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Does My Dog Want to be an Only Dog?

Let’s be real.

People who think their dog “needs” a second dog probably either 1) want a second dog for themselves or 2) feel guilty because their dog’s needs aren’t met or 3) it’s a mix of both.

If it’s just you wanting a dog, that may be fine depending on your circumstances and your first dog.

You’ve got a real mess at your hands if your dog is not the one wanting a four-legged companion and you do it anyway.

In case you honestly evaluate your dog’s daily life and arrive at the conclusion that you’re trying to compensate for shortcomings with a second dog, you need to change something.

Worst-case? You don’t like caring for two dogs AND your current dog doesn’t really like other dogs on top of not having their needs met currently.

To evaluate whether your dog should be a single fur baby or not depends on three factors.

What you need to make two dogs work

You want a dog, your dog wants another dog, and your dog’s needs are currently met (including time and money).

Only if all three criteria are fulfilled should you consider a second dog.

Graphic explaining when it's the right time to get a second. If not all three criteria are met, your dog better stays an only dog.
Graphic by

Best case: You want a second dog / Your dog wants a second dog / Your dog’s needs are currently met

Mess: You want one / dog doesn’t OR your dog’s needs aren’t met

Even worse: You want one / dog doesn’t AND your dog’s needs aren’t met

Worst-case: You don’t want one / dog doesn’t want one / nobody’s needs are met

If you think you’ve got it all covered, go ahead and get a second dog.

But in case there’s any doubt, make a pros and cons list and honestly evaluate the results.

Folks, second dog syndrome is a real thing.

It’s probably you who wants a second dog

Dog owners who tackle this with the question “Does my dog want to be an only dog” probably already know the answer, whereas others who phrase it this way “Would my dog enjoy a second dog” at least think that their dog likes other dogs and may enjoy spending time with a second pup.

Two dogs with soft eyes looking up at a human inside a house with.
Photo by damedeeso on Depositphotos

Whether it’s true or not, only you can tell.

Observe how your dog plays and interacts with other dogs. Even if they do have fun outside together, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your dog absolutely has to have a playmate available 24/7.

Some dogs only like interacting with specific types of other dogs and that’s okay.

But if that’s the case you need to choose a potential second dog even more carefully, otherwise there will be clashes inside the house.

Most of the time, dogs are satisfied with being the only dog inside the home as long as you provide mental and physical stimulation and have them socialize with other dogs regularly (assuming they’re into that).

Whether you want another dog for the sake of owning two or because you think it would keep your current one busy, you need to keep an eye on the big picture.

Signs your dog wants to be an only dog

There are many signs your dog may want to stay an only dog or needs to stay the only dog for the time being until you iron out some behavioral issues.

If any of the following describes your dog you may want to overthink doubling the workload:

  • Dislikes most other dogs
  • Gets stiff or tense when around other dogs
  • Suffers from separation anxiety
  • Exhibits destructive behavior
  • Not exercised sufficiently
  • Is often restlessly pacing
  • Involved in dog fights before
  • Struggles with change

Contrary to some articles out there, I won’t tell you to fix these problems by adding a furry companion.

Too often have I seen these issues stay despite the added companion or even intensify because of it.

Your dog has to be able to get along with other dogs before you add a second one. They need to be fully developed, confident dogs that can stay alone and handle the stress of a new dog on the block.

In case your pup’s not ready yet doesn’t mean that they won’t be. But it’d be foolish to expect issues to fix themselves without addressing the root cause.

Some articles really tell you that “excessive barking” could be a sign your dog needs a friend.


Excessive barking could just mean your dog wants your attention. Or they may experience stress due to separation anxiety. Or they may suffer from a medical condition. Or it’s simply a tendency of that specific breed.

If you currently have any reason to believe your dog “wants” another dog, rule out any behavioral or medical issues first.

Dog owners who can’t get to the bottom of what causes their dog to behave a certain way should consult a veterinarian or certified behaviorist.

Next, make sure your dog is ready. Then you make sure you’re ready.

If you keep all these tips in mind and honestly evaluate whether your dog should be a only dog, you should be set up for success or at least know what to work on.

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.