Many dog owners wonder whether having two dogs is better than one.
The answer to that depends on your abilities and needs. And on the dog’s personality.
When I got my first dog, the woman at the Humane Society tried to convince me I should adopt two.
I realize they were trying to save another dog. Because I was a little nervous about taking on the responsibility of one dog, there was no way I was ready to take on two.
Browning was a high-energy, beagle-Labrador puppy. He was a chewer, a digger, and a scratcher.
When she left, he hated being left home alone in the laundry room for long stretches and became destructive.
He chewed and scratched the door frame, scratched the paint on the wall, and even scraped a hole in the vinyl floor covering.
Becoming a two-dog owner
So, a few months later, I got a second dog when a friend needed to find a home for an abandoned puppy.
It was the best decision I ever made. Finley was a sweet, mellow, beagle-cocker spaniel mix. And his destructive behavior stopped once Browning had a buddy to run and play with during the day.
Dogs are pack animals; some dogs, like Browning, need the comfort of having at least a small pack. Sometimes, getting a second dog to keep the first company can solve many problems like separation anxiety or boredom.
Their pairing worked because the dogs got along. Determining second-dog compatibility is crucial.
You’ll often see people who find a breed they like and then adopt multiple dogs from that breed, often overlapping so they always have at least one dog.
Like my Sydney, an Australian shepherd-corgi mix, other dogs are perfectly content being only children.
She was intelligent and independent. She enjoyed playing at doggy daycare or being around other dogs at agility training, but our home is her castle, and she didn’t want anyone else crowding her throne.
Nutmeg, my Pembroke Welsh Corgi, also likes being an only dog. Although, I’ve pondered the merits of adding another Corgi puppy to our home before she gets much older.
Before adding another dog, consider the benefits of having two dogs and weigh the pros and cons. Then, if you decide to add a second dog, here are a few two-dog household tips:
To successfully introduce a second dog into your family, the best time to add it is when the first is 2 to 3 years old. In a multiple-dog household, it’s best to add a younger dog.
You can add another dog when the first is older, but it likely will take more work. You also may struggle if you have intact male or intact female dogs. So, spaying and neutering are critical.
Not only will you be working on training the new dog or puppy, but you’ll also need to make sure you have plenty of time to spend one-on-one with the older dog to make sure the dog still feels loved and doesn’t get nervous that he’s losing his place.
Can you leave the dogs alone? Yes, if both are well-behaved. You don’t want to put the dogs in a situation where one could injure the other.
Littermates are more likely to bond with each other than with their owner. They are also more likely to exhibit bullying and aggression.
Littermates are more likely to bond with each other than with their owner. They also are more likely to exhibit bullying and aggression.
Analyze the costs
Start by recognizing that owning a dog is expensive. From adoption fees to vet fees to food, toys, and more.
Figure out how much it will cost to own a dog for at least 15 years. Then, double that if you’re planning to get a second pup.
Gender of the second dog
If you’re adding a second dog to your family, the experts recommend adopting a dog of the opposite sex. Two male dogs are more likely to compete over food, toys, and their owners’ affection.
The bottom line on adding another dog
Trust your instincts. And analyze your dog. A pair of dogs can love to play and help entertain each other.
If you have a dog that struggles with separation anxiety or is destructive when bored, adding another dog can eliminate behavior problems.
Would adding a second dog enhance your dog’s life? If so, and you have the time, patience, and financial means — go ahead and get a second dog.
Sara B. Hansen has spent 20-plus years as a professional editor and writer. She’s also the author of The Complete Guide to Cocker Spaniels. She decided to create her dream job by launching DogsBestLife.com in 2011. Sara grew up with family dogs, and since she bought her first house, she’s had a furry companion or two to help make it a home. She shares her heart and home with Nutmeg, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi. Her previous dogs: Sydney (September 2008-April 2020), Finley (November 1993-January 2008), and Browning (May 1993-November 2007). You can reach Sara @ firstname.lastname@example.org.