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Second Dog Syndrome: What If You Hate Having Two Dogs?

Getting one dog is a big long-term commitment but getting a second dog means double the responsibility.

Every dog owner has probably played with this idea at least once.

You may wonder if it is the right time, if your first dog will get along with a second dog and if you should get a puppy or adopt an adult dog.

Reasons for this desire are plentiful and there are definitely cases where I’d say: Go for your second dog!

But also other cases where I’d personally never add to an existing pile of issues.

I’ll lay out super simple questions you need to be able to answer before bringing a second dog home and will explore the benefits.

But you also need to think about stuff like second dog syndrome or, cue the evil word, resentment on your part.

Let’s talk about the core questions.

What is the worst thing that could theoretically happen?

Do I actually want to have a second dog?

The Second Dog Syndrome

Second dog syndrome happens when dog owners forget how much work it was to train the first dog and rely on the existing dog teaching the second dog which is bound to cause behavioral issues or bonding issues.

A second dog can copy bad behavior patterns from your existing dog or arguably worse, will bond more with your dog than with you.

Two dogs hugging.
Photo by dezy on Shutterstock

Raising puppies is difficult.

You’ve probably gained some experience in dog training with your first dog, maybe you got them as a puppy or from the shelter.

Naturally, once your second dog arrives you’ll be more laid back and let your first dog do most of the teaching.

Or at least that’s the idea.

Best case, it saves you time and struggle but it will eventually create huge behavioral issues (regarding socialization, potty training, etc.) if minor issues are left unaddressed.

Also, you might lack the strong bond you built with your first dog.

This, in turn, can lead to resenting the puppy when you feel like the pup hates you.

But how can you avoid second dog syndrome?

When getting your second dog, make sure that you spend an equal amount of time with both of your dogs and occasionally train separately.

The keyword here is one-on-one time.

You’re the leader (not in the dominance theory sense) and you need to ensure not neglecting your current dog, but also not to neglect the new dog’s training.

Spending time with both dogs ensures both are balanced, well-socialized dogs with a healthy relationship, no attachment issues, and still lots of fun together.

Being ready to deal with your pup will prevent most issues.

However, all this won’t address your current dog’s social skills, your finances, and your time. All of this needs to be 100% cleared up before getting a dog.

Will Getting Another Dog Help My Dog Calm Down

Whether another dog will calm your current dog down depends on the cause of your dog’s behavior. Overexcitement or separation may get worse with another dog who mirrors that behavior.

Two dogs sit on a bench, one dog places a paw on the other dog's back.
Photo by Makarova Viktoria on Shutterstock

Usually, the dog you add will be a puppy or shelter dog.

A puppy is susceptible to looking at your dog for guidance and might copy bad behavior, thus only increasing household anxiety.

Shelter dogs need training too and come with their own set of baggage that needs to be addressed.

So not only is relying on the second dog to fix the anxiety most likely not going to work, but it’ll also impair the training of the new canine.

Two dogs that get along perfectly might benefit from each other in cases such as light separation anxiety but the opposite can be true.

Again, this is assuming that your first dog is super confident and can handle any issues that may arise with the second dog (never put your first dog at risk though).

Any underlying issue of separation anxiety will still need to be solved. Some symptoms will still be there and the excitement of having another dog may wear off.

If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, follow the tips outlined here to provide your dog with more comfort when being left alone.

Overexcited dogs may benefit from the extra mental exercise but that should also be addressed before getting another dog.

I Hate Having Two Dogs

If you hate having two dogs, ask yourself why you got them in the first place and whether you might just be projecting the struggle of training and caring for two dogs.

Unless you made a rushed decision, your case of hating to have a second dog might just be similar to puppy blues.

Everything is harder, more time-consuming, and more expensive and that can drain our mental energy.

Evaluate whether you had reasonable expectations going in and if there is anything you can do to make life as comfortable and fun for you and both your dogs.

Do you hate that they’re not engaging with each other?

Work on their bonding, playtime, and obedience training.

However, you can only do so much.

That’s why researching before getting a dog is absolutely crucial to make sure you don’t end up regretting adding a second dog.

You might need to take a step back if you’ve brought home the second dog to fix a problem with your first one.

Hire a professional trainer with a track record in whatever your issue is if unsure.

Before Getting a Second Dog

There are a couple of questions to ask yourself before planning on getting a second dog.

Obviously, extreme cases like a family death where you have to take the second dog are a different story compared to when you’re consciously deciding on a second pup.

Is My Dog Well Socialized & Ready?

Pay attention to how well your dog gets along with other canines.

Does he prefer being around older dogs while getting quickly annoyed by puppies? Then rescue and adoption might be the better choice.

If you have a calm dog, you might want to pair him with one that has a temperament just like him.

In other cases, adding a puppy to your older dog can actually help lift their spirits.

  1. Is he okay with both female and male dogs?
  2. Is he territorial when other dogs are around?
  3. Does he show signs of jealousy when you are petting another animal?
  4. Does he have a stable temperament?
  5. How is his temper around different pets or will they chase the cat together?

Do not add another dog to the household if you’re still in the process of raising a puppy.

Do not introduce an aggressive or fearful rescue dog if your current dog is not super confident.

