relief when they go home again, but what if that other dog doesn’t go?

A dog for you

It isn’t wrong to have another dog, but neither is it essential, so ignore those people who tell you that your dog is lonely, that he would love a little playmate, and that dogs are pack animals and it’s wrong to have just one. The second dog is for you, not for your dog. Once you admit this, you can commit to making the transition from a one-dog household as painless as possible for your original dog.

From a behavioural point of view, it is better for a second pet to be as different as possible from the first. This is because different types of dogs find different resources important. A toy-orientated dog kept with a scent-orientated dog will have little reason to compete, but two toy-orientated dogs may find toys worth fighting over, no matter how many toys there are.

A male dog will generally be happier with a bitch; two boys can live harmoniously, but it is a lot of work to keep a household of bitches calm (speaking as someone who has kept five bitches and one male dog together). Of course, opposite genders mean either one or both must be neutered (not everyone realises that castrated males can still mate and tie, and there is risk of injury if they do) or else committing to separating them when the bitch is on heat. Neutering will not solve behavioural issues or conflicts either, for gender bias still remains.

Look at the original task of the breed you already have, and choose a dog whose task is different — a gun dog and a herding dog, for instance — then they won’t be disputing over the same activities. That’s the ideal, but most people prefer a particular type of dog, and quite a few prefer one gender and size. Given that the second dog is for them, people often want the kind of dog that they love (and why not?) so they have to work a little harder.

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A happy home

Your house layout might need to be adapted to help your dogs get along. Allow for keeping dogs apart when necessary, feeding them separately, having more beds and water bowls than dogs, and, if possible, avoid having congested areas where one dog can feel trapped in a corner.

Puppies need feeding several times daily, and older dogs can resent this, so separate them at puppy mealtime, and give the older dog something to nibble too. This extra must come off his normal rations or you will end up with an overweight dog. Puppies can also be persistent in trying to get the other dog to interact; while some adult dogs enjoy this, others can’t be doing with it, so the older dog needs to be able to find sanctuary away from the little pest. Though they may choose to share a bed at times, dogs like the option of relaxing alone when they need to.

Introducing your new dog to your existing dog

You may take in an adult dog, and, if so, it’s a good idea to prepare by walking them together a few times before the new dog comes home. Do this with one handler per dog, and walk them parallel to each other with handlers in between, rather than expecting them to meet head-on, which is very confrontational in dog language. Once all seems tranquil, they can be allowed off-lead together.

This way, dogs can form a positive association with each other during the pleasant activity of taking exercise, (the thought of: ‘when I see that dog, we go for a walk’) rather than creating the challenge of one coming straight on to the other’s territory (‘exactly when is he going away again?’).

On occasion, dogs will take to each other right away, which is good in one sense but can mean anarchy if they team up and find that they can have more fun running off than obeying you. One might even teach the other the joys of destroying furniture or digging up the garden. So there is still work to do, and to begin with, the dogs each need to have plenty of one-to-one attention, with training and exercise, which of course means they are taking up more time not less.

Be sure that when one dog is getting attention, the other has some happy occupation such as a stuffed Kong, otherwise mild resentment could turn into antagonism. With separation anxiety — usually a need for a particular human rather than another dog — take care you don’t end up with two dogs who have separation anxiety, although more often the result is one distressed dog and one who is totally indifferent. However, neediness can make a dog seem weak, and a proportion of dogs will see this as a reason to bully the other one.

Making it work

Other people can try to guilt you into taking on a dog that they no longer want, although you were perfectly happy with one. Your first loyalty is to your existing dog rather than solving a problem you didn’t create. Make sure you know exactly what the other dog is like, and the real reason for them parting with it.

Be suspicious of people who have to find a new home immediately, because caring dog owners plan ahead. Many owners have taken on a dog they didn’t really want, only to find shortly afterwards that the other family has a new dog.

The dynamics between two dogs can change in an instant, and you need to be aware of any subtle undercurrents. Keeping two can mean that they get on well, hate each other, are indifferent, or exist in a state of armed truce. You never know how events will pan out until the deed is done, but as long as you go in with your eyes open, make sure they have nothing to fall out over, read what the dogs are telling you, and allow them plenty of space and one-to-one time, you can make it work.

Other articles you may find useful:

  • Choosing the right dog breed
  • Shall I get a dog or a bitch?
  • Introducing a new puppy
  • Preparing for another dog
  • How can I help my pup to settle?
  • How to settle your rescue dog
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