Should I get a second dog?

Bringing a second dog into the home often sounds like a good idea, but it can also cause problems in certain situations. Here are common reasons for getting a second dog and my thoughts on why it might or might not be a good idea.

My Dog is Bored
You might have the best intentions for getting a second dog to act as a playmate for your first dog, but it might not solve the problem. If your first dog is bored, there is a good chance that he or she is not getting enough time and attention in the form of exercise and training. The second dog might entertain your first dog somewhat, but the new dog will not train himself. What you might end up with is having two bored dogs, with the second dog being less obedient due to your lack of time.

My Dog Has Separation Anxiety
If your first dog has separation anxiety, getting a second dog might help alleviate some of the problems. However, you could end up having two anxious dogs on your hands. If your dog does not like to be away from people specifically, getting a second dog will not solve the problem. Also, if your dog has high levels of anxiety the second dog might start to get anxious as well. I always recommend that people address behavior problems or training issues with the first dog before bringing a second dog into the mix.

My Dog is Dog Aggressive
Sometimes people think that getting a second dog will get their first dog accustomed to dogs and it will be easier to introduce him to other dogs in the future. This strategy is not recommended. If you practice a sound desensitization and management strategy you might end up with two dogs that like each other. However, depending on the level of aggression of the first dog, you might end up with anxious or injured dogs as well.

My Dog is Doing Great and I Want A Playmate for Him
Great! This is when you should consider getting a second dog. I always recommend that the first dog is about 90% of where you want him to be in regards to socialization and training before bringing another dog home. Assuming you have the time to devote to acclimating your second dog into the mix by doing the necessary socialization and training, go for it! 

I am always amazed at how often I hear people say, “Having a second dog really isn’t too much more time than having one dog.” There are exceptions to this, but it doesn’t take any more time to have two untrained dogs. But, to have two well trained, properly socialized, healthy and properly groomed dogs takes a lot of time!

Before You Get a Second Dog Consider These Points
Second dogs frequently receive less training and socialization than the first dog. To properly socialize a second dog (especially a puppy) he should be trained and socialized separately so he learns to be independent and well behaved on his own. I frequently see second dogs that have more behavior problems because their issues are not addressed individually. 

It is also important to teach dogs to be alone in crates or other areas of the house so you can train dogs individually without barking and anxiety from the dog that is alone. When you can only train dogs together, it is more difficult to focus on each dog’s individual needs.

Working with two dogs takes more time. 

Other considerations are the time and expense for vet bills and food. Proper vet care can be extremely expensive, especially for puppies and older dogs. It would be tragic to give dogs less medical care because the expense of two dogs makes proper care too costly. 

I hope this helps you decide if it is time to get a second dog.

I have three dogs and believe that they are happier because of the companionship. But, it is important to weigh all of the options before making a decision. Keep in mind that you can always take your dog to dog parks and other locations to play with dogs, but your schedule might not be as flexible to provide two dogs with the time and attention they need.

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