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 may think "the more, the merrier!" This may sometimes be true, but you still need to know that adding another dog to your household is a big decision. Think it over before you decide on dog number two. There are several factors to consider before getting a second dog.

Is Your Dog Ready For a Housemate?

First things first: think about how your dog might 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 may be a bad idea. If you decide you really want a second dog anyway, then be sure to get some help from a dog trainer or behaviorist first. A professional may be able to help 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 are 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 train dog number one first before you get the second dog.

Does your dog have any major behavior problems? Know that a second dog is not a solution to behavior problems like excessive barking or separation anxiety. In fact, adding the second dog could make the problem worse. Your new dog could even pick up some bad habits from your first dog. That's double trouble!

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 well-managed? 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 prepared to take on the extra commitment of a second dog? You may think that having two dogs is nearly the same as one, but that is not necessarily 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 meantime, that means 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? Are you willing to do the training and behavior modification work necessary? Can you afford to get help from a trainer or behaviorist? 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!

Next, it's time to choose the right second dog.