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Why Getting a Second Dog is the Right Thing to Do

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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.

Before Getting a Second Dog

Before we get into all the fun and positive things about getting a second dog, you will want to consider a few things first.

Your answer to the questions below should all be yes if you’re 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 for a second pup.

Two dogs hugging

Is My Dog Well Socialised & 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.

Before you read any further, choose one of these audiobooks for FREE to expand your knowledge!

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 fits to your first dog.

It’s best to get a second dog that fits the needs of your current dog. Although possible, you 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 differences are just too big.

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!

Right?

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

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 behavioural 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).

Two dogs

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 12 Boredom Busters to Keep Your Dog Entertained in the Yard for some toy and game ideas that your two dogs can play 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 socialised, 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 having 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 issues.

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

The Second Dog Syndrome

Now I have mentioned that your first dog may become the primary role for your second dog and while this might save you some time, it will set the foundation for the “2nd dog syndrome”.

You have gained some experience in dog training with your first dog and once your second dog arrives you will be more laid back and let your first dog do most of the training. Or at least that’s the idea.

This will save you a lot of time and struggle but you will miss on the huge bonding and working relationship that you built with your first dog.

The definition of the second dog syndrome is that you won’t be the one that forms a strong relationship with the second dog. But how can you avoid this from happening?

When getting your second dog, make sure that you spend an equal amount of time with both of your dogs. The keyword here is one-on-one time. Training both dogs separately won’t make you compete with their relationship.

Make sure the dog still knows that you’re valuable and the “leader” (not to be confused with the dominance theory).

Don’t let training slide because your first dog definitely won’t do it all.

Will Getting Another Dog Help My Dog Calm Down

Two dogs that get along will definitely help each other calm down, especially if your second dog is struggling with separation anxiety.

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.

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About Danielle
I am the founder of PawLeaks where I share weekly tips on dog training and behavior. Sharing a passion for dogs and helping owners to solve problems through understanding canine behavior and modification is my number one goal.

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!

Danielle

Thursday 3rd of October 2019

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

Alexa

Monday 23rd of September 2019

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

Danielle

Sunday 29th of September 2019

I am very happy to hear that, Alexa!