While the expense of a second dog is real, most people agree that taking care of two dogs isn’t that much more difficult than caring for one. You can feed, exercise, socialize, and play with two dogs as easily as you can one. Naturally, you will be spending more money on dog food, veterinary care and insurance, and other possible incidentals (like boarding, grooming, and daycare). There’s no denying that two dogs mean twice the love, twice the joy, and sometimes twice the mess.
Do I want a second dog?
You should decide why you want a second dog. In an ideal situation, a second dog will keep your present dog company during the day when you’re working and will keep him active and well exercised around the house and yard. In truth, however, the reason for getting a second dog should have more to do with you than with your dog. If you don’t have time for your present dog, adding another dog to your already busy life isn’t a logical rejoinder. Decide why YOU want a second dog: what will this dog add to your home and life?
If you have lots of time to share with your dog now, then you can enhance your life and your dog’s life by adding a second dog. If the two get along and accept each other as housemates, playmates, exercise buddies and part-time partners in crime, you will be adding a whole new dimension to your dog’s world. If you have to leave your dog alone during the day, as many working people do, then a second dog can be a great source of comfort and friendship to your dog, the perfect remedy for separation anxiety and other difficult-to-solve behaviors.
Does my dog want a second dog?
Not all dogs welcome the companionship of other dogs. Some dogs want to be the “only child” and won’t share their homes with a canine companion. It’s hard to generalize which breeds are less dog friendly, as this characteristic has more to do with individual temperament and upbringing than any breed trait.
If your dog is possessive of his food bowl, bed or toys, he likely isn’t an ideal candidate for a multi-dog environment. Some dogs are sweet and outgoing with humans but absolutely hate other dogs. This aggression toward other dogs may be rooted in experiences during puppyhood or inadvertently drummed into them by overprotective dog parents. Older dogs that have been “only dogs” for years may not be keen on sharing their well-guarded home and beloved master with a new dog.
There’s a number of good ways to determine your dog’s openness to other dogs. You can visit the local dog park and observe how your dog does with strange dogs. You can arrange for a friend to bring his or her well-socialized and trained dog to a park, beach or playground and introduce the dogs in a stress-free, neutral environment. You can enroll your dog in a training class to brush up his manners and see how he does. Even if your dog was open to meeting new dogs when he was a puppy, he may no longer have such a positive outlook on his own kind. Dog daycare centers evaluate dogs before they allow them to spend a day, as only dog-friendly, easygoing dogs are welcome to register.
That being said, it’s not uncommon for dogs to have a ball playing in a dog park or on a beach. On neutral ground, dogs can be lighthearted and get along for the sake of good old canine fun. A different song begins to play when your dog realizes that “the strange dog in the park” is coming home to share his turf.
Introducing two dogs must be done slowly and carefully. It’s not advisable to let the “dogs be dogs” and just duke it out. Be ready to step in and take control when you see things getting too heated or hostile.
Think you’re ready to take the plunge?