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.
My sister stayed with me that first summer, which meant he was only alone for a few hours each day. That made it easier to train him.
When she left, he hated being left home alone for long stretches in the laundry room 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, when a friend needed to find a home for an abandoned puppy, I got a second dog.
It was the best decision I ever made. Finley was a sweet, mellow, beagle-cocker spaniel mix. And once Browning had a buddy to run and play with during the day, his destructive behavior stopped.
Dogs are pack animals and 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 being a bored dog.
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.
Other dogs, like my Sydney, an Australian shepherd-corgi mix, are perfectly content being only children. She’s smart and independent. She enjoys her time playing at doggy daycare or being around other dogs at agility training, but our home is her castle, and she doesn’t want anyone else crowding her throne.
Before you add another dog, weigh the pros and cons of having a pair. Then if you decide to add the second dog, here are a few two dog household tips:
The dogs’ age
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.
When the first is older, you can add another dog, but it likely will take more work.
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 rather 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.
Use this pet ownership cost guide to 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.
Trust your instincts. And analyze your dog. Would adding a second dog enhance her life? If so, and you have the time, patience, and financial means — go ahead and get a second dog.
Sara B. Hansen has spent the past 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 Dog’s Best Life. 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 puppy. Her previous dogs: Sydney (September 2008-April 2020), Finley (November 1993-January 2008), and Browning (May 1993-November 2007). You can reach Sara @ [email protected].