By Sara B. Hansen
Many dog owners wonder whether it’s better to have one or two dogs.
The answer to that depends on your abilities and needs. And on the dog’s personality.
When I got my first dog, the woman at the Humane Society tried to convince me I should adopt two dogs. I thought they were just trying to save another dog.
Because I was a little nervous about taking on the responsibility of getting one dog, there was no way I was ready to take on two.
Browning was a high-energy, beagle-Labrador puppy. He was a chewer, a digger and a scratcher.
My sister stayed with me that first summer, which meant he was only alone for a few hours each day. That made it easier to train him.
When she left, he hated being left home alone for long stretches in the laundry room and became destructive.
He chewed and scratched at the door frame, he scratched the paint on the wall and even scratched a hole in the vinyl floor covering.
So, a few months later when a friend needed to find a home for an abandoned puppy, I became a two-dog owner.
It was the best decision I ever made. Finley was a sweet, mellow, beagle-cocker spaniel mix. And once Browning had a buddy to run and play with during the day, his destructive behavior stopped.
Some dogs, like Browning, need the comfort of having at least a small pack. You’ll often see people who find a breed they like and then adopt multiple dogs from that breed, often overlapping so they always have at least one dog.
Other dogs, like my Sydney, an Australian shepherd-corgi mix, are perfectly content being only children. She’s smart and independent. She enjoys her time playing at doggy daycare or being around other dogs at agility training, but our home is her castle and she doesn’t want anyone else crowding her throne.
If you decide to add a second dog, here are a few things to consider:
Age of the two dogs
The best time to add a second dog is when the first is 2- to 3-years old.
You can add a second dog when the first is older, but it likely will take more work. Not only will you be working to train the new dog or puppy, you’ll also need to make sure you have plenty of time to spend one-on-one with the older dog to make sure he still feels loved and doesn’t get nervous that he’s losing his place.
Adopting litter mates
Litter mates are more likely to bond with each other rather than with their owner.
Bullying and aggression between the dogs is more common when they are litter mates.
Costs of having two dogs
Owning a dog is expensive. From adoption fees to vet fees to food, toys and more.
Use this pet ownership cost guide to figure out how much it will cost to own a dog for at least 15 years. Then, double that if you’re planning to get a second pup.
Bottom line: Trust your instincts. And analyze your dog. Would adding a second dog enhance her life? If so, and you have the time, patience and financial means – go ahead and get a second dog.
Sara B. Hansen has spent the past 20-plus years as a professional editor and writer. She decided to create her own dream job by launching Dog’s Best Life. Sara grew up with family dogs and since she bought her first house, she’s had a furry companion or two to help make it a home. She currently shares her heart and home with Sydney, an Australian Shepherd-Corgi mix. You can reach Sara @ [email protected].