There are a number of factors to consider when you’re thinking about getting a second dog. If you keep the following in mind, you won’t go too far wrong.
Adding a new dog at a later date
It’s quite common for dog owners to get another puppy when their resident dog is over a year old. Generally speaking, this is a good move as by then the dog should be well-trained and solidly bonded to you, which makes life easier when you bring in the new addition.
If you are considering getting a second dog, it’s always important to make sure you do your homework to avoid problems down the track.
You’re the one that they want
If you're thinking a second dog will take your place to entertain the first dog, forget it. You're the one they want. Yes, dogs are pack animals, and a second dog will add play and joy to the day, but your attention and love is their goal.
Train dog one first
Train your resident dog before you think about the addition of a second dog and your resident dog can actually help with the training! Because dogs are innately pack animals, it is natural for them to pick up routines from other dogs.
Two of a kind
Choose complementary breeds and personalities. In other words, don't match a tiny toy puppy with a big, rambunctious dog, as the toy dog could easily get injured by accident. Similarly, matching an older dog experiencing the aches and pains of age with an energetic, hard-playing youngster is also a poor plan. Your resident dog does not get to choose his new lifemate, so be thoughtful on his behalf.
Opposite sex safest bet
In general, choosing the other gender is wisest. So if you already have a male dog, choose a female, and vice-versa.
Select a younger dog (although, as stated above, not too young), as dogs close in age are more likely to have disagreements. Bringing in a dog older than your resident dog can create tension.
Count the cost
Estimate how much you already spend on your resident dog each year. Then double everything. And don’t forget you’ll also need to buy a new basket and/or kennel, a new lead and new food and water bowls as well as all the other initial expenses.
Twice as nice
Consider the joy. Double it, too, then add a bit more.
Adopting two littermates
Taking two puppies from the same litter sounds great – in theory. In practice, though, it can be a recipe for disaster. Here are some of the common problems that can occur when raising siblings:
Puppies from the same litter tend to bond to each other and not so strongly with you. This can be countered by spending lots of individual time with each dog alone, but this is time-intensive for the first few months. However, if you don’t do that, you might end up with dogs that have problems when separated.
One bored puppy can be naughty; two can be downright inspired! This is one situation where 1 + 1 = a lot more mischief.
Housetraining two pups is more than twice as difficult as they will be more active, leading to greater need for bathroom breaks. And note that getting two pups in and out smoothly can be a real challenge!
Command training is harder with two dogs as one needs to be put away while the other is learning – and the confined dog may bark throughout.
As the pups mature, aggression can develop. This doesn’t happen every time, but when it does, it can be hard to manage and is a very serious issue.
About the Purina PetCare Advice Centre
The Purina PetCare Advice Centre brings together a team with in-depth knowledge, experience and special interests with the skills to advise about health and nutrition, behaviour, training, socialisation, as well as basic first aid for your cat or dog. Our team of dedicated pet lovers can also provide information about Purina products and services to help you give your pet the best possible care. If you've got a question about any aspect of pet care, then ask the Purina PetCare Advice team.