When is the right time to get a second dog? As a dog trainer for several years, this is a question I get asked a lot! Being as I recently adopted another dog, I thought it fitting to approach the topic and what thought long and hard about before adding to my pack. If you are contemplating adding another four-legged member to your pack there are several things to consider.
First, let me be clear, dogs are not collectors items! They are living beings with needs that require fulfilling every day, not just when you feel like it. The needs of a dog are simple but when you have more than one dog it does mean you must have more time. A dog needs EXERCISE, DISCIPLINE, and AFFECTION.
Dogs also require work, and in some cases, lots of it, to properly train. Yes, training is a must, even if you already have another dog. Your first dog is not going to do all the hard work for you. More often than not, bad behaviours rub off on well-behaved dogs, not the other way around.
Here are 5 questions to ask yourself before committing to a new pack member:
1. What is the reason you are getting a second dog?
There is a myth that getting a second dog will provide your current dog with entertainment, especially if you don’t have time for it. This could not be more false. It is 100% a bad idea to get a second dog solely as a companion for the first. Trust when I say this will backfire and you will end up with two dogs that are attention starved, thus developing behavioural issues. If you don’t have time for one dog you won’t have time for two…which brings me to my next point….
2. Do you have time to train your new dog?
It’s important that you allot time and money to work with a professional to help your new dog learn manners and commands. Consider training your dog as a second job. Do you have the time to commit to a second job right now in your life? If not, perhaps it is not the right time to grow your pack.
3. Do you enough money to cover the cost of 2 dogs who will need vet care, boarding, or even emergency surgery?
Dogs aren’t cheap. Much like getting a second car there are many additional fees you should factor into the cost. Similar to how cars need gas, insurance, registration, car washes, and whatnot, dogs require food, pet insurance, spaying and neutering, vaccinations, training, grooming, pet sitting, and so much more, which all come at a price. Make sure you have money saved up to pay for all the necessities to keep your dog happy and healthy.
4. Is your current dog “balanced”?
If your existing 4-legged companion has behavioural issues, it’s absolutely necessary that you fix those problems first and foremost before introducing a new pack member. Otherwise, you will just double the problem. That’s because your new dog will develop the same issues that your existing dog already has, thus giving you twice the headache.
5. How old is your current dog?
It’s important to recognize that if you have a senior dog, sometimes adding a rambunctious pup into the mix can cause stress to an older canine. If your current dog has mobility or health issues, it may be best to put off the new addition so that you can give your older dog the time and space it needs as he/she ages. The ideal age to add a second dog in my professional opinion is between 2-8 years old. Any younger than this and the dog is still maturing and learning social behaviours. Any older, and depending on the breed, the dog could start showing signs of aging. If you do opt for a second dog in the senior years of your canine’s life, I’d suggest adopting a dog who is older instead of an active puppy. It’s important that the two dogs energies match so as to not disrupt harmony in the pack.
Thinking about getting a second dog? Contact me for training advice and how to integrate the new addition seamlessly.