Well, the honest answer is…yes and no. Dogs are social animals and usually happier around other dogs, but a second dog will never be a substitute for inattentive, absent or too busy owners.
Ultimately, whether it is the right thing to do or not is up to you, but to help you make the decision, here are some reasons why a second dog may or may not be a good idea for you, your existing dog and your family.
What is your reason for wanting a second dog?
“I want a companion for my dog to stop her barking or destructive behaviours when I’m not a home.”
“I work long hours and a second dog will stop my dog from missing me so much.”
“My dog is anxious or aggressive and a second dog will teach him to relax around other dogs.”
Any of these sound familiar?
These are the most common reasons clients tell me when I ask them why they want a second dog. And while a second dog can potentially help in some regard with all of the above problems… they can also exacerbate them.
For example, the companion dog:
may bark too or be even more destructive;
will never be a substitute for your time spent with your dog and will mean you have even less one-on-one time available for your dog; and
may totally dominate your existing dog, making them even more anxious or aggressive.
So, how do you know if a second dog is right for your family?
Reasons NOT To Get a Second Dog
If any of the following scenarios sound familiar you may want to delay or reconsider your decision to get another dog.
· If you’re expecting a baby. Both babies and dogs require a lot of time and it’s just not fair to either the new baby or the new dog to have them both arrive in your house at the same time, or within weeks of each other. You’ll have enough on your plate adjusting your existing dog to your new baby.
· If you can’t walk both dogs together. Unless you’re retired or unemployed, if you can’t walk both dogs together then walking them separately will take up several hours every day, which is hard to fit in around the demands of work and family.
· If money is tight. The cost of purchasing your second dog is just the start. All of your ongoing expenses for your first dog have now just doubled: pet food, boarding fees, unexpected medical expenses leashes…perhaps even buying a car big enough to accommodate your family and both dogs.
· If you work long hours or travel a lot for work. A second dog will not necessarily make up for your absence—in fact you might just be doubling your trouble, with two dogs who pine for you and become destructive when left alone.
· If your first dog isn’t ready. If your first dog is still not well-trained, or is suffering from an illness it’s really important to get that sorted first so you have the time available to train and settle in your second dog.
· If your other family members are not on board. A second dog, regardless of age or breed, is extra work and you’ll need everyone in your family to help both dogs adjust to the change.
Reasons TO get a second dog
· Your dog is mourning the loss of another dog. If you previously had two dogs who got on well and have recently lost one, your dog may well be pinning the previous dog and would benefit from another adult dog, or perhaps a puppy.
· You have the time and the money to spare. If you have the time and money to invest in training a new dog, walking two dogs and helping your first dog adjust to the new arrival, both dogs will be much happier and better behaved.
· Your dog enjoys the company of other dogs. As long as you’re not getting a second dog as a substitute for time spent with your first dog, if your dog enjoys the company of other dogs the second dog has a much better chance of fitting into your home.
· Your first dog is getting old. If you can’t imagine life without a dog and you know your first dog is getting older, you may want to introduce a second dog to help ease the pain and fill the void when your first dog eventually passes.
What type of dog should you get?
Whatever breed you choose, or whether you decide on a puppy or a rescue dog, you will need patience and understanding, as well as plenty of time to let both dogs adjust to each other.
The success of your second dog will not primarily depend on the age, temperament or breed of either dog. Instead, what is really crucial to the success is:
Your patience: there will be plenty of mistakes from both dogs
Your time: it will not happen overnight…both dogs will need time to adjust and settle in properly and the more time you can invest in both dogs the happier they will both be
Your understanding: read up on what to expect, get advice from professionals and go to dog training classes
Your investment in training: both puppies and rescue dogs will need to be trained and your first dog will also need to be trained to interact with your second dog appropriately
How do you introduce the dogs to each other?
When you bring your new dog home, introduce the dogs to each other gradually in a series of gradual steps.
Take things slowly, and only let them spend time together unsupervised once you are sure there are not going to be problems.
Begin by introducing the second dog in their crate, allowing your first dog to sniff him in a non-threatening environment.
If things are going well, bring the second dog out of the crate on a leash, and then if things are still going well, let the new dog off the leash and allow the dogs to interact under your supervision.
Once you feel comfortable, leave them together unsupervised for short periods of time, gradually increasing the length of time as they adjust to each other
Never force the two dogs together or leave them unsupervised if you are unsure.
So, is a second dog really the right decision for your family?
A second dog can be double the joy if it is done correctly and for the right reasons.
If you’re unsure and would like some advice on whether a second dog is right for you or not, a mobile vet can come to your home and discuss the pros and cons with you.
We can also help advise you on potential breeds or ages of dogs who would best fit well with your first dog, and we can also help you with the settling in process.
Contact us to find out more about bringing a second dog into your family.