You might sometimes pray that you become the person your dog already thinks you are. Dogs are sources of unconditional love and limitless joy when you raise them right. Dog owners not only live longer but also better.
If your life is already enriched by having one dog, have you thought about having two dogs? The amount of work involved goes up but doesn’t necessarily double, although the benefits of having more than one dog certainly go up exponentially.
Only you can make this decision. Before you do, it’s helpful to know certain things, including the pros, the cons, and crucial considerations of owning more than one dog.
Having More Than One Dog: The Pros
Curious what the potential benefits of more than one dog in your home are? Consider these possibilities:
- Exponentially More Fun: Adding another dog doesn’t just double the number of loving relationships in your home, because your two dogs will hopefully love each other, too. Instead of just playing with one dog, you can play with either one or both. That’s three options for antics and fun instead of just two!
- You Can Handle It: Depending on the size of the two dogs, you should be able to handle walking both at the same time.
- Young Dogs Turn Into Playmates: Most dogs need a certain amount of play to stay healthy, and you might not always have the time or energy. Two dogs can learn how to be each other’s playmates.
- It’s Less Destructive: One dog alone can turn destructive from sheer boredom. Giving him someone to entertain him can redirect his energy to something safer for your sofa and slippers.
- Even Some Dogs Want a Dog: Does your dog suffer from a case of separation anxiety? Having another dog around can help him feel better when you’re not around.
- The Kids Can Share: If you have more than one kid, they might have trouble taking turns playing with one dog. Two gives them options that keep the peace. For that matter, even in a home without kids, two dogs means you and your spouse both get lap time.
- Love Will Remain: If you space the ages of the dogs out a few years, you’ll still have companionship when one passes away.
Having More Than One Dog: The Cons
Hopefully, having multiple dogs in your household would magnify the blessings bestowed upon you by having just one. It’s not all perfect, though. Examine these potential drawbacks:
- You’ll Spend More Time: Even if your two dogs entertain each other, they still need human love and attention. You’ll have to dole out twice as much. The smaller your family is, the harder this becomes.
- Some Dogs Like Being Alone: They don’t necessarily want to be all alone, but they want to have your family all to themselves.
- Fewer Dog Care Options: Sometimes, you will travel without your dogs. Boarding options may be more limited for two dogs than just one.
- You’ll Spend More Money: Every dog has his day…and his bills. Expect to spend twice as much on vets, food, boarding, and grooming.
- Allergy Concerns Go Up: If anyone in your home has allergies, then you need to find allergy-resistant pets.
Other Crucial Considerations About Having Two Dogs
The potential pros and cons of having more than one dog together have been addressed in broad strokes, but the dynamics involved can get very complex. Think about these potential implications:
Age Differences Matter
If you decide to get two dogs, you are then faced with two choices:
- Getting two dogs at the same time
- Adding a second dog to the one you already have
In the case of getting two dogs at the same time, your inclination is likely to be getting two puppies out of the same litter. If you do this, be sure you spend time with each dog separately.
You need to make sure the dogs both bond with you. While it’s great for them to bond with each other, you need to be seen as part of the pack. Outsider status is only asking for trouble.
If you have a geriatric dog, one 10 years of age or older, then don’t introduce a puppy. That can be truly taxing to a senior dog.
Alternatively, a younger dog can help out an older dog if your first is aged 6 to 8. Introducing a younger companion can keep your older dog more youthful. The extra energy and vigor might extend his life but will surely make his remaining years more active.
[Related Article: At What Age Can Dogs Start Agility Training And How]
Introducing a New Dog
If you already have one dog and want to get a new one, then experts recommends leaving your first dog at home when you go to pick up dog number two.[Source] At best, your first dog will be a distraction during the trip. At worst, he’ll make the car ride home incredibly tense.
When you do get your second dog, introduce your new and old dog to each other on neutral ground. A nice park or some open space is a good idea, especially if each one gets walked for a while on a leash first.
Keep each dog under control. The leash shouldn’t hamper either dog, but each human holding the leash should have solid control over their assigned pet.
Let the dogs have some time to check each other out. This will probably involve some circling and sniffing before eye contact.
Once you see the dogs tolerate each other positively, take them back home. Watch for a new hierarchy, although the present dog usually becomes the alpha. Walk your first dog in first as a sign of this being his domain to the new dog.
Some rivalry might happen, but you need to minimize it. Give each dog his own:
Water bowls should always be out, but food bowls should be stowed away after eating to minimize potential food aggression. We recommend using an Automatic Dog and or Water Dispenser.
In terms of toys, hide most of your first dog’s toys early on until a relationship is established. When you return them, add new toys for your new dog.
If you have two dogs, then you’ll have one of three possibilities:
- Two males
- Two females
- One male, one female
If spaying and neutering are not procedures you personally believe in or want to pay for, then you have to prevent unwanted puppy litters in your home by having two dogs of the same gender and watching their contact with any other dogs.
Gender actually has a serious impact on how well the dogs get along.
Scientific research that was published through the journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association showed that a pair of male dogs tend to get along better than two females.[Source]
After tracking multiple pairs of dogs, under one-third of all aggressive incidents were linked to two males, whereas two females accounted for nearly 70 percent of all incidents.
Two male dogs doesn’t guarantee peace in your kingdom, but the odds are in your favor.
Training Two Dogs
If you decide to train both of your dogs at the same time, then you might want to consider training them separately. Every dog is going to learn things at its own pace. Also, every dog has their own distinct personality and training.
Whether you train them yourself or take them through a dog training class, it’s best to train each one on their own.
This is particularly crucial for dogs who come from the same litter. Training them together might make them bond only with each other and not you or anyone else in the family.
Make Sure Nothing Falls Through the Cracks
Everyone in your family should contribute to the care of your two dogs. If everyone is going to enjoy the extra attention, fun, and love, then they should all pitch in with the extra work.
One person still needs to take point on organizing everything, from feedings and walks to vet appointments. Whether you put a chart on the fridge or use a spreadsheet or app, make a list of all the things that need to happen. Then, delegate them.
Take it one step more, though. Be sure everyone is holding up their end.
If one dog is a best friend, why wouldn’t you have two? Having two different dogs can mean:
- Far more love, fun, and entertainment
- More work and expense
- Increasingly complicated care scenarios
As stated before, only you can figure out whether or not more your home should have one dog or two. Hopefully, all of this helps you make the right decision.