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How to Decide Whether to Get a Second Dog
Getting any dog is a big decision that can completely alter your life. When it comes to considering a second dog, you already know the level of commitment required to take good care of a pet. However, there are other important factors to keep in mind. Be sure that you make an informed choice by taking time to appraise your lifestyle, current dog’s needs, and prospective dog’s traits before you commit yourself to another canine companion.
Factoring in Your Lifestyle
Decide if you’re ready to make the time commitment.Dogs are lifelong companions whose care is time-consuming. Even if you’re getting a dog to keep your other dog company, it will take significant time to train and socialize your second dog to their new environment. If you’re not ready to commit to a new dog in the short-term and for the long-haul, don’t get a second pooch.
- Remember that caring for two dogs will always mean significantly more (not equal or less) time and work than caring for one.
Consider your living space.A simple logistical consideration when making your decision is: do you have enough room for another dog? If you live in a cramped urban apartment with no yard, the answer may well be “no.” Be sure that you have space for the additional crate and/or bedding plus plenty of room for both dogs to move around before you get a second dog.
Assess your financial situation.Remember that you're not only paying for the dog (which can have a hefty price tag itself) but also for supplies, food, vet bills, and any other necessary expenses. If you aren't sure you can afford it, don't take the risk of getting another dog.
- Generally, each dog will cost you a minimum of 0-,000 a year in food, supplies, and routine vet services, depending on where you live. That does not count any extra or emergency care like grooming, boarding, or emergency vet services.
Consider if you have a stable environment.If you’ve recently undergone a lot of change in your life, such as getting a divorce or relocating to a new town, it might not be the best time to get a new dog. Major changes stress your dog out, so introducing a new dog during them can add to their woes. Wait until things have settled down again before you bring another pet into the mix.
Taking Your Other Pets into Consideration
Consider if your current dog is lonely.Dogs are social creatures or “pack animals” who crave companionship. If you’re away from your dog more than you’re with them or if you leave them alone for long periods of time, they’re probably lonely and could use more consistent company. Getting a second dog may be a way to alleviate your pet’s loneliness.
See if your current dog is sociable with other dogs.Just because dogs are social creatures doesn’t mean that they necessarily love the companionship of their fellow canines. They may only crave being with their humans. If your dog is habitually indifferent to, wary of, or aggressive towards other dogs, there is every reason to believe that they will act the same or worse towards a new dog in their house.
- If your pet is one of those dogs that prefers human company, getting another dog will likely only add to their anxiety instead of prevent it. If that’s the case, it’s best not to get a second dog. Instead, you might address their loneliness by asking a friend or relative to look in on them, hiring a dog walker, or taking them to daycare when you’re not around.
- Take time to notice which types and breeds of dogs that your pet is friendliest with. That will be a good tip-off as to which canines will make the best companions for your sociable dog.
Judge how well-trained your current dog is.The better trained your dog is, the easier it will be to introduce a new pet into your home. Besides being able to moderate your first dog’s responses, their good behavior will set an example for your second one. Conversely, your current dog’s bad habits are likely rub off on the new dog, causing twice the trouble.
Assess your current dog’s personality.Besides being sociable, you want to consider the other elements of your pet’s personality, like their temperament and energy level. Assessing your current dog’s traits is essential to finding a compatible second dog.
- In terms of their energy level, does your dog have a high, medium, or low energy level? It’s best if you pick a second dog with similar levels. You may be able to pair a medium with a high or low, but it’s definitely not advisable to choose opposites.
- In terms of their temperament, are they dominant or submissive, tolerant or excitable? If they tend to bossy with other dogs and protective of you, they’re probably on the dominant end of the spectrum. If they are slow to react to sudden movements and sounds and accept the attentions of other people and dogs, they’re more tolerant than excitable.
Consider your other pets.You should also think about how a new dog will interact with other pets. You may have a cat, a bird, or a reptile in your home as well. Do your other pets get along with dogs? Could your pets hurt each other? Take the time to think about how a new addition will impact the pets you already have.
Choosing the Right Second Dog
Pick one that’s sociable.Again, they’re going to be around another dog all the time, so it’s important that your new dog is friendly or at least willing to interact with fellow canines. If a dog seems to fearfully avoid other dogs altogether or aggressively invade their space, it will be much more difficult to socialize them to their new multi-dog home.
- Keep in mind that a certain amount of aggression between dogs is a normal part of their communication system and doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re anti-social. However, if a dog’s snaps and growls are constant and/or graduating into physical attacks, then you should be wary.
Look for a compatible breed.Some breeds are known for being more dog-friendly than others. When you’re looking for a second pet, you might consider going for a type of dog that generally works well in a multi-dog homes.
- Some of the breeds that have been deemed fellow-canine-friendly include: Cocker Spaniels, Golden and Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, Poodles, Boxers, Basset Hounds, and Beagles.
Opt for a dog that complements your first.You don’t want a dog that’s identical to your other pet since that’s actually liable to cause conflicts. Instead, look for second dog that offers a compatible counterpoint to your current pet’s personality, age, and size.
- For example, if your dog is more of a dominant personality, it will be easier if you find a companion pet with a submissive one. Don’t pair your excitable dog with another jumpy pooch; try to find one that’s more tolerant so that they offset each other.
- You probably don’t want two dogs of the exact same size or age since they may be more inclined towards aggression with one another. If they’re a different height, weight, and age, they’re less likely to feel competitive with one another.
- However, if there’s too big of a gap in age and size, that can also be difficult. You don’t want a senior dog who is on their last legs paired with a puppy or a Chihuahua paired with a Saint Bernard who could accidentally hurt your lapdog through even the most innocent play.
Consider getting a dog of the opposite sex.Dogs of opposite sexes tend to get along better and feel less competitive with one another, especially if both are neutered or spayed. If you already have a male, consider a female; if you have a female, consider getting a male.
Test how the dogs behave together.The best way to see if a second dog will be compatible with your first is to make a formal introduction. Take your current dog out on a "parallel walk" with the prospective new dog to see if they get along. You should take them to a “neutral zone” away from your property and keep both dogs on a leash with one person controlling each dog. On this equal footing, allow the two to meet each other, and then walk them side-by-side.
- Restrain a dog if they exhibit dangerously aggressive behavior, like lunging or biting. Otherwise, leave the leashes slack so that the dogs can easily interact with one another at will.
- Be sure to praise both dogs consistently and equally as you go to put them at ease.
- As another test, you can have both dogs sit at the same time and take turns giving each treats to see how they react. It’s best if they can both demonstrate self-control and attention to your commands even when they’re in each other's company.
- If the dogs are consistently aggressive towards one another, they’re not a good match. A bit of nervousness or excitement is understandable, but be wary if one or both of them is unable to settle down or relax over the course of the walk.
Confirm the return policy.It’s always a good thing to have with any new pet, but it’s especially necessary when you’re getting a second dog. If no amount of thoughtful training can make them get along with your first pooch, you will won’t be able to keep them. Reputable breeders and shelters will offer you a return policy to ensure what’s best for the dog.
QuestionI want a medium-sized dog, but I've got a shi tzu. Will this be okay?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerI had a shih tzu mix, and he loved playing with the big dog next door. But it really depends on the dog.Thanks!
QuestionWould it make my shi-poo mad if I get a toy poodle?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThis all depends on the shi-poo's attitude towards other dogs. Usually, pets will acclimate to one another.Thanks!
QuestionWould a Toy Poodle be good with a medium-sized Labrador?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt depends on both dog's personalities. When buying the second dog, bring the first one with you to see if they like each other.Thanks!
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