Do not get a second dog if your current dog struggles with behavioral issues because these behavior patterns can quickly transfer to your second dog.

Make sure the second dog is suitable for your first dog.

It’s best to get a second dog that fits the needs of your current dog. Although possible, you most likely don’t want to have a Labrador Retriever paired with a Bloodhound.

Different breeds just have different exercise needs and preferences.

Also, consider your dog’s size when getting a second dog. It won’t be much fun for your Chihuahua to play with a Rottweiler.

The size and weight gap is insurmountable for most, although there are large dogs who can play with smaller ones.

My Rottweiler loves to wrestle with other dogs and getting her a feisty breed like the Boston Terrier or a French Bulldog would be possible but probably not best for both of them.

Am I Financially Ready?

Yes, dogs are expensive and getting a second dog will double your monthly expenses.

It will also require a lot more extra savings in case of emergency vet bills. Every item you currently have will need to be bought a second time.

Two dog beds, four food bowls, more toys, double the amount of food and so on. That can get pricey really quickly.

You can have a look at my last post on the ownership cost of dogs if you’re unsure what to plan for.

Do I Have Enough Time?

You might think that you are going out with your dog three times a day anyway, why not take a second dog with you?

But you cannot call it a day until both of your dogs get enough physical exercise, mental stimulation and bonding time.

The first thing that people forget is one-on-one time with each dog. It’s incredibly important for the bonding process and prevents jealousy on any side.

Daily training will take double the time and you will need to stay very consistent otherwise they will copy each others bad behavior.

Benefits of Having a Second Dog

Having one dog is wonderful, having two dogs – even better!


Well, there’s some truth to that if you’ve made the right preparations and have the space, time, and money to care for several dogs.

Getting a Second Dog to Keep the First Company

Getting a second dog to keep the first company can work if your current dog is social and has no serious underlying issues such as separation anxiety.

Dogs love canine interaction and what is better than having your own 24/7 play buddy at home?

Two dogs will prevent each other from getting bored and are less likely to develop separation anxiety.

When being left alone, they will give each other company which decreases stress and they won’t feel abandoned.

Dogs are pack animals, right? Playing, eating, sleeping will be double fun and it also keeps their socialization habits up to date.

Not necessarily though.

If you have a very independent breed or if your current dog has behavioral issues, they will transfer and you’ll have double the stress on your hands.

Don’t try to solve problems by getting a second dog. Training first.

Spending Less Time on Physical Exercise

Physical exercise definitely takes a good chunk of the day depending on what breed you have.

Some dogs get tired with a bit of fetch & obedience training and others come home and immediately wait for the second and third walk.

Two dogs will be way more engaged with each other when being outside (hopefully).

They will usually run and play together when being off-leash. You won’t have to spend as much time on physical exercise as before because they will do a part of the job for you.

If you have a yard, you should definitely read my post on 13 Boredom Busters to Keep Your Dog Entertained in the Yard for some toy and game ideas that your two dogs can play with, either with you or on their own.

The Second Dog Will Be Much Easier to Train

If you have a well-behaved and obedience-trained adult first dog then training will be much easier when bringing home a second dog.

The new dog will try to follow the habits of your first dog as much as possible that’s why it’s so important to have him completely trained first.

Especially if you take home a new puppy, you will have less struggle with housetraining, crying at night and leash training.

The puppy used to learn everything from his mother and littermates so your dog will be the primary role model.

Socialization will be way easier too because the puppy watches how the older dog reacts to stimuli in every situation.

That’s all IF your current dog is well-socialized, confident, and trained.

Double the Health Benefits

Ask yourself how much you really enjoy spending time with one dog. It should make you happy and release stress whenever you are with him.

Dogs have many positive mental and physical influences on us.

Seeing two dogs play together makes me by far the happiest and that’s why I would love to have a second dog too.

Two dogs will give you double the mental health benefits that hold anxiety and depression at bay.

It’s incredible how happy dogs can make us but if you’re struggling with any health issues at the moment, getting another dog won’t solve that issue.

Again, your own health first and the second dog is just the cherry on top.

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Disclaimer: This blog post does not substitute veterinary attention and does not intend to do so. I am not a veterinarian or pet nutritionist. If your dog shows any sign of illness, call your vet.

About Danielle

Equipped with 5+ years of expertise as a Rottweiler owner, I partner with licensed veterinarians and trainers to share research-backed and actionable advice for you and your furry friend.

Lindsay Pevny

Wednesday 2nd of October 2019

I didn't have much of a choice in adopting Cow - at the time, she was my neighbor's dog and she was completely neglected, and now, years later, I can't imagine life without her. Matilda is only about 5 pounds, and Cow's about 27 pounds, so there's a significant size difference, but they've learned to play fairly together. I always catch Cow lowering herself to the ground to give Matilda a more fair chance, and she pretends to let Matilda spook her... or, more likely, she actually does get spooked sometimes. It's so fun to watch them, they're like a lava lamp!


Thursday 3rd of October 2019

Their relationship sounds amazing! Thank you for sharing your experience, Lindsay.


Monday 23rd of September 2019

We are getting a second dog in two weeks and your blog has helped me so much already!


Sunday 29th of September 2019

I am very happy to hear that, Alexa!