How to Choose a Second Dog

Finding the Right Dog to Be Your Dog's Companion

Two Dogs Playing In The Snow
Francisca Höftmann / EyeEm / Getty Images

Have you decided that you and your dog are ready to add a second dog to the household? Congratulations! Now it's time to find the right dog for the family. Making the right match means the transition will go more smoothly for you and your dog. It also means that dog number two is less likely to end up back where she came from. Here's what you should consider when choosing a second dog:

Find Your Dog's Soulmate

How can you make the right match? Consider the following:

Personality: Think about the interactions your dog has had with other dogs. Is there a certain type of dog he seems to like? Maybe he really loves playful dogs. Or, perhaps he prefers laid-back dogs. Many dogs want to be around dogs that act like them, but sometimes it's not a good match (like two nervous dogs or two hyper dogs feeding off one another). Think about the dogs that make your dog seem at ease. Your hyperactive dog might calm down a bit around a more gentle dog who still likes to play. Your fearful, insecure dog might be at ease around a confident, outgoing dog that's not too overbearing. 

Size: In general, dogs of similar size are better pairs. This is not to say that Great Danes and Yorkies cannot be good housemates. However, a great size difference increases the risks of the little dog getting hurt (even by accident). You will need to work harder on training and socialization with these dogs and watch them very closely during interactions.

Age: Your dog's age may also be a factor to consider. For instance, a senior dog may not have much patience for an active puppy. You might want to try to get dogs that are closer in age.

Sex: Many experts recommend betting two dogs of the opposite sex. It may be true that dogs of the same sex are more likely to fight. However, if your dogs and spayed or neutered, well-trained and properly socialized, then sex may not be a major factor.

No matter what dog you choose to bring into your home, it will be imperative that you monitor all interactions closely, regardless of factors like sex, age, and size.

Consider the New Dog's Needs

If you have a short-haired dog that needs minimal grooming, you might want to think twice before adding a dog in need of routine haircuts and baths. Also, if your current dog is a total couch potato and you bring home an active dog, are you prepared to start exercising the new dog frequently? 

Before You Choose Dog Number Two

Let the dogs meet on neutral territory. If possible, have a fence or barrier separating them (rather than having the two on leashes, as this can spark some aggression for some dogs). If the two seem open to meeting and interested in one another, then you can at least see that there is hope. If one or both dogs seems to really dislike the other, then you might need to keep looking for the right dog.

Once you have found the right dog, it's important that you properly introduce the two dogs and allow them to adjust to each other over time. This requires some work on your part.