Introducing a second dog into your family shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s a difficult decision that must take your own circumstances and the needs of your existing dog into consideration.
While there are plenty of success stories, there are also many sad endings. Asking yourself a series of questions is a good place to start.
Do you have the time and money needed for a new dog? Is everyone in your family on board? What will happen if your dogs don’t get along? Whether your new and current dog accept each other is down to your planning and preparation.
The right dog could bring tremendous joy to your family, but the wrong choice could put you and your dog under extreme stress.
This topic is pretty close to my heart right now. We’re considering a second dog from a rescue to join our little family. We’ve battled with the realities and the what ifs, and if you’re reading this you’re likely going through the same thought process.
So let’s take a moment to put things into perspective and look at those important pros and cons.
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Bring more joy to your family
Our dogs make extraordinary companions for us humans. I’ll proudly hold my hands up and say I wholeheartedly love my Loki to pieces. I simply couldn’t imagine life without her now.
So it’s not foolish to think another furry friend would bring double the pleasure. If you’re like me you have visions of the pair of them bounding around the garden, wrestling on the living room floor and snuggling up on the sofa together. Sounds heavenly, doesn’t it…
And this could be a reality if you ensure both dogs are right for each other.
You must consider the temperament of your current dog first. If your dog loves playing with other dogs, a new dog with the same outlook could be a great match.
If your dog doesn’t tolerate other dogs when they’re out on walks or around your home, it would be irresponsible to introduce a second dog.
Company for each other when you’re not around
If your dog is left home alone most of the day, a second dog can provide companionship. Generally speaking, dogs are happiest in the company of others. Instead when they’re feeling bored or lonely, they’ll have a sibling to interact with.
You should know your dog well enough to decide whether they’d appreciate a new friend. They shouldn’t be a substitute for the time you spend with your first dog. If you think a second dog will help you slide your responsibilities as an owner, you should seriously reconsider. They won’t just exercise each other and pass on the rules of the house.
Both dogs will need your time for walks and training, but a good match will offer company when the house is quiet and lonely.
A great playmate
In my case, Loki is obsessed with playing with other dogs. She absolutely lives for it! This is one of our main reasons for wanting a second dog.
There’s only so much playtime we can give her before she gets bored. But put another dog in front of her and they’ll roll around for hours.
If your dog loves to play with other dogs and the new dog is just as playful, they could be best friends for life. They’ll have a friend that understands all the nuances that come with dog play, and those wrestling sessions can be a great way to burn some excess energy. Not a replacement for their daily walks mind you!
But it’ll provide a great bonding session for play driven pooches who are more dog focused than human focused.
Could bring out the best in each other
I raise this point cautiously in the pro section because it does depend on a few factors. I’ve spoken to a few people who’ve said their new dog was the making of their existing dog.
If you have a rather introverted pooch with low confidence, introducing a friendly outgoing dog could bring them out of their shell. The support of their new friend could give them confidence to explore new things and let go of anxieties.
Your existing dog could also help your new pup grasp house training and recall quicker. That’s if your current dog is house trained and has great recall. This could have the opposite effect if your dog is poorly trained – you could end up with these issues in both dogs.
That’s why it’s advised to introduce another when you’re happy with your current dog’s level of training. If they have any bad habits such as chewing furniture, jumping up on people or excessive barking, these can rub off on your new dog.
Manage your existing dog’s behaviour with training before you consider a second if that is the case.
Now here’s the obvious one – can you provide financially for a second dog? Think about how much your current dog costs you every year. Can you reasonably double that expense?
Do you have a healthy emergency fund for unexpected vet bills? Consider how much more it will cost every month for flea and worming treatments, insurance, food, grooming, boarding for holidays, and potentially dog walking services.
The cost of a second dog will add up and make a dent in your monthly outgoings. Getting another dog could mean you have to cut back on things you enjoy in life. So you must consider if that expense is worth it to you.
Double the mess
Inevitably another dog means more mess around the home. For house-proud owners this could be a big deal. There’ll be twice as many paws trekking filth throughout your home and a second food bowl to clean.
You’ll have to make time to bathe two dogs and pick up after another poop machine. You’ll have to clean more toys, another bed and contend with more dog fur around your home.
Think about whether you’re ok with the extra mess and if you have time to keep on top of it.
May not get along
This is the biggest concern I have and it’s no doubt played on your mind. A second dog could completely shake up your family dynamic and upset your current dog. If they feel threatened or irritated by a new dog they could hate each other and fight.
In which case your life would revolve around keeping them separate. Or they’d end up in a rescue centre as far too many dogs do.
You and I don’t want this scenario which is why it pays to plan and prepare. Make sure the dog is a good fit for your family in advance. When visiting the new dog, ask if you can bring your dog along so they can meet on mutual ground. Then be sure to assess their behaviour together before you make a decision.
Could pick up bad behaviours
As I mentioned in the pros section a new addition could bring out the best of both dogs, but it could just as easily cause the opposite. Your current dog’s bad behaviours can be imitated by your new dog, especially if they’re a malleable puppy.
And say for instance you bring a rescue dog home with behavioural issues; these fears and aggressions could affect your well-trained pooch. If they bark at other dogs, your dog could feel compelled to join in with the hype.
When considering a second dog, you need to cover all bases. It’s not a decision you can make on a whim. Think about what impact this will have on your family, your wallet, and your current dog.
If you have an old dog and you’re thinking about getting a new puppy, this may not be the best match. A puppy can be relentless and could be bothersome for an older dog. They may not be willing to tolerate that kind of boisterous energy while they’re in their twilight years.
A good rule of thumb is to introduce a dog with similar energy levels and temperament as your current dog. I’ve also read it’s suggested to find a different breed and sex so they don’t feel in competition with each other. Although I don’t see any exact science behind this. It seems to depend on the breed and relies more heavily on the temperament of each dog.
We’re fully prepared to wait a few years if needs be to find the perfect dog for us. Don’t rush into choosing a dog, take time to ensure they’re right for your family. By approaching the process with clarity and caution you’ll soon find a wonderful furry companion for you and your dog. And I’m sure you won’t regret it!
Are you ready to get another dog? Do you have a success story to share, or are you having trouble with a dog you brought home recently? Let us know in the comments below.
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