Should You Get a Second Dog?

How to Choose Dog Number Two

two dogs playing and running
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Are you thinking about getting a second dog? As a dog lover, you might be thinking the more, the merrier! While this is true in some ways, you still need to know that adding another dog to your household is a big decision. Think it over carefully before you decide on dog number two. There are several factors you should consider before getting a second dog.

Is Your Dog Ready For a Housemate?

Think about how your dog will react to having another dog in the house. Consider your dog's temperament around other dogs. Does he get along well with most dogs? Have you ever had another dog in your home to see his reaction? If your dog has any history of fighting with other dogs or any kind of dog-dog aggression, then adding a second dog is not a good idea yet. If you decide you really want a second dog at some point, then be sure to get some help from a dog trainer or behaviorist. A professional may be able to help you desensitize your dog to other dogs and possibly even become more accepting of other dogs.

There is another factor to keep in mind: Is your dog well-trained? If not, you're really going to have your hands full with a second dog. That means training each dog separately, then training the two together. It's a lot of work! Having one poorly trained dog is bad enough, but having two can cause chaos. You really need to work on training with your current dog before you get another dog. Then, your well-trained dog can actually help in training your new dog!

Does your dog have any major behavior problems? A second dog is not necessarily a solution for behavior problems like excessive barking or separation anxiety. Because behavior problems sometimes occur due to boredom and loneliness, you may think that getting your dog a companion will fix everything. Yes, it may help if your dog bonds with the new dog. However, adding a second dog could actually make the problem worse. Your new dog may even pick up some bad habits from your first dog. That's double trouble! It's best to work with a professional to address your dog's issues before you add another dog into the mix.

Does your dog have health problems? If so, are they under control? Adding a second dog to your home may cause stress that can exacerbate a medical condition. Talk with your vet and make sure your dog's health condition is as well-managed as possible. Be prepared for a possible relapse or change in the health condition after the new dog is introduced.

Are You Ready to Take On Another Dog?

What about you? Are you really prepared to take on the extra commitment of a second dog? You may think that having two dogs is practically the same as having just one, but this is not always the case.

First, think about the training that your new dog will need. All dogs need basic training when they first come into a new home. Some dogs will need more training than others. Once you complete some training for your new dog, you will need to brush up on the training for dog number one. Eventually, it will be time to train your two dogs together. They will need to learn how to get along, have healthy interactions, walk together, play nicely, and so on. This process will take time. In the beginning, you may need to deal with separate walks, separate living spaces, and separate feeding areas.

Did you think about the extra cost of a second dog? You have one dog, so you already know that dogs can be expensive. Now there is a second dog to pay for. That's twice the food, extra dog supplies, and double the vet bills. Plus, there are all the other little costs that may come with dog ownership, like trainers, doggy daycare, and more. Can you budget for all of that?

What happens if the two dogs don’t get along? Or, what if they pick up one another’s bad habits? Make sure you are willing to do the training and behavior modification work that is needed. Determine is you can afford to get help from a trainer or behaviorist, if necessary. The last thing you would want to do is give back dog number two--that would really be tragic.

If you have considered all of the above factors and decided you are ready to add a second dog, congratulations! Now it's time to choose the right second dog.