Ten tips if you are thinking of getting a second dog
Is your dog lonely? Bored? Have separation anxiety? Is your dog very social and loves to play with other dogs? Perhaps you feel guilty about leaving your dog alone while you are at work, as I do. These are often the reasons people consider getting a second dog. I prefer two dogs, as they provide companionship for one another. They also provide a level of play that we humans are not capable of – we are too slow. Dogs playing with humans must feel like Roger Federer playing tennis against a ten year old. Dogs love us and love to play, but it cannot compare to tearing around with another dog. But is a second dog a right fit? Consider these tips.
- If your dog is young and playful, then it will be a better to adopt a young and playful dog. They will have a similar energy level and can play and grow old together.
- If your dog is senior, I suggest adopting a senior dog. Senior dogs have the hardest time finding new homes, so not only are you providing a home for a dog who may not otherwise be adopted, you are providing a companion for your senior dog that will likely be more compatible. Senior dogs are usually housebroken, past the chewing stage, and calmer. Brooke was senior and blind when we moved into our new home. (My ex-husband kept Hayden, so I just had Brooke at that time.) The move was very stressful for Brooke and she began to have separation anxiety, crying, and barking when we left the house. We adopted Zoe, a big yellow dog, from a rescue group and she was perfect. Zoe was mature, calm, and not at all interested in getting Brooke to play with her. Zoe seemed to understand that Brooke was blind and would just get out of the way if Brooke unwittingly walked into her. Brooke simply did not want to be left alone and Zoe’s presence made all the difference. Brooke stopped barking and crying when we left the house. Zoe loved long morning walks and was fine with lazing away the rest of day with Brooke.
- Sometimes people think getting a younger dog will keep your older dog more active. I suppose that may work sometimes, but senior dogs reach a point where they do not want to be bothered with a young dog pestering them to play. Then you may end up with a senior dog who does not want to play and a younger dog that is bored. Carefully consider the level of activity your senior dog is capable of and whether it is just your wishful thinking that she will play with a younger dog.
- I have been asked if gender matters and I do not believe it does. I have lived with combinations of two girls, or two boys, or a boy and girl — they all got along. Brooke did not like intact male dogs, but of course, your potential adoptee will be fixed before you bring him home.
- Providing for pets can be costly. Food, toys, and medical costs must all be considered. Consider purchasing pet health insurance so any unexpected veterinarian bills will be covered.
- Adopt from a rescue group that will allow your current dog to meet the potential adoptee before you bring him home. Also a rescue group may have more information about the potential adoptee’s behavior towards other dogs.
- The other benefit of adopting through a rescue group is that they will agree to take the dog back if your dogs do not get along. While it is unusual, because dogs can usually work out any differences, there is always the unlikely possibility that they just do not like one another. In that case, it may make it a bit easier to return the dog to the rescue to be re-homed, armed with all of the information you will have learned, rather than turning him over to a shelter.
- When you bring the second dog home, be patient. It takes everyone, people and pets, time to adjust to the new roommate. I think it takes six months before a dog really considers home to be home.
- Dogs will fight over food, so feed them in separate rooms, if not indefinitely at least until you know they are comfortable with one another and will not steal food from each other.
- If you rent, does your Landlord allow for a second pet? If so, does breed and size matter? Of course, for homeowners the same considerations apply to homeowner’s insurance.
If your dog likes dogs, having a second dog is probably one of the best things you can do, as they are social creatures. The companionship of having another four-legged furry beast in the house can fill a need that we humans cannot. Of course, a cat may be an option, but do not tell Orson I said that. What has your experience been having two or more dogs? Please share any comments and advice below.