One dog or two? Getting a Second Dog
Wondering whether to take the plunge of getting a second dog? I cannot promise you a definitive answer within this post as it is a decision packed full of personal variables. You will however, read the valuable and thought provoking opinions of many dog owners who kindly shared their thoughts and experiences. This may be a step towards the right decision for you.
We introduced our second dog Finn (a rescue puppy of 4 months) to the family after having our first whippet, Jarvis on his own for 8 months. We wanted to provide a companion for Jarvis as he was constantly seeking out dog company on walks (despite having a team of friends at daycare). He was also spending short stretches of time on his own. Having two dogs is such fun and we love it but it does have its practical challenges.
Your Unique Family:
The most important consideration is your own family set-up and your dog’s personality:
- Do you have time for another dog in your life?
- Does your family life feel hectic already?
- How will your dog react with another dog living in their home?
- Is your dog territorial in the house?
Think about your dogs temperament around other dogs, and the age that you introduce another one carefully. A dog that has lived on its own for a number of years will find it harder to adjust than a young dog, but that isn’t to say they can’t adjust. Adding a dog younger than your established dog (rather than an older one) may help with the pack politics.
Will they bond?
Having two dogs offers companionship when you are not around and can be particularly useful for dogs who suffer from separation anxiety. They can keep each other entertained and play together, some may even snuggle up together. The company will provide physical and mental stimulation which will tire them out and keep them both fit, healthy and happy. We have certainly found this to be the case with our dogs. Some owners found that, after a short time, the two dogs were inseparable.
However, others said that even after settling-in time the pair only just tolerated each other and would have probably preferred to be on their own! It really does depend on the individual dogs and their personalities. Expect the bonding to take time and be patient.
Do you have the space in your house for another dog? Having two around can feel quite different. Consider temperament and size of dog here – where will they sleep, relax and play, both inside and outside of the home? Try borrowing a dog (one that’s familiar with yours) for the day and see how the house feels and if the space you have works for two.
Having a second dog makes walks a lot of fun and for us, having a playmate did stop Jarvis bombing over to any dog within sight for a chase. Your dog will have a friend to play with, sniff with and generally enjoy their walk with.
Think practically about being able to physically walk two dogs. Who can do this on their own if required? It can be a tricky task at times, particularly if one (or both) of your dogs is reactive on a lead. Juggling leads, poop bags and treats really is a dexterity test! If you live in the countryside this may be less of an issue but we live in a busy town so it is a consideration. Again, ‘borrowing’ a known calm, trusted dog for a walk can be a useful taster of how it works to walk two dogs.
Do you have some time to dedicate to single dog walks? We find this hugely beneficial for training and reminding our dogs to focus on us rather than their pack behaviour. It is also good for the younger dog’s independence. As with all aspects of this decision, consider your personal circumstances and the personality of your dog(s).
Many owners said that the older dog set a good example and taught the younger dog good manners when they got a second. They can act as ‘personal trainers’ to the younger dog and make teaching dog manners much easier. Many multi-dog households said they hardly noticed the impact of ‘Dog Number 2’ (or three!) for this reason.
Of course this also works the other way with bad habits! If your existing dog has bad habits they may well share them. An example of this is our younger whippet (once extremely quiet) developing a strangely similar pre-dinner, ear-piercing pitch moan under the watchful eye of his proud mentor. Jarvis has started barking at cats as per Finn too. The cheeky pair!
Your dogs will each need their own, individual time and affection from you, which personally I see as a huge bonus! Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of having another dog is double the love, cuddles and snuggles. Some owners with many dogs found this time commitment tricky to juggle, so do consider your lifestyle.
Can you afford another four legged friend? Costs generally double with an additional dog, although small multi-dog discounts sometimes apply to costs like dog insurance, holiday and day-care . Consider the expense of food, treats, day care (if applicable), insurance, potential vet costs, etc. Also consider one off purchases such as another collar, leads and possibly a coats (an essential for us whippet owners).
When considering toys and chews we always get two, but of course, in true sibling fashion, they always want the same one!
Many of us dog owners love to holiday with our furry family- it is so much fun! More than one dog can make this slightly more challenging and incur additional costs but is completely doable with careful planning.
Plenty of holiday properties accept two dogs and some even more than two. A truly dog friendly property is often willing to trust the owner’s instinct when letting, so just get booked in plenty of time to have the pick of the bunch.
If you are travelling without your dogs, consider in home pet sitters. Both dogs are cared for in the comfort of their own home and their usual routines can continue in your absence. This is a great option for more anxious dogs. Also your house is occupied and looked after too. We find this is most definitely the best option for our pair.
If you do decide to take the plunge- congratulations! Read on for tips of how to introduce a second dog.
Introducing a second dog:
Introducing the dogs slowly and sensibly will help both dogs. It is best for them to meet on neutral territory so they can have a sniff and check each other out initially, so perhaps take them on a walk that is new to both dogs and let them become familiar with each other and you.
Another useful tip is that when you bring the new dog home for the first time, physically enter the house together (rather than bringing the new dog in when the established dog is in and settled). This may avoid your current dog feeling like their home is being invaded.
Let them spend time together supervised and when you are happy that they are getting along, gradually build short unsupervised periods of time. They should eventually learn to accept each other and be happy to be left alone if needed.
Do your homework on getting a second dog:
Getting a second dog certainly worked for our family and did achieve its initial goal of providing companionship. It did take time though, a good few months, for them to really get on.
It has meant that we have to consider travelling and days out more carefully, and it has increased the cost of living for us, but is completely worth it and we wouldn’t change it for the world.
What ever you decide, we hope that this has been helpful and that you enjoy your dog filled life of one, two or more furry family members- a family that contributed to this post had fourteen dogs! How fabulous.