Having a dog in your life is one of the most special things. They bring us so much joy and are completely part of our family. And for a lot of people when they have one, they’d like more! Double the dogs and double the love!
But sometimes it isn’t the best all round to get another dog so here are a few things to consider before setting your heart on getting a second (or subsequent) dog:
Generally as dog lovers we are always going to be excited at the prospect of another dog (puppy or rescue) joining our family. But that isn’t always the case for your resident dog.
It is easy to get swept up in the idea and not really think about the cost. Two dogs does double your financial outgoings, and more so if the second dog is a larger breed. But also important is the time cost. Many people mistakenly think a second dog won’t take any extra work, or time, and may even reduce your effort as they will “keep your dog company”.
Any dog joining your family will need individual training time to help them bond with you and learn about being part of your family. You can’t rely on them “picking things up” from your current dog. This take a lot of time and effort to be done correctly and can have drastic effects if ignored.
Is it right? Right now?
You also need to consider if it’s right for both your current dog and the new dog. If your current dog has any behavioural concerns these will not improve just by getting another dog. In fact they are much more likely to teach your new dog the same problem behaviours and so you end up with more issues. If your dog is doing any behaviours you wish they wouldn’t you should seek the help of a force-free trainer before getting another dog.
If your dog or the dog you are considering find it difficult around other dogs it is unlikely to be a stress free home life for any of you by introducing the new dog. Even if you do manage an interaction and they get on well, you won’t “cure” reactive behaviours towards other dogs just by having another dog in the home.
And some dogs just find the increase arousal of another dog tiring or hard work. Some prefer the quiet life and don’t want to be pestered or expected to play all the time. Others would find it hard to stop playing and this can be difficult to manage and have negative impacts on the rest of their behaviour. Think about how your dog has been around other dogs, can they settle? Are they comfortable with other dogs around their toys? Sometimes a second dog is the last thing your dog would like!
Older dog and new pup
A time when it is very common for people to consider getting a new puppy is when their current dog is becoming elderly. They often want their now well behaved dog to teach the pup. And to have the pup there to soften the blow when they do eventually lose the beloved older pet.
For the older dog it really depends on where they’re at. If it’s a healthy old dog and not starting to struggle then a new pup can be good all round, can give the old dog a bit of excitement and they often have a second puppyhood and it can be lots of fun. Sometimes the old dog can help with training but they can also teach bad habits too! You will have to do lots of management to ensure the older dog is still able to rest and doesn’t have to “put up with” being mouthed by a puppy all the time!
If the elderly dog is starting to struggle, physically or with cognitive decline then it usually isn’t a good idea. The puppy and the old dog won’t get the attention they need and the family can resent the puppy for increasing their work load and stressing out their beloved old dog, often making things worse for everyone. The puppy doesn’t develop well because they aren’t receiving the training they need and the older dog has a stressful time at the end. Sometimes it is best to say goodbye at the right time, grieve and then consider opening your home to a new dog when you’re ready.
There isn’t a set, perfect age to add a second dog into your home. And some dogs are happier living just with people. But if you are considering another dog then ideally your current dog should be physically and mentally mature. With no habits or behaviours you need to work on. And you will have plenty of time to bring on the new dog to get them as happy and confident as your first!