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Should I Get a Second Dog?

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

So, you think you want another dog?

When you’re first thinking about getting another dog, you might wonder: How hard can it be? The answer to that question is: it depends on a variety of factors. We’ll review a few of those things here.

This is Part 1 in a series, in Part 2 we’ll cover how you can create an environment so your dogs are able to live together in peace!

Reasons NOT to get another dog

There are many common lines of reasoning that may lead you to think you need another dog. Some of those include:

  1. To help your current dog cope with separation anxiety. There is a rare case that this works, but it’s not a reason to get another dog because more often than not, your current dog who has separation anxiety will teach the new dog that it’s a problem to be left home alone. Then you’ll have two dogs with separation anxiety.

  2. To entertain your current dog: Maybe you think your other dog needs a friend, but then you get the new dog and find out they have serious cohabitation or relational issues.

  3. To give new life to an old dog: If you have an old dog, you might think bringing a younger dog in will give your old dog some pep in their step. In reality, the new dog’s energy may put the older dog on edge.

  4. For each kid to have their “own” dog. This is also common and also often does not work the way you think it will.

More Myths about having two dogs

  • Your two (or three) dogs will not just “work it out.”

  • It’s not the original dog’s job to “teach” your new dog anything.

  • You cannot expect instant integration for both pets and people. Think about it as a blended family.

Goals for Multi-Dog Households

Here are more things to think about when you are considering adding another dog to your home:

  1. Interest: Is everyone in the family ready for another dog? Everyone should be on the same page.

  2. Awareness: What type of dog would work with your current dog and your current lifestyle? Not every dog is going to be a great match from your current dog. You’ll want to consider energy level, age, size compatibility, personality of the dogs, breed, and behavior concerns. Really think through what would be compatible with your current dog.

  3. Where to acquire your next dog? Breeder, shelter, rescue, other? Where is the best place to get this dog? A breeder or a dog that has gone through foster might be a little easier to predict how the dog will behave.

  4. What if it doesn’t work out? Sometimes it just doesn’t. Usually it’s a personality compatibility between your dogs. Do you have the ability to separate the dogs? Will the breeder or shelter or rescue take the dog back? What’s your plan if rehoming is the appropriate answer?

Issues to Tackle Before you get your Next Dog

  • Ability to be contained: Can your current dog be separated while your integrate the two dogs? (Gates, crates, pens, etc).

  • Separation anxiety: The new dog will not fix this.

  • Reactivity: Both in the house and on the leash–especially if you plan on walking both dogs together.

  • Resource guarding: A lot of problems can pop up for instance, when you free feed your dog

When you’ve considered all of this and you still think it’s a good idea to add another dog to your pack, then it’s time to start thinking about how to properly integrate the new dog into your existing family. We’ll cover all that in Part 2.

This blog was based on a webinar given by Sara McLoudrey, CDBC, CPDT-KSA. You can find the recording here.


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