When Is The Right Time To Add A Second Dog To Your Household?
Have you played with the thought of adding a second dog to your household?
I mean, why not right?
Two times the unconditional love in the house would be awesome and many people love having two dogs not just for their own sake but also for their other dog to have a companion.
And sometimes, it can be a wonderful addition.
Heck, have 5 dogs if that is what makes you happy AND if everybody is ready for it.
And this is the crucial thing…. Is EVERYONE is actually ready for it?
Too often things go south either between dogs or simply because people are overwhelmed and the dogs are the ones who will suffer. It important no to be selfish but look at it from a critical point before making this huge decision to add another dog.
Let’s look at a few questions to ask yourself and then let’s reiterate on them.
1. Why do you want to add a second dog?
Is it for you or for your dog?
In the end, a second dog should always be added for YOU first and for your other dog second. You are the one that will be stuck with the work … it’s time same like don’t get a dog for your kids, cause you’ll be the one taking care of it.
So don’t just think it would be great for your other dog to have a companion because there is so much more to that.
It will also mean double the cost not only for food but also for vet care which can be unpredictable and double the pet insurance. Do you have the funds for this?
Do you know that travelling with two dogs is more challenging? It can be even harder to find hotels AND it also often costs double the pet fee.
Are you ready to invest double the time and money for training? Etc.
So always make sure that you’re ready for this part.
2. Is your other dog ready to be with a second dog?
This is such an important part to consider. Even if your first dog may actually love dogs, we have to look a little further to determine their and your readiness to add another companion.
Let’s look at this first…
When should you wait to add an additional dog?
- If your current dog is under 2 years old, you have to understand that they are not fully mature in their personality (for some large breeds it takes even longer). That means as they grow, they may be behaviour changes and potential new challenges. This could cause conflict between your current and new dog AND could cause a lot of more extra work for you. So, if you’re dog is under two years you may want to wait because it simply is just easier for you to tackle if at least one has a solid personality to be able to assess what kind of dog is right to be added. That doesn’t mean it’s fully off the table to get a second dog before your first dog is above two years old but it would mean that your first dog already has a very solid amount of training and manners.
- If your dog has any current behavior issues whether that is any form of reactivity or aggression (towards people or other animals), anxiety related issues (separation anxiety, barking etc.) or is simply not fully trained yet and has still poor manners, it is not the time to add a second dog.
I know you may think that adding a second dog could help improve their behaviour or give them extra exercise but really, most of them time it goes the other way. If your current dog has any behaviour issues, it is your responsibility to tackle these first and make sure they are fully under control. It’s hard work to train one dog but if you think two dogs is easier, think again…because then you’re actually training 3 dogs. Dog Nr. 1 by itself, dog Nr. 2 by itself and then Dog Nr. 1 and Nr. 2 together (which creates your 3rd “dog”).
Also, there is a high chance that your current dog’s behavior may be lead to your second dog also having issues (especially if you add a puppy…monkey see monkey do!). If one dog isn’t up to par, how do you think 2 will be if both have issues? Do you think life with them is going to be a breeze? Not only is it a lot of work, but you’re also looking and more money to invest into training and if you’re not willing to spend money and time and the first dogs training you have no business adding a second one if you want to present yourself as a responsible dog owner.
Look, I know you may not want to hear this but it is important to make sure that everybody gets the life they deserve. Not only the dogs but you too. It’s not fun feeling like a prisoner with your dogs when all you want is go out and have fun with them.
I personally waited almost 6 years to add a second dog. My first dog is about as solid as she can be and when it comes to other dogs, she’s kind of indifferent. She could take it or leave it. I decided to add a dog solely for myself, not for her, cause she couldn’t care less. Actually, she’d prefer to have me to herself but that’s not her choice.
My second dog has his challenges, even after 5 years and when they are drastically reduced. For my own sake I decided, that once my old solid old dog passes, the chance of me adding a second dog (never say never) will be very small.
Why? Because my current second dog needs the attention behaviour wise and adding a second dog would mean a lot of hard work and I personally don’t want to do that. Having one solid dog first, and one that needs more guidance is already a lot of work by itself and I don’t want to risk having a second dog that could potentially take on some of the behaviours’ my current dog has. PLUS I want to invest my energy and time in the dog that I already have that needs it and deserves it. It would be fair to him or me to add another dog unless it’s the perfect match. He was here first, so he deserves to get everything he needs.
So when is a good time to add an additional dog?
If your first dog is above 2 years old AND very well trained and mannered and truly enjoys other dogs or at least is indifferent about having a second dog in the house you can go ahead and add an additional dog for your own happiness.
If you follow the above and are truly ready to add a second dog, you can have a wonderful life that gives everybody what they need and it can be such a joy to have multiple dogs for you and for your other animals in the house potentially.
This isn’t to say don’t get a second dog at all, but it’s a serious decision to make that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
And as a last advice (it’s a whole other article I could write about), if you get a second dog, consult with a trainer before hand to learn more about how to integrate and introduce the new dog, whether puppy or adult dog, into your new home for the best success and a happy long life.
About the author:
Simone Krebser - CPDT: Owner and head dog trainer of K9 Possible Dog Training serving the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia from Osoyoos to Penticton and Kelowna. Certified dog trainer, certified pet first aid instructor, member of the IACP, dog crazy and chocolate/cheese addict. “My life revolves around dog’s day in and out and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It is my goal to help enhance the lives of all the adventurous and outdoorsy dog owners that crave no limits”