Dogs are wonderful creatures. What could be better than having a dog in your life?
How about having 2 dogs!
When done correctly, adding a 2nd dog can bring double the joy to your household. But when done incorrectly, another dog could disrupt the harmony in your home and lead to fights, issues, and stress for everyone involved.
Read on for some helpful tips to consider when you’re thinking about adding a 2nd dog to your household dynamic.
Should You Add a 2nd Dog? The Pros & Cons
Dogs are amazing companions, but getting 2 dogs isn’t always necessarily a slam-dunk idea. There are some pros and cons to adding another dog. Here are some things to keep in mind.
More Expense & Work
It sounds obvious, but it’s worth thinking about: 2 dogs are more expensive (and more time-consuming) than 1. You’ll have to buy more food, more treats, and more toys. And you may need to take them on more walks and spend more time playing with them and cleaning up after them.
Also consider the fact that you’ll have double the vet bills. And if one of your dogs catches something contagious, chances are good that the other dog will get it too. There’s also the potential for 2 dogs to hurt each other if they happen to fight.
One of the best reasons to get another dog is to give your dogs a companion to play with when you’re not around. If you work during the day or have times when you aren’t around, this can be a way to keep your dog from getting lonely.
Traveling with 1 dog can be tough, but traveling with 2 can be even more difficult and expensive. In some cases, traveling with 1 dog is much more feasible; which means that you might end up leaving 2 dogs home instead of traveling with 1—which can lead to more stress and anxiety in both dogs when you leave without them.
Losing a dog can be an emotionally gut-wrenching experience. But if you have 2 dogs, then chances are good that you won’t lose both of them—and you’ll still have 1 dog there to help lessen the blow. It’s not an easy thing to think about, but this can actually be one of the most emotionally compelling benefits to getting a 2nd dog.
Timing: When Should You Get Your 2nd Dog?
Let’s start off by busting this common myth:
Getting 2 dogs are once is usually a BAD idea.
Integrating a new dog into your family is a time-consuming process, and trying to do it with 2 dogs are once can make your life difficult. Also, you might not realize it, but bringing 2 dogs into your home at once can actually reduce the bonding that happens between dog and human.
For that reason, we recommend waiting at least 2 years before adding a 2nd dog. And waiting even longer, say 5 years, might be even better.
Also, keep the later stages of your dog’s life in mind. If you have 2 dogs that are similar in age, it means they will both become old and terminally ill at the same time. This can make those later years especially difficult, both emotionally and financially (if you are having to pay for treatments for both dogs at the same time).
If your main goal is to provide your first dog with extra company, remember that you can do that in other ways too…such as visiting a dog park or arranging play-dates with other compatible dogs. In fact, it’s a good idea to try this a few times BEFORE getting a second dog. This way you’ll have a good idea of how well your dog gets along with other dogs (and if they will require additional training).
If your dog has any behavior issues, such as separation anxiety, inappropriate barking, house training accidents, etc., make sure to figure out how to manage that issues BEFORE getting a second dog. Otherwise, the behavior may spread to the second dog—making the issue twice as difficult for you to get under control.
5 Tips to Help You Manage 2 Dogs
Having 2 or more dogs in your home can create some interesting challenges. Don’t get us wrong: there are definitely ways to overcome them, but sometimes you have to be a little creative in how you treat your dogs. Here are our top 5 tips for managing 2 dogs:
1) Feed them separately.
When adding a 2nd dog, you’re better off having dedicated meal times (at least twice a day). In other words, if your first dog is used to having food out all the time, you might want to change that.
Definitely give each dog their own bowl of food. You don’t want your dogs to feel like they have to compete for food. In fact, that’s an important point so let’s go into more detail.
2) Don’t make them compete for food or toys.
If either of your dogs feels like they have to compete over food, that can create unnecessary stress and anxiety. That’s why you should feed them each in their own bowl.
And if you’re giving treats to one dog (for example, as a reward for doing a trick), then make sure to give the other dog some treats too. When done correctly, this can actually help the 2 dogs to support each other’s training (rather than having one dog resent the attention you’re giving the other one).
While we’re on the topic, don’t make your dogs fight over toys either. If there’s a chew toy that they really like, just get another one. It might even be a good idea to only allow them to play with toys when they’re alone, so that there’s no chance of them having to fight over a toy.
3) Think about crates and “bed privileges.”
Think about where your dogs are going to sleep. If a dog feels unsafe or anxious at night, a crate can be very helpful in easing their mind. (Remember, NEVER put 2 dogs in the same crate, no matter how well they get along.)
And don’t feel like you have to give your 2nd dog “bed privileges” just because your first dog sleeps with you. It’s perfectly acceptable for only 1 of your dogs to sleep in your bed.
(And it should go without saying, but it’s also absolutely fine if you don’t want any of your dogs to sleep with you.)
4) Let them see each other’s good behavior.
When you have 2 dogs, you can be sure that they will be paying attention to each other’s behavior—and they will notice how you reward or punish that behavior. So use this to your advantage by letting each dog’s good behavior reinforce the other. So if one dog does something well, let the other dog see them do it. This will help encourage the 2nd dog to adopt the good behavior, too.
5) Make time to give them both one-on-one attention.
Finally, remember that both of your dogs love you and will want individual attention. Make sure to do this on a regular basis. This is important to develop a good relationship with your dogs, and helps keep them both feeling secure and emotionally healthy.
Getting a 2nd Dog Is a Big Decision…Don’t Rush It!
At the end of the day, don’t rush this decision. It can have life-altering repercussions for everyone involved, so take the time to make sure you’re doing the right thing, at the right time, and doing it the right way.
Just make sure to consider all the angles, gather all the information you need, and really think it through. Do that, and you can be confident that adding a 2nd dog will add even more joy to your home.